Proven usefulness in psychotherapy
Eric Berne is a pioneer in the description of psychic persona , that is to say recognizable states that can take the ego of a person. He sees 3 fundamentals, Parent Child and Adult. The Parent is protector and director, the imaginative Child plaintive and playful, the Adult objective and independent. Any exchange between two people generates transactions between these states. Transactional analysis (TA) attempts to decrypt them. There are direct transactions that work well, Parent < > Child and Adult < > Adult. Cross-transactions, on the other hand, are problematic. You start an Adult exchange < > Adult but the other is in a Child state. Communication impossible if you stay in Adult. You need to switch to Parent to be listened to.
TA is widely known to psychotherapists and neglected by neuroscientists, who place it in the folklore of the countless personality theories hatched in the last century. None, the Freudian first, meets the scientific criteria. No studies to confirm or refute. But neuroscience also does not have, today, the slightest alternative to replace them. The ‘Big Five’, who simply point to temperament traits, would be ridiculous to claim a theory of personality.
Transactional analysis encompassed by Stratium
This site presents a real alternative, Stratium, which connects neural and psyche in the form of a hierarchy of information levels. The interest is that at the top a mental assembly of higher concepts is formed that I call the psychic society or Psociety. This organization explains the sudden personality changes observed in the same person, sometimes from one moment to another, without the general coherence of the mind being altered. An Angry is entirely focused on the reasons for his anger, a Child on his despair of being ignored, a Patient on the prospects that things will improve, etc. The personality takes turns well-defined postures, without sinking into chaos.
What precise, underlying organization allows such stability? Stratium replies that higher concepts converge into known decision-making poles, in the same way that congressmen gather around party leaders in an assembly. The Psociety elects its directors, who take power in turn depending on the context. The metaphor may sound bold, but Stratium strives to show step by step how neural networks can weave such complexity.
An identity and not just a function
Eric Berne recognized the Psociety in its most common and identifiable appearances. Reducing it to three main personas is an effective simplification to approach the interpersonal relationship. There are in detail a much greater number of cross-transactions and each one deserves to be studied. The Angry is attached to the Children’s pole but does not support the language usually used in this context. You have to use its own language, Anger, to be heard.
Another difference between TA and Stratium: Eric Berne treats Parent Adult and Child as mental functions, which reduces the psychic being itself to a function. No, at this stage of complexity, we are identitarily a Parent, Adult or Child. There is no longer a homunculus to use the function. We can call ‘functions’ the lower, perceptual levels of information. But their integration then reaches such complexity that the existence of the level becomes independent of its constitution. It is autonomous, searches itself in the data of perception. Persona are real people, awakened by context, but always present in the structure of networks. When a sudden idea takes us out of our neighborhood by one road, the other roads have not disappeared.
Choose your Supervisor
Transactional analysis makes it possible to build, on top of Parent Child Adult, an additional level of observation. A Supervisor styles the persona. There is no need for the Supervisor’s speech to be fair. Like all other levels, it represents the world, it is not. Magic of this independence of the complex summit that makes it possible to work with the theory of personality… that everyone wants.
No discovery in neuroscience will change the reality of this Supervisor. Our imagination, or our madness will say some, protects us from neural consensus, tidy in comparison.
Games people play, we Shortform.com
2 thoughts on “Transactional Analysis and Psociety”
So, it has been many years since I first heard of TA. I’m OK, You’re OK. Psociety, I suppose, is the new(er?) term for what we call ourselves. Stratium is a new one for me, as well, though I don’t follow neuroscience. I do have a Supervisor. He has been me for years and, in this older skin, he speaks more clearly than anyone I have ever known, with greater consciousness and lesser bias. I write on the subject of consciousness, which is to say I discuss it. After several false starts of reading the efforts of others, I realized explaining consciousness was a lost cause. Seems most everyone else now tries to explain it away. Not yours truly, though. Thought TA was dead. Glad it is not. Carry on.
Transactional analysis is still very much alive and has an excellent specialist journal in French: