Nonverbal permissions by default

Woollams and Brown (1978)  say that permissions can be given overtly or covertly

A permission can be a specific transaction that a therapist does to a  client which is what Berne is usually referring to when he talks about permissions

Permissions can also be given in an implied way. A therapist who listens to a client and accepts a contract is covertly giving the permission to change

Allen and Allen (2005)  say the same. They say “…there are two different groups of permissions”. One is verbal and one is non verbal. Verbal permissions are where the therapist gives a verbal message to the client. For example to avoid self destructive behaviour the therapist will in some way say, “Exist!”.  Non verbal permissions are were the therapist tries to free up the patient so he can give himself the permission he needs. These are usually implied.

To my knowledge Allen and Allen never diagramed how a person can give a permission to self as this is what is of interest here. So I am not too sure what they mean by that.

The first transactional diagram here is what Berne called the permission transaction

Permission transaction 1 Jpeg copy

The second one is the Woollams and Brown transactional diagram of a permission.

W&B permission

What about the implied permission? This is of particular interest in the field of suicidology. It has long been acknowledged that when one person suicides that can provide permission for others to do the same and one can get a copy cat effect. This plagues the media and their reporting of suicides. This particularly happens if the person is high profile, if details of the suicide are given or there is some glorification of the suicide. The copy cat effect or permission to suicide is enhanced by media coverage.

But how do you explain the overt or non verbal permission that is being given here when person A suicides. One could draw this diagram.

Suicide permission Jpeg

This diagram is saying that person A is sending a specific set of transactions to person B. However in this case all person A has done is complete a suicide attempt and person B has heard about it directly from some associate or indirectly such as thorough the media. Person A has never sent any transaction to person B so the diagram above is not true.

However Person B has gleaned permission to make a suicide attempt from the actions of person A. So how can one diagram that transaction?

Is person B giving permission to self like Allen and Allen say? We don’t know if they are talking about that because they never explain it or diagram it.

Perhaps one could use this diagram.

Permission to suicide covert Jpeg

Person A has never sent any social level transaction to person B but their actions have influenced person B. So it could be diagramed as psychological level transactions. The nonverbal actions of A have influenced B. But this is still not correct. In many cases person A does not even know person B exists. Person A has never set out to send any social level transaction nor psychological level transaction to person B. So the above diagram is incorrect. However person B has still obtained permission from person A to engage in suicidal behaviour.


How can you explain this person giving permission

to suicide to the onlookers?


Can it be seen as a permission at all?

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