We use the term “racketeers” to describe individuals who transact with others by repeatedly displaying substitute feelings or attitudes. Actually, racketeers are quite pathetic, although often annoying, because they are not aware of how they substitute artificial feelings or attitudes for underlying feelings. Since they nebulously sense that something is wrong, without quite knowing what, they may keep exhibiting their phony feelings in transacting with others, al the while hoping for compensatory strokes. This often backfires disastrously. In their desperate quest for compensatory strokes, because they themselves often feel inchoately that there is something wrong with their approach to others, they will often reinforce their character type to a second or third degree. Eventually they are likely to meet with rejection (through crossed transactions), even from partners who may have been supportive initially. Excessive frustration generates inner chaos and provokes sudden, abrupt switches of a racketeer’s habitual ego state to the opposite one (e.g. if the usual preferred ego state was Child, a sudden switch to Parent, and vice versa. As a result, there may be unexpected violence if the racketeer operates on a third degree level. Shakespeare offers classic examples of this process. For instance Hamlet, a Type I Undersure character, after repeatedly feeling that he lacks support from his mother and Ophelia, finally switches from his habitual ineffectual depressed Child ego state to a murderous Parent. Or Othello, a Type II Oversure character, operates habitually from Parent with substitute attitudes of invulnerability and lack of jealousy until he becomes convinced of Desdemona’s alleged infidelity, at which point he he collapses as a convulsive, inarticulate Child. Then, when shamed about this by Iago, he sees no other way than to kill Desdemona and then himself.
To help racketeers if they seek treatment, – which many of them do, precisely because of the nebulous feeling that something is going wrong in their relations to others, – they must first be supported so they feel safe in the group context. Then, rather than continue to offer them strokes to their rackets, which many inexperienced therapists do in the mistaken assumption that they should keep offering support, it is important to nudge these clients to recognize what they actually experience under stress and then correctly name unacknowledged feelings or attitudes if or when these are stimulated. To acknowledge harboring certain disallowed feelings can be very frightening for these clients. For instance, a client may feel, “If I allow myself to feel murderously angry, I might do something terrible!” They need help to realize that acknowledging a feeling and naming it does not necessarily mean acting on it, because they can use their Adult to decide on behavior in each instance. This is particularly important for persons whose underlying feelings involve rage, envy, or jealousy, which they may have learned to cover up, even to themselves, with, for instance, “charitable attitudes”.