TA Today: The philosophy of TA

TA's philosophical assumptions:

  1. People are OK.
  2. Everyone has the capacity to think.
  3. People decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed.

Our essences as human is different from our behaviors. That is, although at times I hardly accept what you do, your essence as human is OK. From the viewpoint of our human essence, someone is not one-up to the others. All of us have equal worth, value and dignity as people, even though we may be of different race, age, sex or religion.

And all of us have the capacity to think, except for the severely brain damage. So, we have responsibility to decide how we live. Our lives are consequences of what we decide.

When we engage in not-OK behavior, we follow the strategy which we decided in childhood, that is, "life-scripts". Although we cannot help feeling or behaving in our life-scripts by various pressures, we are responsible for our own feelings or behaviors because it is just us to decide whether to confirm to these pressures. However, we can always change our decisions that produce comfortable relations.

Based on these assumptions, TA practice adopts the two principles as below:

  • Contractual method.
  • Open communication.

Contractual method means that both of a practitioner and a client take part in the process of each change on equal footing. Thus each of them should share full information about what was going on in their change, because people are OK and everyone can think and decide. This is open communication.

TA Today: what TA is

"TA" is the abbreviation of "Transactional Analysis", which is a theory of personality and a systematic psychotherapy for personal growth and personal change(This is the definition of TA suggested by the International Transactional Analysis Association: ITAA). TA has many aspects: as a theory of personality, TA shows us how we are constructed psychologically, as a theory of communication, TA gives a method of analyzing systems and organization, and as a theory of psychopathology, TA explains how a child develops. There are few key ideas in TA as below:

The ego-states model (PAC model)

TA's most basic and important idea is the ego-states model. An ego-states relates our behaviors, thoughts and feelings. This model defines three distinct ego-states, that is, "Parent", "Adult" and "Child". When we grasp the "here and now" condition and behave, think and feel in harmony with the condition, we are in our Adult ego-state. On the contrary, when we are in Parent or Child ego-state, our behaviors, thoughts and feelings are based on our past. In our Parent ego-state we may behave, think and feel in ways of our parent or others who were parent-figures for us. On the contrary, when we behave, think and feel in ways which we used when we were children, we are said to be in Child ego-state. It is called "structural analysis" that we understand our personalities from the viewpoint of these three ego-states.


We communicate from any one of our three ego-states certainly. However, my ego-state may be the same with you, or may be the other with you. This communication is called "transaction" in TA.


When we communicate, we signal recognition of each other from both sides. This signal is called "stroke" in TA.

Time structuring

The analysis of "time structuring" is analyzing how to spend our times to give or get strokes from others when we are transacting in groups or pairs.


"Life-script" is a story of our life which was written by ourselves in our childhood. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. As grown-ups, we hardly aware of it, however we walk in the way which is plotted by our old life-script.


"Redefining" is distorting our perception of reality so that it adequate to our life-script. For young child his/her life-script is the best strategy to survive, that is, to get strokes from his/her parents or parents-figured.


"Discounting" is neglect the aspects of the real situation that would contradict our life-script in spite of useful aspects for solving our here and now problems.


"Symbiosis" is the relationship as grown-ups which re-play the relationships between we as children and our parents. In this relationship, we always act in Child or Parent and Adult. So in this relation, we have only three ego-states instead of six ego-states available.


"Rackets" are the false feelings which was useful to get positive strokes from our parents, because they encouraged certain feelings while others were prohibited. As grown-ups, we continue to feel rackets to play in our life-scripts.


"Stamp" is store our experiences which we feel racket feelings in stead of expressing them.


A "game" is a repetitive sequence of transactions which the participants experiment racket feelings in the ends. When we feel something unexpected or uncomfortable, it is the "switch" of a game.


To exert our full abilities as grown-ups, we must give up our life-scripts and gain "autonomy", that is constructed with "awareness", "spontaneity" and "capacity of intimacy". Our autonomy allow us to solve problems using our full resources as grown-ups.

Developing Give&Take analysis

It was little difficult for our students to analyze Give&Take relations in Moomin story, because they were troubled with finding what a character could took at the end of the story. They thought too difficult to find it. They tended to think abstractly. But I would like them to think more easily and find concrete things. It is equal to a difference of a character's conditions between the start and the end that what the character can take. For example, in "Moominsummer madness", a park keeper could emit light from his whole body, because he was surrounded by many Hattyfatteners who take a charge. So they could take a body which emit light. It is easy to find it. Rather, it is more difficult and important to think its meaning, that is, what is it a metaphor of? Let's think about the previous example. What does a body which emit light mean? At the beginning of this story, the park keeper had robbed freedom from the others by setting up many billboards of forbidding. In other words, he could shine by robbing lights from others. So he could shine by himself when he interacted with moomins. In this way, I would like to develop this method from the viewpoint of changes of a character's situation.

A new method for sociology

There are many kinds of method for sociology, such as Transaction Analysis, Ethnomethod, Dramaturgy, and so on. Most of all of them relate to interaction with others, of course. Well then, why do we interact with others? I think it is because we want to something by interactions. Moomin story is just the story that each character gets something he/she wants through interaction with others. Furthermore, the story teaches us that if we want to get something from others, we must give something that the others really want. The teaching is so called "Give & Take" relation. Our social relations will not continue for long time, if we continue to give something to others, or to take something from others. It is important to maintain the balance between gives and takes. So I think the relation can be used to analyze our social relations. We can know whether our social relations work good or not by examining our Give & Take relations. However, there is one problem here, that is, we can not see the real relations if we only see what we or others want, because what we want doesn't equal to what we really need. What we want is more concrete than what we need. We often don't find what we really need, although we know what we want. For example, suppose we want a glass of water. In this case, we need to quench our thirst with something, but we don't need just water. A glass of water is an example of something to quench our thirst. In other words, what we want is a metaphor of what we need, because metaphors are a kind of rhetoric which express some abstract ideas by using the more concrete ideas.

Moominpapans memoarer: What is "just living"?

Moominpappa, who escaped from an abandoned Moomin children's home which an aunt Hemulen runs, got an acquaintance with Fredrikson who wanted to be an great inventor. He was the Moominpappa's first friend who listen his talks at the end of them and ask an intelligent question for him. Through Fredrikson, Moominpappa made friends with Raddjur and Joxal. Raddjur is the future father of Sniff and Joxal is the future father of Snaffkin. One day, Moomipappa claimed Fredrikson that Joxal was too lazy and idle. Then Fredrikson reproved Moominpappa for the judgement and said "we just think on only important things for us. You want to become, I want to make, Raddjur wants to have, but Joxar is just living." However Moominpappa couldn't understand "just living" at all and thought that it is lazy to just live. But I think just living is more difficult than wanting to become, make and have.

How to get people to do things

I reread "How to get people to do things" by Robert Conklin. The first time to read it was more than ten years ago. I have been strongly impressed that we could not make people to do something only by logic, rather we needed emotional persuasion. And now, I want to read it again. I don't know why, but I strengthen my mind to be gentle for others, because, "The more we give of anything, the more we shall get back" as written in the Bible. People's reaction to me is decided by my attitude to them, so if we hope that people are gentle to me, we must be gentle for them.
By the way, we are struggling to analyze "Trollkarens Hatt (Finn family Moomintroll)" in Moomin class. In this story, a wizard appears. He have searched the King of ruby all over the world for more than four hundreds years. At last he found it in Moomin valley, but it have been already owned by other people. He begged them for it, but they denied. Then he began to grant the Moomin valley's hopes by his magic. At last, the King of ruby's owners wish the Queen of ruby and give it for the wizard. He can use his magic for other people's hopes but cannot it by himself.
This story also tells "The more we give of anything, the more we shall get back". I wander my students can be aware of the message?

Trollkarens Hatt, it's charm of contrast

From today's Moomin class, we will take up "Trollkarens Hatt", that I have started to be completely absorbed in solving Moomin stories' secrets. The key to the secrets is "contrast". This work is inlaid with many contrasts which all relate with a silk hat of a wizard who is eager to get the king of ruby. After all, his magic is very contrast. He can change his body into everything, but he cannot change another people into something. He can grant other people's requests, but cannot his own request. Furthermore, his silk hat changes something which is in it into a controversial one. In the last scene, he grant all Moomins' requests one after another, the requests are controversial, i.e. requests for only oneself v.s. for completely other people. After all, people who could resolve such opposition as egoistic or altruistic become happy. It's very philosophical story.