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8.5. Transactional Analysis


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 8. The Motivating Fire > 8.5. Transactional Analysis

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Transactional Analysis is a branch of psychology, originated by Eric Berne in the 1960’s, where the way we work is viewed through the lens of us having three main elements to our psyche.

The ‘parent’ part of us provides control, directing (through the ‘controlling parent’) and giving permission (through the ‘nurturing parent’) to our actions. Our internal parental models often come from our own parents and others in authority, such as teachers and managers. In particular, the parent gives or denies us permission to be creative.

Our ‘adult’ side is the assertive, mature persona who can understandingly tolerate the ambiguous and uncertain periods of creative activity and then even-handedly evaluate the new ideas and concepts.

Although we sometimes prefer not to acknowledge it, we also have an internal child which, which can operate in three different modes. The ‘adaptive child’ learns to live in the outer world, complying with or rebelling against the controlling parent. The quaintly-named ‘little professor’ is where our curiosity comes alive, investigating the world around us. And finally, the ‘natural child’ is driven by raw emotion and represents some of our deeper animalistic elements.

Transactional Analysis model

Together, the little professor and the natural child make up our creative persona. The problem is that this persona is very sensitive and is easily repressed by not only our own controlling adult, but also by the adult of anyone else around us (including complete strangers). It is thus critical when creating individually or in groups to mobilise the nurturing parent to protect and give the free child permission to explore and experiment.

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