The Transgenerational Life Script



The Transgenerational Life Script



Have you noticed recurring issues in your family? Maybe a disease, a name, some dates of birth, a situation, a talent? How does this repetition influence your life? How much does your name influence you? Who gave you your name and why? What were the hopes which prompted its choice? Do you like it? What does this name mean for you? But your last name? What about your last nameIn families we can see repetitions of first names, birth dates, certain diseases from one generation to another.

For example, a character in the Romanian novel “Baltagul” written by M. Sadoveanu,  Nechifor Lipan, when he was four years he was extremly sick and to get rid of this disease he was given a new name. It was as if his name was the carrier of a disease that could have led to him dying this way.

His real name was Gheorghiță and he was changed to Nechifor. It is an example of a situation where the name contains a genealogical programme. A genealogical programme is “written” by the ancestors, has an intention and purpose to put it into action. Such programmes are sometimes implemented by our ancestors by assigning a name.

Changing the name releases the person from the programme that was loaded into the name he received at birth.

For example, let’s suppose that while your mother was pregnant with you she saw a movie and she  identified herself with a character who played a woman who seduces men and then abandons them. Because she felt very hurt by men, she imagines that she wants to abandon them.

She can say to herself that: her daughter will be different, she will be like that character and she will give the character’s name to her daughter. This name is loaded with the wishes of the mother and child will tend to fulfil them. What could be wrong with being seductive to men? Apparently nothing, except that you may feel that you don’t live your own life, you do not like your name, that you want to change it, that what you want from your life is not to seduce men, what you want is to love one man and to be loved by him.

The best route for transmitting the transgenerational patterns is through family secrets. The secrets, even though they appear to be preserved in order not to hurt others, but to protect them, ultimately lead to disunity and lack of trust between family members. The family is divided into two when a secret appears, those who know the secret, and those who do not know it.

The secrets are carried forward unconsciously by descendants of the family members and they have consequences in their lives. Often the secrets lead to depression, anxieties which may extend over several generations. And then are we really “doomed” to fulfil genealogy programmes? The answer is “no.”

I propose you  three approaches to free yourself of the genealogical programmes and the negative family scripts by exploring the transgenerational  family life scenarios using Transactional Analysis, Family Constellations and Genogram. From my point of view they are complementary.


Exploring the transgenerational life script trought Transactional Analysis


Life script can be transmitted from generation to generation through unconscious communication, the family atmosphere, the attitudes and behaviours, gestures, facial expressions, allusions. Scripted messages are transmitted through unconscious communication between the Ego States of the family members.

This phenomenon is described by Fanita English as a strong message from script called „episcenario”(Ian Stewart, Vann Joines, 2004, pag.106 ).

This message contains an injunction which the parent transmits to the child through which the parent hopes that the message will happen to the child and not to him/her.

The injunctions are messages from the Child Ego State of the parent, arising from the circumstances of their sufferings, unhappiness, anxiety, secret desires.

These messages can be seen in the work of Family Constellations. The dynamic existing within the family, the loyalties and the entanglements we enter into by interfering with other people’s lives can be seen and understood.

Bert Hellinger, the founder of Family Constellations method realised that “patients do not always live their personal script … Sometimes you replicate that of a family member.” (Patrice Van Eersel, Catherine Maillard, 2011, page 58). This way our ancestors interfere in our own destiny.


Exploring transgenerational life script through Family Constellations


Family Constellations is a transgenerational work. Bert Hellinger observed that there are laws that function in a family. The Family Constellations term is not related to the stars in the sky or astrology ( as one might think at a first glance), but to an abridged translation from the German meaning “to put the family in space” (no – Systemaufstellung literally means setting up the system) (Patrice Van Eersel, Catherine Maillard, 2011, p. 58). When forming a Family Constellation we will place various representatives of the family members in the workspace.

Just like in nature there are laws, so in the family sistems there are laws. If they are not complied with, unpleasant consequences appear in the lives of its members.

For example, if a forest is cleared without respecting the laws of nature landslides may occur.

In the same way in the family system if we don’t respect the specific laws consequences in the lives of its members can appear, such as depression, physical illnesses, addictions, difficulties in establishing and maintaining lasting intimate relationships, etc.


Some of the laws which govern the family system are:


  1. Each member has an equal right to belong to their own family system.
  2. In terms of birth order, there is a certain hierarchy: those who are born first they are the first
  3. Parents provide children receive. The gift is the life.
  4. Parents give their children what they received from their parents.


  1. Each member has an equal right to belong to their own family system.


When there are children who died early,  or abandoned children, who haven’t been mourned for the first law is not being followed. When someone is excluded the first law is not being followed. To link this to Transactional Analysis, if some family members are excluded it is possible to transmit transgenerationally the injunction “You don’t belong.”


  1. In terms of birth order, there is a certain hierarchy: those who are born first come first


The second law has to do with the place that we have in our family. It does not mean that some have more rights than others. It only relates to our place, if you are the first born then your place in the system is “first-born of your parents’, if you are the second born then your place in the family is” the second-born of your parents. “When there was a brother or sister before us we don’t know about then our place is not the one of the first born or the second born. Maybe we’re the third or fourth born. One of the consequences could be that we feel like we don’t belong. We can’t find our place in the world.


  1. Parents provide children receive. The gift is life.


When the roles are reversed and children are the ones who give to their parents, the children take care of their parents as if they themselves were the parents, when children’s needs are too much for parents, when kids do not cry because they feel they need to protect their parents against the burden of their needs the third law is not being followed. When this law is not followed it is possible to transmit transgenerationally the injunction ” do not be a child”, “don’t feel”, “don’t need” and the driver “be strong”.


  1. Parents give their children what they received from their parents.


In terms of Transactional Analysis parents unconsciously send their children injunctions, drivers, permissions that they have received from their parents. In turn, the children will pass on to their own children these messages.

Knowing the systemic laws, awareness and understanding of the dynamics that exist in the family, the healing sentences that are offered by the facilitator (are sentences that reflect what it is, what it is observed) lead to openness and help rebalance a certain family situation.


Exploring the transgenerational life script by making the Genogram


Genogram is a graphic representation of the extended family . It is a tool that helps us represent graphically our own family for several generations and to observe the similarities between their members to see what is repeated and explore their meaning.

I wonder what connection there might be between me and the grandmother who has the same name as me (which I do not know)? What connection is there between the fact that my grandmother had diabetes and the fact that I have diabetes? Out of loyalty to her I live her life and I do  not live my own life.


How to complete these approaches?


For example, a client comes to therapy because he has a great fear when he is behind the driving wheel of a car. This fear has no cause his in life, he does not remember anything that happened to him to cause him such a fear. He has not been in any car accident. But when he is behind the driving wheel the fear overwhelms him and his legs tremble.

It is possible that this person may have received from his parents  the injunction “do not think” or “do not think when you get behind the wheel.” It is possible that this message has the role to protect him, maybe somewhere in the family history someone had an accident resulting in death and this injunction is a way to keep him away from the role of the driver in order to avoid him getting hurt.

When emotions are overwhelming, the Adult is overwhelmed. We can work with the injunction “do not think”,  we can work on his life script, on giving permissions and getting in touch with reality. This problem can also be addressed transgenerationally. We can look at his family system, what happened in previous generations. Understanding that this fear is related to a situation in the past of the parents can help him get away from it.

Gathering information about our family , creating a genogram can help us see patterns that repeat in our family.To identify the patterns, the first generation from where the pattern starts can help us to understand our own life and set us free from family scripts that limit us.

Sometimes, though , we cannot recover some information about our family. It is not possible to find anyone we can ask about our ancestors. This is however not a problem. In this case you can work a family constellation where it is not necessary to know more about our family. Family dynamics can also be seen in the lack of information . Information about our family constellation work can help , but it is not necessarily required.

In the work of the Family Constellations we can see the injunctions , the drivers , the racket  feelings and the authentic feelings, we can see the dynamics that exist in a family, we can observe the systemic laws which are not being followed. Expressing authentic emotions in words can bring about change, some rituals can strengthen the position of the client. In the work of Family Constellations the saying ” the truth sets us free” can be seen.


This article appeared in the 12th issue of the newsletter of Romanian Association Transactional Analysis , 2013





Gloria Noriega Gayol, “ Eric Berne Memorial Award Acceptance Speech, On receiving the 2008 Eric Berne Memorial Award For Mechanisms of Transgenerational Script Transmission”,

Gloria Noriega, Rosemary Napper ,“Transgenerational Cultural Scripting”,

Ian Stewart, Vann Joines, (2004), „AT astăzi. O nouă introducere în Analiza Tranzacțională”, Editura Mirton, Timișoara, România, („TA today: A new introduction to Transactional Analysis”)

Joe Ann Benoit, (2009) „Așchia nu sare departe de trunchi. Eliberați-vă de scenariile familiale negative cu ajutorul psihogenealogiei”, Editura Ascendent, București, România („Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil: Libérez-vous des répétitions familiales né)

Patrice Van Eersel, Catherine Maillard, (2011) „Mă dor strămoșii: Psihogenealogia sau cum să ne schimbăm viitorul cunoscându-ne trecutul”, Editura Philobia, România („J’ai mal à mes ancêtres – La psychogénéalogie ajourd’hui”)

Barbara Morgan, (2012), „Întoarcerea acasă. Un prim pas în lumea Constelațiilor Familiale”, Editura Hartios, Botoșani, România, („Coming Home: A first step into the world of Family Constellations”)

Vivian Broughton, (2010) „In the presence of Many”, Green Balloon Publishing, United Kingdom



psychologist Brasov,

psychotherapist Brasov