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Thread: 06-2007: TA Games

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    Default 06-2007: TA Games

    Michael Mallows ran a fascinating day on Transactional Analysis games and how they can be facilitated using Clean Language and Clean Space.

    Much of the day (for me anyway!) revolved around the Drama triangle. As we explored the Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer modes, I felt I was looking at the structure of any soap opera from Eastenders to The Archers.


    I have come across the model before, albeit briefly. It was good to go into a little more depth. My impressions of it are that it is:
    a) congruent with a systemic perspective,

    b) emergent as a model rather than hypothetical, that is, for me it seems to match so well what seems to be happening in real life,

    c) seductive, that is, the categories are so recognisable it would be easy to simply lump all observed transactions into either Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer role - this is a problem with all top-down models - too easy to make the facts fit the formula.
    Using space to mark out the triangle and having 2 players enact the game by moving to the corner that best represented their perceived role in the game was very interesting. Given more time it would have been good to turn this into an even cleaner exercise. Michael was demonstrating for us through our players a game in progress, so he was giving instructions.

    What would it be like to work with two people by marking out 3 positions and cycling through space questions, along the lines of: ''Given what Y says, where do you need to be now?' then 'What do you know from there?' and "And given X's response, where do you [Y] need to be now?' and so on.

    Or not mark out positions and have 2 people operating in clean space together, live?

    As the day progressed, I found myself eager to visit the more cheering triangle representing how to behave authentically. This appeared quite late in the day. On a quick search around the net, I found that the roles of Victim, Rescuer & Persecutor are much described and in some depth. Proportionally there is far less written on the authentic behaviour triangle and even less on how to achieve the transition from game-playing to acting authentically. Perhaps this may be a pattern in TA, reflected in the developing day in terms of the balance.

    While the triangle model seems spookily accurate at describing human interactions, I would be interested to know how it is used in therapy; personally I would not wish to model only the dysfunctional set of behaviours without giving at least equal billing to the alternative way. This would be equivalent in Symbolic Modelling to developing the Problem more than the Outcome.

    Is it only a model of pathological behaviour or does it have a methodology for change? This is an authentic question, not a game 'hook'!

    I am also curious about how TA games are played out internally within individuals. Since the day I have been noticing how the need for 'strokes' affects my behaviour when working alone, especially sitting for hours at a keyboard (as now!) In this scenario, I think I tend to get the strokes by eating but the stroke actually required may not be 'feed me' stroke but a 'water me' or an 'exercise me' or a 'talk to me'. I'll experiment with asking myself 'What kind of stroke do you need?' (No innuendo, please!)

    Thanks, Michael, for a very stimulating day and Penny and James for putting it on.
    Last edited by forumadmin; 06 June 2007 at 09:37 PM.

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    Default TA games are played out internally

    I'm glad you enjoyed the day Phil. The TA model is a rich mine as a result of a number very good modellers looking at the structure and process operating between people and then finding some very sticky labels to make the theory attractive and accessible. There's a lot to learn from Eric Berne and his colleagues.

    Phil said: "I am also curious about how TA games are played out internally within individuals."

    It fairly straight forward to see how the (Karpman) Drama Triangle with Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer plays out internally. Imagine the following internal dialogue:

    V: "What a bitch of a day I've had at work."
    R: "You deserve a drink."
    V: "Just the one. I've got an important day tomorrow."
    [Next day]
    V: "Oh my poor head. How did this happen?"
    R: "You need a day off."
    P: "You lazy bastard."
    V: "Oh let me sleep I feel bad enough as it is."

    Apart from being a trip round the Drama Triangle, it's also a Game. [I have no idea if 'proper' Transactional Analysts would read this this way.] Firstly, the opening statement is obviously a Con designed to hook a weakness for drink (the Gimmick). The Response buys the overt transaction, while everyone ignores the ulterior motive (initially to get drunk). The Switch is the "unforeseen" hangover, and the (X) Crossup is the apparent mystification at being in that state when (overtly) that was not the plan. The Payoff is confirmation of feeling bad about self - possibly, I'm worthless or I'll never succeed.

    Hence BERNE'S Game Formula: C + G = R->S->X->P

    Of course when the person does finally get to work they will be in a different but complementary Game of 'Kick Me', in which the management will dutifully play their role.

    James
    Last edited by JamesLawley; 10 June 2007 at 11:02 AM. Reason: Correcting typo's

  3. #3

    Default Authentic Behaviour Triangle

    Phil,

    Do you have any further information with respect to the Authentic Behaviour Triangle? As you have stated the Karpman Drama Triangle is fascinating and a current interaction that a friend of mine is caught up is 'textbook', however he is looking for a way to 'stop the game' and act authentically, so that maybe the other parties 'stop their games' as well.

    Cheers

    Matthew

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    Hi Mathew,

    Regarding the Authentic Behaviour Triangle, Michael Mallows says, "the way out of Drama Triangle is to be authentic". That is, to transform the:

    Victim into Vulnerable (scary and yet liberating)
    Rescuer into Facilitator (e.g use of Clean Language)
    Persecutor into Negotiator (potency)

    The result is "intimacy" (that which Games are designed to avoid).

    In my experience the challenge is to maintain the flexibility of using the three authentic positions even when offered multiple opportunities to return to the game. Michael is a living example of how, if you maintain authentic intimacy long enough, others tend to melt.

    One tip: even considering "so that other parties stop their game as well" is a potential hook into a game. It is a strange double perception to be able to be open to, expectant of, and alert to, the potential for change in another while simultaneously having no outcome that they do change. To do anything else is (in my very personal opinion) a form of arrogance (being closed to the unknown) because it assumes we know what is best for another human being and all those that their behaviour affects.

    Finally, it's a strange fact of English that there is no antonym for Victim. And that in the orginal Latin, Perpetrator meant 'bring about to completion' and the act perpetrated might be good or bad. In English the verb was first used in statutes referring to crime, hence the current negative association.

    Best wishes to your friend, it usually takes extreme courage to act authentically when that is not our 'natural' state.

    James
    Last edited by JamesLawley; 12 January 2008 at 10:17 PM. Reason: improved grammar!

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    Another set of labels which I heard are:

    Victim into Authentic *
    (e.g. 'I own my problem and I'm interested in Facilitation by others - and it's my responsibility to change, not theirs')

    Rescuer into Facilitator
    (e.g. Clean Language with specific advice if requested)

    Persecutor into Assertive
    (e.g 'I have an opinion about what you should do, I know I do and I don't need you to have the same opinion')

    *I like this because it sounds more neutral than Vulnerable which could imply weakness, dependency.

  6. #6

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    James/Phil,

    Thank you for the clarification. This information has proved to be very useful.

    For myself: in getting a better sense of the Drama Triangle and it's counter-part which could maybe be called the 'Dharma Triangle' (read as right way of living / proper conduct).

    And for my friend: who has now resolved his situation, and with this additional information now has a better understanding about what was occuring for him and the others involved.

    With my kindest regards,

    Matthew

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    the Drama Triangle and it's counter-part which could maybe be called the 'Dharma Triangle' (read as right way of living / proper conduct).
    Nice one!

    By the way in another post recently I referred to 'heroes, villains and victims' which has a similar structure to Rescuers, Persecutors and Victims. I have never seen an analysis of a film plot using the Karpman triangle - might be quite revealing of just how formulaic our mainstream movies are.

  8. #8

    Default V,P,R versus A,F,A

    I’ve come across the V,P,R else where under the label ‘EGO’. They are all definitions of ego that we play out at different times in life and we usually have a preference for one.
    Is the first exercise so effective because it plays on a sense we all have at different times? If so would changes the names/labels (Authentic, Facilitator, Assertive) change/ diminish the effectiveness?
    The 3 words you suggest Phil are great for doing the Emergent Knowledge exercise - hieroglyphics (only when the client has used them )

    If we are holding to a clean approach and we introduce our own words (facilitator) or suggest spaces are we really doing clean psychotherapy?

    Cheers
    John

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    Default TA clean?

    If we are holding to a clean approach and we introduce our own words (facilitator) or suggest spaces are we really doing clean psychotherapy?
    No, for sure. And just to clarify for others reading this, the TA Games day was not purporting to show us a clean process.

    No process so far described in this whole website is 'really' clean, if by 'really' we mean 'entirely'. We know that the effect of the facilitator even in 'hosting' a session with/for a client is affecting the process.



    The Triangle concept is a good example of a 'lo-clean' application, though at its conception stage, I guess it was emergent. As James says:
    ...[it's] a result of a number very good modellers looking at the structure and process operating between people and then finding some very sticky labels to make the theory attractive and accessible
    So TA Games emerged from modelling what was happening in a system and coming up with a metaphorical description of that. Rather like a Kleenex box and tissues or an drawn oval with ACBD, etc.

    Clean is always a matter of degree. Is Clean is a behaviour or a philosophy or both or neither? (I'll post those hypotheses elsewhere as threads for discussion).

    All models are top-down when applied to situations similar to the ones they emerged from, I guess. Once someone metaphor-matches some live experience with the stored experiences in their head and decides that, for examples, 6 iterations with a wobble at 4 or Problem-Remedy-Outcome are valid, if simplified models of experience, when those models are applied to the experience of others, they are top-down models, presuppositions.

    AE about applied?
    My view is that the process and questions that the models employ shape the experience of the person to whom the model is being applied. That happens anyway, even if the behaviour of the facilitator is as clean as they can make it. The temptation is for the facilitator consciously or unconsciously to bias the process towards a result that fits the model, something often dubbed 'fish in your dreams'.

    Interesting question, John, thanks for the stimulus.

  10. #10

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    Hi all,it occurs to me that "games" often tend to have archetypical qualities because they are used as a way to lend justification/permission to an activity.Often a persons inhibitions will be on the level of conceptualising/discussing an action,rather than performing the action itself.As noted,being authentic tends to degame activities.

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    Could you say a little more about the archetypical qualities - example? Also maybe expand the inhibitions at conceptual rather than actions level, if you would?

    Being authentic does degame, I agree - and can make one seem a party-pooper! Players need other players in order to be able to have a game. So there are opening gambits or 'offers' (a word I came across from playback theatre) requesting that one join in. There can be a strong social imperative to accept an offer once made.

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    Default is it possible to not be in a game, or related to one?

    Hi (non-Russian) Feral Child, thanks for joining in.

    Hi Phil, Is "party-pooper" not also a game role?

    Is the question more about whether "a game" is healthy? Or 'whether one is aware of the games being played and the game one might be playing?'

    I'm asking for a serious reason. I've been looking at jobs/careers in terms of games and stories, and when a person realises the nature of the underlying 'game' or 'story' being played then they really know what to do, either to continue or to change. I think this goes to Shakespeare's "all the world's a stage" and "the great game of life".

    For example, the modern social worker can view their trade, albeit simplified, as the game of "insurance broker", with the customers, suppliers, ombudsman, claims adjuster, financier all in roles then easier to understand.

    Continuing FeralChild's point, I would argue (playing 'debate' which is the game of 'the forum'; from Rome), that games and stories are by their very nature archetypal, with variations to keep the infinite interesting.

    and that is just the beginning ... ;-)

    cheers

    Steven

  13. #13

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    I think that often the games being played can be the persons way of legitimising their actions through a process of "social fictionalising",or formatting their basic drives and more instinctive behaviour patterns to conform with generally understood and accepted behaviors;for instance,if someone has offended me,I might respond by dramatising the scenario with them cast in the role of villain,and myself as the hero who must valiantly struggle to thwart their evil schemes,in order to legitimise my feelings.
    I'd say that there is often more inhibition at a conceptual level because qualities such as authenticity can often elicit opposition/hostility from others,so a way of legitimising ones actions needs to be found,and often the acceptability of the justification is regarded as more relevant than it's feasability or the merits of the actions themselves.

  14. #14

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    I'd also think that;though there will be endless permutations,there is likely to be a fairly limited "drama geometry",and the variables will include accomodation with locally dominant paradigms and such embellishments as would sufficienly engage the persons resources to lend motive force and optimise the performance of the actions in question.

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    Models, archetypes and paradigms are interesting for a conceptual discussion on a forum such as this - I like 'drama geometry' Models are a way of trying to make sense of apparent chaos and each attempt adds a measure of clarity and a measure of obscurity to the overall picture. Models and metaphors can be seductive when they seem to describe an experience particularly well - James described the TA triangle as 'sticky'.

    Can you hear an 'and' coming?

    ...and...

    In the context of working cleanly with someone, such models can lead a facilitator astray. It's a bit too easy to start believing the models represent some form of reality and then to try to fit other people to those theories.

    I suppose that's why I like clean so much. It means a facilitator has to accept their client for who they are being right now - or behave as if they do. The facilitator can have their dreams about what's 'really going on' and the clean process keeps those dreams out of the client's perception.

    The concept of games in human behaviour is another such model: useful as far as it goes. I find it useful to think of the player as being part of the game themselves, rather than them owning and deliberately playing it. Most games will have been learned from someone else, notably parents, I guess?

    Phil

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    Default Party Pooping

    So Phil, could the last post poop a party on games? I have pondered about the party pooping, because I've done it myself and also been in the group of partyers. I discovered that if a person is genuinely teetotal then a group of drinkers do not say "there's a party pooper'; this only seems to happen when the potential pooper is playing a game; me included.

    I suggest that 'clean' is also a model. Sorry (not) to poop the clean party, but symbolic modelling is a model. Turning things to metaphor is a model, created for good reason. Moral high ground is based upon the kids game "king of the castle".

    "Working with the symptoms" is, IMO, David's deepest mantra - and in this light, if its 'games' then working with them will complete them most effectively, just like story busting works with the story, analysis busting on analysis ...

    and oh yes, analysis was a pattern growing on this thread - and I had wondered suggested a 'clean cream for that' (borrowing from Hot Fuzz) ... "analyse that analysis", "criticise that critique", play the game around the game, ...

    What is clean, if it is not using archetypal models of the world, like metaphor, space, time, story and now game? I have presented 'story-busting' at the clean conference ... 'game busting' now has definitely to also become part of the 'clean repertoire'.

    Thank you, now I have a name for the process ..."Game Busting" - done as clean as a whistle, naturally.

    ... and, I take your point, if we stray into the world of models, indeed ... and also agreeing fully we inherit the games, parentally or in the schoolyard, like our stories, working metaphors, our senses of space, time and flow. As they are all around why not work with them? And why not explore games a bit first?

    Agreeing every model has its shadow; no exceptions, including 'clean'. Agreeing seeking to work as cleanly as possible with each client's reality, and agreeing the Tao ...


    Steven

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    LOL I was aware of pooping the game party and yes, symbolic modelling certainly a model (there's a clue in the title, żno te parece?). My purpose was not pooping. I do think it's useful to think in metaphorical terms (e.g. games) and I wanted to remind myself and us to hold such references lightly, that the more we say: 'This is it', the less 'it' this actually is.

    Working with the symptoms = mantra = also model, ditto games, game busting, clean, etc. Models all the way down, up, in and out. Agreeing what you're saying in the post. 'Completing them' is nice - letting, encouraging their story, game to complete. And I wonder... what of suicide? Do you encourage completion on that? I mean that as an honest question, not a game 'offer'.

    Trying to further clarify what I mean, I think I'm saying that we 'human beans' (as Arriety called us) like to simplify the complex and complicate the simple (a quote I heard recently, forget the attrib., sorry) and that there is commonly an urge in people to find out what the 'it' is so we can say: 'That's it!' definitively then order beer and pizza.

    IMO the best process (and processor) is the one that works with THIS client's reality - with whatever hybrid, customised, bastardised set of models, maps and mantra they have stitched together for themselves from their experience to date - and one that does the work necessary for that, rather than shortcutting via a narrow set of archetypes, analytical procedures. Such a process needs to be nimble, alert and responsive and to complement the client's process. The only one I know that gets close that I know is 'clean'. Only close because we will always be doing something, affecting, interfering to some extent. Once written down or captured and formularised, we know it is not the Tao, yet it can be a record of something one did once which worked well and may again with someone else, at least partially. Thus the published models are echoes of what has worked and from the echoes we try to grasp what was said and divine its meaning, imperfectly certainly and sometimes well enough to do some good.

    Phil

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    Oh and the Tao is a model too, of course

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    Default Yes and ... what is clean?

    yes the model of 'no models' , the nothingness whose purpose is to have no purpose, everything else having one ... paradox alive and well ...

    and also what is 'clean', is it the published models of P&J? Is it David;s work? Is it what we do trying to work in that way? or is it ...

    "working with the client reality" - and how do we know that we are doing that?

    we have "hansel and gretel" - following signal after signal until the trail is complete.

    we have "keep on going' - let's find 'another' perspective/space/time/...

    we have model structures ... sym, cs, ek, po6, scaling and all the other emergent forms ...

    How can we avoid "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle"? Only by deciding this model is not true, and making a deterministic universe where one thing can be in a state that does not affect another; and in this case is there a relationship?

    Suicide - now we enter 'murky waters' - do I answer politically correctly or do I endanger a member of the public attacking my stance? IMO every suicide has a different cosmology, from 'cries for help' to just doing it.

    As I think you may recall, my father did commit suicide. Who can blame him, with a son like me, huh? (Just joking, may as well make it myself.) He left no note, he walked out with a gun, sat on a bench outside the police station, put the gun in his mouth, and blew his brains out. This was no cry for help, it was a decision.

    I think I've mentioned before my frame on trauma not being just for the perceived victim but also for the perpetrator, the witness the rescuer and that these situations can be accidental as well as intentional.

    From my perspective, the day I found out was intense. That evening my wife went to the video store and asked for some videos 'to cheer me up' - the lady recommended two and my wife duly brought them home. ... the first movie was 'Thelma and Louise" ... they committed suicide at the end. The second was "Bonfire of the Vanities" and the lead character is trying to kill himself with a gun in his mouth ... all I could do was laugh ... this was surreal ... people were laughing, making humour at 'something so damned serious and in my face' that all I could do was laugh, and it released my pain and anguish.

    Now you might say the movie was dirty intrusion, or you might say it was clean as a whistle, working with the symptoms to deal with a 'once-removed witness trauma'.

    So, some people have threatened suicide on my retreats. I have chosen to not enter the game, but to stay with the process. So far none of the threats have been carried out. I have not gone as far as to say "well don't make a mess then" or "keep it tidy for the ambulance and police men, please".

    What I have learned is that if a person 'says they want to commit suicide' then it should be addressed seriously - 'as a signal' from some aspect of their being. Working with this signal 'as a cry for help' is my frame. The signal is not "commit suicide" the signal is "telliing me <content>".

    Steven

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    political suicide - resigning
    japanese suicide - preferable to shame

    this is going to become a new thread on suicide if we continue

    I do not see 'suicide' as inherently a game or a story; by default it is a signal.

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    I didn't know your father committed suicide. If I did know, I have no recollection of knowing it. Sorry for the accidental entry to murky waters on a sunny Sunday morning, Steven.

    You speak of the effect of the videos and whether they were a 'dirty intrusion' or 'working with the symptoms'. For me there's a parallel there with the therapeutic storytelling I learned about on a course I did several years ago. In some curious way, the telling of a similar tale (or maybe 'adjacent' is a better word) to the recipient's story/symptom seemed to do something they liked. I gained the impression during the course, as both facilitator and client, that the adjacent tale helped an experience to take its place in the world of wider experience. To take an personal example from the course, I came to feel my disappointment over some of my past actions in the context of disappointment that another had experienced and, by inference, disappointment that others, many others, in fact everybody experiences. It didn't devalue my personal experience, seeming rather to acknowledge it and give it 'true' scaling.

    I think working cleanly can do this when the client finds the scaling of their experience that is true for them.

    Phil

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    Hey Phil,
    That issue was not the murky waters, the whole public discussion of suicide and what is 'politically correct' is my murky waters. I'm long at peace with his death and the events around it.

    Anyway, adjacency - good clean principle, scale - good clean principle, working with - good clean principle.

    If my model of the universe is one where the world around is providing perfectly what I need to experience, then life is clean. But to intrude this onto another person whose model is not the same is not so clean. My question is, following our previous discussion on there perhaps being a unique model per person, how do we divine their model, without intruding our metaphor model or our space-time, or emergence, or game or story or flow?

    If we work, one exchange at a time, as per the original clean language, then the client has to communicate first, and we respond. If we do not know how to respond then we stall, delay, ask for more information. The more the client communicates the more metaphors we have. If they use space or time or story or metaphor or games or flows or excuses or complaints or talk problems or ask or tell or engage or distance ... we have some form of reality communicated. If we can recognise the form of this then do we choose a 'sorting' process that takes their navigational metaphors (using the word navigational to imply the form) to design questions or instructions that work with. If the client arrives goal-oriented we work goal-oriented, if they come problem-oriented we work problem-oriented, if they come solution oriented, etc ...

    Then there are still models: "that there is a focus or a direction", "that there is a flow" "that there is a spatial index" etc

    So ... there is no answer, right?

    is 'clean' the emergent result that the client says "i did it all myself"?

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