Every person embodies the modes of child, parent and adult. So, what makes people different from each other?
Although all people have child, parent and adult modes, the contents of these records are different from each other. The fact that each person’s record is different from that of other people affects how these records are reflected in behavior. Two types of functional problems can be found in people’s behavior. These are contagion and exclusion.
Contagion refers to the interference of the child, parent and adult modes, which should be independent of each other. The first form of contagion is “prejudice”, which is caused by the interference of parent and adult modes. Prejudice is the result of the interference of past and unexposed parent and adult modes. For example, the belief that “Blondes are stupid” has no scientific or logical basis. However, some people cling to this prejudice. This is because this information comes from the parent record and is accepted as true without question. The way to resolve this interference is to show that parent mode’s knowledge is falsifiable. The participants in the mediation process may also have prejudices against each other. At this point it is useful for the mediator to distinguish these two modes.
The second form of contagion is the interference of the child mode and the parent mode. This shows itself as “delusions”. The person feels the repercussions of the humiliation, rejection and criticism experienced as a child, even if they do not exist in the present, as if they are happening now.
Child, parent and adult modes are complementary to each other. In a healthy transactional analysis process, the person comes to a conclusion by evaluating the data from the child and parent modes. In this process, if any of the modes exhibits a fixed attitude, “exclusion” occurs. Exclusion occurs in two ways. In the first one, the parent mode interferes with the adult mode and excludes the child mode. This is often seen in people with no or limited record of happy child mode. Since the child mode involves the recording of emotions, people with no record of happy child exclude this mode and the parent mode takes over the adult mode. These people are often encountered in family mediation where emotions are intense. People who suppress their emotions may have difficulty meeting the expectations of other family members. This problem can be overcome by gaining insight.
In the second one, where exclusion occurs, the child mode interferes with the adult mode and the parental mode is excluded. This is often due to the fact that their parents were very cruel to them in childhood. In order to overcome this, the person excludes the parental mode because they are convinced that the parent is not an OK person. People in this state rarely consider how others will be affected when taking an action. Even these rare moments are often due to the anxiety of being caught. In the mediation process, when one of the people involved in the mediation process exhibits such an attitude, communication between the people breaks down. Usually these people are not inclined to listen to advice from the other person. When people express their wishes accurately and make an effort to understand the other person’s position, a solution will emerge spontaneously. When one person completely excludes the parental mode, the communication network can be completely broken. The important point here is to be aware that the absence of the parental mode is as damaging to communication as its too much.
Of course, the intensity of how the modes are reflected in our attitudes will vary in different events. In one event, the effects of the parent mode may be more pronounced, while in another event the effects of the child mode may be more pronounced. This is a healthy change in the effects of the modes on our attitudes. The states we describe in this article are the effects of child, parent and adult modes that have crossed the threshold of healthy communication.
Harris, A. Thomas, “I’m OK, You’re OK”, 1967 p. 137-150.