Explanation of the Child in Transactional Analysis

From Claude Steiner’s web page:

THE CHILD. When we are in the Child ego state we act like the child we once were. We aren’t just putting on an act; we think, feel, see, hear and react as a three or five or eight year old child. The ego states are fully experienced states of being, not just roles. When the Child is hateful or loving, impulsive, spontaneous or playful it is called the Natural Child. When it is thoughtful, creative or imaginative it is called the Little Professor. When it is fearful, guilty or ashamed it is called the Adapted Child. The Child has all the feelings; fear, love, anger, joy, sadness, shame and so on. The Child is often blamed for being the source of people’s troubles because it is self-centered, emotional, powerful and resists the suppression that comes with growing up.

In transactional analysis (TA) the Child is seen as the source of creativity, recreation and procreation; the only source of renewal in life. The Child can be observed in children for extended periods of time, but also in grownups in situations where people have permission to let the Child out, like at sport events or parties. The Child will appear for short periods of time in other situations, such as board meetings, classrooms or serious discussions where it may not be desired at all. In its most undesirable form it completely dominates a person’s life, as in the cases of persons who are severely emotionally disturbed whose confused, depressed, crazy or addicted Child will drive them to virtual self-destruction with out-of-control behavior. The Child may also appear for long periods of time in the form of depression or grief, as in the case of people who have incurred a great loss.

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