Injunctions - Bonus Round (posted 13/07/18)

After a pretty long break, where I have given myself permission to be busy with work, raining and having a holiday, I am back to continue with my blog posts.

I feel the break happened at a fairly natural point, having completed my description of the major injunctions of the Transactional Analysis theory. Things however, are not fully complete on this front. In this post, I want to discuss briefly some additional injunctions and then give a summary of drivers and injunctions.

All theories in the natural and social sciences will grow and change over time based on new evidence and research that is done. Later theorists will also offer up their ideas and perspectives. I have therefore found some additional injunctions which have been postulated. I will only discuss them briefly as most are simply extensions or subsets of the major ones which I have already covered in previous posts:

Don’t Trust: I mentioned this injunction briefly as being a subset of ‘don’t be close’. It comes about from the message being given that people are not to be trusted and therefore you should not form relationships with them. This is usual based on fear (if you remember from the caregiver’s child ego state) that the child will get hurt if they get close to others. It can also be formed from parents who are exceptionally inconsistent in their approach. If a child cannot be sure they will get their needs met from the people they have to rely on, then they come to mistrust not only them, but everyone else. Often this can also include themselves. In adult life this might show itself through strong independence and a paranoia around others, perhaps even imposed isolation.

Don’t take care of yourself: This can be seen as an extension of ‘don’t be sane/well’. That injunction provided the message that needs only get met if you demonstrate some kind of imperfection of inadequacy. Once this is done, the caregiver will provide for your needs and give you attention. In the same way, a child can be given the message, especially from parents who are continually in their negative nurturing parent ego state, that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, or unworthy of this care. They form the belief that care must be provided by others, and under the conditions that the other person imposes. In adult life this might manifest as a reliance on support from others and society, and a complete negligence of basic self-care.

Don’t Want / Need: This can be viewed as a subset of ‘don’t be important’ which imparts the idea that as a person you are unworthy to have your needs and wants met. ‘Don’t want or need’ can be given as a message directly to a child by telling them they are too demanding, or implying that what they are asking for is unreasonable in some way (when in fact it probably is not). There will not be a reasoned explanation given as to why something cannot be given (e.g. not money) rather the perception the child will have is that there is something wrong with them and their desires. I adult life this is shown by people who constantly deny themselves of any pleasures and constantly put the needs of others before their own (compensation with the ‘Please me’ driver’).

Don’t relax or feel safe: This injunction I personally would perceive as being on a scale with two extremes. ‘Don’t relax’ can be viewed as the opposite of the ‘Work hard’ driver, and in this way is given as a message that it is not ok to take a break or rest. This might be a subset, as above, of ‘don’t be important’, as rest and recuperation are a basic need of everyone. Obviously, at this end, an adult with this injunction will demonstrate ‘work hard’ behaviour, but will also be nervous about appearing not to relax.

At the other extreme, ‘don’t feel safe’ would most likely form in abusive situations. This is formed out of extreme fear that the world and those around you are not safe. This message will be given by caregivers through threatening and fear inducing behaviours until the child believes that they no longer have the right or expectation to feel safe. The effects of abuse in adulthood are tremendous and exceptionally damaging. This is not the forum to cover these in detail. I will mention that two of the main effects in adulthood would be increased anxiety and depression. I would urge any readers who are aware of anyone, young or old who is expressing behaviours that suggest they do not feel safe, to please contact the relevant agencies and authorities, so that they can get help.

Don’t change: This is an interesting injunction which I would probably link to either ‘don’t grow up’ or ‘don’t be important’. The message being given to a child is that things as they are now, including you, are fine and should not change in any way. You can see how this is strongly linked to the message of ‘don’t grow’ up, which is that caregiver wants the child to remain helpless and needing their care (because the world is a difficult place). It could also be seen as a caregiver not wanting their child to grow I not just physical terms, but also competence. Again this might be because the parent has a fear of the unknown (in their child ego state). Therefore, they give the message to the child that they need to maintain the status quo, as the consequences of change will be terrible. In adulthood this would manifest as someone who resists change and perhaps seems to be stuck in a rut. Risk taking would definitely be out of the question, and they may become especially distressed should change happen unexpectedly.

Don’t be separate: This injunction is related to ‘don’t grow up’, but I think in a more extreme way. In some ways it is the opposite of ‘don’t be close’, however, that injunction is suggesting not be close to anyone. This injunction is suggesting not to be separate from specific people. It is related strongly to attachment issues (again something that I cannot go into detail here) and co-dependence. The message given to a child is that they are not a complete person, and that they must be “attached” to another in order to get their needs met. This ‘other’ would usually be a caregiver. They might be told that, “You are my everything”, or “really need you around”. The child feels that if they are not with this caregiver, providing company, support or other needs, that they are not worthy of getting their needs met. The relationship has become enmeshed and co-dependent. In adulthood, co-dependent relationship will develop with partners and then possibly their children. They will usually be clingy people, who require the input of others, and who do not feel complete without someone else. (A cliché is to think of a partner as being called, “my other half”, suggesting they are only half a person without them.)

I am aware that that discussion was exceptionally brief, and that each of those new injunctions was worthy of a post on its own. However, I feel that due to the complex nature of human interaction, and the fact that injunctions are rarely delivered in child in isolation, that there is a complexity to them that limits a complete breakdown (certainly not in a blog!)

So that is the injunctions and drivers of TA completed. In summary, drivers are messages delivered by caregivers in their controlling parent ego state and learnt by a child. They are instructions to perform certain behaviours in order to have worth. They were: Be strong, work hard, hurry up, please me, and be perfect. Often driver behaviours develop in response to injunctions which have been given, as they allow a person to maintain some form of worth through them. However, although drivers can be useful in some circumstances, they are extreme messages which cannot be lived up to or achieved. For example, it is impossible to be perfect. Therefore, the effects of drivers are ultimately negative and unhealthy when a person falls short of them, as this will leave them with a sense of failure and low self-worth.

Injunctions are messages that are delivered by caregivers, usually from their child ego states. They are perceived by children as restriction on what they are allowed to do. They therefore are always prefixed with “don’t”. The twelve main injunctions are, don’t: exist, do anything, be child, grow up, be you, succeed, be important, think, feel, belong, be close, be well. These messages are carried into adulthood and affect behaviours in negative ways. There are two responses to injunctions of defiant, in which case the opposite behaviour is shown (usually in negative free child) and despairing, where the restriction is strictly obeyed (usually from negative adapted child). As mentioned above, driver behaviour may be employed to compensate (I will discuss this in my next post). Injunctions can only be overcome when the child ego state is given permission to do this things that have been restricted. This permission is given from the person’s adult ego state. In a way, their adult is re-parenting their inner child from the past.

I hope this whistle stop tour of this aspect of TA has been of use. I will be moving onto a few more concepts in the coming weeks.