Re: Memes Meta-Memes and Politics 1 of 3 (1988, updates 2002)

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 04:28:50 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Memes Meta-Memes and Politics 1 of 3 (1988, updates 2002)
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    > In an earlier post I referred to Eric Berne, Psychiatrist who specialized
    > helping alchololics and other people with similar problems. In his
    > he used to talk about the three ego states of Parent, Child and Adult. In
    > the Parent state, he said we replay the tapes of things our parents told
    > and the games they taught us with their actions. He thought the losing
    > behaviors we learned were picked up as information from our parents and
    > siblings in childhood. He wrote his book back in 1964, so I don't think
    > had heard of memes at the time, but the way he viewed behavior seems to
    > right in. A lot of his therapy was analyzing for cross transactions
    > parent and child ego states.
    > He said: "Every individual has had parents (or substitute parents) and he
    > carries within him a set of ego states that reduce the ego states of those
    > parents (as he perceived them), and these parental ego states can be
    > activated under certain circumstances (exteropsychic functioning).
    > Colloquially: "Everyone carries his parents around inside him.""
    > "It should be noted that the Parent is exhibited in two forms, direct and
    > indirect: as an active ego state, and as an influence. When it is
    > active, the person responds as his own father (or mother) actually
    > ("Do as I do"). When it is an indirect influence, he responds the way the
    > wanted him to respond. (Don't do as I do, do as I say.) In the first
    > he becomes one of them; in the second he adapts himself to their
    > requirements.
    > "The Parent has two main functions. First, it enables the individual to
    > effectively as the parent of actual chidren, thus promoting the survival
    > the human race. Its value in this respect is shown by the fact that in
    > raising children, people orphaned in infancy seem to have a harder time
    > those from homes unbroken into adolescence. Secondly, it makes many
    > responses automatic, which conserves a great deal of time and energy.
    > things are done because "That's the way it's done." This frees the Adult
    > from the necessity of making innumerable trivial decisions, so that it can
    > devote itself to more important issues, leaving routine matters to the
    > Parent."
    > A lot of what Berne says strikes a chord with the memetic point of view
    > the transfer of information from parent to child. I think his theory of
    > Transactional Analysis also has some value in analyzing how information is
    > transmitted and used by people on a day-to-day basis. If I come up with
    > anything I think might be useful, I'll publish it here first and give you
    > guys a chance to tear it apart for me. ;-)>

    This view seems compatible with the concept of the self being generated by
    exposure to culture. Parents have a large share in shaping the self on their
    offspring since they have a great influence in their upbringing. They are
    authoritative, credible and always around hence easily and eagerly copied by
    their kids.

    You might even extend Berne's conjecture to bring it more on a par with
    memetics (boy do I love that meme `on a par with' all of a sudden). People
    are shaped by the sum total of culture. People who make an impression on you
    tend to be copied. So you might not only hear voices of your mum and dad
    in your head when decisions have to be made but actually also your
    school-buddies, peers, authorities, friends, but also perhaps actors. After
    would we like movies as much as we do if we were unable to identify with
    or admire at least one of the starring characters.

    We are all so dorn unoriginal, snif....


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