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Another Way of Looking at Things

By OxDrover

In the book Games People Play, by Dr. Erick Berne, M.D., he explains what he calls “strokes,” or social exchanges. It has long been known that people require social interaction with other people and that this is a biological requirement for life itself in some cases. In orphanages, children whose basic physical needs are met, but who are not held and cuddled, literally die from a condition called “failure to thrive.”

The term “stroke” can be used as a general term for any intimate physical contact, but in practice it may take many forms, including conversation and recognition of another’s presence. In Dr. Berne’s opinion, “any social intercourse (even negative intercourse) is better than no intercourse at all.” [Parenthetical explanation added.]

He says that in experiments with rats, it didn’t matter if they were handled gently or shocked with electric shocks, they received many benefits from the “strokes” over rats that were not “stroked” at all.

The purpose of social contact revolves around somatic and psychic equilibrium. It relieves tension, helps avoid noxious situations, procures strokes and maintains the established equilibrium.

We (humans) have a stimulus hunger and “strokes” help us avoid emotional starvation, which can lead to biological deterioration. Even the most hardened prisoners and convicts need strokes—they fear and dread the punishment of solitary confinement above all others.

In Games People Play, Dr. Berne explains the theory called “Transactional Analysis” which is used to visualize human interaction, both healthy and unhealthy interactions. This is represented by an “Internal Parent, an Internal Child, and an Internal Adult.” These are symbolized by P, A and C.

The P, or internal Parent, is composed of the “shoulds and should-nots” that you internalized from your primary caregiver as you grew up. The “tapes” inside the P can be both negative and positive, or nurturing and critical, such as, “You are so stupid” or “You are pretty.” These “tapes” are absorbed and believed without any “editing” by the internal Child.

The A, or internal Adult, is the rational part of you that says for example “two + two = four.” There are no emotional components to the internal Adult.

The C, or internal Child is made up, not of “childish” things, but is the part of you that is creative, loving, wondering and fun loving.

Our internal Child needs strokes and stimulation, and the job of the Adult is to meet those needs. Unfortunately, sometimes the Adult works on faulty information derived from the internal Parent. Therefore the Adult doesn’t do a good job of finding what the Child needs.

The Child may be continually punished or put down by the internal Parent, so is in continual pain or confusion about what he (or she) needs or wants to be happy.

If our upbringing has been nurturing, we will have a more nurturing Parent who will not continually “beat” our internal Child. We will have a nurturing Parent who will comfort our Child when it is scared, lonely, etc. If we have had a more Critical Parent implanted in our soul and mind, then our Child may feel that he is “Not OK” and continually seek ways to receive strokes that may be negative, but … better than no strokes at all.

Have you ever noticed that when you are around a two year old and you get on the telephone, the child immediately begins to try to get your attention? If pulling at your leg doesn’t work, or climbing in your lap, it won’t be long before a lamp goes over and breaks. The child has learned even by age two that they want attention and if “positive” behavior doesn’t get it, knocking over the lamp sure will. It may be negative behavior, but it does get your attention. Even negative strokes are better than no strokes.

Learning how to get positive strokes, and not resorting to negative stroke behavior, is a life-long learning process, especially if you grew up having difficulty receiving positive strokes from those closest to you.

Psychopaths learn how to give FAKE positive strokes to hook us in. Strokes that we accept at face value as positive, and come to depend on. Later, when we are addicted to the strokes from our own personal psychopath, the strokes turn negative and painful, but we are so addicted to receiving strokes from this “super stroker,” that, contrary to any messages from our internal Adult saying “Hey, there’s something wrong here,” we put tape over the mouth of the Adult to shut him up.

Or, our internal Parent, if it is more critical than nurturing, reminds us that we deserve these negative strokes because we are not worthwhile individuals worthy of respect.

Transactional Analysis also uses the “Triangle” of Rescuer-Persecutor-Victim. We and the psychopath learn to play the “triangle game,” changing chairs like a game of musical chairs. One day the psychopath is our Rescuer, and we are the Victim, then the next day we Persecute their role as Victim, and on the third day we Rescue their Victim, only to start and stop the “music” on an almost daily basis.

“Games” are unconscious maneuvers in which roles are accepted, the “triangle” is utilized, and there is a “pay off” at the end for all parties playing. Dr. Berne, in Games People Play, describes these “games.” He also shows us how we can stop playing “games,” which preclude intimacy, and get off the “triangle.” Some of the names of the various games are very descriptive, like, “Let’s you and him fight.” Other games are “Why don’t you, yes, but …” “Alcoholic,” “Cops and robbers,” “Let’s pull a fast one on Joey,” “Look how hard I’ve tried,” and my all time psychopath’s favorite, “If it weren’t for you.”

Transactional Analysis may not explain everything about the human psyche, but it does go a great ways in making our inner and outer world understandable in a simple language. It gave me a way to think in an orderly fashion about the “internal dialog” between my Critical Parent tapes and my Child. It gave me a way to use my Adult to nurture the Child inside me and to hit the MUTE button on the critical Parental injunctions that kept me from insisting on respect and reasonable treatment from those closest to me. It helped me distinguish the fake positive strokes from the real positive strokes, and helped me to decide that I can stroke myself, and don’t have to depend on negative strokes to survive.

Books I would recommend for further reading are:

Games People Play by Dr. Erick Berne, M. D.,
I’m OK-You’re OK by Thomas Harris M. D.\
Scripts People Live, by Claude M. Steiner.



70 Comments on "Another Way of Looking at Things"

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  1. david says:

    Fightforwhatright: Thanks, ten years is a long time. You see he was a co-worker (friend) he found this con. He just changed a few things to benefit himself. What he did was con or trick me to act out or say things that he did not like about himself over the ten years. Most of it was silly, but I was thinking what ever went on it was between us. I never knew he was keeping score, it was so spread out. At the same time he was watching every move I made. He kept tabs on me when I was not with him. At on point I believe he had me followed. He hated himself and was jealous of me. He wanted to mimic me. This sound weird, but it was like he wanted to switch the kind of people who we are and how our life would end up. He told others that I was ill, even the police. I know others knew he was conning me and I was the only one in the dark. At the end he had another co-worker push me out of employment. And another person say well you can’t take anything with you. (drama triangle) He said such vial things to me at the end, I did not know what to say. Just in shock! I could longer find work in that field again. He made sure of it. I lost my house and had to move. I found out he stole a good deal of money from me, even my wallet. I can’t prove anything. He held all the cards. I trusted him. As a guy I really carried about him. I was always kind to him, his wife, his children. I spent a large amount of money on his kids around Christmases, birthdays. I didn’t know anything about Sociopaths until a year later, when I read about it on-line. And you know by the way he was acting and talking, I believe He was a Sociopath. The projection, gaslighting. Ever since I read a lot about them. But before I left, I saw the little kid in him. The trauma I have is to much on some days. I know longer have a normal life. Everything I remember just goes on over and over in my head. After four years I still can’t find any real employment, Just like he said you will never be employed again.



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  2. david says:

    4light2shine, Thank You for sharing and all the support so far. I have found counseling to help me with moving past the evil that entered my life. There is so mush more to be said. Now that I have been a way for sometime with no contact, I do feel a little foolish but I was so involved, I couldn’t see it for what it was. I do know he knows where I live in general because I felt so close to him as a friend. We shared just about everything. I didn’t see any threat. Thanks to everyone.



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  3. blossom4th says:

    david,
    It’s very commom for sociopaths to mirror their target because they want to either mimic certain qualities, or as you mentioned in your previous post,your entire life!

    Glad to hear that counseling has helped.Did you talk to your counselor about the problem you’re having in finding employment?



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  4. david says:

    blossom4th: Hi, So I have read, that Sociopath want someone else life because they see it ending up or being not the way they want it. So instead of doing the work on their own, they cheat people out of theirs. What do you think? It just so happened to be me who came by. (lucky me)

    So far counseling has helped but I think I still have some time to go. One of the problems is that, Like many things right now, I have negative feelings about the future. I think I am so far behind in life. Being in a different location, I need different schooling or training to fit the unemployment.
    Thanks for checking on me.



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  5. blossom4th says:

    david,
    Yeah,spaths are kind of like those critters in the sci-fi movies that zap people so they can use their bodies….only they need personalities instead of bodies!

    Take advantage of your counseling to get as many questions answered as possible!It might do you well to write down thoughts you have between sessions.

    Is there a Tech school in your area?Look into taking online classes.



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  6. lost everything says:

    Blossom,David, Spaths sure do ferret out our likes, interests and make them theirs as well. With me, the latespath had it easy, he knew me since childhood, we inadvertently went to the same college; he knew my strong points and weaknesses. With EscortM it was a very different story, she was a party girl who enjoyed music venues, especially punk rock. He had to learn, for him, an alien skill. From her writings, he mastered her music choice well.

    Spaths have to be masters of aping for it strengthens the ‘soul mate’ bond they need to establish.

    The latespath took it one step further, he learned from the likes of others and stored that knowledge for use sometime in the future. My mother had a mad passion for handbags and as I grew up I learned to appreciate them. The latespath had no interest in clothes, let alone women’s fashion. By the time he entered the escorting world he was a connoisseur of Louis Vuitton, Coach, Chanel and used that to entice escorts. EscortT wrote to him, ‘thanks to you I will never have to go to Canal Street again’; Canal Street in NYC is the home for luxury knockoffs. Is there any wonder that he became the darling of the escorting world; how many other guys gave a girl $700.00/$1000.00 for a hour of her time and then tipped her with $1000.00+ handbag?

    He would use anything that would appeal to anyone to form a bond. He actually had the unmitigated gall to use 9/11. He would tell people that his office was a few blocks from the Trade Center and had he not taken a day off, he would have been in the middle of the events. Reality, no job, he was suppose to be putting up a kitchen tile backsplash; my mother made him do work.

    He even, as I was to learn, picked the broker’s brain and the information in different words back to the broker to appear to be very knowledgeable about the market.



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  7. slimone says:

    Lost everything,

    I am sure someone here has said this at least once. You certainly DID NOT lose everything. You are, and I am not trying to flatter or make some strange online intimacy here, so adept at seeing the convoluted machinations of these types. You have, what seems to me, a good understanding, and the ability to pin it down.

    I also like to pin the tail on the proverbial donkey! And, once I got complete NO CONTACT, I was able to start piecing things together. I have found, now that it is not an emotional roller coaster, that re-evaluating my previous experiences has been enlightening….and has provided further alleviation of the deep entanglement of my psyche. If that makes even a bit of sense.

    I hope, since I do not follow closely enough here to know, that this is serving you well, and that you are finding some places of peace and love in your life.



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  8. blossom4th says:

    Hi Slim One,
    It has been awhile since I’ve seen you post!How are you doing?



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