Transactional analysis : What is Transactional analysis ?

Transactional Analysis is a theory propounded by Eric Berne. Transactional Analysis is a psychoanalytic theory based on verbal communication between two people. This communication is called a Transaction.

According to Berne during a transaction a person sends the stimulus and the other person responds. The person sending the stimulus is called an Agent and the person receiving it is called the Respondent.

The psychology behind the concept of transactional analysis reasons it in terms of human thinking. When a person is confronted with a situation it is stored in his memory. And when encountered with another similar situation the brain brings out these memories not in its exact form but rather in the form of feelings that are associated with the memory. At a later stage the feelings and memories take form of alter ego in a person. During each transaction a person being an emotional being is filled with feelings and both parties hold to an alter ego while sending and receiving stimulus. There are three basic ego states- The parent ego, the child ego and the adult ego.

To understand the transactional analysis, it is important to understand the various alter ego states.

Ego States : What are the different Ego States ?

Parent Ego- Like a parent, parent ego is authoritative but also guiding. It often tells us the ‘how to’, dos, do not 's and the never's. Parent ego state can either be nurturing or controlling. Physical signs of this ego state include- body language with signs of impatience or anger. Verbal signs include use of criticising words, judgemental words and patronising language.

Child Ego- Child ego is characterised by joy, tantrums, curiosity, wanting to impress etc. It is the child in a person. In cases where anger and jealousy comes into play, it is the child ego state. This type of ego state can also be called the 'felt' ego state. Usually in a child ego state a person uses phrases like I don't know, I want, I don't care, superlatives etc.

Adult Ego- Adult ego state is our thinking self. The adult ego state comes between the child and the parent ego states, where with the help of others parent ego ones child ego develops into adult ego during adulthood. When we communicate if we receive information, process it and react afterwards we are in an adult ego state. Adult ego is marked with the ability to listen attentively, understand and communicate efficiently in a straight-forward manner. Common phrases used by a person in an adult ego state are- true, probably, possibly, I believe, I realise, in my opinion, comparative statements etc.

Four Life Positions

There are four common life positions that describe the different ego states. They are-

I am Okay, you are Okay. This is the most mentally healthy position a person can be in. In this life position during a transaction both parties have an adult ego. In this life position people feel positive about themselves and others. Here people solve problems practically and act rationally.
I am Okay, you are Not Okay. This is a parent ego state where one believes he is right and the other person is wrong. Here people feel they are victimised. Commonly people in this position feel miserable and blame others for their miseries.
I am not Okay, you are Okay. Here the person is in a child ego state. A person compares themselves with others and feels that there are many things they don't have control over. So they tend to withdraw from others.
I am Not Okay, you are Not Okay. This position is the most dangerous life position where a person can become depressed and have a feeling of anger and helplessness. But they must remember to grow. It is then that they find a purpose within themselves and stop looking outside for happiness and comfort, thereby making the conversation with others more constructive and leading to growth.

It is said that no human interaction is without a motive; a selfish one or a selfless one is the question, but does it even matter? Don’t we do everything to satisfy something in us that we deem necessary? A transaction indeed.

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