Transference and Transactions
作者: Richard G. Erskine / 5435次阅读 时间: 2009年8月22日
标签: Transactions Transference
www.psychspace.com心理学空间网Transference and Transactions: Critique from an Intrapsychic and Integrative Perspective1

Richard G. Erskine

In Eric Berne’s writings there are two  different explanations of psychological functioning: the ego, composed of  separate states, with intrapsychic dynamics among the states; and ego state  terminology applied to descriptive behavioral roles. Subsequently,  throughout the transactional analysis literature, two views of transference  and transactions exist that, when applied clinically, are at variance with  each other.

One purpose of this  article is to draw a distinction between Berne’s two theories of ego states  and to describe how each theoretical perspective creates a significantly  different concept of transactions and transference. The practice of  transactional analysis in psychotherapy is markedly different with each of  these two theories.

A second purpose is to demonstrate that  consistent use of Berne’s developmental, relational, and intrapsychic theory  of ego states in understanding the internal dynamics of transactions can  lead to a sensitive and effective response to transactions and transference  and to a comprehensive and integrative psychotherapy.

Transference within  Psychoanalysis

Freud’s (1905/1955) identification and  specification of the transference dimension of the psychotherapeutic  relationship is his most fundamental discovery (Langs, 1981). For the past  90 years psychotherapists have struggled with the problem of understanding  patients’ communications and clarifying the difference between transactions  that are solely in response to the current situation and those that are an  expression of archaic relationship conflicts.

In the case of Anna O., Breuer and Freud  (1895/1955) discovered the phenomenon of transference when they tried to  uncover childhood traumas that were the roots of hysterical symptoms. They  first considered transference as resistance to the uncovering of repressed  childhood traumas. However, by 1905 Freud described the importance of  working with the transference and considered transference and resistance  (defenses) as the two main elements of psychoanalysis.

Freud (1905/1955) described transference  using the metaphor of new editions or facsimiles of old emotional  experiences. In transference patients replace the emotional experience with  an earlier person with a similar experience with the psychotherapist. Within  psychoanalysis this description of transference remains the basis for  treatment. It was echoed by Greenson (1967), who described transference as  the emotional experience of a person that does not befit that person and  which actually applies to another. A person in the present is  inappropriately reacted to as though he or she were a person in the past.

Freud’s hypothesis about the origin of  transference was based on the assumption that each individual, through the  combined operation of innate disposition and influences brought to bear  during early years, acquired a somewhat fixed method or set of methods of  living which were evident in all relationships. The patient in analytic  treatment was seen as repeating these attitudes and reactions. Freud  understood transference as the displacement of behavior and feelings onto  the therapist, feelings that were originally experienced and directed toward  significant figures from childhood (Freud, 1912/1958, 1915/1958). This early  psychoanalytic concept of transference is the one most compatible with  Berne’s (1961) original writings on ego states and their application to a  theory of transactions and transference.

In the 1910s and 1920s Freud shifted his  focus away from a theory of relationship conflicts of early childhood, as  represented in his original ideas (1905/1955), to a theory that emphasized  innate biological drives. Anna Freud (1965), working within this drive  theory model of psychoanalysis, described the defensive, projective aspects  of transference as the externalization of instinctual drives. She wrote that  many of the transference situations encountered in her work were because the  person of the analyst is used to represent one or another aspect of the  patient’s personality. In this view, transference and projection are drive  theory concepts that describe the defense against awareness of a specific  biological drive.

For example, a patient may project a drive  of aggression onto the therapist, thus subjectively attributing it to the  therapist while experiencing the self as the object of aggression from the  therapist. The patient then experiences the disowned and split off drives as  being in the other person (Berg, 1977; Novik & Kelly, 1970). This drive  theory concept of transference is not compatible with either Berne’s (1961)  intrapsychic or descriptive theories of transactional analysis.

Berne’s (1961) descriptions of  transference phenomena are more closely linked to those of psychoanalytic  object relations theorists such as Bollas (1979), Fairbairn (1952), Guntrip  (1971), Khan (1974), and Winnicott (1965). Spotnitz (1969) described the  object relations theorists’ view of transference as “the patient’s attempt  to reveal the basic maturational needs for objects that were not met in the  course of his development” (p. 139).

Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) described in  detail the bifurcation of current psychoanalytic theory between a  relationship perspective and an instinctual drive perspective and the  correspondingly differing views of transference. Anna Ornstein (1989)  described transference as “current” resistance: “Transferences contain many  elements of the past, but they are not only made of archaic reactions, they  also contain a current reaction” to the therapist. When the transference is  used to investigate the intersubjective field between patient and therapist,  the behavior and unconscious intrapsychic processes of the therapist become  an important source of information for use in understanding the patient.  From this perspective, what looks like transference is at times a current  reaction to the behavior and affect of the therapist (Stolorow, Brandchaft,  & Atwood, 1987). Such insight into the meaning of the transference requires  an empathic acceptance by therapists of their own childhood experiences and  emotions (Brandchaft, 1989).

Kohut (1971) distinguished two types of  transference: those based on instinctual drives and those representing early  developmental needs such as approval, mirroring, and echoing. Kohut called  the transactions that expressed fixated developmental needs “selfobject  transferences” (p. 23) and ascribed to them a necessary reparation function  within the therapeutic process. In Kohut’s (1977) self psychology the  therapeutic goal of working within the transference is the completion of  interrupted developmental processes. This is a very different goal than the  classical psychoanalytic interpretation of transference as an expression of  instinctual drives.

Other  psychoanalytic writers have explored the therapeutic relationship,  questioning what distinguishes transference from nontransference. Some argue  that transference pervades the therapeutic relationship (Brenner, 1979;  Friedman, 1969; Langs, 1976), while others argue that there are neutral or  rational relationships in therapy (Greenson, 1967; Lipton, 1977).

Baker (1982) described the crucial  variable in psychotherapy as “the transference, which involves components of  both the real relationship between patient and therapist and the more  irrational components displaced, projected and externalized from the  patient’s history” (p. 196) of relationships with significant people and  their internalized representations.

Greenson (1967) described two types of  relationships in therapy that should not be equated with transference. Both  the “working alliance” (p. 191) and the “real relationship” (p. 217) are  nonarchaic and involve the patient’s reasonable ego. The working alliance is  the patient’s cooperation in the therapeutic tasks and may be tinged with  elements of archaic motivation (transference). There is, however, an  observing ego that can stand back from the experience temporarily and  reflect on it. The “real relationship is genuine and reality oriented or  undistorted as contrasted to the term ‘transference’ which connotes  unrealistic, distorted, and inappropriate” (p. 217). An example of the  realistic relationship may be a patient’s concern for or criticism of the  therapist. Lipton (1977) used the term “cordial relationship” (p. 255) to  describe the nontransference transactions between patient and therapist. In  his 1961 theory of transactions Berne implied the ideas of both a  transference and nontransference relationship between therapist and patient.

For the past two decades psychoanalysis  has been undergoing a major reevaluation regarding practice and theory.  Berne (1961) predated much of the current theoretical reframing of  psychoanalysis when he dispensed with a theory based primarily on innate  biological drives and instead viewed human functioning as based on  relationships. Berne (1961, 1966) continued to acknowledge primary innate  human motivations such as stimulus hunger—with its sublimation into  recognition hunger, and later structure hunger—but each of these were  manifestations of the need for human relationship. Berne’s primary  contribution to advancing knowledge of psychotherapy theory was his  description of states of the ego and the use of these concepts to identify  which transactions were transference and which were nontransference.

As reflected inTransactional Analysis  in Psychotherapy(Berne, 1961), transactional analysis began as a  reaction to and an advancement of psychoanalytic theory. Today there is much  that transactional analysts can gain in theoretical perspective and clinical  application by reexamining from an intrapsychic and integrative perspective  both Berne’s original theoretical conceptualizations and the current  theoretical and methodological debate within psychoanalysis.

Berne’s Original  Concept of Ego

Berne’s (1961) original conceptualization  of ego states appears to this writer to be a logical and creative extension  of psychoanalytic structural theory. He expanded on Federn’s (1953/1977)  concept of ego and elaborated the concept of the archaeopsychic and  exteropsychic states of the ego. In so doing Berne paved the way for an  explanation ofintrapsychic conflict that is relational and developmental  rather than relying on Freud’s drive model ofintrapsychic  instinctual-societal conflicts.Berne (1961) eliminated the theoretical  concepts of id (pp. 61, 194, 198) and superego (p. 32) by postulating that  these psychological dynamics are functions of an ego composed of three  states of psychic organization: fixations from childhood, introjections of  elements of the personality of others, and an integrating state in full  contact with what is currently occurring internally and externally. He  hypothesized that “an ego state is the phenomenological and behavioral  manifestation of the activity of a certain psychic organ, or organizer” (p.  24).

Based on the references and footnotes  found inTransactional Analysis in Psychotherapy(Berne, 1961), one  would deduce that Berne was building theoretically on the writings of  psychoanalytic authors Breuer and Freud (1895/1955), Fairbairn (1952),  Federn (1953/1977), Freud (1949), Klein (1949), and Weiss (1950) and the  child developmentalists Piaget (1932, 1951, 1954) and Erikson (1950). Berne  (1961) thought of ego function as, in part, composed of archaeopsychic  states: “the ego state of the actual child” which “has organization, unified  will, logic and, certainly, negation” (p. 198). These archaic ego states  consist of fixations of earlier developmental stages. They are the entire  personality of a person as he or she was in a previous developmental period  of time (pp. 54-55, 192, 1964, p. 23). The archaic ego fixations occurred  when critical childhood needs for contact were not met, and the child’s use  of defenses against the discomfort of the unmet needs became habitual  (Erskine, 1980). These fixations became egotized or, in other words, formed  separate ego units or states. The archaic or Child ego states (Berne, 1964,  p. 23) are maintained in later life through the current use of defense  mechanisms (Erskine & Moursund, 1988).

In Berne’s (1961) words, “The Child ego  state is a set of feelings, attitudes, and behavior patterns which are  relics of the individual’s own childhood” (p. 77). When functioning in the  Child or archaic ego states the person perceives the internal needs and  sensations and the external world as he did in a previous developmental age.  Although the person may appear to be relating to current reality, he may  actually be experiencing what is happening with the perceptual, emotional,  intellectual, and social capacities of the child at the time of repression  and fixation. It is this theoretical notion of the continuing fixation of  Child ego states and the manifestation of a fixated Child ego that serves as  one of the cornerstones for a transactional investigation of transferences.

Building on his own clinical observations,  Berne extended Federn’s (1953/1977) and Weiss’s (1950) concept of the  “psychic presence” (Berne, 1961, p. 19) of parental figures that influence  an individual’s current behavior. He postulated the existence of  exteropsychic ego states. The exteropsyche or Parent ego states are the  manifestations of introjections of the personality of actual people as  perceived by the child at the time of introjection (Loria, 1988).

Since the child’s perceptions of the  caretaker’s reactions, emotions, and thought processes will differ at  various stages of development, so also will the actual content and  intrapsychic function of the Parent ego state vary in relation to the  developmental age when the introjection occurred. (Erskine, 1988, p. 17) 

Introjection is a defense mechanism  (involving disavowal, denial, and repression) frequently used when there is  a lack of full psychological contact between a child and the adults  responsible for his or her psychological needs. The significant other is  made part of the self (ego), and the conflict resulting from the lack of  need fulfillment is internalized so the conflict can seemingly be managed  more easily (Perls, 1978).

Introjected elements of another’s  personality may become egotized and theoretically form an exteropsychic ego  state. Berne’s theoretical premise of the existence of exteropsychic ego  states is a second cornerstone in an intrapsychic and integrative  understanding of transactions and transference.

Berne (1961) contrasted the exteropsychic  and archaeopsychic ego states with a neopsychic ego state (Adult) that  accounts for and integrates: (1) what is occurring moment-by-moment  internally and externally, (2) past experiences and their resulting effects,  and (3) the psychological influences and identifications with significant  people in one’s life. This Adult ego state consists of current, age-related  motor behavior; emotional, cognitive, and moral development; the ability to  be creative; and the capacity for full contactful engagement in meaningful  relationships. This neopsychic state of the ego functions without  intrapsychic control by an introjected or archaic ego.

Berne’s original definitions of ego states  provide the conceptual basis for an integrating psychotherapy (Clarkson &  Gilbert, 1988; Erskine, 1977/1979, 1987, 1988; Erskine & Moursund, 1988;  Loria, 1988; Massey, 1989; Moiso, 1985, 1988; Novellino, 1985; Trautmann &  Erskine, 1981) that distinguishes nontransference transactions (neopsychic  ego in origin) from possible transferential transactions. It is my  understanding thattransferential transactions are externalized  expressions of internal ego conflicts between exteropsychic and  archaeopsychic ego states.

Berne’s  Illustrations and Descriptions

In each of his writings Berne (1961, 1964,  1966, 1972) augmented his precise theoretical definitions of ego states and  intrapsychic function with illustrations and behavioral examples. Evolving  from these explanations was a distinctly different theory of ego states  which he called “descriptive” (Berne, 1972, p. 13). Although his original  definitions of ego states emerged from both clinical experience and an  extrapolation of the ideas of psychoanalytic authors, hisdescriptions  of ego states relied not on his theory of “states of mind,” but on metaphors  that tended to emphasize “their related patterns of behavior” (Berne, 1961,  p. 30).

In providing illustrations of ego state  theory in clinical practice, Berne shifted from a relational and  developmental theory to a descriptive and behavioral understanding of ego  states. He equated ego states withrolesor specific behavior typical  of those roles. For example, Berne (1961) used the phrasing “a Parental  response” (p. 44) and “the parental role of comforting” (p. 95) to imply  that the person was transacting from his or her Parent (exteropsychic) ego  state. Another time the behavior “rational” (p. 132) was equated with the  Adult ego state (p. 132). There are many other examples of ego states  descriptively identified (pp. 128-135, 1964, p. 30, 1972, p. 14).

By shifting to a more descriptive and  behavioral orientation, it seems that Berne greatly diminished his own  creative extension of psychoanalytic theory. He lessened the impact of what  his relational understanding of intrapsychic conflicts—as they are  manifested in transferential transactions—had to offer. Berne (1972) changed  perspectives and created an alternative set of theoretical analogies of ego  states as roles and transactions as numerical probabilities of the roles (p.  19).

In articulating his theory Berne (1961)  specified: “Ego states must be differentiated from ‘roles’ ” (p. 233); and  “Ego states are not roles but phenomena. Therefore ego states and roles have  to be distinguished in a formal description” (Berne, 1964, pp. 53-54). Yet  throughout his writings he both defined the theory of ego states from a  developmental, intrapsychic perspective and also provided illustrations and  descriptions of behavioral roles. At one point he acknowledged this  theoretical inconsistency: “For the most part, the examples given have  concerned the behavioral and social aspects of the Child” (Berne, 1961, p.  235).

Berne’s writings contain several such  theoretical inconsistencies as a result of his use of illustrative  descriptions as definitions. Moiso (Erskine, Clarkson, Goulding, Groder, &  Moiso, 1988) emphasized that Berne was not theoretically consistent: “It  isn’t clear when he is giving a definition, a description, or a metaphor”  (p. 7). In referring to Berne’s likening the Adult to a computer, Moiso  added, “That’s a metaphor for the functioning of the neopsyche” (p. 7).

Three examples of the use of metaphors as  definitions follow: 

1. Berne (1961) described the Adult as  working “deliberately and consciously” (p. 69) as if these two attributes  were not possible in a Parent or Child ego state.

2. “The Parent has two main functions.  First, it enables the individual to act effectively as the parent of actual  children” (Berne, 1964, p. 27). With this description of the function of  Parent ego state Berne disregarded that it is the Adult ego state that is in  contact now with those in the environment. “Automatic” parenting (Berne,  1961, p. 76), although conserving much time and energy, is not in contact  with the child. Instead, it may often be an activation of an introjection  related to some other person in another time and place. Effective parenting  requires full contact in the present between parent and child.

3. “In the Child reside intuition,  creativity and spontaneous drive and enjoyment” (Berne, 1964, p. 27). While  this is true of many children, it is not a definition of the Child ego  state. Two pages earlier Berne defined Child as “an archaic ego state” (p.  25), and elsewhere he said it was “a warped ego state which has become  fixated” (Berne, 1961, p. 54). In cases where the child has been neglected  and/or traumatized, the Child ego state of the adult may not be spontaneous  or intuitive or joyous. The fixation of the archaic child may be depressed,  inhibited, or defended. These symptoms are likely to emerge later in life in  transactions with others and in the course of psychotherapy.

Many of Berne’s descriptions sound as if  he were reifying his theoretical ideas. His analogies have become specific  entities. In his original developmental theory Berne (1961) used “adapted  Child” and “naturalChild” (p. 77) as adjectives to describe (1) the  function of an archaeopsychic ego state under the oppressive internal  influence of a Parent ego state and (2) the natural responsiveness of a  child in the absence of such critical or controlling parenting. Berne’s  descriptive wanderings from his original theoretical definitions (1961) take  their final form in his last writings. The adjectives used previously to  describe intrapsychic functioning became the nouns, “Adapted Child” and  “Natural Child” (Berne, 1972, p. 104).

A review of theTransactional Analysis  Journalreveals that most authors have described ego states in  behavioral or descriptive terms (Nurturing Parent, Critical Parent, Adapted  Child, Natural Child, and Rebellious Child) or as a categorization of  psychological processes (equating Parent ego state with values, Adult ego  state with thinking, and Child ego state with feelings), or as a mix of  these concepts.

When Berne shifted his illustrations of  ego states to the descriptive, he ignored his own original definitions and  the necessary four-part diagnosis (behavioral, social, historical, and  phenomenological) that is required for complete identification of the state  cathected (Berne, 1961, pp. 75-76, 225).

When psychotherapists and authors of  articles about psychotherapy do not take into account the specific  validating procedures that Berne (1961) outlined in his chapter on diagnosis  (pp. 68-80), then the validity of Berne’s original definitions and theory is  not maintained. Transactional analysis theory loses both its internal and  external consistency. Without such a four-part correlation and a consistent  use of Berne’s original developmental and relationship-based theoretical  definition, ego state theory becomes merely a taxonomy of behaviors. A  descriptive taxonomy of behaviors is very useful in a social control or  behavioral therapy, but the elegance of Berne’s logical and creative  extension of psychoanalytic theory is lost. Transactional analysis becomes  less a developmental, phenomenological, intrapsychic psychotherapy and more  a therapy of behavioral adjustment. As a result, the meaning and purpose of  analyzing transactions and the resolving of transference is uniquely  different from the point of view of each of Berne’s two theories of human  functioning. Each theory and practical approach has a valid place in  psychotherapy. And Berne’s role/communication theory has application in  nonpsychotherapy fields. An understanding and appreciation of Berne’s early  developmental and intrapsychic theory, however, allows for greater  theoretical consistency and a more in-depth psychotherapy.

Loria (1988) highlighted these theoretical  contradictions and the difficulties inherent in mixing concepts and in  deviating from stated theoretical definitions without a supporting  explanation of the new theoretical definitions. At the end of his writings  Berne predicted the theoretical and methodological confusion inherent in  mixing concepts. He recommended the use of “the Conceptual Grid” (Berne,  1972, pp. 409-413) so that theoretical discussions and treatment planning  could remain within a given set of concepts and definitions. Berne  concluded: 

If one takes a structural or biological  approach to the Child ego state and another takes a functional and  descriptive approach, it is impossible to reconcile the two. . . . One uses  structural nouns, the other uses functional adjectives as modifiers, and the  nouns and adjectives do not belong to the same framework or come from the  same viewpoint. (pp. 411-412)

Ego State  Determinants

In 1964 Berne stated that “transactional  analysis is concerned with diagnosing which ego state implemented the  transactional stimulus, and which executed the transactional response” (p.  29). In order to determine if a particular transaction is transferential or  nontransferential, it is necessary to conduct a “careful and systematic  analysis of the psychodynamics of . . . transactional stimuli and responses”  (Berne, 1966, p. 154), of ego state cathexis and possible intrapsychic  conflicts. Verification of which ego state is cathected is only possible  with a four-part correlation of the behavioral, social, historical, and  phenomenological determinants of ego states. “The complete diagnosis of an  ego state requires that all four of these aspects be available for  consideration, andthe final validity of such a diagnosis is not  established until all four have been correlated”[italics added] (Berne,  1961, p. 75).

Berne (1961, pp. 74-76) described the four  diagnostic determinants of ego states in the order he saw them in  psychotherapy: behavioral, social, historical, and phenomenological. From a  perspective of facilitating an integration of the fragmentation of the ego,  I have supplementally defined the identifying criteria and listed them in  the following order of significance (Erskine & Moursund, 1988):

1. The identifying criterion of the  phenomenological determinant is the subjective experience of the person. It  includes the sensations, desires and needs, feelings, and beliefs that shape  the person’s perspective—thehowandwhatit is like to live  in his or her experience. Included in the phenomenological criteria are the  physiological, emotional, and cognitive associations of significant life  events and the times when elements of the personality of another were  introjected. Also included is the subjective experience of the internal  defense mechanisms fixated at times of neglect, traumatic experience, or  cumulative devaluation.

2. The historical  determinant is gleaned primarily from memories of the dynamic events between  oneself and others, or the relationship between mother and father or other  important family members. These can provide essential information regarding  early conflicts. Thewhoandwhenof early life may reveal  memories of similar feelings and behavior in childhood or memories of the  parental person who offered the prototype behavior. Included is an inquiry  into the distinction between the person’s own fixated childhood defenses and  the defense mechanisms possibly introjected from significant others.

3. The behavioral determinant involves adevelopmentalfocus (Berne, 1961, p. 154) on gestures, posture,  vocabulary, tone of voice, or other mannerisms, and the content of what is  communicated. The assessment of the person’s current observable behavior is  compared with information about human development regarding early  mother-child interaction; motor and language development; emotional,  cognitive, and social development; defense mechanisms; moral development;  and adult life transitions. All of this comparative information provides a  background of data to assist in determining the stage of development at  which emotions, behaviors, or interactions have become fixated. Behavior  that is not congruent with the current context may have been normal and  appropriate for a child at a specific developmental age or may be an  indication of how the patient defended himself or herself in a traumatic  situation.

Childlike behavior may be an indication of  the person’s own active Child ego state, or just as likely, an indication of  the Child ego state of an introjected parent. Interweaving the developmental  assessment with the historical or phenomenological may be necessary to  determine if a specific defensive reaction, behavioral pattern, or emotion  is the manifestation of an exteropsychic ego state or of an archaeopsychic  fixation.

4. The fourth determinant in verifying ego  state cathexis is the social ortransactional.The analysis of  transactions provides data to indicate which ego state is active, the nature  of the intrapsychic dynamics, and what stimulus from the psychotherapist  served to trigger the cathexis. The intrapsychic dynamics include the  influence of the introjected Parent ego state and the Child’s need for a  contactful relationship. Transactions between the person and  psychotherapist, or, in group or family psychotherapy, between any two  people, may reflect a transference either from an exteropsychic or  archaeopsychic ego state. These transferences may take the form of “roles”  such as childlike “compliance,” “impertinence,” or “rebelliousness”;  adult-like roles of “problem solver” or information exchange; or parental  roles of “comforting” or “controlling” (Berne, 1961, pp. 93-96).It is  essential in diagnosing ego state cathexis and intrapsychic conflict to  evaluate these transactional roles or social entities within the context of  a correlated phenomenological, historical, and developmental (behavioral)  assessment.

Transference transactions are an  expression of the intrapsychic processes and ego state cathexis. To  determine which transactions are nontransference and which are transference,  it is necessary to validate which ego states are intrapsychically  influential and which are active. “Transactional analysis consists of  determining which ego state is active at a given moment in the exhibition of  a transactional stimulus by the agent, and which ego state is active in the  response given by the respondent” (Berne, 1966, p. 223). It is through the  careful and systematic use of the four-part correlated diagnosis that it is  possible to understand transference transactions and proceed with  psychotherapeutic interventions.

An Intrapsychic and  Integrative Perspective

An integrative intrapsychic approach to  transactional analysis psychotherapy consists of deconfusing the  archaeopsychic ego states and relaxing fixated archaic defenses, emending  and/or decommissioning the exteropsychic ego states to resolve internal  conflicts between archaeopsychic ego states and exteropsychic ego states,  and facilitating the integration of one’s life experiences into a neopsychic  ego. “It is the process of making whole: taking disowned, unaware,  unresolved aspects of the ego and making them part of a cohesive self”  (Erskine & Moursund, 1988, p. 40).

This integrative perspective on  psychotherapy is an extension and further refinement of Berne’s (1961)  original theoretical concepts of ego states, intrapsychic conflicts, and  ensuing transferences. These concepts are augmented by the theoretical  premise thatit is because of the continued fixation of defense  mechanisms that the archaic or exteropsychic ego states remain separate  states and do not become integrated into neopsychic awareness.  Neopsychic ego state awareness of needs, desires, memories, and external  influences remains blocked through the fixation of childhood defenses.

Fixation refers to a relatively enduringpattern of organizationof affect, behavior, or cognition from an  earlier stage of development which persists into and may dominate later  life. Defensive patterns of organization are often formed during an  interpersonal conflict in which some psychological gain is achieved at the  cost of the loss of others. The persistence of these childhood patterns of  organization in later stages of development results in an inability to be  spontaneous and flexible in problem solving and in relating to people  (Erskine, 1980).

Intrapsychic conflict is the result of the  cathexis of an influencing Parent ego state and an internal reaction by a  Child ego state (Berne, 1961, pp. 32, 42, 75-78, 241, 1964, p. 26, 1966, pp.  222-223). For example, theinfluencingParent ego state is sometimes  phenomenologically experienced as a hallucinated voice, a compulsion, and/or  an inhibition. It may be observable as a childlike adaptation, withdrawal,  or dependency. In other situations the fixated Child ego state is defending  against the intrapsychic influence of a Parent ego state. It may be  phenomenologically experienced either as an overwhelming sense of need or as  a lack of sensation and desires, an incapacity to think, or rage. It may  also be observable as resistance, defiance, age regression, needy  dependence, or a lack of full contact internally and externally. The  observable behaviors may provide data for a partial hypothesis of anadaptedChild ego state under the intrapsychicinfluenceof a  Parent ego state or states. The subjective or phenomenological experiences  reported by the person may provide additional supporting data or lead to an  alternate hypothesis.

The intrapsychic conflict is in part  maintained by the child’s needs for relationship (Fairbairn, 1952),  attachment (Bowlby, 1969), or contact (Erskine, 1989) and the fixated  archaeopsychic ego state’s defense against full awareness of contact,  attachment, and relationship needs. These needs may be manifested as  psychological loyalty to the intrapsychically influencing Parent ego state.

Berne (1961) described the intrapsychic  dynamics of ego states as representing “the relics of the infant who  actually existed, in a struggle with the relics of the parents who once  actually existed” for it “reduplicates the actual childhood fights for  survival between real people, or at least that is the way the patient  experiences it” (p. 66).

When the archaeopsychic ego state is  active (either subjectively reportable or behaviorally observable), by  theoretical inference the exteropsychic ego state is cathected and  intrapsychically influencing (Berne, 1961, p. 42). I am suggesting that all  transactions from an activeadaptedChild ego state—whether described  as resistant, rebellious, compliant, or dependent—are aspects of  transference. Transference transactions from a Child ego state are one way  of obtaining relief from the intrapsychic conflict. Such transferences are  theoretically assumed to be accompanied by a projection of elements of  either an exteropsychic ego state or of a fantasy of a self-created parental  figure (Erskine, 1988; Moiso, 1985). With projection, the intrapsychic  conflict is once again externalized and then reacted to as though the  stimulus were coming from outside the person. This provides some momentary  relief of the intrapsychic conflict. With transference the intrapsychic  conflict may once again be as it was in childhood, transactional between at  least two people, with the hope of finally mastering the old interpersonal  conflict. Projection also serves as a defense against awareness of the  intrapsychic conflict and/or the actual historical conflict and the  resulting effect on the child.

The active expression of a Parent ego  state can also lead to relief from the intrapsychic conflict.The active  Parent ego state is a reaction to and expression of an intrapsychic  representation of an internally contained historical transaction.This  is observable when the person manifests the thoughts, feelings, and  behaviors of the introjected person and directs them toward another person.  TheseactiveParent ego state transactions are also defined as an  aspect of transference.

An essential procedure in an integrative  approach is the analysis of transactions to determine which are  transferential and which are nontransferential. The purpose of analyzing  transactions is to determine which ego states are active and which are  intrapsychically influencing as well as to facilitate an amelioration of the  fixations and intrapsychic conflicts. Many transactions in psychotherapy do  not reflect a transference of early fixations or introjections.  Nontransference transactions are an expression of full contact here and now  between the patient and therapist or between any two people. Their  conversations may include discussion of the life problems of mature adults,  reactions to loss or change, existential dilemmas, spiritual searching, and  the challenges faced by aware, responsive, and evolving persons.

Transference transactions are an  expression of either an archaeopsychic or exteropsychic ego stateand,  by inference, reflect an intrapsychic conflict between two or more ego  states.Nontransference transactions are any expression of a neopsychic  ego uncontaminated by fixations of either archaeopsychic or exteropsychic  ego states.

Berne’s Analysis of  Transactions

Eric Berne parted company with a classical  psychoanalytic theory that regarded all transactions from patient to  psychotherapist as transference of childhood conflicts or wishes. Berne’s  original theoretical concept of neopsychic ego made it possible to  understand transactions as Adult-to-Adult—hence,transactional analysis,  and not only an analysis of transference.Berne’s diagrams of ego states  also made it possible to graphically represent that which is transference  and that which is nontransference.

Berne (1961) began his discussion of the  analysis of transactions with a case presentation of “transference” (pp.  91-97) within a therapy group. He described an Adult-to-Adult ego state set  of transactions between Camellia and Rosita, followed by Camellia’smisperceptionof Rosita’s questions, and ashiftin Camellia to a  Child ego state. Berne described this as a “crossed transaction” (p. 93) 

in which the stimulus is directed to the  Adult while the response originates from the Child, . . . probably the most  frequent cause of misunderstanding in marriages and work situations, as well  as in social life. Clinically, it is typified by the classical transference  reaction. (pp. 93-94) 

In Berne’s further writings he began each  explanation of crossed transactions with an example of the “classical  transference reaction of psychoanalysis” (1964, p. 30, 1966, p. 225, 1972,  p. 14) that loosely fit his original theory of ego states. All his other  examples of transactions were from a role theory perspective.

A review of Berne’s (1961) group case  presentations ( pp. 91-96) shows that he parted company with his own  intrapsychic theory (pp. 29-80, 191-210) and related interventions (pp.  224-231, 1966, pp. 233-258). His interventions in this case were “motivated  by the ultimate aim of establishing social control” (1961, p. 95) and his  assessment that the group members were not “ready to attempt a deconfusion  of the Child or a resolution of underlying conflicts” (p. 95). His use of  role analysis as an analogy and substitute for his original intrapsychic  theory of ego states corresponded with his switch to behavioral therapy.

On the basis of this motivation Berne  changed his theoretical concept of ego states and defined transference and  transactions significantly differently from what his original ego state  theory would have required for consistency. With his theoretical concepts of  exteropsychic, neopsychic, and archaeopsychic ego states, the definitions of  transactions and transferences would have had to be related to the  expression of ego, ego fragmentation, and intrapsychic conflict. However,  Berne’s use of roles to describe ego states led to definitions of  transactions that described communication from a behavioral perspective. An  evaluation of Berne’s role or descriptive theory reveals consistency between  the analogy of ego states as roles and subsequent definitions of  transactions. With role theory Berne developed a useful taxonomy of behavior  and a theory of communication (1961, pp. 128-135) consistent with a social  control therapy. Yet there remains a need for definitions of transactions  and transferences that are consistent with Berne's original  conceptualization of ego states.

Function of Defense  Mechanisms

In describing the transactions between  Camellia and Rosita, Berne (1961, pp. 91-97) unfortunately did not discuss  two significant theoretical and clinical aspects of the transference  reaction: what he referred to as the “misperception” and the “shift” (p. 93)  in Camellia’s ego states. Throughout his writings Berne seemed to assume  that the reader was familiar with the dynamics of defense mechanisms. A  missing link in Berne’s concept of ego states is the lack of a definition of  how defenses are related to ego state theory, such as in the case of  Camellia’s shift to her Child ego state.

An integrative perspective on  transactional analysis assumes that it is because of the continued presence  of active archaic defenses that Child and Parent ego states remain fixated  and separate states of the ego that are not integrated into an Adult ego  (Erskine, 1988). Any of the elements of the ego that are not integrated into  the neopsychic ego may be denied; if intrapsychic stress increases, the  nonintegrated elements are subject to projection. Projection reestablishes a  shaky set of defenses, which were originally developed to keep the person  somewhat comfortable in a very uncomfortable situation.

Also from an integrative intrapsychic  perspective, it is with the dynamics of the misperception and shift that a  phenomenological and historical evaluation is assumed to yield  psychotherapeutically useful information about Camellia’s ego states,  intrapsychic processes, and the function of her misperception of Rosita  (Erskine & Moursund, 1988). Berne (1961) only relied on a social role  description—“the parental role of comforting and apologizing” (p. 95)—and an  all too limited description of the developmental behavior. There is  insufficient information with which to make an adequate correlated diagnosis  to determine which ego states are involved in the transactions.

Berne did not elaborate on the  significance of the misperception. Theoretically, it is a likely projection  onto Rosita of elements of an introjected person (Parent ego state) in  Camellia’s life. This would provide a concomitant relief of the intrapsychic  conflict and a parallel reexperiencing of an external conflict. Camellia can  now enact the internal conflict with another person who can play therole  of a “parental response” (Berne, 1961, p. 94), that is, one form of  transference. The parental response does not require that the person be in  the Parent ego state (exteropsychic ego state), but rather, only that she be  a suitable projection screen (Joines, 1977; Moiso, 1985; Perls, 1944/1947).

Transference  Analysis

Transference transactions of the type  described above involve a denial of anda projection of elements of  exteropsychic ego states and a reaction from an active archaic ego state.  There also may be subsequent transactions from the Child ego state to the  misperception of a parental response in the other person. It is also  possible to have a transference that involvesprojection of elements of  exteropsychic ego states and a reaction or overt transaction from an  exteropsychic ego state.

These transferences from historical  relationships provide defensive relief from the discomfort of the  intrapsychic conflict. Memories are deflected of the original transactions,  where the person(s) with whom the child needed a primary relationship,  attachment, and contact were the ones who disappointed, neglected, or  abused. In such a transference the interpersonal conflicts of childhood are  once again experienced as originating with people in the environment and  thus offer the opportunity for resolution.

Relief from intrapsychic conflict may also  be achieved through a transference that involves denial of andprojection  of elements of an archaeopsychic ego state.To avoid the awareness of  discomforting or painful feelings, needs, or experiences, the original  denial or repression must be maintained. One way of accomplishing this,  particularly when these feelings are stimulated, is by projecting elements  of the repressed Child onto someone else. The transferential transactions  may take two basic forms: (1)projection of elements of archaeopsychic  ego states and an overt transaction from an active exteropsychic ego state,  or (2)projection of elements of archaeopsychic ego states and a reaction  or overt transaction from an archaeopsychic ego state. 

A graphic example of Child ego state  projection and transference transactions from an active Parent ego state  occurs in some cases of multigenerational child abuse. The primary purpose  is to diminish intrapsychic conflict: The painful experiences contained in  the Child ego state are denied and projected onto a suitable screen, and the  verbal or physical cruelty that was historically introjected into a Parent  ego state is made externally active and directed at another person.

A second example illustrates the  projection of elements of a Child ego state and a reaction by a Child ego  state within the same person. In some clinical situations the patient may  engage in primary process and magical thinking and project a fantasy onto  the psychotherapist. The projection of an archaic fantasy provides an  opportunity for the patient to express through the transference with the  psychotherapist the Child ego state experiences of intrapsychic conflict.  Such early childhood fantasies function as an intrapsychic protection and  may be either terrifying and punitive or wonderful and nurturing, similar to  Kohut’s (1971, 1977) descriptions of idealizing transferences. Either  fantasy serves both to maintain the denial of the caretakers’ effects on the  child and to express the need for protection from the intrapsychic conflict  (Erskine, 1988). Psychotherapists who regularly confront, define as a game,  or attempt to eliminate such a projection of either a terrorizing or  idealizing transference inhibit an intrapsychic and integrative therapy  process.

Another aspect of transference, the  projection of elements of a Child ego state and an overt transaction from a  Child ego state within the same person, is evident in those psychotherapists  who project their own childhood experiences onto patients. The overt  transactions may be an expression of a benevolent, nurturing caretaker  fantasy within a Child ego state that functions internally to protect  against awareness of Parent ego state influence (Erskine, 1988; Erskine &  Moursund, 1988; Moiso, 1985). As long as there is a suitable screen for the  projection of a troubled child, the intrapsychic conflict can be transferred  and the denial contained. This form of transference is commonly referred to  as countertransference.

Ulterior transactions represent those  transactions that are at the psychological level of motivation, outside of  Adult ego state awareness, and that are a transferential expression of  Parent or Child ego state elements (Berne, 1961, pp. 103-105). In 1964 Berne  described ulterior transactions as the basis of games (p. 33), and earlier  (1961) he defined games as segments of longer, more complex sets of  transactions calledscripts. Scripts belong in the realm of  transference phenomena, that is they are derivatives, or more precisely,  adaptations, of infantile reactions and experiences. But a script does not  deal with a mere transference reaction or transference situation; it is an  attempt to repeat in derivative form a whole transference drama, often split  up into acts, exactly like the theatrical scripts which are intuitive  artistic derivatives of these primal dramas of childhood. (p. 116) 

Life script is the macro expression of  transference;games are a subset of script, ulterior or psychological  level transactions are the substance of games, and the analysis of  transactions is dependent on the concept of the ego divided into states with  ensuing intrapsychic dynamics.

Transactional analysis is a theory of  personality and social action, and a clinical method of psychotherapy, based  on the analysis of all possible transactions between two or more people, on  the basis of specifically defined ego states. . . . Any system or approach  which is not based on the rigorous analysis of single transactions into  their component specific ego states is not transactional analysis. (Berne,  1972, p. 20) 

Psychotherapy of  Transference

The psychotherapy of transference occurs  in part when the therapist does not simply take the patient’s words or  behavior at face value but also looks for the unaware meaning of what  patients are saying or not saying, doing or not doing through their  affective communication and bodily gestures. The understanding of  transference from an integrative intrapsychic perspective on transactional  analysis requires a multifaceted focus. Transference can be viewed as: 

1. the means whereby the patient can  demonstrate his or her past, the developmental needs that have been  thwarted, and the defenses that were erected to compensate; 

2. the  resistance to full remembering and, paradoxically, an unaware enactment of  childhood experiences;

3. the  expression of intrapsychic conflict and the desire to achieve intimacy in  relationships; or 

4. the  expression of the universal psychological striving to organize experience  and create meaning.

Novellino  (1985) expanded on the importance of understanding the function of  transference: 

In any  psychotherapeutic relationship the unsatisfied childhood need will be  projected onto the therapist who will be experienced by the patient as the  source of the possible satisfaction of the need (positive pole of  transference) as well as its frustration (negative pole of transference). In  every case the transference will be characterized by the simultaneous  presence of both poles. (p. 204) 

Trautmann  (1985), in aTransactional Analysis Journaleditorial summarizing the  transactional analysis literature on transference, said: 

Therapy is  effective when the internal Parental influence or dialogue is externalized  (transferred), allowing for the resolution of childhood impasses and  traumas, and the emergence of a stronger, uncontaminated, more integrated  Adult. The specific approach used to effect this resolution depends on the  level of childhood fixation: the more symbiotic the Child, the more actively  the therapist needs to take on the transference relationship. (p. 190) 


Berne’s (1972) application of the  principle of “Occam’s Razor” (p. 20) gave too close a shave to the theory of  analysis of transactions. In his attempt at conceptual “simplicity”  (Preface, p. xvi) and theoretical “economy” (p. 21), Berne cut the  theoretical concepts to their most simplified explanation and in so doing, I  believe, lost the significance and profundity within his own theory. No  longer is there either internal or external theoretical consistency.

When Berne redirected the emphasis of ego  state theory from the original definitions to behavioral descriptions, he  created a fundamental change in theanalysis of transactions.With  the shift in the theoretical metaphor of ego states the focus of the  psychotherapist moved to the effect of the communication (transaction) on  the receiver and on the patient’s options for changing behavior to produce  more effective communication.

The methodology stemming from this change  of theoretical emphasis often resulted in the patient’s improving social  skills, but the inherent meaning of the transactions, particularly those  that are transferential, was lost. No longer was there a theoretical basis  in the psychotherapist’s mind for a sensitivity to the internal  psychological message or the desperate communication in the unaware  expression of the existential position (Berne, 1964) or script beliefs  (Erskine & Zalcman, 1979). Berne’s original theoretical postulates, which  led to an understanding of intrapsychic functioning and psychological versus  social levels of transacting, was diminished, and a form of transactional  analysis as a behavioral therapy emerged. This shift defined the task of the  transactional analyst as improving communication and social effectiveness  rather than understanding and ameliorating the intrapsychic conflict that is  communicated through transference.

Berne developed two distinctly different  theories of ego states and transactions. Each has a specific and valuable  clinical purpose, and Berne’s descriptive theory has many applications in  the social world of human behavior and communication. It has been my goal in  this article to show that the use of Berne’s developmental, relational, and  intrapsychic theory of ego states and the consistent use of that theory in  understanding the internal dynamics of transactions can lead to a sensitive  and effective response to transactions and transference and to a  comprehensive psychotherapy that results in the integration of ego state  fragments.


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