The Analogy: Imagine watching Gone With the Wind a hundred thousand times during your impressionable years. Every morning and every evening there were several viewings of this old Civil War movie and, during odd times, there were snatches of the drama that caught the periphery of your attention. After a while you were aware of the nuances of voice, motion and emotion. If pressed, you could quote lines, imitate the various actors and actresses, and even find yourself unconsciously repeating entire sections of the film.

The above analogy represents the situation of children who face a daily trauma drama, a weirdly incongruous scene in their homes. Usually the drama is composed of a mother and father going through a get nowhere routine. Children are adept at noticing pathological variations and, when they see a mother and father repeatedly exhibit irrational patterns, the entire movie sinks into the mind. The drama varies in each home. Rather than a typical mom and dad film, it could be the daily persecution of an older sibling, a mother struggling against the world, a glorification of a sibling, or, for that matter, any emotional scene that is enormously repetitive and painful.

The Reaction: As a child ingests the movie there is an adaptation that makes it bearable. When the movie erupts, the child develops a patterned response that has the entire range from withdrawal to confrontation, from pleasing to being perfect, from being Daddy's Darling to Momma's Protector.

The various adaptations cannot be easily encapsulated because the range is quite large.

First Session: At the first therapeutic meeting the client informs the therapist about the primary negative relationships from childhood. The Movie Script is usually apparent and forms the backdrop scenario of most subsequent sessions. It is helpful if the therapist notes the two forms of the Hated but Strong and the Weak and Feared. The Adaptation takes some ferreting out.

Perception and Reality: The client's perception is what matters in therapy. In reality, however, a parent that appears weak may, in point of fact, simply portraying a passive aggressive demeanor while actually controlling the family drama.

The Functional Diagram: In Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis there is a picture of how major elements of personality work. The five units are: Critical Parent, Nurturing Parent, Adult, Natural Child, and Adapted Child.

The Bernian Diagram is helpful because it reveals that there are more options than provided in the Imprinting Movie. An individual is not totally Movie Script Bound. Rather, there are moments where one is analytically rational, both giving and receiving of nurture, and a playful child. This is important to keep in mind for perspective's sake.

Main Characters: Coming out of childhood there are three roles to the Movie Script. One role is that of Strong and Hated, another is Weak and Feared, and the third is the Adaptive role. These roles are powerful in the background of the mind and they come forth in later traumatic situations. And, quite strangely, when the person finds an intimate other, the Movie Script comes forth out of fear of deep sharing, vulnerability, and full intimacy.

Marital Example: Reports of changes in personality after marriage reveal both partners retreating to various roles in the Movie Script. Usually, both retreat to the Adaptive role while casting the partner in the role of the Strong and Hated.

Important Note: The repetition of the Movie Script is totally unconscious. The person simply falls into the role while thinking himself, or herself, perfectly rational. There is no awareness of playing a gamey role from the past, no thought of returning to what was familiar in their former childhood home, no consciousness whatsoever of going back to the familiarity of an old routine.

Therapy: A funny twist can occur due to psychotherapy. An individual can wrestle with the Adapted role and make mighty adjustments that grant many more moments free of the Movie Script with the partner.

If the partner does not move, the therapized makes a dramatic shift to the Strong and Hated Role. This, too, is unconscious. A person could be doing an imitation of, say, a Hated father while thinking himself perfectly cool and rational. (Rhett Butler just said "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn".)

Therapists need to be aware of this danger because clients may think themselves free, when it is only partial freedom due to a major loss of the Adaptation.

Ironic Spin: Humans want real closeness but the Movie Script militates against that in a most ingenious manner. The person unwittingly feels comfortably normal in the Adapted and Strong and Hated Role, but dreads going into the Weak and Feared Role. Strangely, being vulnerable is equated with being weak when the person still puts the Movie Script on the screen.

Double Bind: When both partners in a marriage are still advancing their Adapted Role, there is a tremendous double bind at work. It is as if the person stridently says: If you don't accept my Adapted Role, you don't love me. Of course, accepting the Adapted Role means the death of real intimacy. Both people have to grow up and cease returning to an ancient drama whose repetition only means the end of love.

Examples: If a person withdrew in the homegrown movie, the new partner will be informed that she or he is to honor the withdrawal or there will be no love. If you don't go along with my magical imaginations, you are a dream breaker. If you confront my motionless rational stance and want me to be emotionally real, you are an anti-intellectual. If you don't go along with my Kewpie Doll Sweetikins routine, you are an un-loving beast. If you want me to play rather than being Big Nurse, you are an unredeemed narcissist. Double binds do not make sense, but they are fiercely held.

Roots of the Adaptation: Prior contributors to the eventual Adaptation that a child takes can come as early as the last trimester in the womb. Succinctly, the defense mechanism of each developmental age offers the ground floor of the subsequent Adaptation that was chosen in the Family Drama. This means that, when the person is lost in the Movie Script at a later age, there is a fierceness to the Adaptation that represents a twist on how the baby clung to life, even though that defense is no longer needed.

Major Problem: I must return to an earlier point, namely that the continuance of the Script Movie is unconscious. An individual human's mind does not think there exist a plurality of roles.