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Parent, Adult and Child

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

At any given moment we are in one of three states of mind, one based on a rational assessment of our situation, the other two based on memories recorded mostly in early childhood. These states are named Parent, Adult and Child. The Adult is the thinking person, while Parent and Child are replayed memories of what happened to us (mostly at the hands of our parents) and of the feelings we had as a small child.

The two participants in a transaction are therefore each in one of these three states. Consultations conducted between a paternalistic (Parental) doctor and a submissive(Child-like) patient is seldom in the best interests of either but produces no conflict. Conflict will occur however if the patient doesn't accept this position and adopts either an authoritarian role back (Parent) or an unexpectedly questioning (Adult) stance. Best understanding is achieved by Adult to Adult consultations where the two parties respect each others' autonomy.

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