Tuesday, September 20, 2011

INTERNAL ENSLAVEMENT part 2 - "Communication strategies - Transactional Analysis applied in D/s context"

The concept of "Internal Enslavement" (IE) that I am referring to in this series of articles is described on the website http://www.enslavement.org.uk. I find the ideas presented in the essays on this website very thought provoking and inspiring, and as a submissive D/s lifestyler I can relate to a lot mentioned there.

The concept "Internal Enslavement" (=IE) deals with the question if a radical consensual slavery is possible in an M/s context that is based on the pillars of safety, sanity, consensual and mutual trust, respect and commitment, in the physical, emotional and mental area of relationships. According to Tanos who is running the Internal Enslavement Website the answer is yes. He has done scientific research in this field and gathered a lot of experience from his own life as a Master living together with his slaves in a poly household for several years. It is assumed that radical consensual slavery is possible (-> TPE = Total Power Exchange). It is a goal you can work towards step by step. The supporters of the concept of IE also believe that there are certain techniques derived from psychological knowledge that help with the "examination of a female slave's thoughts, emotions and past experiences to establish and maintain a solid and inescapable state of ownership" (http://www.enslavement.org.uk).

With this article, I would like to present one of the various psychological theories and methods that can help with enslaving a submissive and growing the M/s bond. It is a well-known communication theory, called "Transactional Analysis". As we all know, communication is a big part of the actions and dynamics between a Dominant and a submissive. Success and failure of a relationship are often correlated with how well the partners can communicate with each other and understand each other. Being open with each other and being willing to share is essential to the success of any human relationship, and in D/s relationships even more so.

One famous book presenting the communication theory of Transactional Analysis (=TA) has this title "I'm OK - You're OK". It was written by Thomas Harris and was published in 1967. The book title desribes the goal of successful communication: Both partners participating in a transactional process / communication, should feel okay in the end and also see that the other is okay. This is called the "healthy position". Why is it called position? When I start to communicate with someone, it should be my standpoint, focus and goal - and in this sense position - that i want him/her and (!) myself to be okay in the course and outcome of the transactional process. The "healthy position" describes a mindset.

It is not healthy when my partner is okay but i am not okay or the other way round. And of course, when none of the communication partners feels okay, it is the worst form of a communcation that is a failure - it is called the "hopeless position". We could also call it the "dead end" of a transactional process and it is very hard to find a way out there during the same conversation.

Before i get in more details about TA, here is some background of this psychological concept. In the early 20th century, Freuds psychoanalytical theories became very popular. Freud believed that personality had three components, all of which must work together to produce our complex behaviors. These three components or aspects were the Id, Ego, and the Superego. One of Freud's greatest contributions to psychological research was that the human personality is multi-faceted. Regardless of the classification or name given to a particular area of personality (id, superego, etc.), each individual possesses factions that frequently collide with each other. And it is these collisions and interactions between these personality factions that manifest themselves as an individual's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Now Eric Berne, the founder of the Transactional Analysis, believed that Freud's proposed structures are "concepts... [and not]
phenomenological realities" (Berne, Eric. Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy. Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1961.) So Berne dealt with the phenomenological realities. And these are the actions of individuals. How they conduct themselves in the social environment.So Berne's therapist approach was not to ask the client a lot of exploring questions such as a freudian psychoanalytical therapist would do. He rather watched the client's actions when he/she acted in a social group. Tracked and analyzed how their transactions were. How they communicated ... what position they took in the transactional processes.

I think you already see what meaning Berne's approach carries for D/s relationships and enslavement. By watching a submissive's actions when interacting with other people, analyzing how his/her transactions are, how he/she communicates ... can help a lot with getting to know the inside of the submissive better and to get knowledge about how to best communicate with the sub in order to reach him/her in his/her depths and further enhance enslavement.

Transactional Analysis is based on the fundamental theory of how our brain records and memorizes events: The human brain acts in many ways like a camcorder, vividly recording events. While that event may not necessarily be able to be consciously retrieved by the owner, the event always exists in the brain. Both the event and the feelings experienced during that event are stored in the brain. The event and the feelings are locked together, and neither one can be recalled without the other. When an individual replays his or her experiences, he or she can replay them in such a vivid form that the individual experiences again the same emotions he or she felt during the actual experience. I think we have all had plenty of communication situations when a feeling stored in our brains from a past experience, for example, came back into our mind very vividly and influenced our communication. This is not only relevant for aspects of safety in D/s (traumas suddenly surfacing etc.), but also for effective communication of Dominant and submissive trying to grow internal enslavement.

Depending on our past and current experiences and feelings and precognitions of our future, our ego can assume different states. TA speaks of the PARENT, ADULT and CHILD ego state, and these ego states surface in the transactional actions of an indidivual during communication. Someone who maybe had very overpowering and strict parents during childhood might tend to still go into the child's rebellion when somebody talks to him/her in parent mode such as "you should do this and this" ... "why didn't you ...". This is just one example. These ego states and their mutual influence on one another during transactional processes (communication) can be analyzed, and this is what TA is about. Goal of TA is to help individuals reflect themselves better when they communicating or preparing a conversation and to help them achieve the healthy position in communication more often. It should be clear that in order enslave a submissive successfully, the healthy position in communication of Dominant and submissive is ultimatelty important and should be strived for.

To become more concrete ... let's think of a Dom and a sub talking to each other. What could be a typical sentence coming out of a "PARENT ego state" of the Dominant, influenced by behaviors, thoughts and feelings copied/learned from his/her parents or parents figures? Examples such as "I do not expect that kind of behavior from you", "I've trained you better than that", "You don't want to disappoint me, do You?" come to mind. Now, which reaction could follow on the sub's side? It often happens that "parent ego state" provoques a response coming out of "CHILD ego state", which is not surprising. We have all been primed by our past experiences, and the impact of our family socialization is a huge one. So it might happen that a submissive answers "All the other Doms let their subs do it", and we are reminded of the rebellion of a teenage child against the father or mother. Among adults, the relation "parental ego state talking to child ego state" normally leads to communication problems and/or miscommunications. This way, the healthy state "I am OK You are OK" seems to be out of reach. Now, how would an ADULT ego state react to "I do not expect that kind of behavior from you?". One example is: Ask back, ask for info to be able to reflect better. Try to get info to understand the Dom in the right way. Say something that presents ability to self reflect and not be carried away by childish emotions that may lead to reactions of rebellion or shame.

Let me give another example: The Dominant gives an order (parental), and the sub says "But ..... is too difficult for me. I can't do this myself. I need your help." (child). Response coming out parent ego state would be: "Awww of course ... let me help you ..." and then pamper pamper pamper and/or rule rule rule may follow. An adult ego might try to strengthen the powers of the "child-like" communication partner, trying to open ressources to him/her and help him/her to have trust that he/she will find the right way and offer cooperative (!) support in it ... but not do things instead of the "helpless child". Empower the submissive ... and not act out power instead of the submissive and let him/her lazily lean back in childish helplessness which is the opposite of helping a sub grow which is a goal many Dominants and subs have. So to speak, an adult ego might try to empower the "child ego" he/she is interacting with get into "adult ego state" as well.

In general, a recipe for working towards healthy communication is this: When you hear a "parent ego" talk to you, try to respond in the "adult state" (and not in child ego state), and when you have a "child ego" talk to you don't try to respond as "parent ego" but as "adult ego" as well.

Question is: Do we need to apply this wisdom of TA to communication between a Dominant and a submissive and give them this recipe?

We know that some Dominants want their subs responsible and understanding like adults, while other Dominants (for example Daddy Doms) often prefer a more paternal role, and might find child like responses appealing on some situations as they can reinforce the atmosphere and roles.We also know that in D/s relationships quite many submissives tend to live their "inner child" and enjoy doing so. Different relationships actually thrive on the different transactional roles. It belongs to the great freedoms of D/s lifestyle that we can chose, based on consent with the partner(s) involved. It is possible that achieving a "healthy position" is possible for a specific
Dom and a sub when they talk "parent to child and child to parent" during some time. I nevertheless doubt that it is possible for them to maintain a stabile bond of D/s and communicate effectively in a healthy way if they did this all the time, and never talked "adult to adult".

It becomes clear that communication requires a lot of self reflectivity and reflectivity of the other's condition and words if we want it to be "healthy communication" ("I am OK You are OK" ). Many submissives seem to seek something parental in the Dominant and tend to react from child position, living their "inner child" freely and enjoyably in their D/s relationship if the Dominant is a good match. The question at hand is: Wouldn't it be better if the Dom tried to communicate as adult and not as parent, in order to not get a "child response" but the reaction of an "adult"? it is clear that as grown-ups and adult people we do not need to copy our parents ... as adults we have our own individuality, minds and knowledge and experience of ourselves. But
we need to be aware that even without intention we might transact in the child position or parents position.

In D/s context specifically, we need to be aware that it might be a deep need of a sub to be accepted and communicate taking the "child position", as well as it might be a need of a Dominant to be "paternal". We also know that Daddy/daughter style of D/s relationships is not uncommon. We also need to be aware that the experience of "parent to child and child to parent" communication that feels like "I am OK You are OK" ("healthy position") within a D/s relationship can be quite therapeutic and it might help specific Dominants and or submissives to overcome problematic experiences dating out of their childhood.

On http://www.enslavement.org.uk/egostates a wise statement of a female slave can be read:
"Knowing how this all affected me, and knowing what I have learned about the ego states, I am convinced of how unhealthy it would be for anyone to be encouraged to use just one ego state. By encouraging the use of one ego state (Child) at the expense of the others (Adult and Parent) would be to deny us from using the very things which have kept most of us (particularly submissives) safe all our lives. We would become incapable of using all the healthy ways of coping, with life and with ourselves."

If relationship roles (such as "Daddy Dom - daugther sub") match the transactional roles and transactions are perceived as healthy ("I am OK You are OK"), then transactions reinforce the relationship roles. Hence it is very important to again and again analyze and reflect relationship and transaction roles and their alignment in order to achieve a stabile D/s bond and deepen enslavement.The goal in communication, thinking in the lines of TA, is to empower each other to the healthy "I am ok You are ok" position during and after communication. For some this might work best talking "parent to child and child to parent", for some "adult to adult".

Conclusion yet again: Know Your Dominant, know Your sub, know Yourself. Dare and care to use the knowledge for communication as well. Be interested in the partner's individuality and have fun exploring.

written by Mirjam Munro, September 2011