Earlier today, I was reminded of the story of the Warm Fuzzies. I looked it up, and since it is now in open domain because it is 50 years old, I decided to post it here so I would always be able to find it without going through all my files.
Claude M. Steiner, Ph.D.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived two very happy people called Tim and Maggie with two children called John and Lucy. To understand how happy they were, you have to understand how things were in those days. You see, in those happy days everyone was given at birth a small, soft, Fuzzy Bag. Anytime a person reached into this bag he was able to pull out a Warm Fuzzy. Warm Fuzzies were very much in demand because whenever somebody was given a Warm Fuzzy it made him feel warm and fuzzy all over. People who didn’t get Warm Fuzzies regularly were in danger of developing a sickness in the back which caused them to shrivel up and die.
In those days it was very easy to get Warm Fuzzies. Any time that somebody felt like it, he might walk up to you and say, “I’d like to have a Warm Fuzzy”. You would then reach into your bag and pull out a Fuzzy the size of a little girl’s hand. As soon as the Fuzzy saw the light of day, it would smile and blossom into a large, shaggy, Warm Fuzzy. You would then lay it on the person’s shoulder or head or lap and it would snuggle up and melt right against their skin and make them feel good all over. People were always asking each other for Warm Fuzzies and, since they were always given freely, getting enough of them was never a problem. There were always plenty to go around and as a consequence everyone was happy and felt warm and fuzzy most of the time.
One day a bad witch became very angry because everyone was so happy and no one was buying her potions and salves. This witch was very clever and she devised a very wicked plan. One beautiful morning she crept up to Tim while Maggie was playing with their daughter and whispered in his ear, “See here, Tim, look at all the Fuzzies that Maggie is giving to Lucy. You know if she keeps it up, eventually she is going to run out and then there won’t be any left for you”.
Tim was astonished. He turned to the witch and said, “Do you mean to tell me that there isn’t a Warm Fuzzy in our bag every time we reach into it?”
And the witch said, “No absolutely not, and once you run out, that’s it. You don’t have any more”. With this she flew away on her broom, laughing and cackling hysterically.
Tim took this to heart and began to notice every time Maggie gave up a Warm Fuzzy to somebody else. Eventually, he got very worried and upset because he liked Maggie’s Warm Fuzzies very much and did not want to give them up. He certainly did not think it was right for Maggie to be spending all her Warm Fuzzies on the children and on other people. He began to complain every time he saw Maggie giving a Warm Fuzzy to somebody else, and because Maggie liked him very much she stopped giving Warm Fuzzies to other people. As often and reserved them for him.
The children watched this and soon began to get the idea that it was wrong to give up Warm Fuzzies anytime your were asked or felt like it. They too became very careful. They would watch their parents closely and whenever they felt that one of their parents was giving too many Fuzzies to others, they also began to object. They began to feel worried whenever they gave away too many Warm Fuzzies. Even though they found a Warm Fuzzy everytime they reached into their bag, they reached in less and less and became more and more stingy. Soon people began to notice the lack of Warm Fuzzies and they began to feel less and less fuzzy. They began to shrivel up, and occasionally people would die from lack of Warm Fuzzies. More and more people went to the witch to buy her potions and salves even though they didn’t seem to work.
Well, the situation was getting very serious indeed. The bad witch who had been watching all of this didn’t really want the people to die, so she devised a new plan. She gave everyone a bag that was very similar to the Fuzzy Bag, except that this one was cold while the Fuzzy Bag was warm. Inside of the witch’s bag were Cold Pricklies. These Cold Pricklies did not make people feel warm and fuzzy but made them feel cold and prickly instead. But, they did prevent people’s backs from shriveling up. So from then on, everytime somebody said, “I want a Warm Fuzzy”, people who were worried about depleting their supply would say, “I can’t give you a Warm Fuzzy, but would you like a Cold Prickly”? Sometimes, two people would walk up to each other, thinking they could get a Warm Fuzzy, but one or the other of them would change his mind and they would wind up giving each other Cold Pricklies. So the end result was that while very few people were dying, a lot of people were still unhappy and feeling cold and prickly.
The situation got very complicated because since the coming of the witch there were less and less Warm Fuzzies around, so Warm Fuzzies, which used to be thought of as free as air, became extremely valuable. This caused people to do all sorts of things in order to obtain them. Before the witch had appeared people used to gather in groups of three, or four, or five, never caring too much who was giving Warm Fuzzies to whom. After the coming of the witch, people began to pair off and to reserve all their Warm Fuzzies for each other exclusively. If ever one of the two persons forgot himself and gave a Warm Fuzzy to someone else, he would immediately feel guilty about it because he knew that his partner would probably resent the loss of a Warm Fuzzy. People who could not find a generous partner had to buy their Warm Fuzzies and had to work long hours to earn the money. Another thing that happened was that some people would take Cold Pricklies - which were limitless and freely available - coat them white and fluffy and pass them on as Warm Fuzzies. These counterfeit Warm Fuzzies were called Plastic Fuzzies, and they caused additional difficulties. For instance, two people would get together and freely exchange Plastic Fuzzies, which presumably should make them feel good, but they came away feeling bad instead, since they thought they had been exchanging Warm Fuzzies, people grew very confused about this, never realizing that their cold prickly feelings were really the result of the fact they had been given a lot of Plastic Fuzzies.
So the situation was very, very dismal and it all started because of the coming of the witch who made people believe that some day, when least expected, they might reach into their Warm Fuzzy bag and find no more.
Not long ago a young woman with big hips born under the sign of Aquarius came to this unhappy land. She had not heard about the bad witch and was not worried about running out of Warm Fuzzies. She gave them out freely, even when not asked. They called her the Hip Woman and disapproved of her because she was giving the children the idea that they should not worry about running out of Warm Fuzzies. The children liked her very much because they felt good around her and they too began to give out Warm Fuzzies whenever they felt like it. The grown-ups became concerned and decided to pass a law to protect the children from depleting their supplies of Warm Fuzzies. The law made it a criminal offense to give out Warm Fuzzies in a reckless manner. The children however, seemed not to care, and in spite of the law they continued to give each other Warm Fuzzies whenever they felt like it and always when asked. Because there were many, many children, almost as many as grown-ups, it began to look as if maybe they would have their way.
As of now it is hard to say what will happen. Will the grown-ups join with the Hip Woman and the children in taking a chance that there will always be as many Warm fuzzies as needed? Will they remember the days their children are trying to bring back when Warm Fuzzies were abundant because people gave them away freely?
Copyright 1969, Claude M. Steiner, 35 Westminister, Kensington, CA 94708
Transactional Analysis Bulletin, October 1970, pp. 146-148