Mikkonen, J. (2006).
Transactional Analysis as a theory of personality and communication
Psykologia 41: 328-344 (Journal of the Finnish Psychological Society).
Vammala ISSN 0355-1067.
This article reviews Transactional Analysis (TA), which is a model for understanding personalities, relationships and communication. Psychiatrist Eric Berne developed his ideas on Transactional Analysis in several books published from 1957 to 1972. In the 1960s TA caught fame as 'pop psychology', but since then it has gained recognition as a professional approach.
The key concept of TA is the "ego state model". This model represents a human personality in three distinct ego states: Parent, Adult and Child (P-A-C model). Each ego state is a set of behaviours, thoughts and feelings. The theory defines transaction as a unit of social exchange occurring between two people. Transactions can happen from one ego state to another (for example from Parent to Child), and can be complementary, crossed or covert. Other key ideas proposed by Berne such as strokes, life scripts and games are also dealt with in this article.
Berne stated that to realise our full potential as humans, we have to gain autonomy. Its components are awareness, spontaneity and the capacity for intimacy. This view is outlined and also criticized in the article.
At a later time Transactional Analysis has evolved to include applications to psychotherapy, education, and organizational development. The author suggests that TA should be seen mainly as a tool, which has its own limitations and possibilities.
Keywords: Transactional Analysis, review, theory of social action, Eric Berne, ego state model, strokes, life scripts, games, autonomy, applications.
Juha Mikkonen, Graduate student of Social Psychology, Department of Social Psychology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 54, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.