2. Ego State
Another aspect of self is the ego states of persons, an important aspect of TA. “An ego state is a pattern of behaviour that a person develops as he or she grows, based on his or her accumulated network of feelings and experiences.” People interact with each other in terms of psychological positions or behavioural patterns known as ego states. Ego states are person’s way of thinking, feeling and behaving at anytime. These have nothing to do with the chronological age of the persons, rather, they are related with the behavioural aspects of age. Thus, a person of any age may have these ego states in varying degrees.
Sigmund Freud was the first to advocate that in every individual there are three ego states residing within him i.e. parent ego, adult ego and child ego. They stimulate, monitor and control individual behaviour. The ego state is not related to the age of an individual. He further states that a person can change ego state depending upon situation and modify his behaviour. Berne states, “Although we cannot directly observe these ego states, we can observe behaviour of an individual and can infer which of the three ego states an individual is transacting at a particular moment”.
These three ego states are not concepts like Freud’s id, ego. and super ego. They are based on real world behaviour.
These three Ego states are explained below:
i. Parent Ego
The parent ego state incorporates the attitudes and behaviours of all emotionally significant people who serve as parent figure when an Individual was a child. The value and behaviour of these people are recorded in the mind of the individual and these become the basic values of the personallty.
Parent ego can be of two types.
(a) Nurturing parents
Nurturing parent ego is characterized by over protectiveness, helpful, distant, dogmatic, indispensable and upright parent behaviour. When such behaviour is displayed to a child, he inherits the same pattern of behaviour.
(b) Critical parents
Critical parents ego state is characterized with the behaviour, which is hurtful, waging finger at the other and conveys displeasures. The behaviour is strict which usually quotes rules, laws and has great reliance on successful people.
Each individual has his unique parent ego state which is likely to be a mixture of helpfulness and hurtfulness. Awareness of this ego gives more choice over what one does.
ii. Adult Ego
Adult ego state is based upon reasoning, seeking, and providing information. Person interacting with adult ego views people as equal, worthy, and responsible human beings. It is based on rationality. The adult is characterised by logical thinking and reasoning. This ego state can be identified by verbal and physical signs which include thoughtful concentration and factual discussion. The process of adult ego state formation goes through one’s own experience, and continuously updating parental induction by verifying. Though certain values which are formed in the childhood are rarely erased, an individual at the later stage of the life may block his child and parent ego states and use his adult ego only based on his experience. He updates the parent data to determine what is valid and what is not. Similarly, he also updates child data to determine which feelings should be expressed. Thus, he keeps and controls, emotional expressions appropriately. ‘
iii. Child Ego
Characteristics of child ego include creativity, conformity, depression, anxiety, dependence, fear, and hate. Physical and verbal clues that person is acting in the child ego are silent compliance, attention seeking, temper tantrumps, giggling and coyness. The child ego characterized by non-logical and immediate actions which result into immediate satisfaction. characterised by nondogical and immediate actions winch result into immediate satisfaction^) Child ego state reflects early childhood conditions and experience perceived by individuals in their early years of life, that is, before the social birth of an individual say, up to the age of five years. The child has no ability to move out to face life. He takes what comes in his way.
There are three parts of child ego: natural, adaptive, and rebellious.
(a) Natural Child Ego
The natural child is affectionate, impulsive, sensuous, and does what come naturally. However, he is also fearful, self-indulgent, self-centred, and aggressive and may emerge in many unpleasant roles.
(b) Adaptive Child Ego
The adaptive child is the trained one and he is likely to do what parents insist on, and sometimes learns to feel non-O.K. the adopted child when overtly inhibited, often , becomes the troubled part of the personality.
(c) Rebellious Child Ego
The rebellion child experiences anger, fear and frustration.
While analysing ego states of a person, following aspects are relevant:
i. In the course of interaction, a person is likely to display all three ego states though one ego state may be predominant.
ii. One can observe the ego state of the person that is in control by observing not only the words used by the person but also his postures, gestures, and facial expressions.
iii. Each ego state has both positive and negative features—it can add to or subtract from a person’s feeling of satisfaction.