Scripts, injunctions and Drivers

Life (or Childhood) Scripts are a life plan, directed to a reward.
Scripts are decisional and responsive; i.e.,  decided upon in childhood in response to perceptions of the world and as a means of living with and making sense of the world.  Scripts are not just thrust upon a person by external forces.  Scripts are reinforced by parents (or other influential figures and experiences).  Scripts are for the most part outside awareness.
Scripts are how we navigate and what we look for, the rest of reality is redefined, or distorted to match our filters.
Each culture,  country and people in the world has a Mythos,  that is,  a legend explaining its origins,  core beliefs and purpose.  According to TA,  it is the same with individual people.  A person begins writing his/her own life story (script) at a young age, as he or she tries to make sense of the world and his or her place within it.  Although it is revised throughout life,  the core story is selected and decided upon typically by the age of seven.  As adults it passes out of awareness.  A life script might be “to be hurt many times, and suffer and make others feel bad when I die”,  and could result in a person indeed setting himself up for this,  by adopting behaviours in childhood that produce exactly this effect.  Though Eric Berne identified several dozen common scripts,  there are a practically infinite number of them.  Though often largely destructive,  scripts could as easily be mostly positive or beneficial.

In addition to the 5 drivers we looked at recently,  there are also the twelve Injunctions that we embed into our Scripts – as children and through to adulthood.  The twelve injunctions are extremely powerful and create conditions of “I can’t” or “I mustn’t”:

Don’t Be (Don’t Exist)

Don’t Be Who you Are

Don’t Be a Child

Don’t Grow Up

Don’t Succeed

Don’t Do Anything

Don’t Be Important

Don’t Belong

Don’t Be Close

Don’t Be Well (Don’t be Sane)

Don’t Think

Don’t feel

Additionally, there is the episcript:
“You should (or You deserve to) have this happen in your life, so it doesn’t have to happen to me.” (Magical thinking on the part of the parent or parents.)

Against this,  the 5 Drivers are Parental (as in the Parental ego state)  pressure in the things we must do.

Please Me (Please Someone)!

Be perfect!

Be Strong!

Try Hard!

Hurry Up!

When we take the influence of a strong driver with a strong injunction,  we see the resultant behaviours.  A Child who hears the message of the Driver to “Be Strong” alongside of the injunction “Don’t Be a Child” is possibly out of touch with relaxation,  possibly workaholic and humourless,  potentially a bully.  While the Driver “Please me” combined with the injuction “Don’t Exist” can create suicidal depressed people lacking hope and purpose.  If we can identify our strongest Driver and cross in with our strongest injunction,  we can see that which burdens us in life,  as well as the key to unlocking the condition and becoming free of the conditioning.  Broadly,  unaddressed scripts can fall into Tragic,  Heroic or Banal (or Non-Winner) varieties, depending on their rules.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hunger, Motivation and Fear

A few weeks ago,  in the piece “Relationship Tension”,  I touched on the idea of strokes.  Strokes are often what we need or feel we are owed,  and relate greatly to the Six Hungers.  The Hungers are divided into “How we satisfy our Hungers/What I want”, and “What are we Hungry for?/What I need”.  The hungers are:

Contact Hunger.  Do I crave physical contact?  Reassurance,  comfort,  affection.  Will I settle for pain to get contact?

Recognition Hunger.  Acknowledgement and reassurance in deeds and words.  What will we do to be noticed?

Incident Hunger.  Keeping busy,  feeling useful and relevant,  having a point in the now.  What do we do when we feel stressed from boredom and inaction.

Sex Hunger.  To penetrate or be penetrated,  satisfying other hungers within it.

Stimulus Hunger.  Needing to use the senses,  to see,  hear,   feel,  taste and smell familiar and unfamiliar.

Structure Status.  Routine behaviour,  planned activity,  the discomfort of unstructured silence can lead to Incident Hunger.

Some of the hungers are stronger in some individuals than others,  creating varying motivations for our behaviour.  These Motivations are uncomfortably more common as fears,  creating situations in which the fears,   and not we,  rule our lives.

I’d like us to look at what our fears may be,  how strong they are,  and how that influences our behaviour and decision making in life.  Let us suppose that we score 0 for no fear,  and 10 for great fear,  on the fear scale below.

1.   Anger                    (    )

2.   Abandonment                (    )

3.   Approval, lack of                (    )

4.   Affection                    (    )

5.   Belonging                    (    )

6.   Control                    (    )

7.   Failure                    (    )

8.       By Mistakes at Home            (    )

9.       By Mistakes at Work            (    )

10.     To Make Others Happy        (    )

11       To do Enough                (    )

12.      To be Good enough            (    )

13.   To be Alone                (    )

14.   To be Together                (    )

15.   Being Poor                (    )

16.   Being Rich                (    )

17.   Going Crazy                (    )

18.   Being Over/Under Sexed            (    )

19.   Being Out of Control            (    )

20  .Power                    (    )

21.     Using Power                (    )

22.     Abusing power            (    )

23.     My Having Power            (    )

24.     Their Having Power            (    )

25.     Our Having Power            (    )

26.  Authority                    (    )

27.  Commitment                (    )

28.  Responsibility                (    )

29.     Parenting                (    )

30.     Child-rearing                (    )

31.     Financial-money            (    )

32.     Talking-Listening            (    )

33.     Intimacy                (    )

34.     Growing Up                (    )

35,   Sex                    (    )

36.     Talking about Sex            (    )

37.     Doing it – Right or Wrong        (    )

38.  Being Hurt                    (    )

39.   Embarrassment            (    )

40.   Humiliation                (    )

41    Ridicule                (    )

42.    Shaming                (    )

43.    Blaming                (    )
44.    Name-calling                (    )

45.    Being Yelled At            (    )


Filed under Uncategorized

Drama Triangle and 5 Drivers


I want to briefly look at the drama triangle before coming back to it another day. The Drama triangle is a diagram depicting three interactions – The Persecutor, the Victim and the Rescuer. We each of us have all three within us at different times, though its very revealing to see life in terms of both your own attitudes and those around you – in reference to the triangle.

The Persecutor is often a person who feels that they have to take responsibility for others. The basis for persecution is usually anger, perhaps blended with other negative feelings such as envy, impatience etc. They often play the martyr to ensure their victims pay for their generous persecution, and use guilt, not to enable others, but to help paralyse them.

The Victim is often compliant in their status, behaving helplessly and fuelling the persecutor. They are easy to give up and hope for a quiet life by taking a back seat to responsibility. Their failure to make a stand provides power to the persecutor.

The Rescuer is often also the bully. An authority figure who often feels inadequate and leads by orders and threats They can be critical and quite unpleasant in manner.

As an exercise, look at a fairy tale in terms of these roles. Little Red Riding Hood is a good example. See how interdependent each character is on the others.

In many instances in life, just as you think you understand a person’s identification on the triangle, they may switch roles and confuse you. Most people have a favourite primary position and a secondary switch position.

Returning to our PAC ego states from last week,  The Parent ego state imposes on us 5 primary behaviours we call Drivers. We learn these as children, and feel their impact throughout life. Life is very unbalanced for us if one or more drivers is stronger than the others. The five Drivers are: Please Somebody. Try Hard. Be Strong. Hurry Up and Be Perfect. On the surface these may seem fine characteristics, but their actions prevent us from being OK. Effectively the parental message you feel strongest may be one of the following.

You are OK with me if you Please Me.
You are OK with me if you Try Hard
You are OK if you’ll Be Strong
You are Okay if you Hurry Up
You are Okay if you’ll Be Perfect

Each of these Drivers if over pronounced can create sometimes unbearable burdens on us. Out of proportion they can ruin rather than enhance lives. The person with Please Somebody may never be able to be themselves. The person with Try Hard may not value anything achievable with little effort, or miss the thought behind a simple gesture. The person with Be Strong may be out of touch with their own feelings. The person with Hurry Up may be too stressed to ever give their best. The person with Be Perfect may never find satisfaction in their efforts.

I have been searching for a Driver questionnaire that I have used with clients in the past and that was very helpful. I continue to search, though I did not want to further put off an opening piece on these drivers. If anyone is aware of such a questionnaire (I think originally written by Melanie Klein) will they please alert me of where I might find it online, or email it to me at

Tomorrow I want to examine the 6 hungers and view some of the interaction between drivers and hungers.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Johari Windows

Johari Window

Johari Window

The Johari Window sounds exotically eastern,  until we hear that it is an illustration of our relationship to self and others originally designed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (literally, Joe & Harry’s Window).  The design is of a quartered square, with each quarter representing a different aspect of each of us.

The Arena represents areas of our lives we are aware of,  and that others are also aware of – the Apparent.  The Façade below it represents areas of our lives known to us,  but hidden from others.  We are effectively masked in this section.  The Blind spot is the opposite to the Façade – areas that are apparent to others, yet unknown to us.  Finally,  The Unknown are areas of our lives that neither we or anyone else knows.  I tend to think George Bush was attempting to reference this in one of his more incomprehensible speeches – demonstrating that he had failed to adequately grasp it and therefore made a complete pig’s ear of trying to explain it.

We can also view the Arena as the area of complete honesty in it contains information about ourselves that we freely display,  and are comfortable about others knowing about us.  There are no skeletons in the cupboard here,  nor information a person could be blackmailed about.  The larger this window is in terms of our totality,  the more balanced and confident we become.  Well rounded people have large arenas.  The Façade is our secretive self.  Here our confidence is small,  our shame lives here.  Why are we secretive enough to place areas of our lives here,  when here is our vulnerability?  Too large a Façade can indicate dishonesty and distrust and denotes a person less suited for relationships based upon trust.  Because of this we encounter a degree of immaturity here.  The Blind Spot is out unawareness.  We are subjectively blind to features that others can see.  The larger our blind spot,  the less effective is our independence,  rendering us at times both immature and very dependent on those who tend to protect us.  The Unknown is not unknowable.  We may suddenly surprise ourselves and others by demonstrations at various times of characteristics previously unseen,  potential that was previously undiscovered.  That we and others have not encountered it does not mean it is not there.

We can discover this by playing the Johari  and Nohari games.  To play the Johari game we have 55 positive adjectives,  and you need a partner,  preferably the person you know best,  and you know equally well (so you both get to see your own results).  The game is played by both of you choosing each adjective in turn,  and deciding for yourselves whether you consider  it belongs in the first player’s Arena or Unknown Quadrant.  If you both place the word in the same quadrant,  it stays there,  but if you differ,  it is played this way.  If it is your window and you placed it in Arena,  while your partner chose unknown,  then it belongs in Façade.  If you chose Unknown while your partner chose Arena then it belongs in Blind Spot.  The more words in a quadrant,  the larger the quadrant is etc.  Here are your 55 words:.

After, try playing Nohari Window, same rules, but these are negative adjectives. Of course, honesty while playing is necessary to get accurate results.

  • foolish
  • violent
  • insecure
  • hostile
  • needy
  • ignorant
  • blasé
  • embarrassed
  • insensitive
  • dispassionate
  • inattentive
  • intolerant
  • aloof
  • irresponsible
  • selfish
  • unimaginative
  • irrational
  • imperceptive
  • loud
  • self-satisfied
  • over dramatic
  • unreliable
  • inflexible
  • glum
  • vulgar
  • unhappy
  • inane
  • distant
  • chaotic
  • vacuous
  • passive
  • dull
  • timid
  • unhelpful
  • brash
  • childish
  • impatient
  • panicky
  • smug
  • predictable
  • foolish
  • cowardly
  • simple
  • withdrawn
  • cynical
  • boastful
  • weak
  • unethical
  • rash
  • callous
  • humorless

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On Holes and Wooden Legs

I walk down the street,  there is a hole in the street.  I fall down the hole.  It is painful,  and I’m stuck in the hole for some time.  Eventually I manage to climb out and continue on my way.  The next day I walk down the same street.  The hole is still there.  I hope I won’t fall down it,  but I do.  Eventually I escape it and continue on my way.  On the third day I continue down the same street.  The hole is still there,  I fall down it.  Its beginning to become a habit.  On the Fourth day I walk down the same street.  I avoid the hole and continue on my way.  On the Fifth day I walk down a different street…..

This is the essence of Games.  We continue to make the same mistakes with the same results,  though eventually we may learn,  and having learned we avoid the same pitfall.  Wooden Leg struck a chord with a number of you,  so I wanted to expand upon it.  In researching I discovered that Games People Play by Eric Berne has been republished (after a long period out of print).  It was written in the sixties,  and I found that the Author’s depth of analysis is the best I could present.  So here is Eric Berne himself on Wooden Leg.

Thesis:  The most dramatic form of “Wooden Leg” is “The Plea of Insanity.”  This may be translated into transactional terms as follows:  “What do you expect of someone as emotionally disturbed as I am – that I would refrain from killing people?”  To which the jury is asked to reply:  “Certainly not,  we would hardly impose that restriction on you!”  The “Plea of Insanity,”  played as a legal game,  is acceptable to American culture and is different from the almost universally respected principle that an individual may be suffering from a psychosis so profound that no reasonable person would expect him to be responsible for his actions.  In Japan drunkenness, and in Russia war-time military service,  are accepted as excuses for evading responsibility for all kinds of outrageous behavior  (according to this writer’s information).

The thesis of  “Wooden Leg” is,  “What do you expect of a man with a wooden leg?”  Put that way,  of course,  no one would expect anything of a man with a wooden leg except that he should steer his own wheel chair.  On the other hand,  during World War II there was a man with a wooden leg who used to give demonstrations of jitterbug dancing,  and very competent jitterbug dancing,  at Army Hospital amputation centers.  There are blind men who practice law and hold political offices  (one such is currently mayor of the writer’s home town),  deaf men who practice psychiatry and handless men who can use a typewriter.

As long as someone with a real, exaggerated or even imaginary disability is content with his lot,  perhaps no one should interfere.  But the moment he presents himself for psychiatric treatment,  the question arises if he is using his life to his own best advantage,  and if he can rise above his disability.  In this country,  the therapist will be working in opposition to a large mass of educated public opinion.  Even the close relatives of the patient who complained most loudly about the inconveniences caused by his infirmity, may eventually turn on the therapist if the patient makes definitive progress.  This is readily understandable to a game analyst,  but it makes his task no less difficult.  All the people who were playing  “I’m Only Trying to Help You”  are threatened by the impending disruption of the game if the patient shows signs of striking out on his own,  and sometimes they use almost incredible measures to terminate the treatment.

Both sides are illustrated by the case of the stuttering client of Miss Black’s,  mentioned in the discussion of the game  “Indigence.”  This man played a classical form of “Wooden Leg”.  He was unable to find employment,  which he correctly attributed to the fact that he was a stutterer,  since the only career that interested him,  he said,  was that of a salesman.  As a free citizen he had a right to seek employment in whatever field he chose,  but as a stutterer,  his choice raised some questions as to the purity of his motives.  The reaction of the helpful agency when Miss Black attempted to break up this game was very unfavorable to her.

“Wooden Leg” is especially pernicious in clinical practice,  because the patient may find a therapist who plays the same game with the same plea, so that progress is impossible.  This is relatively easy to arrange in the case of the “Ideological Plea,”  “What do you expect of a man who lives in a society like ours?”  One patient combined this with the “Psychosomatic Plea,”  “What do you expect of a man with psychosomatic symptoms?”  He found a succession of therapists who would accept one plea but not the other,  so that none of them either made him feel comfortable in his current position by accepting both pleas,  or budged him from it by rejecting both.  Thus he proved that psychiatry couldn’t help people.

Some of the pleas which patients use to excuse symptomatic behavior are colds,  head injuries,  situational stress,  the stress of modern living,  American culture and the economic system.  A literate player has no difficulty in finding authorities to support him.  “I drink because I’m Irish.”  “This wouldn’t happen if lived in Russia or Tahiti.”  The fact is that patients in mental hospitals in Russia or Tahiti are very similar to those in American state hospitals.  Special pleas of  “If It Weren’t For Them”  or  “They Let Me Down”  should always be evaluated very carefully in clinical practice – and also in social research projects.

Slightly more sophisticated are such pleas as:  What do you expect of a man who (a) comes from a broken home (b) is neurotic (c) is in analysis or (d) is suffering from a disease known as alcoholism?  These are topped by,  “If I stop doing this I wont be able to analyse it,  and then I’ll never get better.”


Filed under Uncategorized

Games: Wooden Leg, WAHM, NIGYSOB & Trapdoors

Transactional Analysis is the examination of areas of human behaviour divided into what are termed games.  Eric Berne’s original book “Games People Play” has long been out of print,  but is well worth looking at.  I wanted to look at a game titled “Wooden Leg” today.  Wooden Leg is best played by someone disadvantaged in some way,  it becomes the excuse card.  The Player can use race,  age,  physical or mental disability,  bereavement,  or any other disadvantage to play.  This disadvantage is termed the Wooden Leg.  The player is given a job to do,  or a set of responsibilities to oversee,  and fails completely to take the job or responsibility seriously until something goes very wrong.  When called to account for their failure,  all accusations are brushed away with the phrase “Well, what do you expect from someone with a wooden leg?”.  Thus the failure and consequences are shrugged off and the player of the Wooden Leg card expects there to be complete mitigation on their part.  Of course,  we have so many examples of what people can achieve regardless of their disadvantages in life.  Achievement begins with attitude,  so players of the wooden leg card should note that to play the card is to lose future opportunity to do well.

Kick me is generally played by men who,  by their attitude,  have an imaginary sign around their neck with the words   “Don’t Kick Me” on.  So strong is this message that its hard to resist,  and he ends up inevitably being kicked.  He then protests  “Hey,  I said DON’T kick me”,  and continues in the game of “Why does this always happen to me?” (also called WAHM for short).  The aim of WAHM is to prove that “My misfortunes are bigger than yours”.  Threadbare is the Female equivalent of Kick Me.

NIGYSOB (Now I’ve got you,  you son of a bitch),  is played by the person who perhaps needs some work done,  and is anxious to fix a price before the tradesman begins the job.  The work is completed and done very well,  but the tradesman discovered the necessity of some small replacement part that adds a tiny amount to the bill’s total.  Outraged,  the client vents anger,  refusing to pay until the bill is adjusted back to the agreed amount,  and taking the opportunity to insult the tradesman’s ethics,  skill,  family etc.  Inevitably,  having no real other choice,  the tradesman gives in and adjusts the bill to the original agreed amount.  The client has taken the opportunity to play NIGYSOB,  rather than negotiate as an adult,  and has delighted in the chance to vent his rage.  The tradesman was playing WAHM. The value of understanding life games is this:  If you understand how the game is played,  you can change the rules and prevent the game from continuing to its conclusion.

Transactional Analysis advocates a process early in therapy that calls for “Closing the Trap Doors” The theory is that by the age of about four,  every one of us reaches a trapdoor conclusion that “If the worst comes to the worst,  I can always:  a) Go mad, b) Kill myself, or c) Kill someone else.  Closing the trapdoor is the verbal contract the therapist requests the client undertakes that they agree not to take any of those options within the duration of the therapy.  Of course,  the client must agree to it,  not to please the therapist,  but voluntarily, because the need to change is weakened in a client who is “doing it for somebody else” It must always be the client’s own decision if it is to be effective.  I have used this system,  though not in every case,  but have found it useful when I have employed it,  and have yet to lose a client in such extreme circumstances.  For the client who is made aware to the trapdoor script,  the removal of the option seems not to increase pressure on them, but allows them to focus on getting through the therapy to the desired conclusion.  As such it is a powerful tool.

Please let me know if you’ve enjoyed hearing about these games.  If popular I can discuss more games with you.



Filed under Uncategorized

Beyond Good and Evil

Like so many people on this planet,  I was brought up with notions of good and evil informing my every thought and opinion,  and like everyone else,  felt myself under the stress of the judgements that come with the labels.  Every day we hear ourselves described in terms of being good or bad,  but getting a “bad” label and reputation can be harmful for young individuals.  I have always throughout my life felt that I wanted to “do good”,  I tended towards the helpful and creative side,  and yet I seemed to be the black sheep of my family.

This was the disapproval I felt from parents outweighing any sense of pride they had in me.  The pride was apparent in very few ways – they had me demonstrate how I could read a newspaper  (well, a tabloid)  before my fourth birthday.  A few years later,  they indulged my interests  enough for a day out to the Natural History Museum,  albeit grudgingly after an hour or so).  The opposing balance,  however far outweighed any feeling of their pride.  I failed to develop an interest that suited my Father  (his were Football and cars).  My Mother went back to work shortly after I was born,  so I was left in the care of my Maternal Grandmother,  who I greatly loved.  One day my mother came home and eighteen month old me didn’t give her enough attention,  so she sulked and chose to refuse to have much to do with me.  As I grew,  despite the fact that I was so willing to be helpful and good,  I felt the parental disregard more and more.  I grew up feeling alone in the house   (we moved from my Grandmother’s when I was three), despite the presence of parents & younger brother,  as such I was quite a withdrawn child.  The sense of withdrawal didn’t help my popularity at school,  and I was labelled “bad” far more often than I was labelled “good”.  My interests being at such variance to Parents’,  my interests became less and less tolerated and my withdrawal became secrecy.  Eventually,  if I wanted anything,  I knew I couldn’t ask for it and took to stealing small amounts of money from them to fulfill my needs.  My decline into badness accelerated as they shamed me, and I found no way to redeem myself.  Despite having very good grades at school,  they resisted my desire to go to college.  I excelled at English subjects and wanted to become a teacher,  but I was compelled to go out and earn my living. By the time I entered marriage my self image had deteriorated to the point where I thought myself as being bad,  but wanted to be good.  I expected criticism and condemnation and felt very uninspired increasingly by circumstances.

It was a poor marriage,  not helped in the slightest by my inner deterioration.  Inevitably, the marriage ended badly and I was terribly depressed.  Going through the depression alone,  I learned to pick myself up.  I had new friends who had no exposure to my former life,  and in this new climate I began to blossom again.  In self examination at that time,  I could see the kind of person I was,  without the burden of the past for the first time.  I felt liked and trusted for who I was now,  and could respond to that positivety with positivety.  Now I can be my potential,  unspoiled by the former denigration.

Long ago, in what we called the dark ages,  education and learning were wholeheartedly under the auspices of the church.  It was only those minds prepared to speak the truth of their research despite attempts by the church to silence them that the dark ages eventually ended,  and education and learning could be secular and challenge established thought.  That same church which kept humanity in the dark ages for so long foisted these notions of good and evil upon us.  I believe that most people want to be good,  but find the pressure of the good/evil label a burden.  We live in a dualistic universe,   composed of positive and negative energy. The two balance each other,  and neither is good or evil.  If anything exists,  it has an opposite,  if anything ceases to exist,  so must its opposite.  The value of anything is known by the comparison to its opposite.  We can equate these energies as order and chaos,  but good and evil are abstract concepts that strictly speaking are self fulfilling prophecies.

Try this:  every time you encounter the words “good”,  “bad” or “evil” in relation to people – either in your thoughts or anywhere you read or hear them,  substitute the word “human” instead,  “Human” is not an excuse for behaviour,  but it does help us to see things differently.  Being human allows us a measure of understanding,  it gives hope for the future of us all.  We are all allowed to be human,  because humans can make mistakes,  then bounce back and do wonderful things.


Filed under Uncategorized