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Transactional Analysis Journal

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Body Movement in Ego States


David Steere
Transactional Analysis Journal 1981 11: 335
DOI: 10.1177/036215378101100418

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Ego State Research

Body Movement in Ego States


David Steere

Abstract Moore obtained permission from the group


Discusses and integrates three studies to record interaction in rapid sequence
conducted and reported by graduate photography, moving around the circle
students (M. Moore, D. Kirkbride and D. of chairs, taking pictures of each person's
Stokes) and designed to identify bodily transactions. He also tape-recorded the
expressions of ego states. Photographs proceedings, noting photos on a time line
and videotape records were analyzed for to permit later comparison of verbal and
the basic postures of each individual and visual records. The design was to photo-
correspondence of these postures to graph intuitively for four weeks, selecting
specific ego states determined. Patterns basic postures characteristic of each
of movement charted in various ego member. Moore could then predictably
states are described. Fourteen specific photograph each characteristic posture
hypotheses for clinical use are derived. during the next three weeks. Identical
photographs would demonstrate an iso-
lated bodily expression of an ego state
which was consistent, predictable, and
This paper describes procedures deve-
photographable. Predictive photographs
loped in our graduate training program at
were viewed by a panel of judges, and their
Louisville Presbyterian Seminary to iden-
descriptions of the basic postures were
tify bodily movement accompanying ego
recorded for comparison with similar des-
states. It contains (1) a synopsis of three
criptions of confirmatory pictures. The ego
related research projects by graduate
state was determined for each basic pos-
students and (2) a series of hypotheses for
ture by placing it in the verbal context.
clinical treatment based upon the author's
work with them." Moore demonstrated the following: (1)
Two to five basic postures for participa-
Isolating Characteristic Postures tion may be isolated and photographed
For a number of years, we have asked for each person in a twelve-member group;
therapists in training to sit like the group (2) one characteristic posture consistently
members they are presenting on tape, re- expresses a Parent ego state, another a
producing their gestures to give the clinical Child; and (3) once each posture is identi-
seminar a visual picture of their clients. fied, its appearance may be predicted with
We find they can do so with amazing intui- the ego state it characteristically expresses
tive recall once they develop minimal skills and vice versa; its appearance is a behavioral
in identifying ego states. cue to that ego state.
Myrl Moore (1972) conducted the first What Myrl Moore did with photography,
research project, isolating visually the most skilled therapists do intuitively, often
characteristic bodily expressions of ego without perceptual awareness. These intui-
states for each member of a group. An tions lack a technology or a set of work-
interpersonal-relations group of 12 under- able tools so that one can employ them
graduate students in Clinical Pastoral Edu- consistently. We find clinically we have
cation at Central State Hospital was chosen. little difficulty diagnosing ego states with
-These materials,in large part are taken from a chapter in a forthcoming book, entitled Bodily Expressions ofEgo
States. The drawings m the figures are by Jen Wessler.

Vol. 11, No.4, October 1981 335

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DAVID STEERE

customary behavioral and social means in peated by an interested researcher (see


their gross or pronounced expression. Figure 1). Once the subject was seated in
However, in the subtleties of mundane or the chair, a Basic Posture appeared on the
routine interchange, even careful examina- screen. From this Basic Posture the sub-
tion often leaves us uncertain. The next two ject made a number of movements with
research projects were devoted to develop- hands, arms or legs. These were easily
ing this technology. quanitified by counting the number of
grids in each move from the rest position
Measuring BodilyBehavior of the Basic Posture to the outward
Berne (1961) initially identified ego extremity of the move. The exact bodily
states as phenomenological realities pre- position for each Basic Posture was re-
sent in the process of group treatment corded on a paper copy of the viewing grid
("That looks and sounds like a Parent or a by plotting its key points on the coordi-
Child talking"). The second research pro- nates. Identified Movements were counted
ject, by Dan Kirkbride and Don Stokes in each position until there was a Trunk
(1971, 1972a, 1972b, 1972c) separated Shift establishing a new Basic Posture to
seeing and hearing in order to measure be graphed and the process repeated.
less dramatic, ordinary bodily behavior in
ego states. Three individuals were chosen
for fifteen-minute interviews which were

Q--
videotaped. The interview was structured
toward casual pastiming by questions
about the setting, the subject's family, ,~
and the subject's vocation. ~

The video and audio tracks were then ,


separated for study by different research ~
--J
0
teams in order to heighten perception and -'0", ri
.-~ ~:~
./
isolate cues from each channel. The audio .-.. v<)~~ 0
~
team, composed of four graduate-level ~~~:::: -~~,
students trained in transactional analysis,

~
listened to the sound track playing and , ,,,-
replaying until they were able to reach a
consensus on the ego state expressed in
each segment of verbal content. They regis- ' , , ~~
\{ C'-<I
tered each change from one ego state to
another on a time line.
The video team viewed a full-screen 1
tr
picture of the subject taken from fourteen

~o
feet away. A 10 ~ /I xiS /I grid overlay was ,, -
-
superimposed on the playing screen,
dividing the picture into four equal quad- +
rants, each containing squares of one-
fourth inch numbered horizontally and
lettered vertically. With the center point of Figure 1
the grid set in the person's navel, (I) the sub- Charting Basic Postures
ject's body position was accurately plotted
in each posture assumed throughout the
interview; and (2) each identified movement The number of Identified Moves between
of the subject's head, arms, and legs was Trunk Shifts was termed a Set. Set material
measured in grids or squares representing was recorded between slash marks (I)
approximately four inches actual movement. which indicated the Trunk Shifts, and
A relatively simple mode of recording Identified Movements were registered in
data was adopted which can easily be re- terms of the number of grids for each
336 Transactional Analysis Journal

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BODY MOVEMENT IN EGO STATES

movement. Recorded head movements for Distribution and checking the established
a Set appeared as follows: Head / 1 + 2 + rhythm of Expenditure within its Identi-
1 + 3 /, The Expenditure or total number fied Movements. Five generalized findings
of grids moved by the head was seven. The may be drawn from this data.
Set had four Identified Movements of the 1. A Trunk Shift that alters the subject's
head. Descriptions of the movements (tilts Basic Posture simultaneously accompanies
forward, backward, right, or left) were each change in ego state. Not every time a
recorded on each Basic Posture sheet. Trunk Shift occurs is there a change in ego
The elementary vocabulary established state. Some ego states display several Sets,
thus far is as follows: but each time the ego state changes there
1. The Mass Distribution (MD) indicates is a measurable shift in the subject'S spinal
the body's mass and its distribution accord- cord.
ing to the x-y axis of the quadrants on 2. There appears to be a pattern of Iden-
the viewing grid, determined by plotting tified Movements within each subject's ego
points on the bridge of the nose, the breast- states. More 1M's consistently accompany
bone, both shoulders, elbows, hands, one ego state than another. For example,
navel, genitals, knees, and ankles. arm movements showed mean 1M's and
2. A Trunk Shift (TS) marks a postural Expenditures (Grids/1M) for the first three
change, a movement of the spinal cord subjects in the Parent ego state as follows:
from one basic postural position to another. Subject 1M's Expenditure
3. A Set (S) denotes a series of Identi- 1 2.6 3.9
fied Movements bracketed at the beginning 2 2.7 6.2
and end by a Trunk Shift. 3 2.5 4.1
4. An Identified Move (1M) is an obser-
vable movement of arm, leg, or head In the Child they were as follows:
(a) from a resting position, returning to Subject 1M's Expenditure
that position; or (b) from a resting position, 1 1.8 4.5
going to a new rest position. 2 3.5 6.2
5. The Expenditure (E) is the total num- 3 1.7 6.1
ber of grids per Identified Move. Hence a
four grid movement by the right hand has With the calculation of mean Expendi-
an Expenditure of four, representing move- ture for each ego state, the video team was
ment of approximately 16 inches. able to predict with a fair degree of accuracy
when a change to another ego state would
occur. Sets tended to appear at various
Findings times with approximately the same Expen-
By design, the pastime interviews pro- diture. Subjects settled into this rhythm
vided mundane interaction in which pro- only after an initial phase of beginning
nounced visual cues to ego states were not activity and departed from it with a similar
present to such an extent that the video flurry of terminal movement, as indicated
team could view a segment of tape and in Figure 2. Here Subject 1 evidences for
identify the executive ego state in the sub- 80 per cent of the interview a rather con-
ject apart from the context. The video sistent expression of Parental Expenditures
team could, however, through charting approaching a ratio of two to one over the
each Basic Posture and recording its Identi- Child. No Adult behavior was detected.
fied Movements determine when the sub- The ordinal measurement of 1M's does not
ject changed from one ego state to another. reflect this tendency in the averages above.
The video and audio teams agreed on If the first and last three minutes were
changes in ego states 88.5 per cent of the eliminated, the differential between Parent
time. Moreover, once the video team learned and Child would substantially increase.
the precise ego state it was charting, During the balance of pastiming, elimi-
consistent identification of its reappearance nating ritual greeting and departing
was possible through charting the Mass behavior, 1M's appear with regular

Vol. tt, No.4, October 1981 337

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DAVID STEERE

increases and decreases as the subject


switches from one ego state to another. Initiation Termination

3
Initiation Termination en
~ 2
60
50 o
Z
en
2; 40
'630
o
z 20
1234567891011121314151617181920
10
OL-_.L- --'-_ _--l Figure 3
1 23456789101112131415 16 17181920 Sets Per Ego State for Subject 1, Based on
Sequence ofAppearance, Even Numbers
Figure 2 Indicate Child, Odd Indicate Parent
Identified Movements Per Ego State for
Subject 1, Based on Sequence ofAppearance,
Even Numbers Indicate Child, Odd alike, but that they tended toward oppo-
Indicate Parent site forms of expression in bodily move-
ment. This suggests that the subjects make
their 1M's within an ego state, using hand,
3. Some rhythmic expression of the arm, or head movement in consistent
number of Sets in contrasting ego states patterns, and they choose distinctly
also appears. Figure 3 presents Subject 1, different channels of physiological expres-
evidencing twice the number of Sets pre- sion for different ego states.
sent in her Parent behavior as in her Child. 5. A distinct rhythm of movement in
This is roughly commensurate with the chosen ego states appears in pastimes.
appraisal of the audio team of judges who Subject 1, a forty-eight-year old, divorced
recorded her functioning in her Parent 68 female with three children, revealed Parent
per cent of the time. We have observed behavior of 191 Expenditures and 18 Sets,
Sets as short as three seconds and as long far outweighing her Child behavior of 82
as a minute. Time in and of itself does not' Expenditures and 7 Sets. This constitutes
dictate the number of Identified Move- over twice as many Sets and Expenditures
ments or their Expenditure. It does create in the Parent as in the Child. Some similar
the possibility for more Sets to form. pattern was present in the other subjects,
Within this time, one ego state appears to one ego state far outweighing the other.
contain a number of Sets in its expression The content of Subject 1's Parental
while another contains only one. pastiming centered around nurturing con-
4. Identified Movements of head, arms, cern for her children. A Mixture of "Ain't
and legs within a given ego state appear it awful" and "Isn't it nice" themes inter-
with a consistent pattern of choice. For wove themselves around a flow of praise
example, a number of 1M's in the arms is and uneasiness about their welfare. Her
not accompanied by a corresponding num- Child behavior was notably restricted with
ber of moves in head or legs. In an elemen- virtually no Free or Natural expression
tary rank correlation of Sets within ego in the face of a constantly returning Nur-
states, no correlation was evident. How- turing Parent. The shorter Child Sets were
ever, in a second rank correlation between marked by expressions of helplessness and
the three appendages (arms, head, legs) "uselessness," gesturing with palms up
and the Parent and Child ego states, a and hands flipping outward. Several weeks
negative correlation appeared, indicating following the pastime interview, she was
not only that these ego states were not fired from her job, having "messed up" a
338 Transactional Analysis Journal

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BODY MOVEMENT IN EGO STATES

number of assignments of decreasing res- Case Histories


ponsibility, given her by a nurturing em- Subject I, Alpha, was a fifty-two-year-
ployer who finally had to "let her go." old, married female who entered treatment
A clinical interpretation of this data complaining of depression and frigidity.
suggests we consider her predominant She was a "professional patient" with a
Parental behavior in pastiming as the prior history of psychotherapy, including
"second hand" in her major game activity. private psychiatric care, pastoral coun-
Her pastiming forms an apt arena for seling, family therapy with her two
locating nurturing or helping Parental daughters, two transactional analysis
types with whom she can play Schlemiel marathons in another setting, and one
and ITHY. It falls within the realm of Gestalt workshop. She was aware of her
counter-script behavior, or what she does scripting to avoid closeness, with a pro-
in between periods of script accomplish- gram calling for a series of desertions by
ment. The strong Parental behavior evi- men, beginning with Father who died when
denced in her termination activity indicates she was three, Stepfather who left when
a more pronounced stance within the she was 13, her husband who left via
Parental hand, since the Adult behavior of suicide 14 years before, and a succession
the interviewer did not permit her to play of other significant males who failed her,
either of her chosen games. including her therapists. A clinical analysis
of her "Little Match Girl" script is given
Bodily Duplicity in Treatment below after the form developed by Berne
(1972).
A third research project, conducted by
Kit Schooley and Jack Cushman (1972), Thesis: The little match girl is driven out
analyzed videotapes of two subjects in to work all her days selling matches be-
therapy with the author. Both subjects cause Father has died and Mother demands
were given fifteen-minute pastime inter- it of her. She is conscientious and always
views. Four to six Basic Postures were tries to be good and help, but no one buys
identified, forming a fundamental reper- her matches. She becomes cold in the snow
toire for each person. Each subject was because no one lets her in. Finally, trying to
then studied during a one-hour session of warm herself with her own matches, she
individual treatment. In therapy, a lesser freezes to death slowly because no one
number of "working positions" was drawn cares.
from the general repertoire observed in Clinical Diagnosis: Depressive neurosis.
pastiming. Fairy Tale: Little Match Girl.
The most striking feature of bodily Roles: Helpful Child, Persecuting
expressions in treatment was a duplicity Mother, and Rescuing Father who fails
within Basic Postures when the subject (leaves).
was dealing with personal conflicts. This Switches: Rescuer (advising, Nurturing
duplicity manifested itself as a bodily Parent) to Victim (sad Child) to Persecutor
"split" while the subject was discussing (ofthose who don't care or help).
conflictual behavior. The "split" was Parental Precept: Be a good, helpful
either left-right or top-bottom in distri- girl (almost perfect).
bution, one side of which expressed the Parental Injunction: Don't be close,
borrowed or "mimicked" behavior of never be happy, and freeze to death.
the Parent ego state, the other side ex- Parental Program: If the men had done
pressing past or present modes of respond- right, everything would have turned out
ing to it. These splits were graphable in well.
the Mass Distribution diagrams previously Position: I'm OK (because I'm trying).
described, revealing a pronounced distribu- They're not OK (because they don't listen
tion of the body toward one quadrant and or help).
away from the central axis on the viewing Decision: I'll try hard, stay sad, and
grid. maybe he'll rescueme (Santa Claus Fantasy).
Vol. 11, No.4, October 1981 339

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DAVID STEERE

Script: Freeze to death.


Antiscript: Straighten others out before
it's too late for them (and me).
Sweatshirt: Front-I always try harder;
back-and it never works.
Game:IWFY.
Trading Stamps: Depressions.
Final Payoff: Lonely old age and death.
Epitaph: She tried harder than anybody
and look what it got her.
Antithesis: Goodbye to sad little Alpha
and good little Alpha.
Permission: To be close and have fun.
The problem current to Alpha's treat-
ment lay in making her redecisions stick.
her stance as a "professional patient" led
to converting all awareness gained in treat-
ment into another "hard try" outside the
treatment room.
Videoanalysis with Alpha established
three Basic Postures during therapy. BP-l
concentrated Mass Distribution in the upper
left quadrant of the screen (see Figure 4).
Her "T-zone" (formed by head, shoulders,
and trunk) was tilted four to six inches left
of the central axis. Dominant gestures were Figure 4
with the left hand, palm down, making Alpha: Basic Posture 1
"laying on" movements, or palm in,
making chopping motions. Legs were shifted
back into the lower left quadrant, with phrase like, "I know 1do that, but how can
any motion coming from the left foot. I stop?" (YDYB, a relative in service of
The right arm was limp on the lap or arm setting up the core game, IWFY, with
rest, often with palm up. Verbal material therapists) .
from this posture described what she had Basic Posture 3 was formed by a Trunk
accomplished, giving detailed reports of Shift farther back into the upper right
the week, decidedly her maternal Parent, quadrant, normally after "Good Little
"bringing her little girl for treatment to Alpha" had "struggled for a while,"
discover new things to make her do." proving that no matter how hard she tries,
Transactions with the therapist were Parent "it's hopeless." This was "Sad Little
to Parent at the ulterior level, as if to say: Alpha," who is normally tearful, bringing
"What are we going to do about little her right hand (sometimes made into a fist)
Alpha? She's so unhappy." to her mouth to cover her speech or hold-
Basic Posture 2 was formed by a Trunk ing a balled kleenexin the air (see Figure 6).
Shift over to the upper right quadrant, The left hand became active in BP-3 only
leaning slightly forward, tucking her legs to reach over and stroke the right hand
back toward the central axis (see Figure 5). when it rested limply on the lap or chair
Major Identified Movements were with the arm, palm up.
right hand and arm, ordinarily with the This sequence of behavior was invariably
palm up. Verbal material here came from followed by a Trunk Shift back to BP-l,
the Adapted Child or "Good Little Alpha" where the same process was reinstituted
who tries hard, constantly looks for com- at a more subtle level three times during a
mands from any Parent, acknowledges 30 minute segment of tape. The fourth
her need, and often utters a characteristic time around, the resumption of BP-l was
340 Transactional Analysis Journal

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BODY MOVEMENT IN EGO STATES

i
I:'
U
"'\\"

Figure 5 Figure 6
Alpha: Basic Posture 2 Alpha: Basic Posture 3

accompanied by allegations and doubts against the back of the chair, squaring her
surrounding the efficacy of treatment, the head on her shoulders and coming "on
hope for change, and, ever so subtly, the straight. " This produced an immediate
competence of the therapist (IWFY-"I'd behavior change toward realistic, Adult
be better"). At this point, it appeared we data processing in therapy. During subse-
had reaped the reward for the therapist quent sessions, Alpha reported success in
Berne (1972, p. 346) described who employing this procedure at home, breaking
"watches every movement of every patient her escalation of the cycle that set up her
at every moment during the session." We periods of depression at the precise point
had observed Alpha going through her she "caught" herself in it.
script in condensed form: launching herself Alpha's behavior roughly corresponds
into perfectionist behavior with good pre- to what Taibi Kahler and Hedges Capers
cepts and high expectations, trying hard (1974) described as the miniscript: "Try
and struggling only to fail, falling into hard," (Driver), "Fail" (Stopper), "Be
repeated episodes of sadness, and finally sad" (Pay off), and IWFY (Vengeful
blaming the male who fails to rescue and Child). Initial hopes that we might estab-
leavesher alone to be miserable. lish a similar pattern punctuated by Trunk
Neither Alpha nor the therapist was Shifts among all our subjects were short
aware how all-pervasive was this cycle of lived.
scripted behavior. The videoanalysis per- Beta, for example, who became our
mitted these Basic Postures to be systema- second subject, adopted one single posture
tically identified in treatment. Alpha was repeatedly during the hour as she described
coached to break the cycle and cathect her emotional abuse in a long term affair she
her Adult by placing her feet squarely on sought to end. Her bodily duplicity was
the floor, straightening her spinal column top-bottom in distribution, formed in the

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DAVID STEERE

lower viewing quadrants by crossing her the varying angles of Trunk Shifts and
legs and winding her upper instep around Identified Movements vis-a-vis the viewing
her lower ankle where she remained sta- screen. These problems were compounded
tionery for sustained periods of time. Berne when we moved cameras into normal settings
(1972, pp. 317, 318) described this posture for group treatment. Procedures there
as a "script sign" noting its characteristic remain to be reported with the second
protection against violation. Instead of the phase of research.
sequential shifts observed in Alpha's be- Fortunately for the clinician, the num-
havior, Beta firmly assumed one posture bers, types and styles of movement which
and persistently held it as if security de- may be recorded with reasonable accuracy
pended upon i. Subsequent studies, are more important than exactness in Ex-
behond the scope of this paper, reveal penditure. The 14 hypotheses for clinical
many different patterns of postural display use listed below were developed during this
accompanying scripty behavior. earlier experimentation and have proven
accurate in subsequent studies.
Some Hypotheses for Oinical Use 1. Shifts in the spinal cord (Trunk Shifts)
At this stage, we have little hope of are the key to changes from one ego state
forming a descriptive catalog of Basic to another. A full Trunk Shift involves a
Postures or Identified Movements universal movement of 2 to 4 inches of both head
to Parent, Adult, or Child ego states. How- and trunk. For example, rocking forward
ever, once we learn the coherent set of and backward expresses one continuing
behavior patterns comprising the ego states ego state (ordinarily Child in search of a
for one subject, we may observe their Nurturing Parent) and not a Trunk Shift,
unique style of appearance with amazing since the spinal column remains stationary
accuracy and consistency. Within the limited and is rocked "as a pole" on the pelvic
number of subjects we have observed hinge. Rocking to and fro does not appear
experimentally and clinically, certain to constitute the same psycho-physiological
trends toward common behaviors in Parent, state. Side-to-side rocking evidences con-
Adult, and Child ego states are evident fusion and disorientation in a small number
which leave us steering a somewhat uncer- of clients observed and may signal the pre-
tain course between the Scylla of chaotic sence of psychotic behavior.
dissimilarity and the Charybdis of univer- 2. Changes in ego state may be elicited by
sal meaning. This state of affairs seems, encouraging clients to alter their Basic
plausible, if we take into account (1) basic Posture and realign their spinal cord. This
cultural similarities between parents and phenomenon is evidenced in the "top
their parenting patterns, (2) basic differences dog - under dog" dialogues developed
in size, visual angles for interaction, and between two chairs by the late Fritz Perls
subsequent bodily movements between (1969). Not only do the two chairs separate
parents and children during crucial periods the internal dialogue between ego states,
of ego state formation, and (3) each indi- the act of physically shifting from one chair
vidual's own unique movements of response to another precipitates differing Basic
within his or her developmental history. Postures expressed in each chair. Less
For the clinician, the procedures we have labile clients who evidence indistinguishable
outlined can soon reach a point of diminish- behavior from each chair may be suffering
ing returns. They are costly in time and from exclusions.
energy. The one dimensional measurements 3. An ego state is a psychophysiological
we employed are obviously inaccurate at event involving the whole organism. Terms
the point of detecting the magnitude of like "body language" or "nonverbal
movement made toward and away from the communication" suggest the body is
camera. Even the use of a second camera "saying something" on another channel
at standard distance to the side would not than the mouth. This is only partially true.
allow for differences in plotting exactly Parent, Adult, and Child ego states appear

342 Transactional Analysis Journal

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BODY MOVEMENT IN EGO STATES

as concrete states of being, not simply state tend toward front-back tilting. In a
ways of communicating something which number of instances, Parental heads can be
originates elsewhere (as in the head). They charted literally "looking down their
constitute our own unique mode of "being noses" at the other, physically reproducing
in the world" at a particular moment. In all the angularity of big people looking down
probability, certain aspects of an ego state, at little people. For this reason, we have
such as Basic Posture or stance, are inte- tended to discourage floor-sitting by
grated neurologically at the subcortical members of a group, leaving them looking
level (Grossman, 1967, pp, 241, 262, 294, up to others, creating visual angles which
512-514, 815). Unwitting therapeutic stimulate similar postures.
efforts to deal with ego state changes in 6. Characteristic hand and arm move-
terms of "finding something else to say" ments in the Parent ego state are frequently
may bypass the thorough-going, all-per- arclike, over from above, with the palms
vasive organismic system we confront. down. In many instances, they appear to
Methods which get clients up, alter the reproduce the motion of bigger persons
way they stand and sit, change the way reaching down to pat smaller ones on the
they reach out from their spinal cord to head, laying something on them (like a
give and get strokes, give them something benediction), picking them up, or point-
else to do bodily with their time, teach ing something out definitely (the inevitable
them coordination or dance, may provide a finger or penetrating handchop, with palm
much more effective treatment regime in). If the "T-zone" is tilted left, the left
than a therapy that reduces everything to hand is predominant; if right, then the right
verbal or lexical terms, simply talking with leads in movement. The arc-like move-
patients about how they are acting. ments, with palms charted down or in,
4. Basic Postures for the Parent ego state stand in vivid contrast to Child hand move-
tend to be formed by tilting the spinal ments which frequently have palms up and
column back or away from the other per- movement outward.
son and toward one side. Mass Distribu- 7. Basic Postures for the Child ego state
tion diagrams show the "T-zone" (formed are ordinarily formed by Trunk Shifts to
by head, shoulders, and trunk) tipped the opposing quadrant of Parental activity
decidedly away from the central axis into with the spinal column shifted decisively
one of the upper viewing quadrants. In to the side, forward or backward. Trunk
approximately 70 percent of the persons movements from one quadrant to the
observed, the first visible manifestation of other frequently measure six to eighteen
the Parent ego state is formed by a Trunk inches. Alpha's Child behavior, for
Shift to the left; in the others it is right. example, transpired with Mass Distribution
This is the predominant Parent. When a in the upper right quadrant, the right hand
second Parent ego state appears, it is with the predominant one for gestural move-
a Trunk Shift that places head and ments. This opposed her maternal Parent
shoulders over into the opposite quadrant. who operated from the upper left quadrant
The two Parent ego states are radically with an ascendant left hand. Such right/
different. For example, in one subject left divisions of expression, when placed
Parent 1 tended to be Nurturing and into the "top dog - under dog" dialogues
"helpfully controlling" with only a mild of Gestalt therapy, consistently produce a
Critical apparatus; Parent 2 expressed it- scene (or series of scenes) between mother
self from the opposing quadrant at times of and daughter, which is perpetuated struc-
excitement with blusterous, devastating turally in the current appearance of Parent
criticism. In a number of clinical instances and Child ego states. Once the rightlleft
we have gained historical confirmation division has been established for the client,
that these distinct behavior patterns are the ascendancy of one over the other be-
borrowed from each actual parental figure. comes readily aparent in the most subtle
5. Angles of the head in the Parent ego expressions of mundane conversation.

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DAVID STEERE

8. Head angles in Child ego states tend in a position approaching straightness with
toward more severe degrees of departure the central vertical axis on the viewing grid
from the line of the spinal column. Ernst or leaning forward from it. The "Ernst
(1971) has done an excellent job of des- phenomenon" (Ernst, 1971, pp. 109-111),
cribing the radical tilts up ("Who's up which is the practice of "leveling" the head
there?"), down, or to one side, noting the on the shoulders to cathect the Adult,
"angle" the Child brings to game behavior. approaches similar procedures we have
9. Identified Movements of the hands in found effective. Squaring away the body
Child ego states are frequently diagrammed to "come on straight" involves a shift in
up and out in direction, with the palms Basic Posture. Placing feet flat on the floor
up. Physiological models are the infant so that bodily activity may be equally dis-
reaching up for the mother's arms, the tributed in all quadrants aligns both trunk
open hand reaching for something to be and head along the central axis naturally.
given it, the circular motion of the open 13. Identified Movements of hands and
hand which often accompanies descriptions arms in the Adult ego state appear to be
of "trying hard," or the outward shrug of equally distributed right and left with fre-
the hands so commonly made in our culture quent coordination of movement from
with the words, "I don't know." By way of both sides. One plausible explanation is
contrast, the Parental finger is delivered that the organism is free from the right-
with palm down or in. The Child finger left imprinting in Parent and Adapted Child
is delivered vigorously with palm up. ego states and becomes capable of balanced
10. Another form of bodily division bodily expression in response to the moment.
commonly charted in Basic Postures is Clinically, it appears the Free or Natural
the top-bottom split (upper quadrants Child possesses a similar balance and coor-
versus lower quadrants). One subject who dination appropriate to its age and develop-
complained of frigidity was animated from ment. This is in contrast to the movements
the waist up and virtually motionless or of the Adapted Child which do not
"dead" from the waist down. A common appear to have the same contemporary
form of upper-lower division we have all flow. Thus far, we have been unable to
observed is the executive Parent in the study the Free Child on the viewing screen,
upper quadrants leaning back, with arms however, to chart its expression accurately.
folded, accompanied by a twitching or 14. Analyzing the bodily expressions of
kicking movement of a foot, evidencing a ego states may give us a much better read-
chafing Child being denied expression. ing on subtle contaminations than the
Clinically, the denied ego state bears atten- verbal or ideational analysis with which
tion in treatment. many of us have been working. We are
11. When denied behavior does find struck by the amount of material in therapy
bodily expression, it is often with Identi- where subjects appear to be processing
fied Movements of pronounced magnitude data in their Adult, while assuming their
(Grids/Move) or Expenditure. Exclusions Basic Posture for Parent or Child. Imme-
may be accurately identified in this manner. diate progress is made clinically when the
Berne (1961), p. 65) located Mr. Ennat's BasicPosture is changed. The same material
excluded Child by focusing attention on when processed again with a straight "T-
the occasional thump he gave his thigh, zone" permits subtle contaminations to be
tracing down "adventures during toilet identifiedin the ego state where they belong.
training" through this gesture. The clinical
method of exaggerating an Identified Move-
ment which protrudes into the executive
rhythm of another ego state often accom- David Steere, PhD, CTM, is currently
plishes effective structural analysis. Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling
12. Adult behavior is marked by a "T- at Louisville Presbyterian Theological
zone" (head, shoulders, and trunk) aligned Seminary.

344 Transactional Analysis Journal

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BODY MOVEMENT IN EGO STATES

REFERENCES Kirkbridge, D., &: Stokes, D. Considerations con-


Berne, E. Transactional analysis in psychotherapy. cerning intuitive analysis of body cures. Unpub-
New York: Grove Press, 1961. lished manuscript, Louisville Presbyterian
Berne, E. What do you say after you say hello. New Seminary, 1972.
York: Grove Press, 1972. Kirkbride, D., &: Stokes, D. Experiment on body
Ernst, F.H. Handbook of listening. Mimeographed, language: A working paper. Unpublished manu-
copyrighted, 1971. script, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, 1972.
Grossman, S. Physiological psychology. New York:
Moore, M. Nonverbal communication as a diagnostic
John Wiley &:Sons, 1967.
and therapeutic tool. Unpublished master's re-
Kahler, T., &: Capers, H. The miniscript, Transac- search project, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary,
tionalAnalysis Journal, 1974,4(1),26-42. 1972.
Kirkbride, D., &:Stokes, D. The measurement ofbody
movement. Unpublished manuscript, Louisville, Perls, F.S. Gestalt therapy verbatim. Lafayette,
Presbyterian Seminary, 1971. California: Real People Press, 1969.
Kirkbridge, D., &: Stokes, D. Body analysis: Physio- Schooley, K., &: Cushman, J. Body research. Un-
logical aspects. Unpublished manuscript, Louis- published manuscript, Louisville Presbyterian
ville Presbyterian Seminary, 1972. Seminary, 1972.

Berne speaks of various styles of therapists who can be labeled. There are:
1. Phallus in Wonderland, who is fascinated by the clients and what happens to
them.
2. The Delegate, who seemingly knows everything and has the "whole weight of
psychoanalytic tradition behind him."
3. The Smiling Rebel, who tends to keep secret what's on his or her mind, experi-
menting with clients and seldom telling people what's really going on.
4. The Patient Clinician, who gets along slowly, rescues somewhat, and never gets
upset.
5. The Jargon Junk Juggler, who enjoys using large words that nobody understands.
6. The Conservative, who is so bland and passive that nothing much happens.
7. The Hypochondriac, who is afraid to try anything new because of the concern
over his or her own comfort.
Competent TA therapists are aware of the possibility of fitting into one of these
phony roles and reject them in favor of being real.
-Muriel James, "Techniques in Transactional Analysis, "p. 34

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