January 31-February 7 Frenchman’s Cove, Port Antonio, Jamaica
A week of professional development, relaxation, community, and play. Earn Continuing Education Credit while sharing ideas and practices with colleagues from the US and around the world. Register early to secure your place. Contact Dianne Maki c/o firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We would love to have you join us!
Frenchman’s Cove (www.frenchmans-cove-resort.com) is a rustic rain-forest property with a Great House, villas dotted throughout the 45-acre property, and a cove where the sea splashes onto white sands. Roads from the Great House to the villas and to the beach are great for walking and birding under a lush forest cover.
For general information contact: K. Dianne Maki / 908-234-1873 or email@example.com Pre-register with a non-refundable $50 deposit before December 1, 2008. Balance due December 31, 2008.
A Gathering is a conference without pre-arranged workshops where we create the daily program as we go along. Ask for a topic you’d like to learn about, offer a workshop you’re working on, try an article out on your peers, or simply join in. Everyone participates as leader and follower, teacher and learner. Think of what you want to share and bring the materials with you to make it happen.
“It’s a Free Child experience.”
Fee $750.00 USD includes: 7 nights stay, room, breakfast, luncheon on the beach, 1 evening meal, gratuities, Gathering Registration and NATAA 2009 Membership Download the Registration Form.
This Article by Felipe Garcia is from ITAA’s The Script Newsletter, Vol 36, No. 8, November 2006, “After He Said Hello” series edited by Pam Levin.
“Each of these TA concepts revolutionized the way I view myself and my relationships, whether in my personal life or with my clients.”
I never met Eric Berne personally. I learned about transactional analysis from his writings and followers, from stories about him and the San Francisco seminars, from the culture of support and encouragement for continued development of TA that he fostered through the seminar, from his encouraging professionals to write and publish their ideas, and from my training sessions and ITAA conferences.
As with transactional analysts all over the world, I greatly appreciate Berne’s brilliant, easy-to-understand explanation of complicated concepts and behaviors as seen though the lens of ego states, transactions, strokes, games, and scripts. Each of these concepts revolutionized the way I view myself and my relationships, whether in my personal life or with my clients in clinical, educational, and organizational settings.
As a result of discovering ego states, Berne, his colleagues, and later TA theoreticians and practitioners defined the path to understanding and clarifying the significant difference between facts, opinions, feelings, and fantasies. This led me to learn and to teach others how to think using Adult facts and reality testing, taking feelings and intuition into account, and including moral judgments in making decisions, initiating transactions, and responding to stimuli from others and the environment.
Understanding the difference between Adult facts; Child feelings, wants, and intuition; and Parent values, morals, limits, and “ways of doing things,” I also learned to think about my feelings in order to take better care of myself and to let others know how their behavior impacts me. Before learning to think using all of my ego states, for example, when I felt hurt or offended by someone else’s behavior, I would pout, avoid, withdraw, and “feel bad.” I would either reenforce my beliefs that others were not to be trusted or that there was something wrong with me.
Thinking about a hurtful situation now, I ask myself Adult questions such as:
“How might I have been hurtful to him such that he would act that way toward me?”
“Does this behavior in him represent more about who he is and his circumstances than it does about me?”
“How will I let him know the impact of his behavior on me?”
I use my Nurturing Parent to support my hurt Child.
I check with my Parent and Adult about options for responding.
I take time to think before acting automatically.
I learned from Eric that I have options in behaving and responding for an optimal outcome. This helps me avoid games and advancing either an “I’m not OK” or “He is not OK” existential position. I also learned to use my Adult ego state to evaluate and update my moral judgments, racial and sexist biases, and the Parental styles I learned from my parents and my cultural surroundings. Instead of believing that the way we do things in my family or in the United States or as Christians is always the right, moral, and best way, I allowed myself to notice and learn how other cultures and people from different backgrounds and circumstances do things and live their lives. I learned that there are many viable ways to act and live. My Adult and Little Professor also provide me with opportunities to think about and reevaluate early survival decisions I made during different stages of my development. Thus I have the chance to make new decisions about how to take care of myself while taking others and the reality of the present situation into account.
I was the youngest of five siblings, and my role in our family was to be cute and charming. Even though I was stroked for being smart, with so many older, “more experienced” people in my house, I decided that my opinions were not as valuable as others’ and that I needed to depend on others to do things for me. After transactional analysis therapy, decontaminating my Parent-Child contamination, and making new decisions, I am much more comfortable voicing my opinions and dong things on my own. Transactional analysis proper led the way for me to consider options when initiating requests, resentments, interpretations, and strokes as well as when responding to stimuli from others.
Berne invited me to learn to be autonomous, choosing where to put my psychic energy in order to be most productive and successful. As Berne (1966) wrote, “The transactional patient learns to control his[/her] free energy to a considerable extent, so that he[/she] can shift his[/her] ‘real Self’ from one ego state to another by an act of will” (p. 307).
I also learned from Berne (1961, pp. 31-35) that because of childhood circumstances and experiences, some people have great difficulty “shifting their real Self from one ego state to another by an act of will” because of ego state exclusions, contaminations, lesions, and ridged boundaries. These boundary issues must be addressed therapeutically for shifting energy to be possible.
Berne emphasized that with few exceptions, people have the capacity to use their Adult even while the therapy is taking place. This makes contracting with clients possible and allows them to be cotherapists on their own behalf. With regard to contracting, I have always appreciated Berne’s emphasis on mutual respect between therapist or consultant and client. This reminds me that it is clients who have the power to heal and take charge of their lives by understanding ego state dynamics and other transactional analysis concepts. To deconfuse the Child ego state of the remaining effects of early developmental issues, Berne recommended deeper therapy in order to reach the goals of transactional analysis: spontaneity, autonomy, and intimacy.
The permission and support begun by Eric and fostered by the members of the organization he founded has encouraged me and many others around the world to continue to develop the theory. My particular areas of further development have focused on transactional analysis proper and exploring communication options to minimize games and passivity. I have also found one of the basic assumptions of transactional analysis-“I’m OK, You’re OK, They’re OK”-to be a springboard for exploring theories and methods for building coalitions, winning together, and avoiding violence and war.
I am presently thinking about Berne’s concept of bound, unbound, and free cathexis. This theory has great potential for helping us learn to manage and take charge of the psychic energy that energizes ego states. While being aware of feelings and learning to respond to them effectively is central to maintaining autonomy, sometimes feelings and Parent reactions to stimuli are not useful. When my judgments and feelings are not necessary in the present situation, I find that “decathecting” psychic energy and shifting from free and unbound to bound energy is helpful. This allows me to center myself and either be an observer or to rest, relax, and meditate. I find that “uncathecting” my ego states is a worthwhile goal. This allows me to void myself of opinions, feelings, facts, and actions as much as is possible so as to observe others and the environment or to meditate by clearing my mind of all thoughts and focusing only on my breath.
There is an abundance of what I learned from Eric Berne though his writings, the teachings of his students and colleagues, current theoreticians, and my own intuition, curiosity, and research. I have been excited and “hooked” on transactional analysis since 1973 when I first read I’m OK-You’re OK by Thomas and Amy Harris and What Do You Say After You Say Hello? by Berne. I have attended all but two international transactional analysis conferences in the last 33 years and have stayed active in the ITAA and the USA TA Association. I continue to learn and explore deeper levels of applications of the theory in social interactions, personality development, and organizational and group applications.
I am proud, honored, and joyous to be part of the international community of transactional analysts and greatly appreciate the opportunities to connect and exchange new theory and applications with colleagues from around the world.
I am thankful to Eric Berne, his followers, and to all of us for keeping the power and goal of spontaneity, authenticity, intimacy, and personal responsibility alive.
The following articles are an explanation and then illustrations of ego states at different stages of development, from the Empowerment Systems newsletters by Jonathan and Laurie Weiss.
Contact information and sources for additional materials are listed at the end of the articles.
TOOLS FOR RECOVERY AND GROWTH An Explanation of TA Ego States
Transactional Analysis (TA) is a set of tools for understanding people and their relationships. In this and other articles, we share some key TA concepts for your use.
The concept of the Inner Child is based on the Child Ego State, first described by Eric Berne in 1961. An Ego State, according to Berne, is a consistent, observable pattern of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviors that tend to operate together as a unit. Berne also described two other equally important parts of the personality: the Parent Ego State and the Adult Ego State.
The Child is the part of us that contains the needs, feelings, wishes and emotions that we actually experienced as children. It also contains the decisions and beliefs we made about the world as a result of not getting our childhood needs met. Our Child is the part of us that is capable of joy, love, intimacy, spontaneity and creativity.
The Parent Ego State contains rules, values, controls, prohibitions and directions, much of which is learned in childhood. It is usually modeled after our parents and other powerful adults. Our Parent Ego State can be nurturing, guiding, directing, and can provide safety and appropriate limits (Nurturing Parent), or it can be judging, criticizing, restricting, blaming and shaming (Critical Parent).
The Adult is the part of the personality that is capable of memory, information processing, and rational—as opposed to emotional — thought and decision-making. It can be characterized as a computer, capable of processing information that is given to it, but subject to control by Child wishes or Parent prejudices—or both. Ideally, our Adult is used as a tool to figure out how our Child can get what s/he needs; however, it can also be used as a tool to figure out how to do what our Parent says “should” be done.
Everyone has all three Ego states. We differ from each other in how much we use any particular one, when we use it, what kind of information or experience it contains, and how easily we can get access to it.
Ordinarily, we move rapidly from one Ego State to another; a common example is the way we can switch from being deeply involved in an argument (Parent or Child) to answering the phone (Adult).
We can learn to recognize when we are “in” the different Ego States by the characteristic and identifiable pattern of thoughts, words, facial expressions, voice tones and gestures that go with each one. Recognizing which Ego State we are using at any given moment makes it possible for us to change from that Ego State to another which might produce better results.
Each Ego State is important, but each is only a part of the complete picture. When we have a decision to make, for example, it helps to use the Adult to gather and sort information about alternatives, consequences and resources. Questions that engage the Adult might be: What is likely to happen if I…? Is there another way to achieve the same goal? What kind of help or support will/need if / make that choice? How can I get it?
Our Parent can offer guidance and support, or it can criticize us for whatever we do. But, even in the criticism, there can be potentially useful information about safety and other people’s needs. You can get Parent input by asking: What is the right thing to do? What would Mom or Dad advise in this situation?
Any decision made without the Child’s acceptance is likely to be forgotten or undermined later. Our Child can contribute by answering questions like: What would / really like to do if / could do anything? What would feel the best, the most satisfying, the most enlivening, etc.? What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble? What do / need for me in this situation?
These three Ego States are the basis for the TA approach to understanding human interaction. In the next Newsletter, we will show how the patterns of transactions between the Ego States of two people can determine the success or failure of their communications.
CHILD EGO STATES: TODDLER, 2 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD
I AM JOE’S TODDLER
by Jon Weiss
I don’t have many words; I can get by pretty well with just a few: Yes, No, Wow, and Ugh handle most of what’s important to me. Maybe Look and I want and Ow and Yum, too. I know that other people want to hear all the big words that Joe uses, but I know that most of the big ones just mean the same things mine do. I don’t understand why they have to make it so complicated.
Mostly what I want to do is to see what’s out there: what’s just around the corner, or behind the chair, or what can I see from the top of the next hill. I want to see what’s behind that door and in that closet and in the next room.
I especially like to touch things, to find out what they feel like. When I go into a store, or into somebody’s home, I want to pick up everything I see and hold it and stroke it and see how heavy it is and what the outside feels like and does it make a sound and what does the back of it look like?
Sometimes I want just the opposite; I don’t want to do anything new at all. I want my own bed and my own plate and my own chair and I only want the food I already know and the people I already know. I don’t want to cope with anything new at all, because I don’t feel safe and I think I might come apart if I don’t keep everything just the way I know it’s supposed to be.
Most of the time I like being with people, and most of the time it’s okay for me to go do the things I want to do, but sometimes I get scared. Sometimes I get scared to get close, because I think that the other person will grab me and hold on to me and not let go and not let me do what I want; and sometimes I get scared that, if I let the other person see how close I really want to get that they will go away and leave me alone. Sometimes I get scared that those same things will happen if I go after the things that interest me. Joe’s job is to take care of me, and my job is to remind him how interesting life is.
I AM JOE’S TWO-YEAR-OLD
By Jon Weiss
I am Joe’s two-year-old Inner Child, and I want what I want when I want it! I also want the world to revolve around me, what I want and feel. My favorite word is “No!”
I want to be a separate, autonomous person, with my own boundaries. Since I don’t really understand that I already am separate, I act as if other people are trying to control me. Sometimes I give in to what I think they want — since I think I have no choice. Other times I put energy into refusing to do what I think they want — even if it’s also what I want! A lot of the time I don’t really know what other people want, because I don’t ask them, I just make up my own idea of what it is and react to that.
The hardest (and most important) thing for me to do is to decide to think for myself. I am really scared that, if I actually do think for myself, I won’t be taken care of and that others will not like me. Sometimes I’m scared that, if I try to think for myself, other people will discount me and force me to go along with what they think and want.
I really want everything my way and get mad because the world doesn’t work that way. I can throw a temper tantrum or sulk like you wouldn’t believe! Sometimes, when Joe doesn’t listen to me, I crawl under his desk and pull out the plug to his computer, so he can’t think at all! I’ll teach him to ignore me! The other thing I can do really well is to procrastinate; if there is something that I don’t want to do, and Joe isn’t listening to me about it, I can get him to put it off indefinitely.
I sound like a pain in the neck to have around, but I’m only like that when Joe ignores me and doesn’t listen to what I want. Mostly I just want to be heard and noticed and accepted (not shamed and controlled!); and I really like to be given choices, instead of just forced to do what I’m supposed to do. Is it really that hard to give me a vote?
I am one of the most important of Joe’s Inner Children. I am the one who gives Joe the energy to say what he likes and doesn’t like; I am the one who is responsible for setting boundaries. I am the one who decides whether or not Joe gets to think clearly, and whether he puts his energy into solving problems or just resisting them.
I AM JOE’S 4-YEAR-OLD
by Jon Weiss
Hi! I’m 4 and 1 can do lots of things myself and I have something to say about everything and I have a lot of questions and I have lots of answers already and I don’t know which ones are right but I believe all of them.
I know that if something bad happened I can make it not have happened if I don’t think about it and if something bad is about to happen I can keep it from happening if think the right thoughts and I know I’ll get lots of money if I do my affirmations right and I’ll always get a parking space because I have been good.
I don’t always feel so good because I know I’ve been bad because I had mean thoughts and I know that person fell down because I didn’t like him and there are lots of bad people I don’t like and how come they don’t fall down? I know I have to be careful and not think bad things but sometimes I can’t help it and I’m scared because they will know I was bad and then I’ll be in trouble.
Lots of times I don’t understand what’s going on and I have lots of questions but Joe won’t let me ask them because he thinks they might sound stupid but then he doesn’t get the answers either so I have to make up the answers for both of us.
When other people don’t do nice things I know I made that happen and I should make it better and if it’s not better it’s because I’m not doing it right and if things don’t work it’s my fault but the door is too heavy and the lock won’t work and the car doesn’t go right and the stupid computer keeps not doing what I tell it to and I’m so frustrated I just want to sit down and cry and have someone bring me some milk and cookies –that will fix it!
I know there are scary things out there but it is Joe’s job to protect me from them and take care of me and make sure I’m safe and if he doesn’t do it I can hold very still and be very quiet and invisible and not let the monsters know I’m there –and then I can make a lot of trouble for Joe by doing mean things so he’ll take better care of me next time.
I know that Joe does lots of things because I think they are the right things to do because that’s what I figured out myself — or someone told me, I forget which — and I feel very powerful when I make Joe do things like that but I’m scared that I can’t handle all the grownup things that Joe had to do, but if he doesn’t take care of them then I have to. Sometimes I wish he would take care of the grownup things as a grownup, so he can take care of me, too, instead of the other way around.
Jonathan B. Weiss, Ph.D. and Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. are both Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analysts and long time members of NATAA. They are learning internet marketing in order to make personal and professional growth information based on Transactional Analysis available to more people.