Volunteer opportunity: Organizing Phoenix Rising articles
This section contains all the articles that have been published by Phoenix Rising over the years. As you will see if you browse here, some of the articles are outdated--either the research has been superseded or retracted or the article features an event or campaign that is now in...
Discuss the article on the Forums.

Basics of Transactional Analysis

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by pebble, May 3, 2011.

  1. pebble

    pebble Senior Member

    Because our energy and concentration are so limited I thought Id post some of the basics of Transactional Analysis here for anyone whos interested. :D

    A Summary of Transactional Analysis Key Ideas

    I'm OK - You're OK

    "I'm OK - You're OK" is probably the best-known expression of the purpose of transactional analysis: to establish and reinforce the position that recognizes the value and worth of every person. Transactional analysts regard people as basically "OK" and thus capable of change, growth, and healthy interactions.


    Berne observed that people need strokes, the units of interpersonal recognition, to survive and thrive. Understanding how people give and receive positive and negative strokes and changing unhealthy patterns of stroking are powerful aspects of work in transactional analysis.

    Ego States

    Eric Berne made complex interpersonal transactions understandable when he recognized that the human personality is made up of three "ego states". Each ego state is an entire system of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from which we interact with one another. The Parent, Adult and Child ego states and the interaction between them form the foundation of transactional analysis theory. These concepts have spread into many areas of therapy, education, and consulting as practiced today.


    Transactions refer to the communication exchanges between people. Transactional analysts are trained to recognize which ego states people are transacting from and to follow the transactional sequences so they can intervene and improve the quality and effectiveness of communication.

    Games People Play

    Berne defined certain socially dysfunctional behavioral patterns as "games." These repetitive, devious transactions are principally intended to obtain strokes but instead they reinforce negative feelings and self-concepts, and mask the direct expression of thoughts and emotions. Berne tagged these games with such instantly recognizable names as "Why Don't You, Yes But," "Now I've Got You, You SOB," and "I'm Only Trying to Help You." Berne's book Games People Play achieved wide popular success in the early 60's.

    Life Script

    Eric Berne proposed that dysfunctional behavior is the result of self-limiting decisions made in childhood in the interest of survival. Such decisions culminate in what Berne called the "life script," the pre-conscious life plan that governs the way life is lived out. Changing the life script is the aim of transactional analysis psychotherapy. Replacing violent organizational or societal scripting with cooperative non-violent behavior is the aim of other applications of transactional analysis.


    Transactional analysis practice is based upon mutual contracting for change. Transactional analysts view people as capable of deciding what they want for their lives. Accordingly transactional analysis does its work on a contractual basis between the client and the therapist, educator, or consultant.
  2. pebble

    pebble Senior Member

    How Transactional Analysis can help you communicate better,

    Part Two - the OK Corral and warm fuzzies
    rate or flag this pageTweet this
    By tonymac04

    Basic concepts 2: the stroke economy

    An associate of Eric Berne's, Dr Claude Steiner, has, in the years since Berne's death, developed the concepts of strokes and scripts much further.

    Steiner describes what he calls the stroke economy.

    All people of all ages require strokes for their psychological, and even physical, well-being.

    Children who live without being touched, without getting positive feedback, do not develop mentally or physically as well as children who are touched and get lots of attention.

    In Steiner's words: Strokes are transactional units of recognition.

    Research has shown that strokes are required for actual survival in young children and psychological survival and health in grows ups.

    Strokes can be generally divided into positive and negative based on the subjective experience of the recipient;

    positive strokes are pleasurable, negative strokes are painful.

    See all 5 photos

    The Hipwoman
    Claude Steiner reading

    "A Warm Fuzzy Tale"

    A fairy tale for adults

    To illustrate this concept Steiner wrote what he called a fairy tale for adults entitled A Warm Fuzzy Tale.

    In this story everyone is given at birth a soft Fuzzy Bag from which they could at any time they felt like it take out a Warm Fuzzy.

    Warm Fuzzies were so-called because they made people feel warm and fuzzy all over.

    For that reason also they were in much demand, but were freely shared anyone could give anyone else a Warm Fuzzy, and frequently they did.

    There seemed to be no end to the availability of Warm Fuzzies as any time anyone wanted one they simply reached into their Warm Fuzzy Bag and took one or asked someone else to give them one.

    As in any fairy tale there was a wicked witch who managed to convince all the people that in fact there was only a limited supply of Warm Fuzzies which made the people stop sharing them. People began to guard their Warm Fuzzies and be very careful in sharing them.

    As a result the people began to shrivel up and feel very poorly.

    But into this bad situation came the Hip Woman who told the people that the witch was wrong and that in fact the supply of Warm Fuzzies was infinite.

    She was distrusted and resented by many of the grown-ups who feared she might lead to reckless giving of Warm Fuzzies and the eventual depletion of the supply of them.

    They started to make laws to stop her and prevent the children from giving away Warm Fuzzies, though some of the grown-ups joined her.

    A struggle started between those who believed that the supply of Warm Fuzzies was limited, and those who thought the supply unlimited.

    Steiner ends the story with these words: The struggle spread all over the land and is probably going on right were you live.

    If you want to, and I hope you do, you can join by freely giving and asking for Warm Fuzzies and being as loving and healthy as you can.

    Here is the link.

    The original Warm Fuzzy Tale

    The Warm Fuzzy Tale was first published in 1970 and has since been reproduced and translated hundreds of thousands of times by people all over the world.

    The Fuzzy Tale has become a true folk tale which has penetrated the lives of many people far removed from its author. The JALMAR Press edition was the first time that A Warm Fuzzy Tale had been fully illustrated in its original version.

    It was Claude Steiner, West Coast clinical psychologist and author, who originated the concept of Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies in the late 1960's.

    Without fanfare or exploitation the concept has become the delightful symbol of the positive and negative strokes given and received in human living and loving among countless children and adults.

    Dr. Steiner was a close friend and collaborator of Eric Berne in the development of Transactional Analysis. Steiner's books, Games Alcoholics Play and Scripts People Live have become classics in the study of human transactions. In 1980's Dr. Steiner was at work on a study of power and people.

    Different kinds of strokes

    warm fuzzy
    cold prickly
    plastic fuzzies

    Here is the link
  3. pebble

    pebble Senior Member

    The Drama Triangle and How to Escape It

    If you feel frustrated by unnecessary drama or tension in your interactions, you may be an unwilling participant in a so-called drama triangle.

    Whakate will show you how to spot and diffuse these situations for more effective communication.

    Communication is one of our most basic functions as human beings.

    The numerous conversations we have every day with our family, friends and coworkers fulfill many purposes and they do not always work towards positive aims.

    Take the following exchange between two people:

    Jane: I hate the way I look. I wish I could get back into shape again.

    Paul: Hey, why dont you come to the gym with me tomorrow?

    Jane: Because its so expensive. I cant afford that right now.

    Paul: We could go on a walk

    Jane: I guess but its been raining lately. I dont want to catch a cold.

    Paul: My friend goes to an indoor pool regularly and says its pretty cheap

    Jane: Yeah, but those community pools are always so crowded. I cant stand that.

    This is a classic example of what the psychological theory of Transactional Analysis (TA) calls a game.

    Its a repetitive, sometimes destructive, but always predictable exchange between two or more people.

    The game above is called Why Dont You, Yes But and suggests that this conversation has happened between these two people more than once.

    Jane knows she will not take any suggestions offered her, yet she presents a problem to be solved.

    Paul knows his friend will reject each suggestion, yet he offers them.

    The conversation continues because it fulfills a psychological need in one or both of them.
    (Jane wants to feel helpless and Paul wants to feel compassionate.)

    Transactional analysis is about examining these games.

    The specific game above is just one of many such exchanges we can find ourselves playing out daily with the people around us.

    The Karpman Triangle

    Transactional analysis attempts to break down human interactions into simple units called transactions.

    A transaction is one piece of communication (for example, saying Hello Bob.) from one person to another.

    Human interaction is built up of these units and some of them are helpful to interacting with others and some of them are not.

    Among TAs many games, one of the most important is the Karpman triangle, or drama triangle.

    By definition, a drama triangle is a model of dysfunctional social interaction between three roles:
    the victim, the saviour (or rescuer) and the aggressor (or persecutor.)


    Victims see themselves as completely at the mercy of forces beyond their control. They dont take responsibility for their actions and dont think they have the power to change themselves or their situations.

    They may be characterised by complaining, incompetence, and helplessness. A typical victim statement is: I cant do anything right. No matter what I try, nothing seems to work.


    Saviours see themselves as doing more than their share of work to help out victims. They often seek these victims out though, trying to offer them short-term solutions, while neglecting their own problems.

    They may be characterised by hidden anger, tiredness, resentment and tactical use of guilt.

    Saviours appear the most positive of the three roles, but their help is not genuine:

    They want to be needed. This can come out in resentful statements: Im always there for you, but I cant keep doing it. Everyone wants me to take care of them and Im tired.


    Aggressors blame victims for being weak and saviours for babying and encouraging victims without offering a solution to either of their problems.

    Aggressors are often over-critical and quick to find fault.

    They can be characterised by a judgmental or domineering personality, which is often just the way they protect themselves from their own insecurities.

    They may say something like Yeah, Im being a jerk, but thats how the world is.

    You need to be tough to survive.

    These roles are not fixed for any person.

    While someone may find themselves participating more frequently as one or the other, the nature of the triangle requires that the roles cycle through all players in a certain exchange.

    For example, the saviour pushed too hard by the aggressor may become the victim;

    the former victim may then come to the rescue of the previous saviour

    (Usually referred to as):
  4. pebble

    pebble Senior Member

    The Karpman Drama Triangle.

    In a game the players start in their familiar favored position, when one of the players switches roles the game is completed.

    This simple diagram demonstrates how we occupy one of three roles:

    VICTIM :
    Hopeless, helpless, and powerless, beyond the reality. You can make me feel bad or good.

    Appear nice and helpful. I can make you feel good.

    A person is rescuing when he/she:
    Is doing something he doesn't want to do
    Is doing something he was not asked to do
    Is doing something he can't do Is doing more than 50% of the work
    Is not asking for what he / she wants

    I can make you feel bad.

    People frequently take up the persecutor role in order to avoid being the victim.

    I couldnt paste the diagram.
    Here is the link.

  5. pebble

    pebble Senior Member


    To further the script, maintain life position on the OK Corral.

    To satisfy stroke needs and excitement needs.

    To satisfy need for time structure and to maintain predictable patterns of behaviour.

    Games avoid responsibility and intimacy.

    An important role for games is to keep others around for strokes when the racketeering process is running out.

    The 6 advantages of Games:

    1. Biological advantage: gaining attention and stimulation, which are essential for our well being.
    2. Existential advantage: Confirming the life position.
    3. Internal psychological advantage: Defending against internal fears and old unwanted feelings.
    4. External psychological advantage: the avoidance of a feared situation by playing the game.
    5. Internal social advantage: Providing players with pseudo-intimacy,
    6. External social advantage: This is relating to the opportunity to talk with others, outside of the game about the game.

    To stop the game confront the Discount.
  6. pebble

    pebble Senior Member

    Each game reinforces the script and life positions of the players, these outcomes are described as a first, second or third degree pay off.

    A first degree pay off

    is one which leads to amusement, along with possibly mild embarrassment.

    A second degree game

    is where the players really do not want others to know about it... there is shame and a desire to cover it up.

    A third degree pay off

    is where there is serious damage done to the players, and ends up in court or hospital or worse.

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page