Ego States

Definition: The Ego States are an important aspect of transactional analysis that talks about how a person feels, behave or think at any point of time.

According to Dr Eric Berne, people usually interact with each other in terms of three psychological and behavioral patterns classified as parent ego, adult ego and child ego, often called as a PAC Model. This classification is not made on the basis of the age group of an individual rather these are related to the ways in which an individual behaves. Thus, it is observed that a person of any age group may possess varying degrees of these ego states.

Let’s understand each of these three ego states in detail:

Parent Ego: The parent ego, refers to the behavior and attitude of an emotionally significant individual who acted with quite a maturity when he was a child. He possesses the parental traits of being overprotective, dogmatic, distant, indispensable and upright and behaves very judiciously at any time.

There are two types of a parent ego: critical and nurturing. The critical parent ego is one when an individual shows the critical and evaluative behavior while interacting with the others. Whereas the nurturing parent ego is one, when individual shows the kind and nurturing behavior, not only towards children but towards all with whom he interacts.

Adult Ego: The adult ego shows the logical thinking and reasoning ability of an individual. The person behaving or interacting with adult ego seeks all the information properly, validate it using his reasoning skills and then provide it to the other people. The person possessing the adult ego can be judged through his discussions and the way he thinks about a situation before arriving at the conclusion.

As the individual grows, he updates his parent data to identify what is valid or not valid, similarly the child data is also updated to determine which feeling should be expressed and which should be left unspoken. In this way, the adult ego helps an individual to control his emotional expressions appropriately.

Child Ego: The child ego, refers to the state of an individual when he behaves illogically and takes quick actions to satisfy the immediate needs without thinking much about its consequences. The creativity, depression, conformity, dependence, hate, fear, etc. are some of the main characteristics of this ego state. The child ego represents the childhood state when an individual has not become social and is in its initial stage of development.

The child ego can be natural, adaptive and rebellious. The natural child is sensuous, impulsive, affectionate and does things that come naturally. Whereas the adaptive child is one, who is trained and instructed by parents to behave in a manner taught by them. The rebellious child is one who is not allowed to open up and experiences anger, fear and frustration.

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