The term racket and trading stamp was introduced by Eric Berne in 1964. After several contradictory explanations and definitions of those terms within the Transactional Analysis Theory of human relationships the authors of this article propose a system of racket analysis as a way of improving the understanding of intrapsychic or intrapersonal processes involved in human behaviour.
“The racket system is defined as a self-reinforcing, distorted system of feelings, thoughts and actions maintained by script-bound individuals. The racket system has three interrelated and interdependent components: the script beliefs and feelings, the rackety displays, and the reinforcing memories” (Erskine, R & Zalcman, M., 1979).
The authors use the theory of ego states as the conceptual framework of the racket system:
· The script beliefs would be formed throughout the life experiences being the childhood experiences the ones with a great deal of influence. The Adult would then be contaminated with modes of functioning brought from his parents and his previous experiences (mostly childhood) which would influence his behaviour in adulthood, often without awareness.
· The racket displays are understood to be the manifestation of the script beliefs and feelings. It contains all the observable behaviour which is coherent with the internal dynamic of thoughts and feelings generated in former life experiences; Reported Internal Experiences and Fantasies are also part of the racket displays, correspondently, the internal sensations generated in a situation that are not directly observed but who could be self-reported latter and the way the individual fantasises his or her own behaviour or someone else’s, in other words, the way it could be different. This racket displays are often repetitive and maladaptive.
· Finally, the authors describe the reinforcing memories
as the third component of the racket system. These would be all the past events recalled by the person which support the script decisions and will, inevitably, reinforce the racket system. They provide evidence and justification for the repetitive patterns.
Following a description of the components of the racket system the authors give a case example followed by possible therapeutic interventions. The basis of the intervention would be to increase awareness of the person’s own racket systems, thus allowing some interruption on the flow of the system