Transactional Analysis

24/08/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

Transactional analysis (TA) is a psychoanalytic theory and method of therapy wherein social transactions are analyzed to determine the ego state of the communicator (whether parent-like, childlike, or adult-like) as a basis for understanding behavior. In transactional analysis, the communicator is taught to alter the ego state as a way to solve emotional problems. The method deviates from Freudian psychoanalysis which focuses on increasing awareness of the contents of subconsciously held ideas. Eric Berne developed the concept and paradigm of transactional analysis in the late 1950s.

TA is not only post-Freudian, but, according to its founder’s wishes, consciously extra-Freudian. That is to say that, while it has its roots in psychoanalysis, since Berne was a psychoanalytically-trained psychiatrist, it was designed as a dissenting branch of psychoanalysis in that it put its emphasis on transactional rather than “psycho” analysis.

With its focus on transactions, TA shifted the attention from internal psychological dynamics to the dynamics contained in people’s interactions. Rather than believing that increasing awareness of the contents of unconsciously held ideas was the therapeutic path, TA concentrated on the content of people’s interactions with each other. Changing these interactions was TA’s path to solving emotional problems.

TA also differs from Freudian analysis in explaining that an individual’s final emotional state is the result of inner dialogue between different parts of the psyche, as opposed to the Freudian hypothesis that imagery is the overriding determinant of inner emotional state. (For example, depression may be due to ongoing critical verbal messages from the inner Parent to the inner Child.) Berne believed that it is relatively easy to identify these inner dialogues and that the ability to do so is parentally suppressed in early childhood.

In addition, Berne believed in making a commitment to “curing” his clients, rather than just understanding them. To that end he introduced one of the most important aspects of TA: the contract an agreement entered into by both client and therapist to pursue specific changes that the client desires.

Revising Freud’s concept of the human psyche as composed of the id, ego, and super-ego, Berne postulated in addition three “ego states” the Parent, Adult, and Child states which were largely shaped through childhood experiences. These three are all part of Freud’s ego; none represent the id or the superego.

Unhealthy childhood experiences can lead to these being pathologically fixated in the Child and Parent ego states, bringing discomfort to an individual and/or others in a variety of forms, including many types of mental illness.

Berne considered how individuals interact with one another, and how the ego states affect each set of transactions. Unproductive or counterproductive transactions were considered to be signs of ego state problems. Analyzing these transactions according to the person’s individual developmental history would enable the person to “get better”. Berne thought that virtually everyone has something problematic about their ego states and that negative behaviour would not be addressed by “treating” only the problematic individual.

Transactional Analysis (TA), thus, facilitates communication. TA studies transactions amongst people and understands their interpersonal behaviour. It was developed by Eric Berne, a psychotherapist. He observed there are several ‘people’ inside each person who interact with other people in different ways.

Many of the core TA models and concepts can be categorized into

  • Transactional analysis proper: Analysis of interpersonal transactions based on structural analysis of the individuals involved in the transaction.
  • Structural analysis: Analysis of the individual psyche.
  • Script analysis: A life plan that may involve long-term involvement in particular games in order to reach the life pay-off of the individual.
  • Game analysis: Repeating sequences of transactions that lead to a result subconsciously agreed to by the parties involved in the game.

Emotional blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a term coined by psychotherapist Susan Forward, about controlling people in relationships and the theory that fear, obligation, and guilt (FOG) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled. Understanding these dynamics are useful to anyone trying to extricate from the controlling behavior of another person, and deal with their own compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing for others.

When people interact with each other, the social transaction gets created which shows how people are responding and behaving with each other, the study of such transactions between people is called as the transactional analysis.

Johari Window

The Johari Window is the psychological model developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, that talks about the relationship and mutual understanding between the group members. In other words, a psychological tool that helps an individual to understand his relationship with himself and with other group members is called as a Johari Window.

The objective behind the creation of a Johari window is to enable an individual to develop trust with others by disclosing information about himself and also to know what others feels about himself through feedback.

Life Script

The Life Script refers to the meaning that one attributes to the events that happened to him at the early stage of life. Psychologists believe that an individual’s life script gets created in his childhood when he learns things unconsciously from the transactions between father, mother and the child.

Whenever an individual face any situation, he acts with reference to the script created as a result of the past experiences and the way he views his life positions, i.e. I am O.K you are O.K, I am not O.K. you are O.K., I am O.K. you are not O.K., I’m not O.K. you are not O.K.

Ego States

The Ego States are an important aspect of transactional analysis that talks about how a person feels, behave or think at any point of time.

According to Dr Eric Berne, people usually interact with each other in terms of three psychological and behavioral patterns classified as parent ego, adult ego and child ego, often called as a PAC Model. This classification is not made on the basis of the age group of an individual rather these are related to the ways in which an individual behaves. Thus, it is observed that a person of any age group may possess varying degrees of these ego states.

Transactions Analysis

The interactions between people give rise to the Social Transactions, i.e. how people respond and interact with each other depends on their ego states. The transactions routed through ego states of persons can be classified as complementary, crossed and ulterior.

Complementary Transactions: A transaction is said to be complementary when the person sending the message gets the predicted response from the other person. Thus, the stimulus and response patterns from one ego state to another are parallel.

Life Positions

The Life Positions refers to the specific behavior towards others that an individual learns on the basis of certain assumptions made very early in the life.