Friday, May 2, 2008


I've been reading Dr. Thomas Harris's "I'm OK - You're OK: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis." It's wickedly interesting and helpful particularly, if like me, you really dread having to interact with people. (Although interestingly enough this is something that has only happened since I started law school, which probably means something).

The premise is very simple. True healthy transactions occur mainly between two "adults". Problems arise when people transact through their "parent" or "child." So, you learn to change your reactions to people by understanding who you're interacting with, and how you choose to react in turn. It's kind of obvious, but after reading it, I can definitely see areas of my parent and my child peeking through, and it's nice to think a book might teach me how to behave.

My only big problem with the book is that it's really dated, ie really sexist. Consider the following passage about when mixed transactional responses are appropriate:

"The scene is a cocktail party. The transaction is initiated by a man who (Child) pinches a woman's bottom. She responds (Adult): "My mother always told me to turn the other cheek." Why is this reponse identified as Adult?

She could have responded Parent: "You dirty old man!" or even slapped him.

Had she responded Child, she may have cried, become embarrassed, angry, shaky or seductive.

Her response was Adult, however, in that she got a lot of information across in her one response.

1. I had a mother who always told me -- so you watch out!
2. Turn the other cheek -- I know the Bible, too, so you see I'm not that kind of girl.
3. The humor of the play on words told him, "My Child is getting a laugh, and you're OK, and I can take a joke."
4. Transaction completed!

Hm. I wonder how Doctor Harris would evalute my response of smiling seductively and then showing him my NRA membership card with a "sharpshooter" status.

Parent, Child, Adult?

How about Woman?

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