Fanita English presented the idea of the epic script or hot potatoe. An epic script is passed on from one person to another unconsciously. The two parties involved come to an unwritten unconscious agreement. One person passes on the ‘tragic’ script to another person, they accept it and agree to live it out. It can be passed onto anyone in any relationship including offspring, spouses, patients, supervisees and so forth.
As Eric Berne says, “Every parent is openly or secretly delighted when his children respond the way he does, even when they are following his worst characteristics.” Parents without awareness may encourage children to play interlocking roles in their life scripts. The parent vicariously lives through the child’s behaviour and that can include self destructive behaviour. The child picks up on the parents secret delight and feeds it back to the parent with the appropriate behaviour.
This has a historical basis as well. The idea of “I will suffer unless you are sacrificed for me” has occurred many times throughout history. Agamemnon was prepared to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia when the gods withheld the favourable wind, as was the patriarch Abraham who was prepared to sacrifice his son Isacc. The epic script slogan reads, “I bewitch you to de-witch me.” How many times in history have sheep and virgins been sacrificed to the gods so as to bring them in favour. It is well within the magical thinking of all our Child ego states to believe such a thing. That we can pass on the ‘hot potatoe’ to someone else such that we can avoid sacrificing self.
Hence we have the basis of one type of suicidal teenager. That teenager who is living out the self destructive urges of a parent or perhaps a partner or perhaps an important peer or those involved in radicalising others. This can also be explained by the mechanism of projective identification. This is an unconscious agreement between two people where one person projects the unwanted part of self onto another, that person identifies with the projection and takes it on.