Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Eric Berne developed the notion of transactional analysis (TA ) and author of the book "The Games People Play".

Thomas A Harris then wrote the book "I'm OK - You're Ok" based on Berne's theory of TA.

Tony White expanded on this theory.

They produced the following concepts about people's life positions. As a basis for a person's way of relating to others and the world.:

"I'm OK, You're OK"
"I'm not OK, You're OK"
"I'm OK, You're not OK"
"I'm not OK, You're not OK"
"I'm not OK, But You're Worse"
"I'm not OK, You're Irrelevant"
"I'm a Bit More OK Than You Are"
"I'm OK, You're Irrelevant"
"I'm OK, You're OK, They're not OK"

How effective is this paradigm as an aide to diagnosing personality disorders?

share|improve this question
Diagnosing personality types in what sense? Each model of personality has different personality types and different numbers of types. Did you have a specific model of personality types in mind outside TA itself? – John Aug 20 '13 at 14:52
just as an aside, put those life positions into a conversation, and relace "OK" with "the king", then you have a typical conversation between 2 of my senior students. I'll ask them if this is their motivation. – user3554 Aug 20 '13 at 20:02

Personality disorders are diagnosed with the DSM manual save for a few which have targeted assessment tools (like the PCL-R).

TA is not considered a well supported technique research wise and lots of schools don't teach it except by way of a history lesson. I'm quite certain that both Berne and the authors of the DSM would agree that it doesn't actually map onto any specific personality disorders currently recognized. At best there would be a relationship between many of the addictions and related dependencies but they're certainly not seen the same way.

share|improve this answer
As someone who is brand new to TA and not a professional in any mental health industry I am wondering if that statement concerning TA is an opinion? Or supported with research? I want to research the validity of TA as I see practical applications of it in some areas that I have interests in. I'm not challenging the stance merely seeking as much peer-reviewed information on TA as I can get my hands on. – randomblink Jul 22 at 13:15

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.