Is the U.S. Government a Dysfunctional Family?



From Anxiety Culture:

A branch of psychology called Transactional Analysis (TA) has a diagram called The Drama Triangle which is used for analysing psychological games.

Interestingly, this triangle seems equally applicable to political games. The Persecutor/Rescuer polarity appears to reflect the conservative/liberal dichotomy in politics. In the TA psychological model, both persecutors and rescuers need victims in order to play their psychological power games. The same seems true in traditional politics: the conservative game requires victims to criticise, castigate, scapegoat and punish; the liberal game requires victims to “help”, patronise, pity and redeem. The liberal game appears more altruistic, but, like the conservative game, it’s about power – it’s about the monkey urge to be higher up in the tree. This can be seen from the fact that many liberal schemes for “helping” people are compulsory, ie “you must accept our help” (meaning: “you must play the role of victim”).

The survival of traditional politics depends on the existence of a large pool of “victims” – ie poor people – to rescue or persecute. Hence the continuing (in fact increasing) gap between rich and poor, even under relatively liberal governments (latest government reports show that a third of UK children live in poverty).

A fairer distribution of wealth would drastically shrink the pool of “victims”, thereby threatening the survival of traditional politics. When people say “with the political will, poverty could easily be abolished” they perhaps don’t appreciate the irony. The will to abolish a power game never arises from within the power game itself.

Read more here.

3 Comments on "Is the U.S. Government a Dysfunctional Family?"

  1. Anonymous | Sep 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm |


  2. GoodDoktorBad | Sep 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm |


  3. Vox Penii | Sep 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm |


    However, it’s worth mentioning that TA is not really that commonly used by clinical therapists/counselors. Treatments like Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Retraining have a much better track record of treating depression/anxiety/psychological trauma. As a fairly-well informed layman I can testify that TA is used in modern therapy mainly as an adjunct to CBT or EMDR.

    But when TA *is* used in modern therapy, it’s usually to illustrate the kinds of interpersonal dynamics described in this article. Another good entry from the Good German.

    also, re “A fairer distribution of wealth…”

    “To say that ‘wealth in America is so unfairly distributed in America,’ as Ronald Dworkin does, is grossly misleading when most wealth in the United States is not distributed at all. People create it, earn it, save it, and spend it.”

    Thomas Sowell, “Visions of the Anointed”

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