Are you really autonomous?


The attainment of autonomy is manifested by the release or recovery of three capacities: awareness, spontaneity and intimacy.


Awareness means the capacity to see a coffeepot and hear the birds sing in one’s own way, and not the way one was taught. It may be assumed on good grounds that seeing and hearing have a different quality for infants than for grownups (1), and that they are more aesthetic and less intellectual in the first’ years of life. A little boy sees and hears birds with delight. Then the “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.” The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. He has to see and hear them the way his father wants him to. Father has good reasons on his side, since few people can afford to go through life listening to the birds sing, and the sooner the little boy starts his “education” the better. Maybe he will be an ornithologist when he grows up. A few people, however, can still see and hear in the old way. But most of the members of the human race have lost the capacity to be painters, poets or musicians, and are not left the option of seeing and hearing directly even if they can afford to; they must get it secondhand. The recovery of this ability is called here “awareness.” Physiologically awareness is eidetic perception, allied to eidetic imagery (2). Perhaps there is also eidetic perception, at least in certain individuals, in the spheres of taste, smell and kinesthesia, giving us the artists in those fields: chefs, perfumers and dancers, whose eternal problem is to find audiences capable of appreciating their products.

Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future. A good illustration of possibilities, in American life, is driving to work in the morning in a hurry. The decisive question is: “Where is the mind when the body is here?” and there are three common cases.

1. The man whose chief preoccupation is being on time is the one who is furthest out. With his body at the wheel of his car, his mind is at the door of his office, and he is oblivious to his immediate surroundings except insofar as they are obstacles to the moment when his soma will catch up with his psyche. This is the Jerk, whose chief concern is how it will look to the boss. If he is late, he will take pains to arrive out of breath. The compliant Child is in command, and his game is “Look How Hard I’ve Tried.” While he is driving, he is almost completely lacking in autonomy, and as a human being he is in essence more dead than alive. It is quite possible that this is the most favorable condition for the development of hypertension or coronary disease.

2. The Sulk, on the other hand, is not so much concerned with arriving on time as in collecting excuses for being late. Mishaps, badly timed lights and poor driving or stupidity on the part of others fit well into his scheme and are secretly welcomed as contributions to his rebellious Child or righteous Parent game of “Look What They Made Me Do.” He, too, is oblivious to his surroundings except as they subscribe to his game, so that he is only half alive. His body is in his car, but his mind is out searching for blemishes and injustices.

3. Less common is the “natural driver,” the man to whom driving a car is a congenial science and art. As he makes his way swiftly and skillfully through the traffic, he is at one with his vehicle. He, too, is oblivious of his surroundings except as they offer scope for the craftsmanship which is its own reward, but he is very much aware of himself and the machine which he controls so well, and to that extent he is alive. Such driving is formally an Adult pastime from which his Child and Parent may also derive satisfaction.

4. The fourth case is the person who is aware, and who will not hurry because he is living in the present moment with the environment which is here: the sky and the trees as well as the feeling of motion. To hurry is to neglect that environment and to be conscious only of something that is still out of sight down the road, or of mere obstacles, or solely of oneself. A Chinese man started to get into a local subway train, when his Caucasian companion pointed out that they could save twenty minutes by taking an express, which they did. When they got off at Central Park, the Chinese man sat down on a bench, much to his friend’s surprise. “Well,” explained the former, “since we saved twenty minutes, we can afford to sit here that long and enjoy our surroundings.” The aware person is alive because he knows how he feels, where he is and when it is. He knows that after he dies the trees will still be there, but he will not be there to look at them again, so he wants to see them now with as much poignancy as possible.


Spontaneity means option, the freedom to choose and express one’s feelings from the assortment available (Parent feelings, Adult Feelings and Child feelings). It means liberation, liberation from the compulsion to play games and have only the feelings one was taught to have.


Intimacy means the spontaneous, game-free candidness of an aware person, the liberation of the eidetically perceptive, uncorrupted Child in all its naïveté living in the here and now. It can be shown experimentally (3) that eidetic perception evokes affection, and that candidness mobilizes positive feelings, so that there is even such a thing as “one-sided intimacy” – a phenomenon well known, although not by that name, to professional seducers, who are able to capture their partners without becoming involved themselves. This they do by encouraging the other person to look at them directly and to talk freely, while the male or female seducer makes only a well-guarded pretense of reciprocating.

Because intimacy is essentially a function of the natural Child (although expressed in a matrix of psychological and social complications), it tends to turn out well if not disturbed by the intervention of games. Usually the adaptation to Parental influences is what spoils it, and most unfortunately this is almost a universal occurrence. But before, unless and until they are corrupted, most infants seem to be loving (4), and that is the essential nature of intimacy, as shown experimentally.


  1. Berne, E. “Primal Images & Primal Judgment.” Psychiatric Quarterly. 29: 634-658, 1955.
  2. Jaensch, E. R. Eidetic Imagery. Harcourt, Brace & Company, New York, 1930.
  3. These experiments are still in the pilot stage at the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars. The effective experimental use of transactional analysis requires special training and experience, just as the effective experimental use of chromatography or infrared spectrophotometry does. Distinguishing a game from a pastime is no easier than distinguishing a star from a planet. See Berne, E. “The Intimacy Experiment.” Transactional Analysis Bulletin. 3: 113, 1964. “More About Intimacy.” Ibid. 3: 125, 1964.
  4. Some infants are corrupted or starved very early (marasmus, some colics) and never have a chance to exercise this capacity.


* Adapted from: Eric Berne M.D. (1910-1970). Games People Play – The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964). Chapter 16, page 158.

One would be foolish to consider oneself better, or even different…

“One would be foolish to consider oneself better, or even different, merely because one could claim something others could not. The crowdedness of family life and the faithfulness of solitude – both brave decisions, or both decisions of cowardice- make little dent, in the end, on the profound and perplexing loneliness in which every human heart dwells.”

Kinder than solitude (2014), Page 61. Yiyun Li (1972).

Ser en las pequeñas cosas



Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada

        Teu exagera ou exclui.

Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és

        No mínimo que fazes.

Assim em cada lago a lua toda

        Brilha, porque alta vive.

Odes de Ricardo Reis, Fernando Pessoa.


Sabemos que podemos vivir en un mundo diferente pero no actuamos. ¿Cómo debemos actuar? No creo que se trate de acciones que la mayoría parece entender como “radicales”. Creo que actuar para mejorar el mundo (o transformar lo negativo en positivo, por decirlo de alguna manera) significa actuar cada día y en pequeño.

La batalla contra la corrupción, el comportamiento injusto y abusivo, la violencia, la mentira, la desigualdad, la pobreza, la discriminación (racial, de origen, de recursos, sexual o cualquier otra), etcétera, no se gana solamente con manifestaciones, revoluciones o palabras elocuentes. Esa batalla se debe ganar cada día, en los proyectos y situaciones más simples, donde no hay dioses o cámaras que observen. Estoy hablando de la manera en que te relacionas con tu familia, con tu(s) pareja(s), tus amigas y amigos, con personas desconocidas, lugares a tu alrededor, tu propia sala, tu propio baño, tu propia casa, todos los lugares que habitas, el cuerpo que habitas, el cuerpo de los demás, tus imágenes, las imágenes de los demás, tus palabras, tu tiempo…

Si no trabajas por el bienestar tuyo, de tu familia y de quienes te rodean, ¿cómo esperas que las cosas cambien para bien? Si crees que las personas que no conoces merecen menos respeto que las que conoces, ¿cómo esperas vivir en un mundo sin discriminación? Palabras amables, trabajo honesto y persistente, conversaciones sin violencia para encontrar una solución que nos sirva a todas y todos, respeto por la diversidad (espiritual, religiosa, sexual…), respeto por los acuerdos mutuos, amor, baile, alegría, artes, más tiempo para lo real y tangible, menos tiempo para lo virtual y ajeno, cosas simples en suma, pero reales. Deja de hablar y comienza a escuchar y actuar.

Haz lo correcto. Si no estás segura o seguro de qué es lo correcto pues infórmate, lee, aprende y recuerda que todas y todos somos personas dignas de amor y respeto. Si alguien te dice que otra persona es menos que tú por su preferencia sexual, religiosa, por su origen, condición social o alguna otra excusa, ten la seguridad de que te están confundiendo para favorecer intereses privados y no para mejorar el mundo. Revisa nuestra historia: no sabemos casi nada a ciencia cierta, lo único claro es que la persecución, la violencia, la imposición y el abuso no han mejorado el mundo nunca.

Vivimos bajo la tiranía de un par de personas muy poderosas que nos quitan muchas cosas cada día. No dejes que te quiten la capacidad de vivir bien antes de que mueras. Siempre se puede decidir por lo correcto mientras se esté con vida. Vive tu vida con compromiso y entrégate a cada momento, contempla las consecuencias y el placer de lo más mínimo que haces. La gran revolución que estamos esperando es la revolución del día a día, el cambio personal, el compromiso. Si tienes el valor para trabajar en ti misma o en ti mismo, ver lo que haces mal y juzgar tu rol en tu vida y la vida de las personas que interactúan contigo, entonces tienes el valor para vivir una vida mejor: tu propia vida.


En las palabras de Fernando Pessoa (como Ricardo Reis):

“Para ser grande, sé entero: nada

tuyo exageres o excluyas.

Sé todo en cada cosa. Pon cuanto eres

en lo mínimo que haces.

Así en cada lago la luna entera

brilla, porque alta vive.”


El Matallana


Alberto Caeiro’s way

A. Caeiro’s way

The invisible hand of the wind

skirts over the grasses

When it lets go,

jumping between the green intervals

crimson poppies

yellow daisies together

and some other blue flowers

that you couldn’t see straightaway


I don’t have whom to love

nor life that I want

nor death that I steal

Through me

like through the grasses

a wind that only bends them

to let them be what they were


Also through me

a desire uselessly blows

the stems of my intentions

the flowers of what I imagine

and everything turns to what it was

with nothing that takes place.


Non-official translation from the original in Portuguese: “A mão invisível do vento…(À la manière de A. Caeiro)”, Ricardo Reis (Fernando Pessoa, 1888-1935).

If you want to read the Spanish version of this poem, follow this link:


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Calm and delight



Feel the wind again

and the sun shining from the stone

Wild flowers dance like a pendulum

The space is wide and open

Freedom and life are nothing but few instants


We are far away from what we seem to be

yet closer to ourselves

and together

sharing silence

silent dreams

a smile invisible on our faces

dancing unpretentiously in our hearts

like these daisies

forget me nots

and poppies

swaying in our joyful distraction


puppies move their tails

you twirl your hair round your finger

my nose rests on your temples

and something warm swirls up inside

like dust swirls in the air, light,

perhaps this is the happiness they strive for

or maybe something else, pure, delight,

for us and for now

nameless and ephemeral

lonely and calm


El Matallana

Have A Good Time

“Yesterday, it was my birthday.
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed.
My life’s a mess.
But I’m having a good time.

I’ve been loving and loving and loving.
I’m exhausted from loving so well,
I should go to bed.
But a voice in my head says:
“Ah, what the hell”.”

Paul Simon, Have A Good Time, album Still crazy after all these years, released on October 25, 1975.