Q – I studied Transactional Analysis in college and am struck by the fact that your descriptions of positive and negative types somehow fit Eric Berne’s model. I’m not quite sure how though. Is there a correlation there?
A – Psychologist, Eric Berne, the developer of Transactional Analysis, identified four primary states that all people have; the Adult, the Exacting (or Critical) Parent, the Nurturing Parent and the Natural Child. He also identified a wounded child, but this is actually the natural child that has been conditioned by negative influences and is still caught in the negative dynamic. The wounded child is often seen in undeveloped individuals, but can also remain even when the other aspects of self have been developed to healthier levels.
When comparing the four CORE types to Eric Berne’s four primary states, we can see that they do correlate with the four primary states. The CORE types and the positive to negative range actually expands on Berne’s model.
We all have all four styles and all four states. We just use each of them with varying degrees of ease or effort. Here’s how the CORE Types align with the internal states described by Berne:
Commander Traits Align with the Adult State
On the positive end, the Adult is a mature, rational decision-maker that examines every situation logically, tests probabilities, ensures that reason reigns and emotional expression is appropriate to the situation.
One the negative end, the Adult becomes overly rational and disconnected from emotions; more robot-like – just moving relentlessly forward, making sure everything is controlled and things are getting done. Since emotions are not part of the robotic approach to accomplishment, the Negative adult can be cold and even cruel.
Organizer Traits Align with the Exacting Parent State
On the positive end, the Exacting Parent takes care of the details and oversees activities to ensure that nothing goes wrong. This is the parent aspect that acts as a protector, watching out for what might go wrong and issuing warnings so danger and mistakes can be avoided.
On the negative end, the Exacting Parent becomes overly critical, pointing out everything that is wrong or could go wrong, not just in the environment, but in the individual. The Critical Parent is a brow-beater that demands perfection and is quick to criticize anything that falls short of that perfect ideal.
Relater Traits Align with the Nurturing Parent State
On the positive end, the Nurturing Parent encourages, motivates, expresses faith in abilities and acts as the child’s champion.
On the negative end, the Nurturing Parent becomes over-protective, coddling, and too cautious and careful, which promotes fear and smothers initiative.
Entertainer Traits Align with the Natural Child State
On the positive end, the Natural Child loves to explore and experience life in all its fullness, to play and enjoy life. The Natural Child loves to invent, create, learn and explore. It is bold and ever open to discovering new and interesting things; to connecting with people and finding ways to enjoy the moment (play).
On the negative end, the Natural Child is wounded and, rather than being a free spirit, becomes needy. The wounded child is fearful and needs attention, and will do whatever it takes to get it.
Wherever you find a wounded child, you will find a critical parent (negative Organizer), a fearful parent (negative Relater), or a demanding adult (negative Commander) Generally, where there is a negative aspect to one of the other styles the Child aspect is wounded.
One common pattern you will see on the CORE Effectiveness Graph is high mid-zone and/or negative scores in Organizer and a very low mid-zone score in Entertainer. The low mid-zone score in Entertainer indicates lack of self-care or consideration, which suggests that the wounded child is still being wounded, only now the wounds are coming from the internal critic rather than from the external world. It is not uncommon for an individual with such a pattern to be in an unhealthy relationship though, which can continue to trigger the old pattern.