041 728 110

Ego stanja in psihična energija (kateksa)

 Aleksandra Deu Bajt


What are the psychic organs and how do they relate to ego states                                                                                         

The authors, writing about the relation between ego states and  psychic organs seem to agree that there is some confusion on the subject of psychic organs in TA theory.  Maybe this is due to the fact that Eric Berne (before his first book on TA, 1961)  sometimes used the terms  Parent, Adult and Child synonimous with exteropsyche, neopsyche and archeopsyche.  Distinguishing between structure and function is complicated; while observing behavior (functional model of ego states) can be validated by observation, the structural point of view lacks a proof of existence of psychic organs; so far there hasn't been an evidence of location of the psychic organs so we don't know whether we are talking about tangible organs, located somewhere in our nervous system, or intangible theoretical concept.

In his book Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy (1961), Eric Berne distinguished psychic organs from ego states. He defined the psychic organs and their relation to ego states as follows: ''Exteropsyche, neopsyche and archaeopsyche are regarded as psychic organs, which manifest themselves phenomenologically as exteropsychic (e.g.identificatory), neopsychic (e.g. data-processing) and archaeopsychic (e.g. regressive) ego states. Colloquially, these types of ego states are referred to as Parent, Adult and Child, respectively'' (p.23).

He referred to psychic organs as ''organizers'', to ego states as ''phenomena'' . He also added the term ''determinants'' to describe factors which determine the quality of organization and phenomena, that is, establish their programming. The combination of internal programming, external  programming and probability programming influences both organizers (psychic organs) and phenomena (ego states). The organizers' tasks are to: a) organize determinants into effective influences and b) to organize phenomena. Each phenomena or ego state is a combination of all three organizers, i.e. psychic organs, which means that at any moment an  ego state represents the activities of archepsyche, exteropsyche and neopsyche.The strength of cathexis determines which psychic organ will take over the executive, while others act as influences.  For example,  when cathexis is strongest in the exteropsyche, the Parent ego state will be displayed.

The archeopsyche or the archeopsychic organ organizes events, related to biological needs, and acts as the organizer of internal programming. This is the most primitive system of the three and requires the fulfillment of physical and psychological needs or ''hungers''. This system  represents the mental functions of early life and strategies for fulfillment of needs (displayed as Free Child's impulsivity, cleverness  and pre-logical thinking and Adapted Child's patterned ways of getting his needs met).

The  exteropsychic organ organizes influences, rules, regulations and how to's from outside and this is evidenced in Parent's behaviour. It is a protective system that strives to prevent impulsivity from the archeopsychic organ. Contrary to archepsyche it is constantly updated by new experiences, but is rather rigid in relying on old rules.

The neopsyche   is sometimes compared to a computer; it carries out probability programming, based on the inputs from archepsyche, exteropsyche and the environment. Its output are predictions about which option to choose, which  rely on estimated probable consequences. Its manifestation is seen in Adult functioning.  Neopsychic function is also objective reality testing  which means that the neopsyche  is also being constantly uptaded. The outputs depend on the quality of inputs.

The functioning of the personality is thus a result of a combination of the three psychic organs' interactions:

-          our early childhood experiences (archeopsyche  -  the early mind),

-          copying or imitating important people in our lives (exteropsyche, the mind programmed from without)

-          how we react to the here and now (neopsyche – the new or current mind).

 Ego states are manifestations of psychic organs that Berne defined as:

- Child ego state is a set of feelings, attitudes and behavior patterns which are relics of the individual's own childhood (fixations and early decisions); the Child is exhibited either as Free (Natural) Child, characterized by autonomous behavior,  or Adapted Child, manifested by behavior under the dominance of Parent;

- Adult ego state is characterized by an autonomous set of feelings, attitudes and behavior patterns, adapted to current reality;

- Parent ego state is a set of feelings, attitudes and behavior patterns which resemble those of a parental figure.

The integrative school of TA, founded by Richard Erskine, does not use the term ''ego states'', but ''states of the ego''. Their concept of ego incorporates all three psychic organs – archeopsyche, neopsyche and exteropsyche. The Integrated Adult, the healthy part, assimilates and integrates one's past introjections (from Parent),  fixations of defense mechanisms and early decisions (from Child). In this model, the importance of Berne's structural and functional model is decreased, so they don't deal with before mentioned problem of structure and function.

In integrative theory, the structure of ego states is:

-          neopsychic function of Adult ego state, integrating: a) the here and now internal and external occurances; b)past experiences and resulting effects;  c)psychological influences and identifications with other significant people.

-          the Child or the archeopsychic state of the ego:  the entire personality of a person as he was in a previous developmental period of time (child of all ages) and includes needs, desires, urges, sensations, defense mechanisms, thought processes, perceptions and behaviors of the developmental phase where fixation occured. Fixations were not integrated into the Adult ego state and remain fixated until defense mechanisms are dissolved.

-          introjections from parenting figures in early childhood: the exteropsychic  introjections that weren't assimilated into Adult state of the ego, remain as foreign bodies, embedded in the ego.

The function of ego state is the dynamic interaction of intrapsychic processes and manifested activities (fixated archaic behaviors and thought processes, introjected behaviors and attitudes and the related defense mechanisms).

Each person's ego  may be comprised of all three states of the ego. The healthy ego or Integrated Adult is one in which the Adult ego state is in charge and has integrated archeopsychic and exteropsychic contents and experiences.



- Eric Berne, Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy

- Barnes, TA After Eric Berne (Holloway chapter)

-Tony White, Structural Ego States, Functional Ego States and the Psychic Organs – Part 1

- P. McCormick, Ego States

- R.Erskine: Ego Structure, Intrapsychic Function, and Defense Mechanisms