Who am I ? At the European Conference on Transactional Analysis, Geneva, 2016


 

 

Who am I? Identity, integration and boundaries

at the European Transactional Analysis Conference, Geneva – July 2016

 

 

 

This summer, while participating at the European Transactional Analysis Conference, I discovered Geneva with great joy. I enjoyed walking along the shores of the Leman Lake, I enjoyed the sun, the water, the beer I had at the tavern on the lake shore, taking a stroll in the beautiful botanical garden with my colleagues and experimenting with new culinary tastes.

I enjoyed participating at the Conference, meeting again old colleagues, as well as new ones, meeting again trainers I had known before, as well as new ones.

I felt welcome, mentally and emotionally stimulated, I found answers to some questions, I left having new questions on my mind, but also having new ideas for the self-knowledge workshops I facilitate.

Although I started my journey with fears such as: is my knowledge in the English language good enough? Will I be able to connect to people I don’t know?, the theme of the conference was a good motivation for me and, of course, so were the support and encouragement I received from my close ones.

 

40 years of EATA

 

This year, the EATA celebrates 40 years of existence. In the hallway of the conference venue, I discovered with great curiosity panels depicting a short history of the EATA, as well as presentations of its presidents along these 40 years. This short survey into the history of the association meant for me a welcome message from the association itself and an invitation to meet its members.

This is how I came to find out that it was in July 1975 that the first International Transactional Analysis Conference took place in Europe, in Villars, Switzerland and the fact that EATA was founded in July 1976 in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Who am I?

 

One of the very interesting workshops I took part in was the one held by Sabine Klingenberg and Bernd Kreuzburg: ”Who am I – and if so how many? (Richard David Precht) Different perspectives on the development of personal and professional identity “

The questions we were invited to reflect upon during the workshop were:

What is identity? How do I know who I am? Am I being the same person all the time? What do the others say about who I am? Am I what I believe I am, with all my feelings, thoughts and behaviours? Am I a construction created by me and the others – created through encounters and experiences?

 

I started the workshop all along with these memories and many questions. At the beginning of the workshop, Sabine Klingenberg and Bernd Kreuzburg welcomed us with Gloria Gaynor’s song: „I am what I am”:

 

I Am What I Am

I am my own special creation

So come, take a look

Give me the hook or the ovation

 

It’s my world that I’d want to have a little pride in

My world and it’s not a place I have to hide in

Life’s not worth a damn till you can say:

Hey world, I am what I am! 

I am what I am

I don’t need praise, I don’t need pity

I bang my own drum

Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty.

 

And so what if I love each feather and each spangle

Why not try and see things from a different angle?

Your life is a sham till you can say:

Hey world, I am what I am!

 

I am what I am

And what I am needs no excuses

I deal my own deck

Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces.

It’s my life and there’s no return and no deposit

One life, so it’s time to open up your closet

Life’s not worth a damn till you can say:

Hey world, I am what I am!

 

It was very stimulating to discuss some of the definitions of identity:

 

  1. „The experience of coherence and continuity in accordance with social inter-relations. Within a relationship, identity develops through the comparison to the other person. Our identity is defined by belonging and being” (Prof. Dr. Michael Ermann, Manuscript 60. Therapiewochen)
  2. „Identity is the story a person creates about one’s own life experiences (biography, own history), one’s own views upon life, experience of being, (the Self) and what one imagines about the future.” (Rudolf, G., 2000)
  3. “Actually, no I, not even the most naïve, is not a unit, but a universe full of extraordinary diversity, a small patch of star scattered skies, a chaos of shapes, steps and states, of inherited habits and possibilities.” (Herman Hesse: Der Steppenwolf)
  4. „The conscious feeling of having a personal identity is based upon two perceptions: the perception of consistency and the one of continuity, both connected all along with the perception that the others recognize this consistency and continuity.”(E.H.Erikson, Identity and Life Cycle, 1966)

 

 

Violence between genders

 

During the workshop ”Violence in the cultures: a competition history among the genders”, Marina Baldacci from Italy presented a research about gender based violence dating in 2012, performed among the teenagers in Italy.

We discussed about violence and the way it manifests itself in the cultures of the participants, about gender competition based aggressivity and oppression as a narcissist denial of affection and relational needs.

 

Several ideas and conclusions that were discussed:

 

  • Violence is considered “normal” in our culture.
  • Youngsters change their gender based prejudices, but they adapt to the social values which are still based upon domination and submission.
  • We live in a society that denies the need for recognition.
  • Symbiosis becomes competitive.
  • Partners fight for recognition and power.
  • Women need permissions, men lack the certainty that the women are going to stay in the relationship. This leads to violence between the partners.
  • 1+1=1 – symbiosis
  • 1+1=2 – the two partners don’t meet
  • 1+1=3 –  the two partners + the relationship

 

 

New ideas and guidelines for exploration and reflection:

 

  • Identity is built in time. Identity is the perception we have about ourselves, that we built through our relation to the world. We cannot build our identity living only in the here and now. We need our past, present and future. (Michael Ermann)
  • Playing games we create historical, cultural, social and individual
  • Learning how to manage the conflict is part of the identity.
  • Differences must be taken into account. Let us honour differences and promote
  • When integration is missing, rigidity and chaos are present. (Siegel, 2014)

 

 

An invitation to the World Conference for Transactional Analysis in Berlin, July 27th – 29th, 2017

      

The conference ended with Sabine Klingenberg’s invitation to participate at the World Conference for Transactional Analysis in Berlin, 2017. This is an invitation to continue to explore our own identity: „Boundaries – a place … to meet … to develop … to define identity”.

Details about the conference can be accessed on the EATA website (http://www.eatanews.org/) and on the website of the conference: https://tawc2017.berlin/en/

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

Workshop: ” Who am I – and if so how many? (Richard David Precht) Different perspectives on the development of personal and professional identity “ – Sabine Klingenberg si Bernd Kreuzburg,  EATA Conference, Geneva, 2016

Workshop: ” Violence in the cultures: a competition history among the genders” Marina Baldacci, EATA Conference, Geneva, 2016

Richard David Precht, Cine sunt eu? O călătorie prin mintea ta, Editura Litera, 2012

Lyrics  and translation lyrics:

http://lyricstranslate.com/ro/i-am-what-i-am-sunt-ceea-ce-sunt.html

Author: Gabriela Popescu, Psychologist and Psychotherapist in supervision in Transactional Analysis in Braşov

Article published in the Romanian Transactional Analysis Newsletter, no. 15, 2016