On the basis of clinical experience, I believe Berne was correct to emphasize that a child of about 3-6 years creates an initial script to guide his or her future. This script is influenced both by inborn tendencies and the child’s limited world view, which includes exposure to fairy tales, myths, perceptions and misperceptions about the environment and the wishes of caretakers. This initial script primarily serves the child’s emerging self as an organizing structure to deal with time, space, boundaries, relationships, activities and ideas about the world and the future. However, like the first draft of a movie script, the early script is but a tentative outline. It continues to be revised throughout a person’s life and may develop quite differently from the initial design, with unexpected outcomes that are affected by how the person manages to balance his or her inner motivators in the course of living.
Even a script generated under the worst family circumstances contains within itself the child’s genetic sense about how he or she might fulfill inner goals creatively if certain malevolent fairies and cobwebs could be neutralized. Without a script a child would be operating out of a vacuum of time and space, with no content with which to connect past and future, feeling rootless, like a leaf in the wind. I suspect that this happens with certain confused adolescents and that certain cases of psychosis represent lack of script formation, rather than the reverse. As a person grows, eventually a script becomes a rather complex production, with some scenes that follow sequentially and some that do not, with ups and downs of success and failure, and with magical reversals and assumptions. Thus, scripts contain genetic elements and patterns related to experiences, fantasies and beliefs that
are woven together into the fabric of a personal mythological story with many possible variations and allowances for plenty of improvisations in the course of life. Script analysis requires a different kind of contract from a treatment contract, where the aim is to change harmful existential patterns. In the script workshops I conduct, the aim is to work with clients’ fantasies and stories in order to gain a deeper understanding of their inner needs and tendencies, and a better sense about the creative processes of their lives, without necessarily planning for particular changes.