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What Do You Say After You Say Hello? by, Eric Berne Book Review by Suresh a M,

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What Do You Say After You Say Hello? By, Eric Berne Book Review by Suresh A M, I semester, MBA, JSSCMS

Eric Berne was a psychoanalyst who became well known in the 1970s for his system of "transactional analysis", the transactions in question being mostly those between a young child and its parents. He proposed various structures for this relationship based on the roles parent/adult/child that every person plays and presents life stories as scripts that can be good or bad. This book is considered by many to be Eric Berne's sequel to Games People Play. Although Berne published other books since Games People Play was released in 1964, most of those works were oriented towards those trained in psychotherapy and not towards the individuals who made Games People Play a two-year bestseller. The book is his last book completed just before his death in 1970. Berne's bad luck was that he wrote the book in 1970 when psychology was going through a bad patch with a flood of bizarre systems appearing. The good gets lost with the bad and transactional analysis now tends to be labeled as an outmoded California fashion related to Freudianism. In the preface he says that the book is "primarily intended as an advanced textbook of psychotherapy, and professionals of different backgrounds should have no difficulty in translating into their own dialects the short and simple annals of transactional analysis. No doubt some non-professionals will read it too, and for that reason I have tried to make it accessible to them. It may demand thinking, but I hope it will not require deciphering." This is a fair statement as it is a book that has to be read in its entirety to work. He uses handy memorable terms for scripts and their elements and the reader can become familiar with rackets, games and trading stamps along with other tools and in the last chapter apply a detailed script check list. He also has a chapter that deals with the objections to his theory in an even-handed way. In What Do You Say After You Say Hello? Berne presents a summary of Transactional Analysis, introducing (or too many, re-introducing) structural analysis, ego states, rituals, pastimes, and

games. Berne then introduces the concept of Scripts to the mainstream world audience for the first time, Berne approaches scripts chronologically. As Berne and his followers began refining Transactional Analysis since its formal introduction in 1958, Berne began developing many new ideas, such as Scripts. This was the first "mainstream" book in which the idea of scripts was introduced. It's good to see that Berne arrives at his system empirically with his basic framework being bolstered with all the evidence he can find. He examines accents, voices, vocabulary, types of laughter, names; in-fact anything he can lay his hands on to provide effective cross checks to his main structural analysis. He shows how parental programming will lay the basis for the script in the "plastic years" of childhood and how adolescent rebellion may lead to an "anti-script." Berne then goes on to analyze the scripts of many familiar fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. With these tools, one is able to break out of a script entirely and change your destiny. Lastly, Berne presents objectively and fairly some objections and criticisms to script theory. It nicely ties together his main discoveries and provides a fascinating selection of "scripts" tracing them from their source and presenting them in his very effective parent/adult/child format. The system can be presented diagrammatically and one needs to use it to get the most out of the book. However, once over this hurdle the system is very useful and effective. Berne introduces reader to transactional analysis with an introduction of what do one say after saying hello and terming it to be a childish rather fundamental problems of social sciences. He then says how hello is said to unknown people giving examples from his practice as a psychiatrist how is helloed his patients before and after knowing them. He goes on writing about the principles of transactional analysis stating that the basic interest of transactional analysis is the study of eco states which are coherent systems of taught and feeling manifested by corresponding patterns of behavior each human being exhibits three types of ego states – parent, adult, and child. The separation of one feeling – and – behavior pattern from another in diagnosing ego states is called Structural Analysis. It is evident that when two people confront each other, there are 6 ego states involved, 3 in each person. 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 into a finite number of established types. It is also possible to classify long series of transactions, extending even to a whole life time, so that significant human social behavior, both short and long term, can be predicted. The need to structure time is based on 3 drives or hungers – stimulus or sensation hunger, recognition hunger and structure hunger. Time structuring avoids boredom and at the same time helps to get the greatest possible satisfaction out of each situation. Each person, in addition, has a preconscious life plan, or script by which he structures longer periods of time filling them with ritual activities, pastimes, and games which further the script while giving him immediate satisfaction, usually interrupted by periods of withdrawal and sometimes by episodes of intimacy. Scripts are usually based on child like illusions which may persist throughout a whole life time. Time structuring is an objective term for the existential problem of what to do after saying Hello. Berne writes about prenatal influences that in man too, the genes determine chemically some of the patterns he must follow and from which he cannot deviate. They also set the upper limit for his individual aspirations. But within his chemical limitations, whatever they are, each man has enormous possibilities for determining his own fate. Usually, however, his parents decide it for him long before he can see what they are doing. It is known that almost every kind of living organism can be trained. Training requires an outside stimulus to start off a certain pattern of behavior. Human beings behavior pattern are determined by rigid reflex genes, primitive imprinting, infant play and imitation, parental training, social taming and spontaneous invention. Scripts involve all of these, he carries out his script because it is planted in his head at an early age by his parents, and stays there for the rest of his life. On ancestral influences he goes on to write that scripts can be traced back in a clinical interview to the great grandparents, and if the family has a recorded history, as is often common in the case with kings and their courtiers, it may go back a thousand years in time. It is common knowledge, even proverbial how much grandparents, alive or dead, influence the lives of their grand – children. He says the most regarded question to ask on ancestral influences is “what


kind of lies did your grand-parents lead?” and gives that it is most of the times answered in 4 types of reports: 1. Ancestral Pride 2. Idealization 3. Rivalry 4. Personal Experiences. Berne starts his next chapter on the influence of the plastic years, when the human is of age 6 and is leaving the kindergarten and is entering the competitive world of the first grade. Here on he will be dealing on his own with his teachers and other boys and girls. From the little suburb of his home, he ventures into the great metropolis of the bustling school with whole sets of social responses ready to offer the various kinds of people around him. His mind is all wired up with his own ways of getting along, or at least of surviving, and his life plan has already been made. A good kindergarten teacher can even predict what outcome will be, and what kind of life the child will be, and what kind of life the child will have: happy or unhappy, winning or losing. The comedy or tragedy of each human life is that it is planned by an urchin of pre-school age, who has a very limited knowledge of the world and its ways, and whose heart is filled mainly with stuff put there by his parents. He has no way to tell the facts from the delusions, and the most everyday events are distorted. He is told that if he has sex before marriage he will be punished and that after marriage sex will go unpunished. As a thinking Martian, when parents interfere with or try to influence their children’s free expression, their directives are interpreted differently by the parents, the onlookers and the child himself and Berne points out 5 types of viewpoints: 1. What the parents says he meant 2. What the naïve onlooker thinks he meant 3. The literal meaning of what was said 4. What the parents ‘really’ meant 5. What child gets out of it.


On how a script works and in dealing with it in treatment Berne lists that the apparatus consists of seven items. The payoffs or curs, the injunction or stopper, and the provocation and comeon, together control the unfolding of the script towards its destiny, and hence he terms them as script controls. These are all programmed in before the age of six in most cases. So is the antiscript or spellbreaker, if there is one. Later, the counterscript slogans or prescription, and the parental behavior patterns and instructions, begin to take firmer hold. The script apparatus of a loser consists on one hand of injunctions, provocations, and a curse. These are script controls, and are firmly implanted by age of 6. To combat he says, the child has an inner demon, and is sometimes supplied with an internal release. Later he comes to understand slogans, which give him a counter script. Throughout, he is learning behavior patterns; both serve the script and the counter-script. A winner has same apparatus, but the programming is more adaptive, and he usually has more autonomy because he as more permission. But in all human beings the demon persists, to bring sudden pleasure or grief. Berne next shows how the later childhood influences his behavior. The latent period between the age of 6 and 10, he terms as the ‘locomotor’ phase where the child locomotes around neighborhood to see what he can see. He is now ready to turn from animals who eat people or who act like people, to people themselves. During this period the child makes definite decisions about what kind of feeling will work for him. He as previously experimented with this, feeling by turns angry, hurt, guilty, scared, inadequate, righteous and triumphant, and has discovered the certain of these are treated with indifference or outright disapproval by his family, while one of them is acceptable and gets results. That is the one that becomes his racket. The favored feeling becomes a sort of conditioned reflex which may persist for the rest of his life. Psychological trading stamps are the currency of transactional ‘rackets’. When young parents teach him how to feel when things get difficult: most commonly, angry, hurt, guilty, scared or inadequate; but sometimes stupid, baffled, surprised righteous, or triumphant. These feelings become rackets when child learns to exploit them and play games in order to collect as many as possible of his favorite, partly because in the course of time this favorite felling is substituted by other rackets. Berne then explains the effect of illusions, games, persona and family culture in developing the scripts in the behavior of the child.

Berne proceeds to the adolescence the next phase of a child nature means high school and college, driver’s license, bar-mitzvah, initiation, having your own thing and your own things. The time when parents and teachers no longer structure the child’s time completely he explains the ways the time structure guides for the future. The favorite pastime, new heroes, totem, new feelings, physical reactions, front room and the back room, script and anti-script, and the world image. The next topic he speaks about is the maturity and death, throwing light about maturity, mortgage, addictions, drama triangle, life expectancy, old age, death scene and a few other instances. He speaks about the script in action; highlighting about the types of scripts which involves winners, non winners and losers, script time, sex and scripts, clock time and goal time. He explains with some typical scripts and highlights about Cinderella. Analyzing the birth and life of Cinderella, and comparing fairy tales and real people. Speaking about the script signs, he explains about the script signal, the physiological component, how to listen, basic vocal signals, choice of words, gallows transaction, types of laughter, types of protest and the script switches. Berne takes case histories Clooney, Victor, Jan & Bill to support the script in clinical practices. He concludes with the scientific approaches to script theory, stating the objections to the theory of script and the methodological problems and summarizes with the script check list, which involves the definition of a script, how to verify a script, introduction to the script check list, a script check list, a condensed check list and a therapy check list.


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