Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adult ego state strengthening - Part 3 **

As mentioned in the previous article on Adult ego state strengthening a most valuable skill for a child to learn is to think and feel at the same time. To do this the child learns how to be in two ego states at the one time.

The individual maintains Adult ego state function and Child ego state function at the one time. The Adult remains aware of the feelings experienced in the Child ego state. The Child simultaneously is aware of the thinking that is going on in the Adult ego state. As a result they can maintain an influence over each other and their expression.

Sometimes this breaks down or the person never learnt the skill in the first place. An example of this is with the hysteric personality type. Characteristics of this personality type are:

Exhibitionist behaviour.

Constant seeking of reassurance or approval.

Excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotions.

Inappropriately seductive appearance or behaviour.

Somatic symptoms, and using these symptoms as a means of garnering attention.

A need to be the centre of attention.

Rapidly shifting emotional states that may appear superficial or exaggerated to others.

In this individual who is most often female, the Adult ego state can reduce to such an extent that it has very little influence on the Child ego state. The Adult ego state can be too fragile and thus needs strengthening. Thus they are prone to dramatic and exaggerated displays of emotion from the Child ego state. With no Adult in use the person can become hysterical and loose a sense of control or thinking as they are dominated by the Child ego state feeling.

The reason why I am mentioning this is it is an unusual way of Adult strengthening. Indeed it is not really Adult ego state strengthening at all. Most Adult strengthening simply exercises the Adult. Various techniques are used to get the person into Adult and they simply practice being in Adult ego state. It uses the same principle as physical exercise. The more you exercise a muscle the stronger it becomes such that it can be easily accessed and used. Most Adult ego state strengthening use the same principle. Dealing with the hysteric personality or the hysterical person demonstrates another method of accessing the Adult ego state.

In the movies when the woman who is under great stress becomes hysterical what does the man do? He grabs her arms tightly and slaps her across the cheek. When he does this she stops being so hysterical and calms down. What has happened here?

1. The woman becomes hysterical. That is she moves fully into her Child ego state and the Adult ego state becomes largely non functioning. She is no longer feeling and thinking at the same time.

2. The man slaps her cheek. He gets into his Controlling Parent (CP+) ego state, takes charge of her by demanding that she stop the hysterics.

3. She responds to his Parent ego state demand by moving into her Conforming Child ego state and conforms to his demand that she calms down and stops the hysterics.

4. Once done her Adult ego state becomes much more accessible for her and she moves back into that ego state and starts to think and behave rationally again.

Thus we have the process defined. If a person goes into Child ego state with high emotions or a state of confusion or just a state of psychological collapse one can respond with their CP+ ego state to get them to move into a conforming frame of mind. Once in Conforming Child they will follow the demand that they calm down and start thinking again. I am not suggesting the cheek slapping method of CP+. Instead one simply has to use a strong and demanding voice that takes charge of the situation.

The more this is done with the person the more they will introject the CP+ ego state from the other person who demands their conformity. Thus they become more capable of using their own CP+ on self in the future should they start to become hysterical or confused.

This method is actually strengthening the person’s CP+ ego state rather than Adult strengthening. However with a stronger internal CP+ the person is more capable of getting into conformity and thus eventually getting back into their Adult ego state.



  1. Hi Tony,

    I didn't saw your Adult Ego state strengthening posts till now - shame on me :( I found practices in second post that I am planning to use, and will definitely report what I have did. In this you are referring to situation that make parent stronger, but that looks applicable to family situation, not on therapeutic - or I am wrong?


    ps from now on I will be more often present :)

  2. Hello Mirko,

    Thanks for your question and I have not been here for a few days as well.

    In this case the person is strengethening the Parent ego state as you say. To my mind it does have relevance to the therapeutic situation. If a client becomes 'hysterical' or goes into some kind of non-thinking state the therapist can use his CP+ with the client to get him back into Conforming Child ego state.

    When this happens over time the client will introject this stronger CP+ into his own Parent ego state. Once done the client can then use it on himself when he 'looses' Adult functioning. This will get himself back into Conforming Child which then allows him to access his Adult ego state more easily.



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