Empowering Self : Transactional Analysis 101

TA is a theory of personality and a systematic psychotherapy for personal growth and change.

Personality: Thought > Feeling > Behavior > Thought ...

TA Provides a theory of communication, how people communicate and why communications break down. It offers a theory of child development - how decisions made in childhood may continue to influence behavior later in life despite painful consequences. Who you were at 7 years old still controls you. Micro/Macro wounds at that stage still influences us.

Philosophies of TA

  • People are OK - I'm OK, You are OK
    • Think of OK as worthy.
  • Everyone has the capacity to think
  • People decide their own destiny and have the power to change these decisions any time.

Ego states

Personality is sub-divided into sections called ego state

We are in one of these ego states all the time. Moment to moment we can switch based on internal or external triggers.

Child state

Behaviors, thoughts and feelings replayed from childhood and childhood decisions.

Complaint child

  • submissive
  • obedient

Rebellious Child

  • opposing
  • disobedient
  • arguing

Free Child

  • spontaneous
  • fun loving
  • creative
  • self centered

Adapted Child

  • CC + RC(Complaint + Rebellious)

Parent State

Behaviors, thoughts and feelings which are direct response to the current reality.

Controlling Parent

  • judgmental
  • prejudiced
  • critical
  • structuring

Nurturing parent

  • pampering
  • loving
  • supporting
  • understanding

Parent State

Behaviors, thoughts and feeling taken in from parents and parental figures.

Adult State

  • logical thinking
  • problem solving
  • factual
  • reality based

Diagnosis of Ego States

Behavioral cues

  • words used
  • voice tone
  • gestures and postures
  • facial expressions

social diagnosis

  • how others respond to the person

Historical Diagnosis

  • who in history thought/felt/behaved this way?
    • Learned behavior - structural state.

Phenomenological Diagnosis

  • Re-experiencing a previous experience with the same intensity

Ego state pathology


Parent Contamination of Adult(Prejudice)

Mistaking parent beliefs and message for Adult reality.

  • "Don't laugh too much, you will cry later"
  • "People can't be trusted"

Think 'should' statements. I should do that, I should not do that.

Child contamination of Adult(Delusion)

Mistaking child beliefs/experiences as Adult reality

  • "I'm not good enough"
  • "All are out to get me"

Double Contamination

Both Parent and child contaminating the Adult and works together to creating limiting thoughts/feeling/behaviors


Excluded Parent

  • Follows their own rule
  • low in conscience
  • High in intuition
  • Irresponsible, inconsiderate

Eg: Con-artist

Excluded Adult

  • Not in touch with reality
  • Delusion can be mistaken for reality
  • High levels of confusion Eg. Schizophrenia

Excluded child

  • no fun and closeness in life
  • memory repression
  • few/no expression of feeling

Eg. Uptight individuals


Complimentary Transactions

  • C = C
  • P = P
  • P = C

Etc. As long as the lines of comms are parallel

Rule 1 of comms: AS long as transaction is complementary, communication can continue indefinitely.

Crossed Transactions

More than 2 ego states are in action.

Rule 2 of comms: If transaction is crossed, comms will break-down/stop.

Ulterior Transaction

Rule 3 of comms : Outcome of an ulterior transaction is determined by the psychological transaction and not social transaction.


Basic Hungers

Stimulus Hunger

A need for physical, emotional and intellectual contact with others

Recognition Hunger

A need to have one's existence as an individual recognized

Structure Hunger

A need to structure one's time to meet the need for recognition.


Unit of recognition


  • Positive vs Negative
  • Conditional vs Unconditional
  • Verbal vs non-verbal

Stroke Economy

Rules for being miserable

  1. Don't give strokes when you have them to give
    • "What if they reject it", "what if they get used to it"
  2. Don't ask for strokes when you need them
  3. Don't accept strokes even if you want them.
  4. Don't reject negative strokes when they come your way
  5. Don't stroke yourself Negate all of the above to create well being.

Life Positions

  • I am OK, You are OK (I+U+)
  • I am not OK, You are OK (I-U+)
  • I am OK, You are not OK (I+U-)
  • I am not OK, You are not Ok (I-U-)

Script Matrix

How the life script is created.

  • Parent of father/mother to Parent of the child : verbal messages (Counter-injunctions)
  • Adult of father/mother to Adult of the child : How the child obverse the parent to act. Copying the parent. (Programming)
  • Child of father/mother to Child of the child : (Permissions and Injunctions)
    • If the parent strokes positively, its a permission. Eg. The parent is proud when the child gets good marks.
    • If the parent strokes negativity, its a injunction. These are non-verbal. Eg. The parent is angry when child gets bads marks.

Physis is the internal drive to grow.


Negative restrictive messages given from child ego state of the parent and received by Child ego state of the child.

  • Don't belong : When you join a group you feel you are an outsider
  • Don't be a child : Can't relate to a child. Having fun can be seen as wrong.
  • Don't exist : If you have had suicidal thoughts, wanted to disappear, not exist.
  • Don't be you : Not fine with who you are - constantly compares yourself with others. Can happen if you were constantly compared
  • Don't succeed : Find success coming very rarely. Or find it as a strange concept.
  • Don't be important : Don't like to be in the spotlight. Won't speak up if it can be avoided.
  • Don't be close : Find difficulty in intimacy and making close relationship.
  • Don't be well : You will often fall sick. You got attention only when you are sick in childhood.
  • Don't think : frequent spells of confusion and cloud in mind.
  • Don't grow up : Will behave more child like than their age. You might look like a child a bit.
  • Don't feel : Will not feel the feelings that they are supposed to feel.
  • Don't : Stopping yourself from doing things.


Major type of counter-injunctions - "Messages on how to be a good boy/girl". People generally have upto two primary driver. This is a condition you hold if you want to consider yourself worthy. Eg. I'm worthy if I'm strong.

  • Be Perfect "You are OK only if you get everything right"
  • Be Strong "You are OK only if you hide your feelings and wants"
  • Please Others "You are OK only if you please people"
  • Try Hard "You are OK only if you keep trying hard to do things"
  • Hurry Up "You are OK only if you get everything right now."

Allowers - things you can tell yourself to get over the issues. Eg. "Its OK to express and ask for help."

Racket Feeling

Simulate a stressful situation and find what's the feeling that comes out.

  • Racket feeling are familiar feeling
  • Racket feelings substitutes for real feeling
  • Racket feelings are learned and encouraged in childhood
  • Racket feelings are experienced in stressful situation
  • Racket feelings do nothing towards problem solving

Eg... (non-exhaustive)

  • Confused
  • Guilty
  • Depressed
  • Lonely
  • Resentment
  • Anxious

Real Feelings

  • Real feelings are appropriate to the situation
  • Real feelings lead to problem solving
  • Real feelings leads to relief on expression
  • When suppressed feelings are expressed as real feelings, healing happens.


  • Repetitive
  • Played without adult awareness
  • Ulterior transactions
  • Switch
  • Payoff

Karpman's Drama Triangle


  • Critical
  • Aggressive
  • Self Righteous


  • self sacrificing
  • over helpful
  • need to be needed


  • Helpless
  • Self pity
  • Complains

People choose one of these roles in the game. But can switch when needed.

Structure of the game

Con + Gimmick = Response > Switch > Confusion > Payoff Con : A hook to the game - an inauthentic invite Gimmick: A Need/tendency to get hooked

Degree of Game

1st Degree Game

Is played or shared within social circles and generally involves only a mild upset as the outcome

2nd Degree Game

Is one in which player would not rather make public within their social circle. Involves strong racket feelings.

3rd Degree Game

Is played for keeps. Ends in courtroom, morgue, or surgery. Brings out the harmful element of script outcome.

Advantages of Games

  • Internal Psychological : Maintaining script beliefs
  • External Psychological : Avoid situations that hurt
  • Internal Social : Pseudo Intimate Socializing
  • External Social : Time Structuring
  • Biological : Getting Stroke
  • Existential : Confirm life position

Time Structuring

  1. Withdrawal : No Interaction with others
  2. Ritual: Familiar social interactions - Hi/hello
  3. Pastime : Talking with no specific objective
  4. Activity : Working towards an outcome
  5. Game : Ulterior transactions with switch and payoff
  6. Intimacy : Authentic feelings expressed with mutual OKness

High risk and high intensity strokes at 6, low risk and strokes at 1

Goal of TA: Autonomy - or Freedom from the life script


  • Ability to stay in here and now
  • External Awareness: Sensory inputs without judging
  • Internal Awareness: Thoughts, feelings, sensations


The ability to freely choose between any of the 3 ego states as appropriate to the situation


The ability to authentically communicate feels with mutual OK-ness