Life position - Transactional Analysis


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Life positions are basic beliefs about self and others, which are used to justify decisions and behavior. Life position, which was originally described by Eric Berne (1962/1976) in an article entitled "Classification of Positions."

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Life position - Transactional Analysis

  1. 1. Life Positions
  2. 2. Prepared By Manu Melwin Joy Research Scholar School of Management Studies CUSAT, Kerala, India. Phone – 9744551114 Mail – Kindly restrict the use of slides for personal purpose. Please seek permission to reproduce the same in public forms and presentations.
  3. 3. Content – Part 1 • Days of decision. • 4 life positions. • How often does life position change? • OK Corral. • Character and surface life positions. • Blame model. • Three handed position. • 3 Dimensional Okness. • What is okayness?
  4. 4. Content- Part 2 • Which comes first – Decision or life position? • What is the life position of a new born? • Is the life position I+U- genuine? • Is I+U+ the best life position? • Seven life positions – Tony White. • OK modes model.
  5. 5. Days of decision 1. Before children are eight years old, they develop a concept about their worth and worth of others. 2. These are children’s days of decision. The days of decision lead a person to take psychological positions. 3. The psychological positions taken about oneself and about others fit into four basic patterns.
  6. 6. Life position Life positions are basic beliefs about self and others, which are used to justify decisions and behavior.
  7. 7. Life position • Life position, which was originally described by Eric Berne (1962/1976) in an article entitled "Classification of Positions." • He delineated four life positions: "I'm OK, You're OK" (I+U+) – Good Life position; "I'm not- OK, You're OK" (I-U+) – Depressive position; "I'm OK, You're not-OK" (I+U-) – Paranoid position; and "I'm not- OK, You're not-OK" (IU-) – Futile position.
  8. 8. I am OK, You are OK • It is potentially a mentally healthy position. • If realistic, People with this position about themselves and others can solve their problems constructively. • Their expectations are likely to be valid. • They accept the significance of other people.
  9. 9. I am OK, You are not OK • It is a position of persons who feel victimized or persecuted, so victimize and persecute others. • They blame others for their miseries. • Delinquents and criminals often have this position and taken on paranoid behavior which in extreme cases may lead to homicide.
  10. 10. I am not OK, You are OK • It is a common position of persons who feel powerless when they compare themselves to others. • This position leads them to withdraw, to experience depression, and in severe cases, to become
  11. 11. I am not OK, You are not OK • It is the position of those who lose interest in living, who exhibit schizoid behavior, and who is extreme cases, commit suicide or homicide.
  12. 12. Life position • Once a position is taken, the person seeks to keep his or her world predictable by reinforcing it. • It becomes a life position from which games are played and scripts acted out. • "Every game, script, and destiny then, is based on one of these four basic positions”.
  13. 13. How often does life position change?
  14. 14. OK Corral • According to Franklin Ernst who developed OK corral, Each of us arrives in adulthood having written a script based on one of the four life positions. • But we don't stay in that position every hour of the day. Minute by minute, we shift between positions.
  15. 15. OK Corral • Ernst showed that people can behave in an I+U- position at home, then go to work and be I-U+ with the boss, and later that evening be I+U+ with a boyfriend or girlfriend. • Woollams and Brown said that what Ernst was describing should be viewed as "feeling states" .
  16. 16. OK Mix • Although we might all have a basic life position, I believe that our positions and behaviours are quite complex and can be different depending on circumstances and sometimes change moment to moment. • This is what Anita Mountain (2009) calls the OK mix “That is the dynamic interplay between any group of people moment to moment. • All our transactions can be seen as invitations to other people to join us in our current (behavioural or existential) position.”
  17. 17. Surface life position A surface life position is temporary and changes many times each day. It may be reflected in the types of ego states or transactions that we use.
  18. 18. Character Life position • According to Berne’s original conceptualization, One cannot change one's total life destiny rapidly. • Woollams and Brown's concept of life position is that life positions are fairly permanent and do not change easily.
  19. 19. Character Life position • The character life position will influence the amount of time and the ease with which one adopts a certain position at the surface level. • For example, someone who is I-U+ at the character level will tend to use that most often at the surface level, particularly under stress. • However, "allowers," "permissions," and the requirements of various daily situations lead each of us to use all the life positions in our daily lives.
  20. 20. Life position • Berne talked about the life positions as existential positions, one of which we are more likely to go to under stress. • This is significantly different to the concept Ernst uses, i.e. that we move around them all during the day. • It seems that Berne was talking about a character level idea, and Ernst was talking about a surface- level, minute-by-minute concept.
  21. 21. Changing Life position • One way to influence one's character life position is by doing things differently in everyday life. • For instance, if one's character position is I-U+ one can make a social contract to engage in I+U+ behaviour and transactions at work. • If one persists with this new surface-level behavior, the Child ego state will slowly begin to alter its character position to one that is more I+U+.
  22. 22. Blame model • The Transactional Analysis 'Okay Corral' can be linked to 'blame model ', for which Jim Davis TSTA developed this simple and helpful model. • Commonly when emotions are triggered people adopt one of three attitudes relating to blame, which each correlate to a position on the Okay Corral.
  23. 23. Blame model • I'm to blame (You are okay and I'm not okay - 'helpless') • You are to blame (I'm okay and you are not okay - 'angry') • We are both to blame (I'm not okay and you are not okay - 'hopeless')
  24. 24. Three handed position • I+ You+ They+ : Democratic community position. • I+ You + They - : Gang positions – who needs them. • I+ You - They + : Agitator or malcontent – you people are not good compared to those there. • I+ You-They- : Solitary righteous self critic. • I-You+ They+ : The is a self punishing saint or masochist. “ I am the most unworthy person in the world”
  25. 25. Three handed position • I- You+ They- : Servile position “ I abase myself and you reward me well not like those inferior fellows” • I- You-They+ : Servile envy “ I hate us because we are not as well off” • I- You- They- : Pessimistic position , believes in predestination and original sin. “we are none of us any good any where”. • I+ You+ They? – Evangelistic position . I and you are ok but we don’t know about them until they show their credentials or come to our side. • I+ You? They- : Aristocratic , Most other people are not good, but as if you, i will wait until i see your credentials.
  26. 26. 3 Dimensional Okness • It was proposed by Anita Mountain. • If we consider the third dimension of THEY, then the social interaction of groups, families, organisatio ns and teams becomes open to analysis. • In 3 dimensional Okness suddenly there are eight positions rather than the traditional four.
  27. 27. 3 Dimensional Okness
  28. 28. What is okayness?
  29. 29. Okayness • Stewart and Jones (1987) seemed to define the degree of OKness a person feels as the "essential value" (that one perceives in oneself and others. • This implies that it is more than just behaviour.
  30. 30. Okayness • Steiner (1974) gave a more philosophical definition of OKness. • He said that Berne had a conviction and "'faith in human nature“ about the OKness of people. • As a result, we all are OK, even those who commit the most heinous deeds. • Such individuals are not responsible for their genes or early backgrounds and thus are OK, even though their behavior is not.
  31. 31. Okayness • For his part, Novey sees OKness as meaning "I am an acceptable human being, with the right to live and meet my needs, and you are an acceptable human being with the right to live and get your needs met.“ • For him, "rights" and "acceptability" are used in defining OKness.
  32. 32. Okayness • Harris and Harris (1985) saw OKness almost as a comparison of following between a child and his or her parents: – Strength – Power and – Dependency
  33. 33. Planetary Okayness • Another aspect of life positions is taken up by Pearl Drego (2008). • He talked about the environmental crisis affecting the earth as “scripty and suicidal”. It is a position of the extreme antisocial (I+ U-T-) or hopelessness (I-U- T-). • Issues such as climate change, water shortages, marine pollution etc. are all global problems – that can overwhelm us with their scale and complexity.
  34. 34. Planetary Okayness • It is at the small group level that we can create and maintain healthy life positions including other groups, nations and importantly future generations. • Then maybe we can step back from the hopelessly suicidal and antisocially homicidal positions.
  35. 35. Which comes first – Decision or life position?
  36. 36. Decision or life position? • Eric Berne – Early decisions come first and then life position is adopted to justify it. • Claude Steiner – Life position is adopted much earlier.
  37. 37. What is the life position of a new born?
  38. 38. New born - I am OK and You are OK • When we are conceived we are hopefully at peace, waiting to emerge into the world once we have grown sufficiently to be able to survive in the outside of the womb. • If nothing untoward happens we will emerge contented and relaxed. • In this case we are likely to perceive the world from the perspective of I am OK and You are OK.
  39. 39. New born - I am not OK and You are not OK • Perhaps our mother had some traumatic experiences, or the birth was difficult or even life threatening. • This experience is likely to have an effect on the way we experience the world, even at the somatic level. • In which case we might emerge sensing that life is scary and might, for example, go into "I am not OK and You are not OK either".
  40. 40. New born - I am not OK and You are OK • Let's take it that the pregnancy went fine, and the birth was easy enough. What then? • Well life experiences might reinforce our initial somatic level life position, or contradict it. • If we were treated punitively, talked down to, and not held, we may begin to believe "I am not OK and You are OK". This might be the only sense we can make of our experiences. • For the child, adults are giants who make it feel not ok.
  41. 41. Is the life position I+U- genuine?
  42. 42. I+U- • It is generally understood that for someone to believe that another person is not-OK, they must at some level believe that they themselves are not-OK. • For example, Stewart and Joines (1987, p. 123) said "that I+U- is often a defence against I-U+." • Tony White said that the "I'm OK, You're not-OK" position be described as "I'm not-OK, but You're worse" (I-,U--).
  43. 43. Is I+U+ the best life position?
  44. 44. True winner position • How effectively assertive - state their needs and wants in contradiction to another person's needs. • Tony White - "I'm a Bit More OK Than You Are" (I++U+). • The I+U+ individual differs from the I++U+ person in that the latter enjoys the niceties of life if he or she can afford them. At the same time, the I++U+ person sees others as OK so he or she is not greedy or exploitative.
  45. 45. Development • From a developmental point of view, children start in the I+U? position. • If given total permission, they will either stay as I+U? or more likely move to I-U--. • If, instead, they are given the correct quota of positive conditional and unconditional strokes, as well as negative conditional strokes, then they will end up in either I+U+ or I++U+.
  46. 46. Seven life positions – Tony White 1. "I'm OK, You're Irrelevant" (I+U?) 2. "I'm not-OK, You're Irrelevant" (I-U?) 3. "I'm not-OK, You're not-OK" (I-U-) 4. "I'm not-OK, But You're Worse" (I-U--) 5. "I'm a Bit More OK Than You Are" (I++U+) 6. "I'm OK, You're OK" (I+U+) 7. "I'm not-OK, You're OK" (I-U+)
  47. 47. "I'm OK, You're Irrelevant" (I+U?) • Position at birth • No sense of boundaries between self and others • Animistic thinking • Narcissistic personality • Ideas of reference • Dependent personality • Normal stage of development.
  48. 48. "I'm OK, You're Irrelevant" (I+U?) • The newborn from birth to 12 months feels omnipotent. • The infant sees mother/caretaker and self as having a common boundary and does not perceive himself or herself as being a separate entity. • The infant is in a state of twilight existence in which he or she does not seem to know where he or she begins and where the other leaves off. • It is only after achieving this strong attachment in the first 12 months that the baby spends the next 24 months endeavouring to become a separate individual.
  49. 49. "I'm not-OK, You're Irrelevant" (I-U?) • Similar to the I+U? position. • In this case, however, the person decides he or she is not-OK. • This position develops from the I+U? position as soon as the young child is confronted with parenting that is sufficiently adverse to cause the child to decide that he or she is not-OK. • Logically, as soon as one develops a sense of others' OKness, then the positions of I+U? and I-U? can no longer be maintained.
  50. 50. "I'm not-OK, You're not-OK" (I-U-) • Similar to prior descriptions in that it is a "Get-nowhere-with" position. • Such individuals, however, have a sense of self and of their boundaries. • As a result, this group does not include those abnormal states in which there are boundary problems. • This position develops from the IU? position when the child is allowed to form a sense of self. Often the schizoid personality falls into this life position.
  51. 51. "I'm not-OK, But You're Worse" (I-U--) • This position was previously referred to as the I+U- life position. • Although at the behavioural level I+U- seems to be the correct description for such individuals, it fails to indicate that they have their own feelings of not-OKness and view others as being less OK to convince themselves that they are OK. • Therapeutically it is more effective to diagnose such a person as IU-- because this designation confronts the denial strategy used by him or her.
  52. 52. "I'm a Bit More OK Than You Are" (I++U+) • The winner or autonomy position, previously described as the I+U+ position. • In normal development this position naturally follows from the previous I+U? position, roughly around the age of four (depending on the theory of child development to which one subscribes).
  53. 53. "I'm OK, You're OK" (I+U+) • This position does not define the individuals who will cope best or most effectively in life. • Rather, people in this position will tend to be too accommodating to others' needs, thus manifesting qualities similar to those found in the I-U+ position. • However, the I+U+ individual is not a self-hater as is the I-U+ person.
  54. 54. "I'm not-OK, You're OK" (I-U+) • Similar to previous ideas about this position. • The depressive position of "Get- away from."
  55. 55. OK modes model • This model shows how we communicate or behave with others. It consists of ten Modes with a central Mindful Process. • When we come from the green Modes we invite a positive response, and when we communicate from a red Mode, we invite a response from one of the red Modes.
  56. 56. OK modes model • The central circle element, upon which the full model is built, is in itself a representation of effective communication. • When we are in the one of the four effective Modes shown around the circle we are responsive to the present situation.
  57. 57. OK modes model • Generally when something is said from an effective Mode the response from the other person is also likely to be from an effective Mode. • Equally, where a communication comes from an ineffective Mode, the invitation is for the other person to respond from one of the ineffective Modes.
  58. 58. OK modes model Effective Modes Ineffective Modes Structuring Criticizing Inconsistent Supporting Interfering Co-creating Over-adapted Oppositional Playful Reckless
  59. 59. Mindful Process • Not a Mode, this is a requirement or condition enabling effective Modes to be accessed/used. • When we are operating mindfully, we communicate 'OK to OK' messages. • We operate appropriately in the here-and-now and have access to the positive aspects of the care and structure we have received in the past and the experiences we had in childhood.
  60. 60. Effective Modes • Structuring Mode - This is the boundary setting Mode, offering constructive criticism. In this Mode we are caring whilst firm. • Supporting Mode - When in this Mode we are affirming and considerate. • Co-creating Mode - From this Mode we develop ways to help us live and work with others. • Playful Mode - This is the creative, fun loving, curious and energetic Mode. We can confront people playfully as a way of dealing with a difficult situation.
  61. 61. Ineffective Modes • Criticizing Mode - communicates a "You're not OK" message. When in this Mode you will believe that others cannot do things as well as you can, or perhaps only certain chosen people can. • Inconsistent Mode - As a leader we might be inconsistent in our style - changing our behavior in unpredictable and apparently random ways. This is not helpful for followers (or leaders). • Interfering Mode - communicates a "You're not OK" message. When in this Mode the person will often do things for others which they are capable of doing for themselves. People who find it difficult to delegate might
  62. 62. Ineffective Modes • Over-adapted Mode - This expresses an "I'm not OK" or "I'm not OK and You're Not OK" message. When in this Mode we over-adapt to others and tend to experience such emotions as depression or unrealistic fear and anxiety. • Oppositional Mode - Even when opposing others, we are not actually free to think for ourselves as we are reacting to them in the belief that we need to 'resist' them. • Reckless Mode - In this Mode we run wild with no boundaries. Here we express a "You're not OK" message. At work we tend not to take responsibility for our actions and are unlikely to progress as we need a great deal of management in order to focus our energy and keep boundaries.
  63. 63. Thank You
  64. 64. Other TA topics available on slideshare 1. Strokes - 2. Games People Play - games-people-play. 3. Structural Analysis - 4. What is TA? - 5. Cycles of Development - developement-pamela-levin-transactional-analysis. 6. Stages of Cure - 7. Transactions - 8. Time Structuring - 9. Life Position - 10. Autonomy - 11. Structural Pathology - 12. Game Analysis - 13. Integrated Adult - 14. Stroke Economy - 33826702.