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The "negative caresses": what are they?

October 1, 2022

People who are not familiar with the theory of Transactional Analysis, may not have heard about "negative caresses".

To understand what these types of caresses are, it is necessary to understand the meaning of "caresses" from the transactional perspective .

Caresses from Transactional Analysis

According to Eric Berne, the father of Transactional Analysis, caresses are "recognition units that provide stimulation to an individual". Therefore, from the transactional perspective, the concept is different from what is generally understood as caress: "soft and delicate physical contact that is made by sliding the hand or fingers over someone's body".


From the Transactional Analysis, caresses not only refer to physical stimulation, since it also includes psychological and social stimulation (recognition).

Everyone needs physical and psychological stimulation to have a full life, and caresses are a fundamental unit of social recognition. Both physical and psychological caresses provide many benefits from an early age, and as we grow, social recognition becomes an essential aspect of psychological well-being.

Positive and negative caresses

In the theory of Transactional Analysis are exposed two types of caresses according to the feeling that they invite to live: positive caresses and the negative. Positive caresses provoke pleasant sensations and emotions; and the negatives, provoke sensations and unpleasant emotions.


Below are some examples of these types of strokes:

  • Positive caresses : "I love you", "you are amazing", I love you ".
  • Negative caresses : "I hate you", you are an idiot "," you look very bad with those clothes ".

The Negative caresses They may be:

  • Sarcastic comments
  • Ignore the actions of the other
  • Lower the other and humiliate the other person
  • Despises

We all have the need to be accepted and touched

Berne talks about "hunger pats" to name the need of people to be recognized and touched , since the deprivation of sensory aspects in children can cause psychic problems. Even at early ages, the lack of positive caresses (being caressed, praised, etc.) can cause the child to look for negative caresses to compensate for the lack of social recognition, and it is a way of seeking the attention that he does not receive.


Therefore, sometimes negative caresses are used with relatives, partners, friends, and these are toxic behaviors that poison our relationships and have harmful effects for members of the relationship. That is why you should avoid giving and receiving negative caresses.

This is especially in the father-son relationship, because in the case of parents it is necessary to:

  • Be expressive : kisses, caresses and frequent hugs.
  • Be genuine in praising children .
  • Be tender and understanding and accept the behavior of the children.
  • Be measured and do not forget that they are children.
  • Applaud the successes of children and reward them when necessary.

It is also interesting to allow the child to grow up feeling loved and develop his emotional intelligence adequately.

Not only does the one who does not receive caresses suffer, but also the one who does not express them

A study by Stanford University led by James Gross indicates that suppressing the expression of emotions entails high psychological, social and health costs . Individuals who do not manifest their emotions are more unhappy and suffer a lower physiological immunity.

According to this research data, the lack of emotional expression not only does not reduce emotions, but magnifies negative emotions, causing problems for physical and psychological well-being. The expression of positive emotions brings more rewarding experiences and improves interpersonal relationships.


EmptyHero Licks and Caresses the LISA Trilogy (October 2022).


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