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Author Topic: uBPD and Eric Berne's Theory of the "Pig Parent" Ego State  (Read 4021 times)
bethanny
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« on: June 29, 2011, 06:50:25 AM »

This is my own application of Eric Berne's brilliant theory of transactional analysis to toxic Borderline Personality disordered behavior. 

It would seem Borderline Personality disordered parents are adept at communicating from something called the "pig parent" ego state. A "child ego state" posing as a "parent ego state."  (Again, the "pig parent" labeling and analysis is from a theory by Eric Berne.)  Let me explain.

Eric Berne is known for the powerful, 60s, pop psychology book, Games People Play based on Berne's theory of transactional analysis.

Berne maintained that there are three ego states that human beings communicate from. The parent ego state, the adult ego state, and the child ego state.

Parent ego state communication might be someone telling some one else firmly to button his or her coat because it is cold out. It carries a degree of authority but a caring or good will nurturance.

Adult ego state is the rational one. Straightforward. Maybe relaying information. “It is cold outside.”

The child ego state Berne divides into several categories. Maybe the child or an adult in the child ego state will respond rebelliously and say re buttoning his or her coat, “Don’t tell me what to do!” or be obliging, “Okay, mommy”  (or whoever is asserting some authority to them).

Now, understanding Berne’s modes of the child ego state holds the key to appreciating to a great degree how primitive power and control addict adults trigger and control vulnerable and malleable others, especially their own so accessible children. With these adults their unrecognized and unprocessed childhood trauma and enthrallment to “toxic” authority figures who have abused them causes them to carry it forward, so to speak. Inflicting the same abuse onto their own children in the same way.

Berne maintained that there were two counterpoint categories of the child ego state. The natural child and the adapted child.

In the natural child mode one feels free to behave spontaneously. Emotions and physical sensations are embraced easily.

In the adapted child state, the second, one is more cautious and has been influenced by the censoring of parents and society’s social codes in general. Conditioned by the authorities in the social environment.

Berne further introduced the idea of something called the “pig parent” which is an additional child ego state that instead of speaking with a discernible child ego state sounding voice actually mimics the parent ego state voice. It issues orders and injunctions but not with the good will and wisdom to protect another as the voice of the parent ego state, though it postures that.

Using the voice of the parent, the “for your own good” tone of authority, the pig parent child ego state firmly uses that counterfeit voice to primitively and selfishly satisfy its own self-aggrandizing needs and impulses.

Sadly, the “pig parent” abuses brilliantly and hypocritically, posing as an expert, highly imposing and passionate authority. Adults in the genuine parent and adult ego states would have the welfare of their children in consciousness, not their own childish needs and negative emotional acting out -- recklessly venting profound cruelty.

The adult in "pig parent" mode confuses the child.  The child is not sophisticated enough to separate when mommy or daddy is not maturely parental and, again, is "acting out" with those primitive self-aggrandizing impulses in a childish way. They exploit the power of their parental language and tone. 

Their vulnerable children come to wrongly trust them during their act of cruelty and too often obediently try to oblige the faux-paternal or faux-maternal authority voice and its often crazymaking injunctions. 

Adults are also vulnerable to the "pig parent" mode in fellow adults.  Some are so easily seduced by the tone of authority and expertise that masks more narcissistic agendas, especially if they grew up blindly and chronically enthralled to "pig parent" parents. 

This dangerous enthrallment adult on adult happens often with political leaders who are slickly gifted in speaking from the "pig parent" mode to authoritarian-following citizens who over-identify with aggressors -- "pig parent" aggressors. The Pavlovian power of that "pig parent" tone that managed to perpetrate so much abuse on them as they grew up is profound.


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PolkaDot
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 05:31:57 PM »

That was brilliant. I definitely need to check him out, and you did a beautiful job illustrating the concept.

Pig parents, yep. I had two of 'em... and an entire extended family of them.
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bethanny
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 06:03:34 PM »

polkadot, thanks so much.  i have been talking about this for a long time but rarely have people gotten excited about the theory. i figured here was a good site to share it and it would be taken seriously.  when i got no comments at beginning i had to wonder. Berne's theory is simple and explains a seriously tragic phenomenon!  Thank you!
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allergictodramaSD
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 06:18:19 PM »

This definitely describes my uBPD stepmother.  She's very much into the authority/control/power part of the parent role, but not much into the responsibility part.  Instead, she uses the "parent" role to fulfill her own needs (including with other adults; she very much likes to give advice, "help" people who're vulnerable in some way, etc. -- all to feed her own ego needs). 
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BBSunshine
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 06:19:37 PM »

Yup fits Mother, and fits the woman I have to deal with weekly who is just like Mother  rolleyes
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All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
PolkaDot
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 06:25:18 PM »

polkadot, thanks so much.  i have been talking about this for a long time but rarely have people gotten excited about the theory. i figured here was a good site to share it and it would be taken seriously.  when i got no comments at beginning i had to wonder. Berne's theory is simple and explains a seriously tragic phenomenon!  Thank you!

It is a great theory and so important for people who know that their parents were abusing them behind the exaggerated cover of authority (so in reality they were abusing two things: you, and your faith in authority in general). Multilayered abuse is more difficult than simpler forms because you are hit at several angles and, with double or triple the confusion,  more stunned and therefore less able to defend yourself/make sense of things.

I've been reading your posts in other threads too and you are putting out some *amazing* material right now, bethanny. You should be proud that you have reached such a solid level of understanding and that you are able to help others in the process!     
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Mom2MyKids
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 08:34:51 PM »

You nailed it for me too...  again! One thing that has been difficult for me is the role reversal with my mom.  I've tried so hard to maintain some sort of parental respect for her over the years, but I think I passed her up developmentally a long time ago.  It's like I've been the parent and she the child.  I lapped her!  HA!

Years ago I would ask my parents to come over and babysit my kids occasionally so that dh and I could go out for dinner, movies, etc...  not because I needed a babysitter, but because I wanted my parents to feel like grandparents.  It was more work for me than not going out.  I had to make sure the house was clean or she would make comments and then I had to make sure to have the food out and ready for her to make dinner (spaghetti and a jar of sauce) and then when we'd get home, they would hang around and watch TV until they felt like going home and going to bed.  Oh, and I had to tell them we needed to leave at 5pm even if we didn't need to leave until 6pm because I couldn't count on them to be on time.
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bethanny
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 02:58:15 AM »

allergic, yes the "pig parent" child ego state, lots of talk but not much responsibility for sure.  projecting it out onto others.  grandiosity.  

BBS-yes, I work with one or two people who slip into "pig parent" suddenly.  It helps me to label it as that as they are spouting at me and I don't engage and argue since I realize I am not dealing with a rational adult even though they have this incredible authoritative tone.

polkadot, thank you. you give me so much food for thought with this authority figure comment.  wow.  maybe I will start a thread about that authority figure sabotage.  my "my way or the hiway" mother and rageholic alcoholic father gave me a "glass jaw" in terms of future authority figures at the workplace.  When conflict happened I often prematurely cut and ran instead of taking a deep breath and standing up for myself with hope and expectation of respect. Honesty was so often punished.

also, that "honor thy father and mother" religious mandate seemed like a blank check especially for my long-suffering mother who I think sacrificed so much in her life, it was as if I was her compensation for that and I had to serve her since she had done her measure of service to her mother and to others so stoically.  It didn't give her empathy for me, it caused the opposite.  She did acknowledge my service to her with acknowledgement but if I didn't second guess her expectations she ripped into me with incredible outrage.

polkadot, how kind of you to acknowledge my posts.  I am grateful to be connecting the dots in a community that can hear me and with people like you who appreciate my disclosures. smiley A win/win!  I have a lot of work to do but I have been driven through the years to read a lot of books about pscyh.  But clearly I missed the BPD and am ready to learn more of it now.

Thanks Mom2! Wow, you sound like you have out-lapped her for sure.  And are keeping a sense of humor and perspective about it all.  Being in the orbit itself of a BPD parent it takes a lot to stay conscious and not enthralled.  Also dealing with the survivor guilt of "outlapping" them that comes with the PTSD residue effects.
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BBSunshine
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 12:15:07 PM »

allergic, yes the "pig parent" child ego state, lots of talk but not much responsibility for sure.  projecting it out onto others.  grandiosity.  

BBS-yes, I work with one or two people who slip into "pig parent" suddenly.  It helps me to label it as that as they are spouting at me and I don't engage and argue since I realize I am not dealing with a rational adult even though they have this incredible authoritative tone.

What's fun is when these "pig Parent" people realize you aren't following with the usual program, ya know, bowing before them.  rolleyes The woman I have to deal with treats me little better than dirt since I don't grovel before her. Thankfully, I've discovered that smiling and doing what I need to do handles her better than anything else.
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All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
bethanny
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 01:29:43 PM »

WTG!  Melody Beattie in Codependent No More says the secret is not in trying to win their unwinnable game, but simply in not playing it.  All that emotional energy saved by not getting on the roller coaster for that particular ride, eh?
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