The nurturing "parent" is the part of all of us that is caring,
loving, helping, supportive, giving, and protective towards
others and towards one's self. This part of our personality may
include giving ourselves and others practical hints about coping,
bits of wisdom, values, wise sayings, and other suggestions
about how to live. This part talks to us and says things like,
"You are a good person when you help your parents" or "You
don't have to do what others want you to do, you have good
judgment, make up your own mind."
The critical "parent" is the part of us which criticizes our own
or others' behavior (or feelings or thoughts) when we do
something we shouldn't. It is our conscience; it is filled with
"shoulds" and "thou shall nots" and "oughts." When we do
something wrong, the critical parent can be very severe and
harsh with us, causing shame, guilt, and depression. Freud
believed that the stronger the id's unacceptable love-sex needs
and aggressive tendencies, the more critical the superego must
become. Thus, there is a constant struggle between the id and
the superego--between the "child" and the "parent."
Your "parent" is probably in control when you:
obey rules or follow customs unquestioningly.
use words such as awful, good, silly, cute, disgraceful,
disgusting, dirty and so on.
do what others think you should rather than what you prefer to
are bossy, give advice or instructions, and explain a lot of
things to others.
talk and act the way your mother or father did.
stand over others, point your finger at them, and lecture.
Ask yourself: Is my nurturing parent or my critical parent strongest and most predominant?
The ego or the "adult"
Obviously, both the pleasure-seeking, destructive id and the cruel,
demanding superego must be controlled, which is one of the
assignments given the ego (Freud's word was "I" in German) or the
"adult." The ego tries to find realistic ways to placate the passions of
the id and still stay within the moral boundaries set by the superego.
Moreover, the ego must learn to deal with the outside world--what
others will tolerate and what demands are made on us for survival and
for approval by others. The ego is the perceiving, thinking, reasoning,