This is our truth, tell us yours
The psychology shelves of any bookshop are groaning with books that will tell you how to live better, feel happier, be more successful, influential and beautiful. The latest fad is mindfulness, a lovely little bit of neocolonialism where Buddhism is repackaged for middle class white people who are too busy to meditate. It has made its developer millions, and I wish I had thought of it first.
Some of the books are more worthy than others though, and have genuine insights and usefulness. I’m Ok you’re OK is a simplified version of the theories of Eric Berne, a guide to Transactional Analysis without the big words that so many theorists seem to think they are obliged to use to be taken seriously. Berne believed that our actions as adults were influenced by our life scripts, those messages we were taught as children about who and what we are.
The first time I read about TA this made so much sense to me. I know that when I get depressed those life scripts I learnt as a child take over. I am worthless, I will be abandoned, my feelings/needs and wants are the least important and will be ignored. When these life scripts take over the work I have done to become healthier becomes forgotten, and I revert to being that frighted, angry child.
This brings us to another aspect of TA. Berne said we operate in either Parent, child or adult ego states when we interact with other people. The ideal is Adult to Adult, but others work perfectly fine, so long as people remain in the ego state the other is reacting to.
Now the sex bit.
All BDSM is not age play of course, but within it, or within the BDSM relationship I am in, and that brings me so much happiness we move from Adult-Adult interactions to Parent-Child. Transactional gives us a model to show this is not limited to TA, many successful relationships are based on a Parent-Child interaction. Things go wrong when someone tries to change which ego state they are in and the other person either doesn’t recognize it, or is unable to change due to their own life scripts.
For example a sub may be ill and covering it up, then a parent state of nurturing will be less useful than too adults talking about whether the sub is physically able to take impact play. A Parent ego state may ignore or wrap in cotton wool, only two Adult states can determine where new limits might need to be set.
Or closer to home, a Dominant may need to speak as an adult to his sub, to use the space they have created where although she is owned they are equals and the input of both is valued and valuable. However if one or the other slips into Parent or child the lines of communication get tangled, and the child may end up hitting out, like that angry scared toddler.
You might say that this post is part apology, part insight, part incomprehensible. That’s OK, the minds of others are wonderful, mysterious places. The usefulness of all models of human behaviour is they give us a rough map as to what might be going in that impenetrable forest that is the mind of another.
If you are interested in TA you can read more here, https://www.itaaworld.org/index.php/about-ta/key-ideas-in-ta I would also recommend Games People Play even if it is a bit outdated in some of its language.