It turns out (I think) that we (my husband and I) had our wires crossed (possibly)… it’s all very confusing.
There IS no big reveal (as far as he is aware) with regards to WHY he is the way he is or thinks the way he thinks – although there’s still the surprise of the fantasy/intrusive thing to come.
As far as he knows (or can remember as he’s blocked most of his childhood out) I know as much as he does about what happened to him. However, when he told me he had been lying to his therapist and trying to throw her off it was in response to a question about whether he had any idea why he is in the “Critical Parent” category of the ego states more than the others. He told her no… But he has made links between that and the little he does remember from his past.
So I don’t know how much she knows – or doesn’t know- but apparently I know the basics, I know the main bits just not the details of the intrusive thoughts or fantasies.
(Does ANY of that make sense to you because I was -and still am- so confused when he tried to clarify…and therefore UNcross our wires.)
Until this…uncrossing…he had not mentioned the phrase ‘critical parent’ to me before…so of course I Googled it…
According to Transactional Analysis (TA), we communicate via three different Ego States (parts of ourselves):
(P)aren’t (Language of values and morals)
(A)dult (Language of logic and rationality)
(C)hild (Language of emotions…my husband is missing this one)
Every person has a trio of P-A-C, and we constantly shift back and forth between them in our interactions (a.k.a. transactions) with others.
The Parent ego state is a set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that we learn from our parents (or caretakers). It’s almost like we unconsciously mimic them, incorporating their values, morals, and core beliefs into our outer communication. We express these ideals by being either critical or nurturing.
The Nurturing Parent is soft, loving, and quick to give permission. The Critical Parent is the other side of the coin. When in this state, a person will react as they imagined their parent might have reacted, or they act toward others the way their parents acted toward them. It’s uncanny, but we might use some of the exact same phrases we head from our parents, or strike the same postures, use the same mannerisms or gestures…we become our parents.
The Parent ego state is like a tape recorder full of pre- judged, prejudiced, pre-programmed statements. These “taped” statements can get activated while we are in our Adult or Child and then we can actually hear them as “voices in our heads.” The Parental tapes can feel good or bad depending on which Parent makes them. In other personality theories, the harmful Critical Parent voices are known as the harsh super-ego, negative self-talk, cognitive traps, low self-esteem, punitive protector or catastrophic expectations.
I realise all of the above is based on a theory etc but don’t you agree that its a pretty bloody good one? Its actually quite relieving to read it and ‘get it’ a little more…to understand a little bit about my husbands frame of mind. Of course whatever he talks about during therapy and passes on (in dribs and drabs) to me is what he has understood based on what she (the therapist) has said to him…based on what he has told her… so whatever she has told him about it is obviously going to be focused on what she DOES know about him. (Still with me?)
Looking at this as a wife… as someone who recognises parts of him that he doesn’t recognise himself…albeit someone who was ‘tricked’ for the past year…things that (to him) wouldn’t seem important enough to tell her are actually so relevant and it does make more sense and I must say I agree with it. He is negative about himself, he does use the critical parent tone more often than not in some aspects, he does have low self esteem and I guess he understands where he gets it from…and while he doesnt show any abusive traits, anything which reflects the things that happened to him…im pretty sure he thinks them – about himself. Perhaps he is haunted by things his abuser said, he has their critical ‘tapes’ recorded and rather than showing them outwardly he replays them to himself and tortures himself daily.
As his wife, as someone who observes him more than ever these days then that would make sense and IF I am right then i really do feel for him. It must be horrible…but I could be wrong…I probably am wrong…there is no doubt that there is more to it than that but for now the critical parent theory makes sense, I believe it and I agree with it. I don’t know whether thats because it gives me hope and therefore I want to believe/agree with it or because it makes sense but either way its another small piece of a very large puzzle that I am happy to have.
I just cant wait for the day he is ready to talk about it…when all of this makes sense and all the questions are answered…but somehow I think i’ll be waiting a while longer for that and a part of me wonders whether understanding it is something I really WANT to be hoping for…be careful what you wish for and all that. Only time will tell
- EGO STATES – Basics (Part 1) (acoarecovery.wordpress.com)
- EGO STATES – Basics (Part 2) (acoarecovery.wordpress.com)
- EGO STATES – Basics (Part 3) (acoarecovery.wordpress.com)
- Freudian/Psycchoanalystic Theory- Draft of “Being Torn” (ltp2013sschlessinger.wordpress.com)
- The ego is necessary (whispersofawareness.wordpress.com)
- Ego Devlopment: the nine stages theory of Loevinger (dprogram.net)
- How to be happy or have a happy mind? (mydailyyogapractice.wordpress.com)