Transactional Analysis in Ireland

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

TA and COVID19

It's April 2020 as I write this. Tomorrow I will be 83. Not sure what TA says about this idea of mine, but my experience is that time seems to be different for me the older I become. One thing that seems to happen is that the clock races around every day so that the minutes and hours seem to be much shorter than they used to be, so that I don't seem to be able to accomplish as much in a day as I used to do - of course, in my Adult, I am well aware that it is me that has slowed down, rather than the clock speeding up.

But now the world is dealing with COVID19 - a virus pandemic, and I am 'under orders' from our Irish government as a person over 70 years of age, to 'cocoon' in my home - not to go out, and to wipe door-handles after someone has to come into the house to give me support like doing my shopping for me.
On the radio I become aware that feelings are high among the population in general about various aspect of the situation.

So I started thinking about Eric Berne's idea that there were only four authentic feelings, and I wondered how these would relate to what is happening in my own life just now.
Berne suggested Anger, Loss, Fear and Joy as the Authentic feelings.
And my memory of the way I learned about this was as follows:
Anger is the emotion I feel in the present moment which energizes me to deal with an invasion of my boundaries by 'pushing away' the invader.
I suspect that the implication is that it is a human invasion that is referred to as somehow me getting angry at the virus doesn't seem very Adult to me.
I don't feel angry at the regulations that have been imposed as I see the reason for them. But on the internet I see examples of very angry people demanding the restrictions be lifted, But to me the protestors seem to be more in their Child rather than their Adult, and these protestors come from countries where those in authority seem to be Controlling Parent in the way the restrictions are imposed.

I certainly feel a sense of cultural loss at the numbers of people who are dying - last night I heard that a newspaper in the US published thirty pages of deaths just in one city. Loss is the emotion of sadness in the event of 'irreparable loss', and death is surely that.

Fear is different. From what I remember what I was told about authentic fear is that it refers to Fear as the emotion that I feel when I can see the impending danger near me and it energizes me to take evasive action to avoid the danger.
I think this means that if in my Adult I have information about a potential danger to me, I can make preparations to keep myself safe, But fear about things that might or might not happen is counter-productive and can prevent the kind of rational thinking that is needed to prepare for a potential danger.

So by observing the quarantining/cocooning regulation, I am acknowledging that there is a potential for infection with anyone I come in contact with. So I avoid them in practical ways, but without the fear that would complicate the normality of my life.

Finally what about joy? I seem to remember that joy involved being able to say from my Adult, regardless of the details of my current day that I'm OK, You're OK, Other People are OK, and what's happening is ultimately OK even if I can't understand the value of what is happening day to day.

This is probably the most challenging of the emotions: For example, how can I say that it is OK that all those people are dying, that it is OK that there are not yet enough testing kits, not enough PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for front-line workers, so many angry protestors on the streets, so many politicians seeming to be unable to make the kinds of decisions that are needed? Worst of all, how can I say that what is happening is OK when there seem to be at least some people selfishly making a profit out of the whole situation?

Well, I did say "what is happening is ULTIMATELY OK" There is a Recovery idea that I embrace:
To know is to know that we don't know"
This saying helps me to maintain my own OKness, based on my life experience that when I look back, after the event, no matter how bad things looked, there was always a silver lining of OK-ness in among the parts I didn't like.
That's what I'm hanging on to today. Everything is OK and will be OK so long as I keep my eyes open to the two sides of every story, including COVID19

Sunday, December 16, 2018

TAI awakes after a long sleep

Well folks, you probably got fed up coming back to this blog, and finding nothing changed - I do apologize - let's say sometimes it can take 'old ladies' a long time to get going, especially if the 'sleep' is warm and comfortable.
But thanks to an energetic chap called John who made contact nearly two years ago, let us say "things are happening"

But it wasn't only John (who is interested in TA in education) that got in touch, there were other people too, including Jason, a therapist, and Carol, who is interested in TA in organizations.
From TAI I was joined by Hazel, my sister and together the five of us had good discussions about what might be done to raise the profile of TA in Ireland.

We have met three times in 2018, most recently today (December 16) Our most recent decision has been to identify how our interests are similar (all of us want to see more TA in Ireland) and how they differ (some are thinking about training and dissemination, others about practical day-to day application.)

So for the year ahead, we plan to pursue these ideas separately - we are in experimental mode, and no, we don't have a HurryUp driving us over any cliff.
Sometime in the autumn, we plan to have an AGM for TAI at which we will make whatever decisions we find are appropriate at that time.

Meantime, Hazel and I plan to re-start the former custom of getting together periodically to 'Talk TA'.
No details have been finalized yet,other than 'sometime in the New Year'. But if you would like to be part of such a gathering, you can make contact at

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

MURIEL JAMES Obituary 2018

This version of Muriel's Obituary is slightly different to the one I originally posted. It includes ways of expressing condolences to Muriel's family, and/or honouring her memory.

Updated: In Memoriam: Muriel James, by Ian James

Muriel James, a psychotherapist, educator, and bestselling author who wrote 19 books about subjects from personal growth to spirituality, has died. She was 100.
Muriel helped popularize the ideas and methods of transactional analysis, which were pioneered by her mentor, Dr. Eric Berne. She gained acclaim in the 1970s and 1980s through popular self-help books, including the bestseller Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments, which she coauthored. She lectured to groups and conferences around the world about the concepts of “self-reparenting” and other approaches to psychotherapy and encouraged participants to come to grips with painful past experiences and become more aware of their behavioral “scripts.”
Muriel advocated using simple methods to brighten the mood of others, such as giving an unexpected compliment or encouraging people to laugh “as an aid to breaking free.” With her smile, energy, and infectious sense of purpose, she helped those she counseled to discover their positive qualities and find meaning to their lives. As she put it, “That’s why I became a psychotherapist, to help people.” She believed everyone has some positive qualities they may not have developed or negative qualities that may have overwhelmed them. She encouraged purposeful positive thinking, believing people can live happier lives by being aware of their internal conversations and turning those thoughts toward the positive.
Muriel died peacefully in her sleep on 10 January 2018, in Pleasant Hill, California, where she had lived for the past 3 years. On this Valentine’s Day, she would have been 101 years of age.
She was born Muriel Marshall in Berkeley, California, on 14 February 1917. Her father, John Albert Marshall, was a medical doctor and a captain in the U.S. Army. He was a professor of music, biochemistry, and dental pathology at the University of California. Muriel’s mother, Hazel Knowles Marshall, was an internationally recognized concert pianist. Like her parents, Muriel had a love of music. As a teenager, she briefly performed as a singer with a band at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco until her father discovered her wayward ways.
Muriel grew up in San Francisco and lived in St. Francis Wood. She attended Lowell High School, from which she graduated in 1934. On 29 May 1934, she married Ralph Bertram McMurtry, with whom she had two children, Gail Ann and Duncan.
During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross teaching swimming safety for naval recruits on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and first aid for the prison guards on Alcatraz Island. During the war she also worked in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, as a safety inspector, joining other “Rosie the Riveter” women in performing tasks previously reserved for men.
After divorcing her first husband, Muriel in 1943 married Paul Wellesley James, a foreman at the Richmond Shipyards, with whom she had her third child, John.
After WWII, she worked as a secretary for the Montclair Presbyterian Church from 1951-1954.
Interested in history, religion, and education, Muriel enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1954, at the age of 37, graduating in just 3 years in 1957. She simultaneously attended the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (an Episcopal seminary) in Berkeley, where she earned a Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div.) degree, and thereafter attended the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, where she earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree. Later she earned a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Education.
Muriel was ordained as a minister and began serving at a church in Orinda, California. In 1959, she founded the Laymen’s School of Religion, which was an interdenominational school meant to bring together all religions to address their commonality rather than their differences. It was located in Berkeley, California.
In 1965, she married again, to Ernest Calvin Brawley, a California State Prison administrator.
Muriel was a strong advocate for women’s rights and civil rights. In March of 1965 she joined demonstrators who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, Alabama.
In the late 1960s, she co-led teacher-student trainings in multicultural awareness at California high schools, seeking to help improve relations between black, white, and Latino students.
The idea for the book Born to Win grew out of Muriel’s conversations with coauthor Dorothy Jongeward, who was also interested in transactional analysis after they participated in a panel discussion at a YMCA meeting. When it was published in 1971, Born to Win became a bestseller and was praised for clear writing that brought helpful psychological tools to a broad popular audience. The book eventually sold more than 4 million copies and was used as a college textbook.
Muriel traveled widely to lead counseling sessions, train therapists, and deliver lectures to groups in countries such as Mexico, Japan, and India. She became president of the International Transactional Analysis Association.
In addition to Born to Win, James authored other popular psychology books including Born to Love (1973), Breaking Free: Self-Reparenting for a New Self (1981), It’s Never Too Late to be Happy! Reparenting Yourself for Happiness (1985), and The Better Boss in Multicultural Organizations (1991).
For many years, she led summer workshops and trainings at Lake Tahoe. She often worked together with her son John James, who was also a psychotherapist. They coauthored the book Passion for Life: Psychology and the Human Spirit (1991).
Strongly independent-minded, Muriel branched out to explore historical subjects in books such as Hearts on Fire: Romance and Achievement in the Lives of Great Women (1991) and Religious Liberty on Trial: Hanserd Knollys, Early Baptist Hero (1997).
She later moved to Walnut Creek, California, where she participated in a writers group and continued working on book projects. Into her 90s, she remained fascinated by spirituality, psychology, history, and genealogy. One of her last projects was to arrange for the publication of her grandmother Josephine Knowles’ autobiographical manuscript about her experiences during the Klondike Gold Rush. The book, Gold Rush in the Klondike: A Woman’s Journey in 1898-1899, was published in 2016.
Muriel was preceded in death by her husband Ernest, her older brother John “Jack” Albert Marshall, her younger sister Shirley Marshall, her daughter Gail Ann, and her son John. She is survived by her son Duncan M. James, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At Muriel’s request, her family does not plan to hold a formal memorial service and will instead honor her memory in other ways.
Condolences may be sent to Muriel’s grandsons Ian James ( and Raymond Riddle ( and granddaughter Gabriella Schlesinger James (
Those who wish to honor Muriel’s memory with a charitable donation are encouraged to give to the ITAA Scholarship Grant Fund or the Authors Guild Foundation.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Born to Win by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward

Just found this link.
Born to Win preso
It seems that there must have been some kind of 're-launch' /republication of Born To Win in 2014.

I find this an unusual website. At the top is an excellent slide-show with 30 'screens' outlining the book, as if someone is sharing what they had read.
Lower in the site is a text area of what I think are the contents of the slides transcribed.
It could be possible to cut-and paste this into Word, to make a hard copy to study at your leisure, away from the computer.

I have a copy of the original in my personal Eric Berne Memorial Library. This is a READING LIBRARY only, that is you can come as often as you like to read, but you cannot take the books away. Many of them are out of print, though occasionally they become available online, so its worth keeping a look out if you have a particular wish to read it.

Death of Muriel James

Image of young Muriel JamesI just learned this morning that my dear friend and mentor, and first contact with ITAA has died. This is the notice I got from USATAA:

The USATAA Coordinating Council is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Muriel James. She was an incredible pioneering TA theorist, therapist, author, educator, and consultant. We send our condolences to her loved ones and all those in our community who have been touched or transformed by her work.

I plan to add my memories here later, but meantime on my own behalf and on behalf of all those to whom I spoke about her, and about all she taught me, I'm so sorry she has gone. But then, as long as we live what she taught us, somehow, she is still with us. 
As we say in Irish: 
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam (May her soul be on the right of God (LOVE)