Parent - Ego, Diffusion

The parent ego is not bad in and of itself. It is contained with adults and can be used constructively by adults. However, a common

source of impurifications and diffusion in the parent ego is failing to act as an adult while engaged with the parent ego.

Healthy Parent-Ego in Adults

The parent-ego can be used in adults to develop empathy for others. The adult ego can use the empathetic state to imagine how it feels to be in the other person’s position and thus improve their understanding of the other party. This can improve dialogue.

The Parent-in-the-adult (P2) ego state is focused on the child. This child-centered focus occurs when the adult’s entire focus is to protect and nurture a child. This is a healthy use of what Transactional Analysis calls the Second Position and part of being a good parent.

Sources of Impurifications and Diffusion

Impurifications in the parent-ego can arise when someone externalizes or internalizes the parent-ego. The parent-ego can also be diffused or weakened when the person does not engage the adult-ego to counterbalance the nurturing or protective tendencies of the parent-ego.

Externalizing the Parent-Ego

Those who externalize can have problems with anger, self-centeredness, have a heavy reliance on boundaries and refuse to admit any dependence. Those who externalize a parent-ego can seem like an adult in their self-sufficiency and attempts to impose order on others.

However, someone stuck in an externalized parent-ego state can become a persecutor of others in the drama triangle life script. Their need to enforce boundaries on others can lead to attempting to force others to stay within the social rules of tradition or expected social position. The irony of those who externalize the parent ego is that they are often intrusive, refusing to respect the boundaries of others. They can act as if there are boundaries for thee but not for me.

Internalizing the Parent-Ego

The parent-ego state can be nurturing and protective, but does so by treating the protected person as a child or dependent. Those in an internalized parent-ego state can take the role of the rescuer in the drama triangle. The rescuer is attempting to nurture the person they perceive as a child.

Internalizers are focused on others. They are care-takers, but do so with the intent of receiving approval. They feel like they have little personal power. This makes them afraid to say no, thus cannot enforce boundaries. This can lead to the rescuer being sought to give approval for behavior or activities by the “child” in the drama while the “persecutor” is relied upon to enforce the rules.

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