TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS (T.A.)
developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne, is a form of
modern psychology that examines a person's
relationships and interactions. Berne took
inspiration from Sigmund Freud's theories of
personality, combining them with his own
observations of human interaction in order to
develop transactional analysis. In therapy,
transactional analysis can be used to address one's
interactions and communications with the purpose of
establishing and reinforcing the idea that each
individual is valuable and has the capacity for
positive change and personal growth.
Examining the Ego States of Transactional Analysis
Like Freud, Berne posited that each individual
possesses three ego states. His ego states—the
Parent, the Adult, and the Child—do not directly
correspond to Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego,
however. Instead, these states represent an
individual’s internal model of parents, adults, and
children. An individual may assume any of these
roles in transactions with another person or in
internal conversation. These roles are not directly
associated with their typical English definitions
but can be described as follows:
Parent consists of recordings of external events
observed and experienced by a child from birth
through approximately the first five years of life.
These recordings are not filtered or analyzed by the
child; they are simply accepted without question.
Many of these external events are likely to involve
the individual’s parents or other adults in
parent-link roles, which led Berne to call this ego
state “the Parent.” Examples of external events
recorded in this state:
Do not play with matches.
Remember to say “please” and “thank you.”
Do not speak to strangers.
Child represents all brain recordings of internal
events (feelings or emotions) that are directly
linked to the external events observed by the child
during the first five years of life. Examples of
events recorded in this state may include:
I feel happy when Mom hugs me.
Dad’s late night movie was very scary.
I feel sad when Mom is sad.
Adult, the final ego state, is the period in which a
child develops the capacity to perceive and
understand situations that are different from what
is observed (Parent) or felt (Child). The Adult
serves as a data processing center that utilizes
information from all three ego states in order to
arrive at a decision. One important role of the
Adult is to validate data which is stored in the
I see that Suzie’s house was burnt down. Mom was
right—I should not play with matches.