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SCRIPTS. Transactional analysts believe that most people are basically OK and in difficulty only because their parents (or other grownups and influential young people) have exposed them to powerful injunctions and attributions with long-term harmful effects.
People, early in their lives come to the conclusion that their lives will unfold in a predictable way; short, long, healthy, unhealthy, happy, unhappy depressed or angry, successful or failed, active or passive. When the conclusion is that life will be bad or self damaging this is seen as a life script.
The script matrix is a diagram used to clarify people's scripts. In it we see two parents and their offspring and we can diagram the transactional messages--injunctions and attributions--which caused the young person to abandon their original OK position and replace it with a serf-damaging not OK position.
When life is guided by a script there are always periods in which the person appears to be evading his or her unhappy fate. This seemingly normal period of the script, is called the counterscript. The counterscript is active when the person's unhappy life plan gives way to a happier period. This is, however, only temporary and invariably collapses, giving way to the original scripting. For an alcoholic, this may be a period of sobriety; for a depressed person with a suicide script it may be a brief period of happiness which inevitably ends when the script's injunctions take over.
In the Script Matrix of Joseph, a drug addict we see that the script injunction "Don't think, drink instead." goes to Joseph's Child from his father's Child. This powerful message influences Joseph's life dramatically, when he follows his father’s injunction with drugs instead of alcohol causing him repeated drug abuse episodes through his young life and adulthood. The counterscript message "You should not drink to excess," motivates him to make repeated but ineffectual efforts to cut down on drug abuse and it goes to Joseph's Parent from his mother and father's Parent.
The Script message: "don't think, drink instead" delivered from Child-to-Child-is more influential than the Parent-to-Parent counterscript message to abuse moderately: that is why the script messages will usually prevail unless the person changes his or her script. When scripts are not changed they are passed down the generations, like “hot potatoes,” from grownups to children in an uninterrupted chain of maladaptive, toxic behavior patterns.