A transactional analysis of truth

by Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA

Individuals A and B had known one another for over fifty years, at one time being best friends.

After not seeing one another for thirty or more years they had a face-to-face reunion.

Everything seemed to go well.

They discussed old times and what had happened in their lives in the meantime. Both seemed to enjoy the visit.

About one month after the visit however A telephoned B on his/her cellphone and told him/her Bush I was one of the best presidents the US ever had, kind, gentle, and civil, and was very sad about his having died.

Individual B said s/he disagreed, saying Bush I was a lying two-faced hypocrite, a war criminal, a toady for the establishment, and one of the prime conspirators assassinating JFK.

After twenty or so minutes of heated discussion B told A s/he could not believe what A was saying, telling A s/he knew A was an intelligent person, but was worried if they kept this up they could destroy their relationship.

A continued to make her/his case from a one-up Parent position; B also continued to make his/her case blow by blow.  B said again the best thing to do was end their telephone conversation now before they destroyed their friendship.

A continued trying to convince B of the truth as defined by A.

B finally exploded, “Goddamn it A I’ve had enough of this shit.”

A then said, “Well, now that you have insulted me, I might as well hang up.”

The two have not spoken to one another since.

Here is a transactional analysis of the case:

Both A and B in their face-to-face visit realized they differed politically but had the good sense to say nothing about it so as not to destroy their visit. Unfortunately their differences grated on A after the visit, causing him/her to telephone B to straighten the situation out.  A had been older and dominant in their earlier lives and wanted to reestablish the previous psychological structure, to again become one-up and more OK than B psychologically.

B having grown up would have none of it wanting to be I’m OK—You’re OK in the relationship.

A started the episode from the Parent Persecutor Game position socially and from the Child Rescuer position psychologically.  B responded from the Adult position.  A ended up by trying to lay a guilt trip on B for insulting her/his character and hurting his/her feelings from a Child Victim position, insinuating B caused A to suffer by being so harsh and callous with his/her explosive language.

This TA Game is known as SCHLEMAZAL.  A broke the relationship by making the telephone call and saying what s/he said, psychologically attacking B, causing a loss for B, but ended the Game accusing B of immorally insulting A by saying what B said using the language and tone s/he used, with A finally switching to a woeful hurt Child ego state Victim position, having lost as much or more in the Game than B.

Most likely what A was primarily looking for in the first place by telephoning B were strokes, i.e. units of recognition.  A is getting up in years and lives alone and wanted to talk to someone.  Unfortunately this conversation with B did not go well, the primary currency being traded in the transaction being negative strokes, not positive strokes.  The positive stroke bank accounts of both A and B were depleted by the Game they played during the transaction, causing both to be more depressed than they were before the Game was played with lowered self-esteem as payoffs for the Game.  Both A and B had been relatively successful in their careers and had probably been playing SCHLEMAZAL and its complementary cognate Games all their lives, proving once again that money cannot buy happiness in all cases.

Psychological Games are often described by transactional analysts as bridges to intimacy.  Game players not being fully honest start off conversations with ordinary chickenshit or bullshit transactions about the weather, sports, politics, and such hoping they might get to something serious and honest, such as whether they and their marks really like one another, and what they really think and feel about things, intimacy, which rarely happens.  Transactions between people are structured in a hierarchy from least stoke intensive to most stroke intensive—withdrawal, pastimes, rituals, activities, Games, and intimacy.

An individual’s definition of truth is caused by the facts, analyses, and conclusions s/he was exposed to in life and by what was required to be believed by individuals to be accepted, survive, and make a living in particular authoritarian groups and organizations.  Since individuals have been exposed to different facts, analyses, and conclusions in various amounts and have accidentally been exposed to different kinds of authoritarian groups and organizations they now quite naturally store different kinds of truths about various issues, problems, opportunities, etc.

For more on truth and psychological Games read my book, Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning at https://www.amazon.com/Born-Learn-Transactiona…/…/0692584331.

What most people cannot accept is how difficult it is to convince an individual her/his truth is not the real truth if you disagree with it.  The following linked article sheds important light on this problem.

SOURCE:  “Manufacturing Truth,” by C. J. Hopkins, The Unz Review:  An Alternative Media Selection, A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media, http://www.unz.com/chopkins/manufacturing-truth/?fbclid=IwAR0nv5goF8LADiBk9Z_FDhIHqEML2Ngt8g5SK8uhrEZG8fHIo7EqjvVw1M8.

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