Transactional Analysis (also known as TA) is a means of examining people, their thought processes and relationships with others. It was developed during the 1960s by Dr Eric Berne.
TA is based on four concepts;
• Ego states
People have continuous internal conversations with themselves as well as external conversations with others. It is thought that people have three internal parts or ego states of the parent, child and adult. These influence how we interact with ourselves and others. These states can have negative and positive elements to each of them.
The Parent state
This state is taken from parental figures. Similarly to the child state, it is thought to come from the brain recording “unquestioned or imposed external events perceived by a person” (2) from the first five years of life, in this case from the parents. There are two types of Parental roles that can be played. The Nurturing Parent is caring and concerned, similar to a mother-figure. The aim is to keep the child safe and happy with reassurance and unconditional love. The Controlling (or Critical) Parent, attempts to make the Child do as the parent wants. This can involve trying to transfer their own values or beliefs or helping the Child to adapt behaviour to live in society and also to keep the child from danger.
The Child state
This state is repeated from childhood. The child state involves how the person feels, as with the parent state it is a recording, usually up till the age of 5, but this time of the internal state, of how the child feels in response to external events. “The recording of internal events, the responses of the little person to what he sees and hears.” (2)
There are three types of Child roles that can be played. The Natural Child tends to lack self awareness, enjoys creativity and play and is open and vulnerable. The little professor is curious and exploring, often to the Controlling Parent's annoyance. Together with the Natural Child they make up the Free Child. The Adaptive Child reacts to the world around them, by either “changing themselves to fit or rebelling against the forces they feel.” (1)
The Adult state
The Adult is the grown up, rational person who talks reasonably and assertively, they do not try to control others or act aggressively. The Adult is comfortable within themself and is our 'ideal self'. “This state stores facts, makes decisions, checks out beliefs and accomplishes goals.” (3)
Balance of ego states
With regards to TA psychological well being is viewed as the ability to be flexible, whereas disturbance is viewed as being inflexible. There are 3 main inflexible states that can damage psychological wellbeing:
1) Excluding ego states: One state excludes awareness of the others. Paranoia and neuroses are caused by a parent ego state excluding the other states. Similarly hallucinatory / delusional states are caused by the child state excluding the other states, an example of this would be hearing voices. “The more bizarre the hallucination the more bizarre life was for him as a child.” (2)
Severe mental illnesses are thought to be caused from exclusions, for example when the Parent is cut off, the person does not have any conscience at all. If his Adult is also contaminated with Child, the person will be psychopathic. According to the PAC system, “psychosis results when the Adult is completely blocked from Parent and Child. This is called decommissioned Adult. If the...