So continuing on reading John Bradshaw he discusses Transactional Analysis and mentioned a Life Script I’d not heard of: the ‘no feel’ (addiction) script also described as Joyless. In deeper exploration I found further talk of the addiction game. The image to the right explains the script types further and this excerpt below from the core Transactional Analysis text explains the Addiction Game:
The drama triangle can be illustrated with the Addiction Game. (I’ve discussed the Karpman Drama Triangle before here.) In the Addiction Game, the addict playing the role of the Victim of addiction, humiliation, prejudice, medical neglect and even police brutality seeks and finds a Rescuer. The Rescuer plays the role by trying to generously and selflessly help the addict without making sure that the addict is invested in the process of giving up drug abuse. After a certain amount of frustrating failure the Rescuer gets angry and switches into the Persecuting role by accusing, insulting, neglecting or punishing the addict. At this point the addict switches from Victim to Persecutor by counterattacking, insulting, becoming violent and creating midnight emergencies. The erstwhile Rescuer is now the Victim in the game. This process of switching goes on endlessly around the Drama Triangle Merry-go-Round.
To avoid the drama triangle in psychotherapy, transactional analysts insist on establishing a contract in which the person specifically states what he/she wants to be cured of. This protects both client and therapist: the therapist knows exactly what the person wants, and the person knows what the therapist is going to work on and when therapy is to be completed. In any case, the best way to avoid the Drama Triangle is to avoid the roles of Rescuer, Persecutor or Victim by staying in the Adult ego state.
SCRIPTS: Transactional analysts believe that most people are basically OK and in difficulty only because their parents (or other grown ups and influential young people) have exposed them to powerful injunctions and attributions with long-term harmful effects.
People, early in their lives come to the conclusion that their lives will unfold in a predictable way; short, long, healthy, unhealthy, happy, unhappy depressed or angry, successful or failed, active or passive. When the conclusion is that life will be bad or self damaging this is seen as a life script.
The script matrix is a diagram used to clarify people’s scripts. In it we see two parents and their offspring and we can diagram the transactional messages–injunctions and attributions–which caused the young person to abandon their original OK position and replace it with a serf-damaging not OK position.
When life is guided by a script there are always periods in which the person appears to be evading his or her unhappy fate. This seemingly normal period of the script, is called the counterscript. The counterscript is active when the person’s unhappy life plan gives way to a happier period. This is, however, only temporary and invariably collapses, giving way to the original scripting. For an alcoholic, this may be a period of sobriety; for a depressed person with a suicide script it may be a brief period of happiness which inevitably ends when the script’s injunctions take over.
In the Script Matrix of Joseph, a drug addict we see that the script injunction “Don’t think, drink instead.” goes to Joseph’s Child from his father’s Child. This powerful message influences Joseph’s life dramatically, when he follows his father’s injunction with drugs instead of alcohol causing him repeated drug abuse episodes through his young life and adulthood. The counterscript message “You should not drink to excess,” motivates him to make repeated but ineffectual efforts to cut down on drug abuse and it goes to Joseph’s Parent from his mother and father’s Parent.
The Script message: “don’t think, drink instead” delivered from Child-to-Child-is more influential than the Parent-to-Parent counterscript message to abuse moderately: that is why the script messages will usually prevail unless the person changes his or her script. When scripts are not changed they are passed down the generations, like “hot potatoes,” from grown ups to children in an uninterrupted chain of maladaptive, toxic behavior patterns.
You can read more about TEN CONCEPTS IN TREATING ALCOHOLICS WITH TA written by Stephen Karpman:
I’ve been wondering to myself whether the “hot potato” of the no-feel script, leading to addiction issues, is present in the UK because of our cultural tendency to a “stiff upper life” approach to life.
One who has a stiff upper lip displays fortitude in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion. The phrase is most commonly heard as part of the idiom “keep a stiff upper lip”, and has traditionally been used to describe an attribute of British people in remaining resolute and unemotional in the face of adversity.
And it’s not just me who’s been questioning the value of our stiff upper lip approach to life recently either:
Just a thought.