Wednesday November 5th, 2014 08:44 Transactional Analysis articles

OK, here is Psy blog, and from now on I will ALSO post articles, etc. here. Remember, I expect the essay on Competition and Individulism for November 10th class!!

Competition: Scripting of Inequality

 

All people are born equal is another way of saying I am OK, you are OK. No one is better than anybody else; we are all complex, interesting, worthwhile, and in the long run equally important or unimportant. What we know in one area is more than made up for by what we don’t know elsewhere. We are all experts in certain areas and ignorant in others.

Yet we don’t really believe this at all. We are compelled to see ourselves as better than others and to see others as our betters. To think and believe that we are equals with all other people is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain. The difficulty that we have in feeling equality with all other human beings is the result in part of our training in competitiveness and individualism.

We are told that, if pursued assiduously, individualism and competitiveness will lead us to happiness and success in life, and these qualities have become an integral part of our life scripts.

Competition and individualism actually destroy our potential for harmony with ourselves, harmony with each other, and harmony with nature. In our mad scramble to the top we forget how to love, how to think, and we lose track of who we are and what we really want. We seem to live on a ladder with people stepping on our heads while we step on the heads of others with at most two or three people on our rung with which we are equals. Once in a while some of us get on top of the ladder and look down triumphantly, and sometimes we are thrown to the bottom. But we usually are somewhere on the gray middle struggling to get up, one rung at a time, to the distant top, or to just stay in place. The experience of one-up/one-down is so common to us that we think it is a natural experience to be expected and one that we should react to by trying as hard as we can to get ahead. Most of us actually dislike the competitive struggle. Indeed, we don’t really struggle to get ahead, but simply in order not to fall behind as everyone climbs over our heads.

 

Individualism

 

Individualism gives people the impression that when they achieve something it is on their own and without the help of others and that when they fail it is, once again, on their own and without the influence of others. Individualism results in the isolation of human beings from each other. Individualism makes people easily influenced and also easily targeted when they step out of line and fight their oppression without support from others.

It is necessary to stress the difference between individuality (uniqueness, identity, selfhood) and individualism (selfishness, disregard for others, self-seeking behavior). Individuality tempered with respect and regard for others need not become individualism. In fact, it is the valuable individual actions of leaders, scientists, and politicians that are used in schools sometimes as showcases to highlight the value of individuality for the purpose of instilling individualism and competitiveness in the young. What is not taught is how individualism and competitiveness are harmful and how valuable cooperation can really be.

 

Competitiveness

 

Since we stand or fall strictly on our individual efforts, it follows that we must think of everyone around us as individuals equally invested in succeeding and, in the mad scramble to the top, also necessarily invested in achieving superiority or one-up status to us. Being one-down is intolerable; the only alternative is to try to stay one-up. Equality is not understood and often not even considered.

In an individualistic, competitive society, a person who is not highly competitive cannot keep up and becomes chronically one-down and eventually highly alienated. It is because of this that competitiveness persists in appearing to be a good trait, since when everyone is fiercely competitive it is impossible to achieve any well being without having very strong competitive skills. While we are well trained in the skills of competition, we know very little about how to cooperate or be equal with others.

Competitiveness is based on the premise that there is not enough to go around of whatever a person needs. If the material needs of human beings are in drastic scarcity, it follows obviously that competitiveness is the mode for survival. The net effect of competitiveness in scarcity is actually a positive one for those who compete and win and for the survival of the species. The hoarding behavior, which goes along with competitiveness cause certain people to have a great deal more than they truly need. Hoarding behavior is based on unrealistic anxiety based on fears of scarcity. Oppressive as he is to others, the hoarder is oppressed by it too.

The stroke economy is an example of artificial scarcity in a basic human need – strokes. OK feelings are in scarcity, and people have difficulty feeling smart, beautiful, healthy, good and right-on except by proving that others are not – as if there were only enough beauty, intelligence, health, and goodness for a few.

 

Joylessness

 

If what I was told is right, is not necessarily right, then what is? How do I decide what to do and what not to do? Some believe that the answers about what shall be done, what is right, have to be found in tradition. Others believe that the answer to that kind of question is to be found through logical, rational inquiry.

But there is a third point of view that the most valuable source of information about what is good for people is within every one of them. This belief holds that human beings have a deep, built-in notion of what they need, what benefits them and harms them, and that, if left alone, people will follow their human core, their Center, and find the correct path toward harmony with themselves, each other, and nature.

You may find this an astonishing statement. Everything around us evidences the contrary. It seems that if left alone to do as they wish, people will kill, plunder, rape, and consume themselves in sexual and drug orgies. That is why we need law and order and discipline, isn’t it? What are we to believe?

People are not only conditioned to act in certain ways, but also to ignore their own counsel, cutting us from our own internal compass, our Center, the wisdom of our body, which is capable of informing us what is good because if feels good and what is bad because it feels bad. When we listen to our bodies we find that cigarettes feel bad, that clean air feels good, that alcohol beyond a certain small amount feels bad, that cooperating feels good, that lying feels bad, that being in love feels good, that not getting and giving strokes feels bad. Yet, you will say if that is the case, why does heroin for instance, feel so good? How come a deep drag on a cigarette is such a pleasure? Why is getting drunk so much fun? I would like to answer this question by explaining how joylessness leads to drug abuse. Powerful drugs are in effect short cuts for Centering. They restore, for a short time, the connections between our Center and the rest of our bodies. They do this, partially by knocking out the Pig Parent who does not want us to feel good. However, this connection is brief and the side effects of the drug are unpleasant, and a new dose of the drug is needed to recreate well being. The same mechanism leads to another form of addiction, which might be called consumerism. Buying feels good, having a new car, washing machine, or wardrobe feels good, and, just like drugs, buying is a ready avenue to pleasure. The consumer’s hangover is his bills, to which he becomes a slave just as an alcoholic or junkie is a slave to drugs.

Business interests unfortunately, exploit joylessness. Drug use and consumerism are widely encouraged through the media and large numbers of people’s livelihoods depend upon the expenditures of a joyless population on drugs and essentially useless consumer items. Millions of crazed consumers travel billions of miles in their mobile homes, dune buggies, dirt bikes, tearing up the countryside, wasting energy, polluting, looking for the thrills which they could find within and among themselves and with the earth if they stopped and let their Centers communicate with what goes on around them. The expanding economy depends on a frantic earning, spending, manufacturing, selling, energy consuming pace, which eats up our resources. We sit in the midst of the vast dung pile of our gross national products, desperately reaching for sweet smells, clean air, open spaces, sunshine, and The Good Life.

Perhaps the most fundamental attack on the integrity of the human body is the way in which children’s sensuality is prevented from expressing itself. Our senses can be permanently split off from us by the time we reach our teens. Vision and hearing are severely limited from their possible scope by being made the servants of competitiveness. Looking at a rose we don’t see the luscious velvety fuzz of the petals, the sparkling droplets hidden within their folds, the subtle variations in the hues. We see a rose. A rose is a rose is a rose. When the purpose is performance, productivity, competition, and making money, seeing will only slow you down, so forget it. And forget it we do. We similarly forget what hearing is like. We hear words, not their intonations; we hear motors, horns, engines, buzzers, bells, and since they don’t have much to say, we forget how to listen to haunting melodies, the happy or sad ring of people’s voices. Many young people to shatter this shell use psychedelic drugs and music. Children love to run and jump, skip, tumble, scream, cry, laugh, and express themselves emotionally. Emotional expression is pleasurable, but is often ill received by parents who are annoyed by its energy and honesty. Children are trained to live in discomfort. Wearing uncomfortable clothes, sitting quietly, being scared or hurt without having permission to express unhappiness. The Center, namely the place where we consider ourselves to be, has to detach itself from the part under stress, and having adapted to stress, we may become permanently split off from large parts of our bodies. This is true of all sorts of pain, including the pain associated with fear, or unexpressed rage, the pain associated with breathing polluted air, or with backbreaking labor.

 

Lovelessness

 

A stoke is defined as the unit of human recognition. Strokes are as necessary to human life as are other primary biological needs such  as food, water, and  shelter – needs which if not satisfied will lead to  death. Strokes can be positive or negative, depending on whether they feel good or bad. This may give the reader the impression that positive strokes are real strokes or better strokes or more worthwhile strokes, as  opposed to negative strokes, which is exactly what is intended. Strokes are necessary for human survival, and when people can’t obtain positive strokes, they will settle for negative strokes because they too, even though they feel bad, are  life supportive. When people’s strokes sources fall below a certain point, the Survival Quotient, they become more and more willing to  accept negative strokes because they need strokes, any strokes, for survival. Taking negative strokes is like drinking polluted water; extreme need will cause us to overlook the harmful qualities of what we require to survive.

A Fuzzy Tale

         Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived two very happy people called Amine and Sekina with two children called Omar and Jasmine. To understand how happy they were, you have to understand how things were in those days. You see, in those days everyone was given at birth a small, soft, Fuzzy Bag. Anytime a person reached into this bag he was able to pull  out a Warm Fuzzy. Warm Fuzzies were very much in demand  because whenever somebody was given a Warm Fuzzy it made him feel warm and fuzzy all over. People who didn’t get Warm Fuzzies regularly were in danger of  developing a sickness in their back which caused them to shrivel up and die.

In those days it was very easy to get Warm Fuzzies. Anytime that somebody felt like it, he  might walk up to you and say, “I’d like to have a  Warm Fuzzy.” You would then reach into your bag and pull out a  Fuzzy the size of a little girl’s hand. As soon as the Fuzzy saw the light of day it  would smile and blossom into a large, shaggy, Warm Fuzzy. You then would lay it on the person’s shoulder or head or lap  and it would snuggle up and melt right against their skin and make them feel good all over. People were always asking each other for Warm Fuzzies, and since they were always given freely, getting enough of them was never a  problem. There were always plenty to go around, and as a consequence everyone was happy and felt warm and fuzzy most of the time.

One day a bad witch became angry because everyone was so happy and no one was buying potions and salves. The witch was very clever and devised a very wicked plan. One beautiful morning the  witch crept up  to Amine while Sekina was playing with their daughter and whispered in his ear, “See here, Amine, look at all the Fuzzies that Sekina is giving to Jasmine. You know, if she keeps it up, eventually she is going to run out and then there won’t be any left for you!” Amine was astonished. He turned to the witch and said, “Do you mean to tell me that there isn’t a Warm Fuzzy in our bag every time we reach into it?” And the witch said, “No, absolutely not, and once you run out, that’s it. You don’t have any more.” With this the witch flew away on a broom, laughing and cackling  all the way.

Amine took this to heart and began to notice every time Sekina gave up a  Warm Fuzzy to somebody else. Eventually he got very worried and upset because he liked Sekina’s Warm Fuzzies very much and  did not want to  give them up. He certainly did not think it was right for her to  be spending all her Warm Fuzzies on the  children and on other people. He began to complain every time he saw Sekina giving a Warm Fuzzy to somebody else, and because Sekina liked him very much, she topped giving Warm Fuzzies to other people as often, and  reserved them for him.

The children watched this and soon began to get the idea that it was wrong to give up Warm Fuzzies any time you were asked or felt like it. They too became very careful. They would watch their parents closely and whenever they felt that one of their parents was giving too many Fuzzies to others, they also began to object. They began to feel worried whenever they gave away too many Warm Fuzzies. Even though they found  a Warm Fuzzy every time they reached into their bag, they reached in less  and less and became more and more stingy. Soon people began to notice the lack of Warm Fuzzies, and they began to feel less warm and less fuzzy. They began to shrivel up and , occasionally,  people would  die from lack of Warm Fuzzies. More and more people went to the witch to  buy potions and salves even though they didn’t seem to work.

Well, the situation was getting very serious indeed. The bad witch who had been watching all of this didn’t really want the people to die (since dead people couldn’t buy her salves and potions), so a new plan was devised. Everyone was given a bag that was very similar to the Fuzzy Bag except that this one was cold while the Fuzzy Bag was warm. Inside of the witch’s bag were Cold Pricklies. These Cold Pricklies did not make people feel warm and fuzzy, but made them feel cold and  prickly instead. But they did prevent peoples’ backs from shriveling up. So, from then on, every time somebody said, “I want a Warm Fuzzy,” people  who were worried about depleting their supply would  say,  “I can’t give you a Warm Fuzz, but would you like  a Cold Prickly?” sometimes, two people  would walk up to each other, thinking they could  get a Warm Fuzzy, but  one  or the other of them would change his mind and they would wind up  giving each other Cold Pricklies. So, the end result was that while very few people  were dying, a lot of people were still unhappy and feeling  very cold and prickly.

The situation  got very complicated because, since the coming of the witch,  there were less and less Warm Fuzzies around, so Warm Fuzzies, which used to be thought of as free as  air, became extremely valuable. This caused people to do all sorts of things in order to  obtain them. Before the witch had appeared, people used to  gather in groups of three or four or five, never caring too  much who was giving Warm Fuzzies to whom. After the coming of the witch, people began to pair off and to  reserve all their Warm Fuzzies for each other exclusively. People  who forgot themselves and gave a Warm Fuzzy to someone else would immediately feel guilty about it because they knew that their partner would probably resent the loss  of  a Warm Fuzzy. People who could not find a generous partner had to buy their Warm Fuzzies and had to work long hours to earn the money.

Some people somehow became “popular” and got a lot of Warm Fuzzies without having to return them. These people would then sell these Warm Fuzzies to people who were “unpopular” and needed them to survive.

Another thing which happened was that some people would  take Cold Pricklies – which were limitless and freely available – coat them white fluff and pass them on as Warm Fuzzies. These counterfeit Warm Fuzzies were really Plastic Fuzzies, and they caused additional difficulties. For instance, two people  would get together and freely  exchange  Plastic Fuzzies, which presumably  should have made them feel good,  but they came away feeling bad instead. Since they thought they had been exchanging Warm Fuzzies,  people  grew very confused about this,  never realizing that their cold prickly feelings were really the result  of the fact they had been given a lot of Plastic Fuzzies.

So the situation was very, very dismal and it all started because of the coming of the witch who made people believe that some  day, when least expected, they might reach into their Warm Fuzzy Bag and find no more.

Not long ago, a young woman with big hips born under the sign of Aquarius came to this unhappy land. She seemed not to have heard about the bad witch and was not worried about running out of Warm Fuzzies. She gave them out freely, even when not asked. They called her the Hip Woman and disapproved of her because she was giving the children the idea that they should not worry about running out of Warm Fuzzies. The children liked her very much because they felt good around her and they began to give out Warm Fuzzies whenever they felt like it. The grownups became concerned and decided to pass a law to protect the children from depleting their supplies of  Warm Fuzzies. The law made it a criminal offense to give out Warm Fuzzies in a reckless manner, without a license.  Many children, however, seemed not to care; and in spite of the law they continued to give each other Warm Fuzzies whenever they felt like it  and always when asked. Because there were many, many children,  almost as many as  grownups, it began to look as if maybe they would have their way.

As of now it is hard to  say what will happen. Will the grownup forces of law and order stop the recklessness of the children? Are the grownups going to join  with the Hip Woman and the children in taking a  chance that there will always be as many  Warm Fuzzies as needed? Will they remember the days their children are trying to bring back when Warm Fuzzies were abundant because people gave them away freely?

 

The Stroke Economy Rules

 

1) Don’t give strokes if you have them to give.

2) Don’t ask for strokes when you need them.

3) Don’t accept strokes if you want them.

4) Don’t reject strokes when you don’t want them.

5) Don’t give yourself strokes.

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