Ego States

by | Apr 1, 2018 | Ego States, News | 0 comments

This post is to give you TA Snippets of theory to hopefully entice you to want more. More will be added on a regular basis so please do keep coming back for interesting snippets.

Transactional Analysis theory is fascinating, powerful, and effective in creating personal change. Hence, easy for clients to understand and use. A misconception about Transactional Analysis theory is that it is superficial and too simple. Nothing is further from the truth. Transactional Analysis theory is a full, in-depth psychotherapy and counselling model, which is helpful in all helping professions, as well as personal lives.

Eric Berne

Eric Berne developed TA theory during the 1960’s in the USA. Since then it has become popular throughout the world. Many members of worldwide Transactional Analysis Associations offer TA training. Firstly, Certified Transactional Analysts, and Secondly, Certified Trainers and Supervisors. There are several annual worldwide conferences.

Having said all that…let’s start looking at the main concepts in TA as an introduction.

Ego States

In order to understand changes in behaviour we must be aware of what is happening inside a person. The personality can be divided into three parts, each part consisting of a set of related thoughts, feelings and behaviours. These parts are called ego states. We all have these three ego states called Parent, Adult and Child. Diagrammed as a set of three stacked circles. In TA, the ego states are always capitalized to distinguish them from actual parents, adults or children.

Parent Ego State

The Parent consists of a set of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviour patterns that resemble those of mother or father or both. When a person is in his Parent ego state, he thinks, feels and behaves as did one of his parents or some other important person. Parent is like a tape recorder. It’s a collection of prerecorded rules for living. Such a Parent (P) may consist of a tape full of prohibitions such as “you should”, “you must”, “you’d better”, “you ought”, “you’re always”, “you never”, “don’t” etc. this critical part of the Parent tape that is full of prohibitions is called the critical or prejudicial Parent.

Gregory Institute - Ego States

In contrast to this is the second type of Parent tape, which is nurturing and these Parent tapes contain reassuring, accepting, tolerant and consoling messages. They express sympathy for people and tell us “you are OK” in contrast to the critical Parent tapes that say “you are not OK”.

The Parent ego state is known as the taught concept of life as it consists of the teachings of our parents that were recorded when we were very small, and assumed that these giant-like powerful people were omniscient.


Gregory Institute - Ego States

Child Ego State

The Child (C) is a set of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviour patterns that are relics of our childhood. When we are in our Child ego state, we think, feel and react as we did when we were kids. The child is imaginative, creative, hateful, impulsive, angry, loving, spontaneous or fun-loving. This is the most valuable ego state. It is the source of our charm and charisma, our uniqueness, and is the locus of all “authentic” emotion, as well as where our intuition stems from. (The Parent also contains feelings but these are “taught” feelings: eg “I hate people with long hair just like my parents do.”)

The Child loves to laugh and play and is the source from which creativity, recreation and procreation stem. Any childhood feelings and experiences that have been repressed, are not in our conscious awareness. Nevertheless, these old feelings can be reawakened by current life situations. For example, a man who has repressed his childhood anger to his parent may experience anxiety and/or rage with a boss whom he feels in some way resembles his parent. The Child is exhibited in three forms: the Natural Child, the Adapted Child, and the Little Professor.


Adult Ego State

The Adult (A) is concerned with dealing with the realities of the outer world, plus input from Parent and Child, and is involved with rational thinking, data processing and functions in many ways as a human computer. Data is fed into it from the sense organs and it combines this with stored data from our Parent and Child. It then computes all the facts fed into it and decides if correct or not. It deals with the “here and how” in contrast with the two other ego states, which are derived from the past.

This is just the beginning of understanding ego states. TA 101 and the advanced modules go much deeper.

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