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The Classic Introduction to Script Analysis,
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This review is from: Scripts People Live: Transactional Analysis of Life Scripts (Paperback)
Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy © 1961 (TAinP) ****½ +
Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. © 1964 (GPP) ****¾ +
Scripts People Live: Transactional Analysis of Life Scripts © 1974 (SPL) *****
All three of these books have been around for a long time, and all three are well worth reading. I was persuaded to review them together by the first sentence in the preface of GPP: "This book is primarily designed to be a sequel to my book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy , but has been planned so that it can be read and understood independently." In the years between writing them, it is obvious that Dr. Berne gained valuable experience in one or (more likely) both TA and writing. I am sure I would have found TAinP much tougher going had I not read GPP first, and I recommend you, too, read them in reverse order. You might even consider reading Claude Steiner's SPL first; Dr. Steiner has surpassed even his mentor, Dr. Berne, in making the concepts of TA accessible to the lay reader.
You don't have to have serious emotional problems, or have a friend or loved one who does, to benefit from reading these books; they will help you to understand yourself and others better. They will also teach you to recognize the games salespeople try to play with you, so that you can avoid becoming a victim thereof. And if you or a friend or loved one is contemplating psychotherapy or in need thereof, these books can help in choosing a therapist who will go for the cure rather than the maintenance of the problem. The value of making the right choice can hardly be overstated. It is SO much better to learn to become an ex-neurotic or ex-psychotic than to learn to be a better neurotic or a better psychotic!
Dr. Berne found that a person is almost always in one of three ego states, which he called Parent, Adult, and Child. Dr. Berne deliberately chose familiar names, instead of jargon such as superego, id, exteropsyche, archaeopsyche, etc. As Dr. Steiner put it, "He rejected the usual psychiatric practice of using one language in speaking with people and another in speaking with psychiatric colleagues. As he developed the new concepts of his theory, he used, in every instance, words which were immediately understandable to most people."* Dr. Berne and his students believed in demystifying patients and the general public, rather than snowing us.
Whichever ego state is awake and in control is said to be cathected. (Rarely, two or all three ego states may be partially cathected at the same time, or one or both of the others may be awake but not cathected, and when one is very deeply asleep or in a coma, probably no ego state is cathected.) Roughly speaking, the Parent is the ego state in which one nurtures or criticizes another, the Adult contemplates and processes factual information and solves problems, and the Child has fun or reacts to criticism. Each ego state is appropriate for some situations and inappropriate for others. The nurturing Parent and the critical Parent are both needed in taking care of children or invalids, but the critical Parent can `go hog wild' and become the always-inappropriate pig Parent, which concentrates on destructive, rather than constructive criticism. Irrational prejudices, such as racism and sexism, are functions of the pig Parent, as is the Puritan's `haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be having a good time.'
The Adult is responsible for using factual knowledge, reason, and intuition to solve life's problems. Everyone needs, at times, a well-functioning Adult, and virtually everyone is born with one, but one's Adult can become contaminated by one or both of the other ego states. The Child-contaminated Adult too often engages in `wishful thinking,' while the Parent-contaminated Adult typically accepts as factual the pig Parent's irrational prejudices. The pig parent may even virtually suppress the Adult with a script injunction of mindlessness such as "Don't think!"
The Child is cathected when one is having fun. Enjoyment of play and of lovemaking are functions of the Child; it is the Child which makes life worth living. Sometimes the pig Parent manages to suppress the Child with a script injunction of joylessness: "Don't have fun!"
* SPL, page 4.