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How to recognise Ego States

As no-one has commented on my TA/Ego states post I have done some research myself and with feedback from our counselling session last night, week 2 development the journey - ego states. I have found the following info.

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Recognising Ego States[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Each person is made up of three alter ego states:[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Parent[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adult[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Child[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]These terms have different definitions than in normal language.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Parent[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]This is our ingrained voice of authority, absorbed conditioning, learning and attitudes from when we were young. We were conditioned by our real parents, teachers, older people, next door neighbours, aunts and uncles, Father Christmas and Jack Frost. Our Parent is made up of a huge number of hidden and overt recorded playbacks. Typically embodied by phrases and attitudes starting with 'how to', 'under no circumstances', 'always' and 'never forget', 'don't lie, cheat, steal', etc, etc. Our parent is formed by external events and influences upon us as we grow through early childhood. We can change it, but this is easier said than done.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Child[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Our internal reaction and feelings to external events form the 'Child'. This is the seeing, hearing, feeling, and emotional body of data within each of us. When anger or despair dominates reason, the Child is in control. Like our Parent we can change it, but it is no easier.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adult[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Our 'Adult' is our ability to think and determine action for ourselves, based on received data. The adult in us begins to form at around ten months old, and is the means by which we keep our Parent and Child under control. If we are to change our Parent or Child we must do so through our adult.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]In other words:[/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Parent is our 'Taught' concept of life [/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adult is our 'Thought' concept of life[/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Child is our 'Felt' concept of life[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]When we communicate we are doing so from one of our own alter ego states, our Parent, Adult or Child. Our feelings at the time determine which one we use, and at any time something can trigger a shift from one state to another. When we respond, we are also doing this from one of the three states, and it is in the analysis of these stimuli and responses that the essence of Transactional Analysis lies. A wonderful analogy - [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]'the person who had feelings' story[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif] - explains how experiences and conditioning in early life affect behaviour in later life. See also the [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]poem by Philip Larkin[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif] about how parental conditioning affects children and their behaviour into adulthood. And for an uplifting antidote see the lovely [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Thich Nhat Hanh quote[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]. These are all excellent illustrations of the effect and implications of parental conditioning in the context of Transactional Analysis.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]At the core of Berne's theory is the rule that effective transactions (ie successful communications) must be complementary. They must go back from the receiving ego state to the sending ego state. For example, if the stimulus is Parent to Child, the response must be Child to Parent, or the transaction is 'crossed', and there will be a problem between sender and receiver.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]If a crossed transaction occurs, there is an ineffective communication. Worse still either or both parties will be upset. In order for the relationship to continue smoothly the agent or the respondent must rescue the situation with a complementary transaction.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]In serious break-downs, there is no chance of immediately resuming a discussion about the original subject matter. Attention is focused on the relationship. The discussion can only continue constructively when and if the relationship is mended.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Here are some simple clues as to the ego state sending the signal. You will be able to see these clearly in others, and in yourself:[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Parent[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Physical - angry or impatient body-language and expressions, finger-pointing, patronising gestures, [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Verbal - always, never, for once and for all, judgmental words, critical words, patronising language, posturing language.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]N.B. beware of cultural differences in body-language or emphases that appear 'Parental'.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Child[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Physical - emotionally sad expressions, despair, temper tantrums, whining voice, rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, teasing, delight, laughter, speaking behind hand, raising hand to speak, squirming and giggling.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Verbal - baby talk, I wish, I dunno, I want, I'm gonna, I don't care, oh no, not again, things never go right for me, worst day of my life, bigger, biggest, best, many superlatives, words to impress.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adult[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Physical - attentive, interested, straight-forward, tilted head, non-threatening and non-threatened.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Verbal - why, what, how, who, where and when, how much, in what way, comparative expressions, reasoned statements, true, false, probably, possibly, I think, I realise, I see, I believe, in my opinion.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]And remember, when you are trying to identify ego states: words are only part of the story. [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]To analyse a transaction you need to see and feel what is being said as well. [/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Only 7% of meaning is in the words spoken. [/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said). [/FONT]
  • [FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]55% is in facial..source: Albert Mehrabian - [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]more info[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]) [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]There is no general rule as to the effectiveness of any ego state in any given situation (some people get results by being dictatorial (Parent to Child), or by having temper tantrums, (Child to Parent), but for a balanced approach to life, Adult to Adult is generally recommended. [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Transactional Analysis is effectively a language within a language; a language of true meaning, feeling and motive. It can help you in every situation, firstly through being able to understand more clearly what is going on, and secondly, by virtue of this knowledge, we give ourselves choices of what ego states to adopt, which signals to send, and where to send them. This enables us to make the most of all our communications and therefore create, develop and maintain better relationships.[/FONT]

These three ego states have also now been subdivided
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]parent[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Parent is now commonly represented as a circle with four quadrants:[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Nurturing - Nurturing (positive) and Spoiling (negative).[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Controlling - Structuring (positive) and Critical (negative).[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]adult[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adult remains as a single entity, representing an 'accounting' function or mode, which can draw on the resources of both Parent and Child.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]child[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Child is now commonly represented as circle with four quadrants:[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Adapted - Co-operative (positive) and Compliant/Resistant (negative).[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif]Free - Spontaneous (positive) and Immature (negative).[/FONT]
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S: 17st11.4lb C: 16st5.4lb G: 10st0lb BMI: 37 Loss: 1st6lb(8.02%)
I don't follow the Lighter Life program or know much about it, but that was really interesting to read. It sounds as if LL covers psychological issues aswell as dieting, which sounds excellent.
Sorry never spotted your original post, what a fascinating site you have found.
I have just passed a very pleasant hour trawling around there, and I have book marked it for future, (before I get sent on any courses from work, I can now check them out).
I have to admit I don't really study the lighter life book between sessions, I think the way we seem to whiz through the analysis at the end of the sessions, is very confusing. Our sessions always seem to get side tracked on to something else and the poor old LLC tries to get across what she really wanted us to know in the last 10 minutes.
I have printed out the articles and I think I shall have to read them through a couple of times before they really sink in.
Hey Sharon
I've just started reading 'Games that people play' by Eric Berne. It's a bit hard going but (apparantly) one of the all time classics on TA. I'll let you know how I get on.
Thanks for posting this one - a great read!


Silver Member
S: 17st2lb C: 11st10lb G: 10st5lb BMI: 27.3 Loss: 5st6lb(31.67%)
I really fancy reading the Berne books TG - they're on my Amazon wish list at the moment - I want to read the scripts one the most, I think.

So Sharon - I missed the original post - I think the title made me think it was strictly for proper experts so I passed it by...my LLC identified a long time ago that I seem to operate from Free Spontaneous child a lot of the time - that I don't really seem to want to be adult! Adult got me through tonight - as did adapted child...I find ducking under and around my negative quadrants by using the skills of the positive and the straight questioning of my adult actually helps quite a lot. I find it quite difficult to tell anyone exactly how all this works as it's very intuitive and fluid and quite personal - only I know exactly how all the words sound in my head.
Hey Sharon
I've just started reading 'Games that people play' by Eric Berne. It's a bit hard going but (apparantly) one of the all time classics on TA. I'll let you know how I get on.
Thanks for posting this one - a great read!

Hi there,
Another one you could look at, which might not be quite so heavy going is I'm ok, you're ok by Thomas A. Harris.

TA was an absolute revelation to me!! It finally explained to me why I could act so differently at work and home.

At work I was confident, at home I hid away and was very self loathing.
It's been one of the tools that's enabled me to make some huge changes

Kitty xxx
I have the Games People Play and I have attempted it a couple of times and found it really hard going and that was why I have struggled so much with the concepts of TA I think. I am glad what I have posted has helped everyone though.

I have just bought Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and NLP for Dummies. If you are looking at going into CBT into more depth but don't want to be too "medical" about it the dummies books are great
Last week I bought 'Personal Development for Dummies' which is the 'for dummies' books about NLP, CBT, Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching in one book for £19.99. I've only had a flikc through at the mo but it loks really good although - on first look - the life coaching section looks the most attractive to me with lots of practical exercises. I'm taking it with me to Devon for BH for a better look.

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