The Ego States
An ego state is a set of related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in which part of an individual’s personality is manifested at a given time (Stewart & Joines, 1987).
Transactional analysis identifies four basic life positions, all of which are based on decisions made as a result of childhood experiences, and all of which determine how people feel about themselves and how they relate to others:
1. I’m OK—You’re OK.
2. I’m OK—You’re not OK.
3. I’m not OK—You’re OK.
4. I’m not OK—You’re not OK.
The I’m OK—You’re OK position is generally game-free. It is the belief that people have basic value, worth, and dignity as human beings. That people are OK is a statement of their essence, not necessarily their behavior. This position is characterized by an attitude of trust and openness, a willingness to give and take, and an acceptance of others as they are. People are close to themselves and to others. There are no losers, only winners. I’m OK—You’re not OK is the position of people who project their problems onto others and blame them, put them down, and criticize them. The games that reinforce this position involve a self-styled superior (the “I’m OK”) who projects anger, disgust, and scorn onto a designated inferior, or scapegoat (the “You’re not OK”). This position is that of the person needs an underdog to maintain his or her sense of “OKness.” I’m not OK—You’re OK is known as the depressive position and is characterized by feeling powerless in comparison with others. Typically such people serve others’ needs instead of their own and generally feel victimized. Games supporting this position include “Kick me” and “Martyr”—games that support the power of others and deny one’s own. The I’m not OK—You’re not OK quadrant is known as the position of futility and frustration. Operating from this place, people have lost interest in life and may see life as totally without promise. This self-destructive stance is characteristic of people who are unable to cope in the real world, and it may lead to extreme withdrawal, a return to infantile behavior, or violent behavior resulting in injury or death of themselves or others.
Transactional Analysis first order structural model
Berne devised the concept of ego states to help explain how we are made up, and how we relate to others. These are drawn as three stacked circles and they are one of the building blocks of Transactional Analysis. They categorise the ways we think, feel and behave and are called Parent, Adult, and Child. Each ego state is given a capital letter to denote the difference between actual parents, adults and children.
Parent ego state
This is a set of feelings, thinking and behaviour that we have copied from our parents and significant others. As we grow up we take in ideas, beliefs, feelings and behaviours from our parents and caretakers. If we live in an extended family then there are more people to learn and take in from. When we do this, it is called introjecting and it is just as if we take in the whole of the care giver. For example, we may notice that we are saying things just as our father, mother, grandmother may have done, even though, consciously, we don't want to. We do this as we have lived with this person so long that we automatically reproduce certain things that were said to us, or treat others as we might have been treated. Adult ego state
The Adult ego state is about direct responses to the here and now. We deal with things that are going on today in ways that are not unhealthily influenced by our past. The Adult ego state is about being spontaneous and aware with the capacity for intimacy. When in our Adult we are able to see people as they are, rather than what we project onto them. We ask for information rather than stay scared and rather than make assumptions. Taking the best from the past and using it appropriately in the present is an integration of the positive aspects of both our Parent...
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