Eric Berne (1961), using concepts from psychoanalysis, communication theory, and game theory, successfully developed a system of “transactional analysis” that describes some of the processes operating in interpersonal relationships in simplified terms, which makes them understandable to the average person. By focusing and restricting transactional operations on several common and universal groupings, it is possible with this technique to bring patients to an awareness of certain basic characterological defects in themselves and others rapidly.
What to expect?
Since it is a short-term process, practiced individually and particularly in groups, and easily taught to professionals, “transactional analysis” may serve a useful purpose for some patients, given that it is not the ultimate answer to all the problems in psychotherapy.
How does it work?
Berne purport human relationships as repetitive sets of social maneuvers that serve a defensive function and yield important gratifications. Such maneuvers take the form of “pastimes” or “games” that people play. These can be simple stunts, or they can be elaborate exercises that follow an unconscious life plan or “script.”
Manifested in all persons are three different “ego states”: first, the child within the person, a regressive relic of the individual’s archaic past, hence an aspect of his or her “archaeopsyche”; second, the external parental agency (parent), whom the person has incorporated through identification, the “exteropsyche”; third, the grown-up, mature, reasonable “data-processing” adult self, the “neopsyche.” Each of these aspects of the person perceives reality differently: the child part is perceived pre-logically and distortedly; the parent part, judgmentally; the adult part, comprehensively on the basis of past experience. The three states are constantly operating in response to the needs of the person and the kinds of pastimes and games that he or she is indulging at the time.Transactions are of several types: complementary (well structured) and “ulterior.” Games are ulterior transactions, containing a concealed motivation (“gimmick”).
When is it used?
Psychopathology is designated and rephrased in terms of the parent-adult-child trilogy (“the cathexis of anthropomorphic precipitates”). Thus, hallucinations are generally exhibitions of the parents, utilizing the audience of the child and sometimes the contaminated adult. Delusions are usually exhibitions of the child, which contaminate the adult. Depersonalization is a exhibition of somatic stimuli, distorted by the confused child, which are incomprehensible to the adult. When the stimuli become ego-syntonic to the adult, they are transformed into delusions of bodily change. In hypomania the child usually excludes the parent with the cooperation of the contaminated adult. If this changes to mania, the adult as well as the parent become overpowered by the “hypercathected” child. Conversion hysteria is a manifestation of the child that has excluded the adult through repression. Impulse neuroses are eruptions of the child without the cooperation of the adult or parent.
Role of therapist:
The therapist generally operates with maneuvers from his or her parent, adult, and child. It is assumed that these will act in concert for the benefit of the patient. Frequently, the child in the therapist will be able to perceive aspects of the patient’s child and parent intuitively and subconsciously. The function of the therapist is dependent on the problem being considered; for example, where repression dominates, the therapist may, have to break down the barrier to enable the child in the patient and therapist to talk together in the presence of the acting adult.