The Attainment of Autonomy

Parents, deliberately or unaware, teach their children from birth how to behave, think, feel and perceive. Liberation from these influences is no easy matter, since they are deeply ingrained and are necessary during the first two or three decades for biological survival. Indeed, such liberation is only possible at all because the individual starts off in an autonomous state, that is, capable of awareness, spontaneity and intimacy, and he has some discretion as to which of his parents' teachings he will accept.

At certain specific moments early in his life he decides how he is going to adapt to them. It is because his adaptation is in the nature of a series of decisions that it can be undone, since decisions are reversible under favourable circumstances.

First ... the weight of a whole tribal or family historical tradition has to be lifted ... then the influence of the individual parental, societal and cultural background has to be thrown off. The same must be done with the demands of contemporary society at large, and finally the advantages derived from one's immediate social circle have to be partly or wholly sacrificed.

In essence, this whole preparation consists of obtaining friendly divorce from one's parents (and from other Parental influences) so that they may be agreeably visited on occasion, but are no longer dominant.

[Eric Berne]
Games People Play, p.161

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