by Claude M. Steiner Ph. D.
This article started as a proposal for a book which that has not found interest in the publishing world so far, and is yet to be written and published. I include it here as it may be of interest to visitors .
The proposed book has two parts:
Part One, in which we encounter and unmask the workings of the Inner Enemy or Critical Parent, to show how and why it develops and how pervasively it operates in our everyday lives, undermining our emotional lives and preventing us from being productive and happy every step of the way.
Part Two, in which we teach the reader how to conquer and defeat the Inner Enemy through systematic exercises based on transactional analysis.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.
Book One: The Inner Enemy; well, how did I get here?
Chapter One: Princes to frogs.
Chapter Two: The Not OK Script; bad, stupid, ugly, crazy, sick.
Chapter Three: The Enemy’s strategies; trick or treat.
Chapter Four: Now you see it, now you don’t.
Book Two: Code Love; a battle plan for self-confidence.
Chapter Five: Love of truth.
Chapter Six: Love of others.
Chapter Seven: Love of self.
Book Three: Rules of engagement.
Chapter Eight: Exposing the Enemy and its lies.
Chapter Nine: Nurturing self-love
Chapter by Chapter Summaries
Introduction: Pleased to Meet You; Hope you Guess my Name.
Every therapeutic system has recognized this near universal phenomenon; that inner voice that tells us, in whispers or shouts, in good times and bad, from childhood to old age, when we are doing well or when we are doing badly, over and over or on special occasions, that our life is mediocre, hopeless or doomed or that we are stupid or bad, ugly, crazy or sick; in short that we are not OK.
This book has two purposes:
One, to unmask the workings of the Inner Critic; to show how it develops and becomes internalized, how pervasively it operates in our everyday lives, how it undermines our emotional lives and prevents us from being productive and happy.
Two, to teach the reader how to defeat the Inner Critic through systematic and practical transactional analysis exercises developed over the last thirty years.
Book I. The Inner Enemy. Well, How did I get Here?
Chapter One; Princes to Frogs.
“People are born princess and princesses and their parents turn them into frogs.” Eric Berne MD.
Eric Berne the founder of Transactional Analysis believed, in the tradition of J.J. Russeau and other XIX century philosophers, that people are okay when they are born, that is, innately able to develop in a healthy way or to heal themselves, so long as a nurturing environment is provided for them.
It is undeniably true is that when young people are delivered into toxic human circumstances. be it bad parents, the cruelty of other children, abusive relatives, insensitive teachers or extreme stress or poverty, they are likely to be emotionally affected. Very few people escape such disturbing experiences entirely and for most of us, emotional disorder includes an Inner Critical Enemy which constantly fuels our fears, anger, sadness and self doubt.
The most important fact about the inner Critical Parent is that it is not really you. It is inside of you and it has managed to convince you that it makes perfect sense and that it is reasonable and justified in its aims. It does become internalized and takes over by occupying your mind and emotions and, in effect, brainwashing you with adverse ideas. In addition it encourages you to be attracted by, and surround yourself with people who will agree with those ideas all the while creating problems instead of helping solve them.
Chapter Two. The Not OK Script; You are bad, stupid, crazy, ugly, sick and if that were not enough, doomed.
Every time we go along with the Inner Critic we do so because we are intimidated by its threats. We fear ridicule or mockery; if we don’t obey its dictates and warnings the Inner Critic tells us that people will reject us, laugh about us, speak badly about us behind our backs and finally, that we will be left all alone. In every case the Critical Parent provides us with a statement–a script–of what is wrong with us and threatens us with an ill-fated scenario in which our flaws take hold and ruin our lives in small and large ways.
Chapter Three: The Enemy’s Strategies; Trick or treat.
The Enemy is a dynamic portion of our mind. It is a powerful complex of acquired ideas. Some of these ideas have been passed down through generations and some of them are developed anew.
The Enemy’s function, has its roots in the hierarchical, territorial, aggressive instincts of our simian ancestors which as we evolved into human beings became patriarchal concepts handed down through millennia of civilization. Its aim is to curtail people’s freedom and to subordinate the individual to the will of others preventing the person from being all he or she can be. Its power depends on its capacity to trick us, intimidate us, confuse us, startle and frighten us. It is a complex of toxic ideas, an evil ideology, even a satanic possession, if you will, about ourselves. The tactics of the Enemy are many but they are all based on the threat that we will be cut off from the tribe; unloved and alone. In addition it threatens us with loss of control over our lives, loss of power in the world, alienation and oblivion.
Chapter Four: Now You See it Now You Don’t.
The Critical Parent thrives on being invisible. People are ashamed of being under its influence, and will almost never openly reveal what it says to them. Even to its victim the Critical Parent is largely hidden, in most cases. To one person’s awareness it is simply a dark, looming influence, settling over the mind like a suffocating blanket which turns everything dismal, hopeless and gray without warning. To another, it is a nagging, insistent voice, which continually speaks in her ear and will not leave her alone.
But the Enemy can be also a more banal, garden-variety sort which simply makes us feel that we are ordinary, mediocre, boring and generally not worthy; not deserving to ask for or get what we want. To some the Critical Parent is a constant presence, to most a hit and run, elusive foe. Whether visible or invisible the Critical Parent convinces us that it is needed to keep us–our inner Child and our offspring–from error and downfall. Theorists that will argue that we need the Inner Critic at important times; they call that aspect of the Critical Parent the Normative Critical Parent.
Book II. Code Love: A Battle Plan for Self-confidence. Love of Self, Others and Truth.
Like a virus which is not really alive but is a mechanism that replicates, mutates and keeps going by using its host’s energies to maintain itself, the Inner Enemy can be eradicated or weakened to the point that it does not affect us appreciably. How is that achieved?
The ultimate aim is self-love, the opposite of self-hate. But love of self cannot exist in a vacuum. The fact is that without love of others there can be no love or self; they are intimately connected and dependent on each other.
Finally, and this is very important, neither self love or love of others can exist without love of truth because lying and dishonesty are utterly corrosive to both. Love of Truth, Love of Others and Love of Self are the three interconnected steps that together have the power to defeat of the Inner Enemy.
Chapter Five. Love of Truth:
The Enemy thrives on falsehood and lies. It exaggerates, accuses falsely, uses sophistry, invidious metaphors, gossip and innuendo to promote its demeaning task. It depends on our shame-faced submission to lies and secrets. Therefore truth and truthfulness are the Enemy’s foe.
In the struggle against the Enemy it is essential to openly admit the messages that we shamefully live with and submit to. Asking for and accepting constructive criticism and dealing honestly with our faults without exaggeration or evasion is important. We need to be truthful about our feelings; clearly expressing our affections and joys, as well as our sadness, anger or fear. Stating plainly what we think, asking for what we want and refusing to do that which we do not want to do regardless of what pressure we may be under, are all aspects of a person’ love of truth. Disclosure, constructive self criticism and all forms of honesty are powerful weapons in the battle against the Inner Enemy. Specific examples of how to transact in an truthful manner, how to elicit honesty from others, how to respond to dishonesty and how to create honest relationships, will be given.
Chapter Six: Love of Others.
The Enemy is free with its critique against other people. If we hate ourselves we are allowed to be hard on others as well. As a first step to self-love, we need to develop a loving, open hearted and Enemy-free attitude about others. Whenever we see something to criticize in others we must seek an objective critique, devoid of the anger, hatred or ridicule that are the Enemy’s hallmark.
Openly expressing our love or affection of others, as neighbors, coworkers, family or lovers needs to be practiced and learned. Asking for a loving response and accepting it when given is equally important. An open heart is essential in the struggle against the Inner Critic. How to practice these transactional skills will be shown with examples.
Chapter Seven: Love of Self.
Sincere, unclouded, calm, uncomplicated appreciation and love of ourselves that is not affected by the vagaries of everyday life or the opinion of others is a high personal achievement in our lives. Self-love is a dramatic, personal, inner accomplishment which is enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own thoughts, in meditation, in silent communion with whatever is good and holy in our lives. It stands for an understanding of the basic goodness of humanity represented in our person.
The self doesn’t exist in isolation, however, and its accomplishing it is dependent on our human connections; inner peace and self love cannot be achieved in the absence of the love of others or the love of truth. Self-love is made concrete when we replace the prejudiced, denigrating voices of the Critical Parent in our Heads with the voice of a Nurturing Parent which is on our side and tells us that we are beautiful, sane, good, healthy and smart in spite of our human failings.
Book III: Rules of Engagement.
Chapter Eight: Exposing the Enemy and its lies.
Giving our inner enemy a name is the first step. Once we can name it we can begin to chart the dimensions of its attack. We keep a written log of the not OK statements that plague us and identify every instance. We share these statements with others we trust (more)
Chapter Nine: Nurturing self-love.
We develop and log Nurturing Parent statements to realistically and directly contradict every one of the Enemy’s statements. (more)
Love of self goes hand in hand with the cultivation of the love of others and the love of truth. We cannot properly love others if we hate ourselves. We cannot hate ourselves if we truly love others. We cannot reliably love ourselves or others unless we love truth. Only when we oppose the Enemy with a truthful yet tolerant evaluation of ourselves as well as others can we count on a lasting and realistic basis for our affectionate, human bonds. Only love of self, others and truth can bring us to the passionate, loving advocacy that has the power to defeat the Inner Enemy.