: I'm OK, You're OK
by Thomas A. Harris, M.D., ISBN 038000772X
A book about the psychological model called TransactionalAnalysis?
See also: GamesPeoplePlay
by Eric Berne. Berne was a student of Harris's (or vice versa).
In a nutshell the model states that our selves are composed of three parts: a "parent" part, an "adult" part, and a "child" part [superego, ego and id straight from obsolete Freudian psychology]
. In any given interaction between two people, different "parts" of the interactors will become engaged in the interaction. Some transactions (e.g., parent-child transactions) are undesirable - the goal is to have adult-adult transactions.
Since software development is such a social endeavor, familiarity with psychological models such as TransactionalAnalysis?
, and others can help in understanding group dynamics, as noted by various authors including TomDeMarco
, and JimMcCarthy
. Regardless, ImOkYoureOk
makes for fascinating reading, as Harris discusses the implications of his model on marriage, parenting, and society.
As I understand transactional analysis (I'm no expert, just been reading web pages lately), it doesn't say a number of the things attributed to it on ImNotOkAndYoureNotOkEither
. Nothing is attributed to transactional anaylsis on that page. You might want to read it again.
- TA doesn't say that you should be a calm, bland, pat, responsible "adult" all the time. It says that the "child" is the source of our creativity and passion, as well how we access the unique gifts that we offer the world. It says that the parent, adult, and child ego states are crucially important to life, for different reasons in each case. People in whom the child is suppressed are staid and boring, and probably engaged in some tragic life script like "Waiting for rigor mortis to come."
- TA doesn't say to be average. OK just means OK. It doesn't say that everyone should be the same. In fact, one of the fundamental ideas is that when we are living well, we are experiencing the world in our own unique way. A whole lot of the thought seems to be aimed at understanding how this gets lost in some people and how to recover it.
- AT doesn't say that if life isn't flawless, then you're doing something wrong. Of course real life has ups and downs, and all sorts of problems, but you're smart so usually you find a way to deal with them. Rationalizing a not-OK view of oneself and/or others, though, people find a way to fuck things up far worse than their real problems. "There, you see? I always fuck up." "There, you see? People always mistreat me." There's a big difference between real problems that life hands you and the problems you create or exacerbate when PlayingToLose?. RudenessObjection!
But since ImNotOkAndYoureNotOkEither isn't about transactional analysis, or any other particular therapy, this doesn't have much bearing on the case. It would be somewhat suprising if a professional practitioner of TA were to disagree with the statement "Sometimes, in the language of TransactionalAnalysis?, it is ok for the "child" and "adult" parts of two people to interact, and the other crossed interactions"
Perhaps some of the straw-man interpretations on that page are an example of the kind of self-sabotage that transactional analysis aims to understand. Sure, you can
interpret the word "OK" to mean all those rotten and idiotically simplistic things, but why do that?
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.
In addition, Berne believed in making a commitment to "curing" his patients 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 behavior would not be addressed by "treating" only the problematic individual.
Berne identified a typology of common counterproductive social interactions, identifying these as "games".
Berne presented his theories in two popular books on transactional analysis: Games People Play (1964) and What Do You Say After You Say Hello? (1975). I'm OK, You're OK (1969), written by Berne's longtime friend Thomas Anthony Harris, is probably the most popular TA book.
By the 1970s, because of TA's non-technical and non-threatening jargon and model of the human psyche, many of its terms and concepts were adopted by eclectic therapists as part of their individual approaches to psychotherapy. It also served well as a therapy model for groups of patients, or marital/family counselees, where interpersonal (rather than intrapersonal) disturbances were the focus of treatment. Critics have charged that TA—especially as loosely interpreted by those outside the more formal TA community—is a pseudoscience, when it is in fact better understood as a philosophy.
TA's popularity in the U.S. waned in the 1970s, but it retains some popularity elsewhere in the world. The more dedicated TA purists banded together in 1964 with Berne to form a research and professional accrediting body, the International Transactional Analysis Association, or ITAA.
Within the overarching framework of transactional analysis, more recent transactional analysts have developed several different and overlapping theories of Tranactional Analysis: cognitive, behavioral, relational, redecision, integrative, constructivist, narrative, body-work, positive psychological, personality adaptational, self-reparenting, psychodynamic, and neuroconstructivist..
Some transactional analysts highlight the many things they have in common with cognitive-behavioral therapists: the use of contracts with clear goals, the attention to cognitive distortions (called "Adult decontamination" or "Child deconfusion"), the focus on the client's conscious attitudes and behaviors and the use of "strokes".
Cognitive-based transactional analysts use ego state identification to identify communication distortions and teach different functional options in the dynamics of communication. Some make additional contracts for more profound work involving life-plans or scripts or with unconscious processes, including those which manifest in the client-therapist relationship as transference and countertransference, and define themselves as psychodynamic or relational transactional analysts. Some highlight the study and promotion of subjective well-being and optimal human functioning rather than pathology and so identify with positive psychology. Some are increasingly influenced by current research in attachment, mother-infant interaction, and by the implications of interpersonal neurobiology, and non-linear dynamic systems.
Transactional analysis, commonly known as TA to its adherents, is an integrative approach to the theory of psychology and psychotherapy. It is described as integrative because it has elements of psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches. TA was first developed by Canadian-born US psychiatrist, Eric Berne, starting in the late 1950s.
(And OK is spelled Okay, because it comes from Wolof for "emphatic yes".)