This paper examines the structural distinctions made in contemporary ego state theory. Freud (1900) consciously avoided placing boundaries between the superego, ego and id, whilst Berne openly attacked the problem of concretely delineating the three psychic sub- systems. As will become obvious, descriptively Berne achieved suc- cess, yet structurally he had major problems.
Ernst (1971) believes Eric Berneâ€™s most significant contribution to psychotherapy was the delineation he made between the Parent and Adult ego states. This, he says, allowed us to distinguish opinions from objectivity. This view is consistent with the general view that science held up to date. However, at present, the social sciences are experiencing much confusion in certain areas (Strauss and Hafez ; Morgan ; John ; Eysenk ). It is this distinc- tion between Parent and Adult that illustrates why the confusion
Steiner (1971) defines the Adult ego state as essentially a computer, an impassionate organ of the personality, which gathers and processes data for the purpose of making predictions. The Adult gathers data through the senses, processes them according to a logical program, and makes predictions where necessary. The Parent ego state is essentially made up of behaviour copied from parents, or authority figures. It is taken as a whole, as perceived at an early age, without modification. A person in his Parent ego state, is merely playing back
a tape of early internalized parent figures. It is a repository of traditions and values.
The above definition of ego states implies that the Adult is not a collection of tapes; that it is not comprised of the incorporation of parental figure information. This paper contends that the above proposal, simply stated, is incorrect. When ego attends school and acquires information, this involves the incorporation of the teacherâ€™s instructions. Later on in high school, when ego has more knowledge, he may critically evaluate what he is being taught, yet he can only do this if he has previously incorporated, or learnt how to critically eval-
The acquisition of language and basic mathematical principles also involves the incorporation of tapes. The most obvious example is the rote learning of multiplication tables and the alphabet. Bruner (1964) agrees with this, stating that all the techniques of data processing are passed down from generation to generation, in each culture. Each child incorporates data processing methodology from his parents.
THE ADULT AND THE ADULT IN THE PARENT
It now becomes apparent that the Adult ego state and the Adult in the Parent ego state are the same. Thus the two ego state model may be represented geometrically, as in Figure 1b.
For further elaboration, it is necessary to examine Stuntzâ€™s (1972) paper on the second order structure of the Parent ego state. He states that the Adult in the Parent (AP) â€œis an external pro- gram of how to use the computer (Adult)â€? (p. 60). It is the contention of this paper that the Adult in the Parent (AP) is the Adult, and that any division is unnecessary and leads only to confusion. Stuntz suggests that each time Adult Processing is required that ego state must consult the Adult in the Parent. See Figure 2a. Figure 2b illustrates that the Adult ego state outside the Parent is redundant, doing only what it is told by the AP. Thus it is an unnecessary middleman that creates four processes instead of two.
In Figures 1b and 2b, it is seen that the two ego state model places the Adult ego state inside the Parent ego state. This is meant to indicate that those internalized tapes, specifically referring to data processing and manipulation, are encompassed within the A2. Those tapes not referring to data processing are encompassed within the P2 but outside the A2. Processing which is not based on taping, falls within the realm of the â€˜Little Professorâ€™ or A1.
THE ADULT AS A COMPUTER
The Adult ego state is often described as being a computer; this metaphor illustrates the notion presented in Figure 2. Computers are programmed by computer programmers. A computerâ€™s computational ability is entirely dependent on the computer programmerâ€™s logic. (In this case the â€˜computerâ€™ is defined as that part of the whole system which the computer user communicates withâ€”most commonly the keyboard and visual display unit.) The computer will only process data according to instructions from the â€˜tapesâ€™ or â€˜disksâ€™, to which it is connected. It is these tapes that contain the computer programmerâ€™s logic (that is, his opinions, assumptions and beliefs on correct data processing).
As an obvious exampleâ€”assume the computer user asks the com- puter; â€œWhat is 1 + 1?â€? As indicated in Figure 2a, the computer now asks the tapes, â€œHow do I respond to the stimulus, â€˜What is 1 + 1?â€™â€? If the computer programmer believed the answer or response should be â€˜3â€™, then the computer will respond with â€˜3â€™. It will see nothing wrong with this. The computer blindly and unquestioningly accepts anything that it is told from the tapes held in its headâ€”as does the Adult outside the Parent. The only function the computer (i.e. the keyboard and visual display unit) serves is to convert computer language into human language. If humans could â€˜talkâ€™ computer language, then they could talk directly to the magnetic tapes. Parent ego state tapes are stored in human language, which allows us to talk directly to them. We do not need a conversion process; therefore the Adult ego state outside the Parent serves no purpose.
THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC DEBATE
Consider a more relevant example. Eysenk (1983) states that it is necessary to eliminate all theories of personality that do not have strong empirical support. That is, any theory that does not have empirically verifiable high validity and reliability coefficients. Transactional Analysis theory, and indeed the vast majority of humanistic theories, do not fulfil this criteria. Therefore if we assume that Eysenk is making this statement from an impassionate data proces-
sor, that is not based on any parental tapes, then Transactional Analysis must be eliminated.
However, if the contention of this paper is accepted, then we see that his statement comes from parental tapes that define impassionate data processing for him. For instance his parental tapes must firstly state that one can only know or understand the world through what he considers â€˜good or accurateâ€™ scientific method. Any other form of scientific method or intuitive knowledge is useless. Secondly, Cattell and Scheier (1961) argue that inordinately high coefficients and the pursuit of strict statistical rigor make for a theory of personality that is of little or no use in the clinical setting. Eysenkâ€™s parental
tapes must tell him that this is incorrect. Thus the debate is unresolvable as parental tapes are based on opinions or views.
THE SECONDARY GAIN OF SCIENCE
The contention that an Adult ego state exists outside parental programming has led to the secondary gain of science. That is, scientists can argue their personal beliefs and assumptions under the guise of impassionate data processing, so that these beliefs and assumptions do not appear to be beliefs and assumptions. Such is the nature of scientific debate, which is seen to result from Adult ego states that are external to the Parent.
Such debate, as shown in Figure 3a, allows scientists to present their opinions as though they were not opinions. (This occurs when it is forgotten that the Adult outside the Parent is only a middleman.) If it is realized that data processing is dependant on parental programming, then scientific debate occurs from Adult ego states inside the Parent (Figure 3b). This realization immediately suggests to ego, that scientific debate is based on different parental programming, and is
not free of opinions or beliefs about data processing. From this the two scientists are in a position to investigate their findings, based on what their opinions offer to the scientific community. Debates which scientists believe occur from the Adult ego state outside the Parent, are usually conflictual; and approach science from the position of theory A versus Theory B. Such debates most often are not resolved, and have a polarizing affect as both parties believe they are processing data as though it were not dependant on beliefs or opinions.
THE GREAT PROMISE OF SCIENCE
The great promise of science as presented by Cohen and Nagel (1934) is illustrated by the notion of an Adult ego state external to the Parent ego state. They suggest the major attribute of science is that it is self-corrective, and free from human caprice and wilfulness. In the field of psychology this promise of self correction has not been fulfilled. A quick examination of scientific journals is testimony to this. Instead we have theoreticians wanting to eliminate other theories as they believe that their method of data processing is correct
and others are incorrect. This is permitted within the three ego state model, not the two ego state model.
PROBLEMS WITH THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE.
Steiner (1971) states that the Adult may perceive in black and white, often in two dimensions, and from several points of view at the same time. This ability to perceive reality from different points of view at the same time must also have been programmed. If ego has accepted this sort of programming, then she would agree that absolute truth does not exist, and that it is possible to have the same phenomena viewed from different paradigms or perspectives. However, as soon as
she does subscribe to the notion of paradigmatic truth, then it may be invalid. Alternatively, as soon as one accepts the two ego state model, this immediately implies that the three ego state model may be correct.
This apparent paradox, although it appears to contraindicate the presence of a two ego state model, in fact provides the major philosophic support for it. For instance, one may state: The Adult external of the Parent can perceive reality from different points of view. Yet, what if reality in this case happens to be the Adult. Thus the con- struct â€˜the Adult external of the Parent can perceive reality from different points of viewâ€™ can be perceived from different points of view; and one of those views may suggest that the construct is wrong.
This explains the problems presently experienced by philosophers of science. Their dilemma can be summed up from a statement made by Bronowski (1976): â€œThere is no absolute knowledgeâ€? (p. 353). In essence he is saying: it is absolute truth that there is no absolute truth. This implies that he believes there is an Adult ego state external of the Parent. That is, that he can make a statement that is free of parental programming, assumption and opinions. Philosophers of science have also consistently done this.
Ever since Kuhn (1962) coined the concept of â€˜paradigmsâ€™ there has been much confusion as to its nature. In that book, it has been shown that he defined the term in 21 different ways (Shapere ). Since then, many writers have attempted to define it. A good example comes from Cedarbaum (1983). His succinct and detailed analysis of â€˜paradigmsâ€™ raises many good points; one being that â€˜paradigmsâ€™ are basically philosophic in nature. Yet, when one examines his paper, it becomes apparent that it also is philosophic in nature; indeed, that is why it is published in a journal of philosophy. He has no choice, as a philosophic examination of paradigms, must conclude that paradigms are philosophic in nature.
Therefore, the paradigms by which one examines the concept of â€˜paradigmsâ€™ will determine the conclusions arrived at. Up to date philosophers of science have examined the role that parental programming plays in the acquisition of knowledge, from the point of view that their examination is not based on parental programming. In T.A. terms, they have suggested that the Adult does reside in the Parent. Yet they have suggested this from an Adult that they believe is outside the Parent.
ASSUMPTIONS OF THIS PRESENTATION
Logically, this paper is written from the Adult in the Parent. It is based on beliefs, programming and information, that is different to those used by Berne, when he outlined the three ego state model. There does appear to be a definite informational difference. When Eric Berne first published his paper outlining three ego state theory, it was the mid 1950s: (Berne ), at that time, there was little evi- dence to suggest that the great promise of science, was not true. Scientists and theoreticians generally believed that reality could be viewed free of parental programming. However, with the knowledge explosion over the past one and a half decades, it has become obviously apparent that the promise has not, and will not ever be fulfilled.
It is the assumption, belief, and opinion of this writer that an Adult external of the Parent illustrates the great promise of science; and the Adult internal of the Parent illustrates why this promise has not been fulfilled. The basis of this belief is presented in the preceding pages.
The second assumption of this presentation is that it believes it is necessary to propose an ego state theory which considers the problems of contemporary social science. This is based on the belief that it offers something to the scientific community, both theoretically and therapeutically, that is not already offered by the three ego state model. The reasons for this assumption will become evident over the next four or five presentations. There are undoubtedly many more assumptions of this presentation; these will become more obvious as the concept of two ego states is further discussed.
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