PAC Man ❌ … PAC Model ✅
Recently I wrote an article ‘Everything is Scripted’ , looking at how our brain follows certain scripts, all our lives, especially in times of urgency. That was a from a neuro-psychological perspective. I thought, just for fun (and for laymen understanding), to look at how we tend to follow scripts all our lives, from a psychodymanic viewpoint as well.
So, to recapitulate (RECAP), what happens when someone calls you something you don’t readily accept, some curse word, or some allegation you think not true of you. For example, you were called a ‘LIAR’ by someone you’re currently dating, and that really upset you. So, you behaved as childishly as you could and turned it around on them, and called them a liar too. End of para, end of relationship. LOL.
If someone calls you names or puts uncomfortable labels or tags, this means that they’re being ‘childish’. In fact, psychology says, (and yes it really does, not like those fake insta accounts), that you are behaving from your ‘CHILD’ ego-state. Ego here is your conscious self, therefore, CHILD EGO STATE = CHILD SELF.
Now, if you decide to call them a liar in return, then you, too, will be operating from you ‘CHILD’ state. However, if you call them off saying something like, “this is no way to talk to someone, you must take it back”, then you’re operating from your ‘PARENT’ ego-state, i.e. your parent-like self.
[We say so because these partitions of our self, that we call ego-states, are formed by learning, learning behaviour through experiences — what we don’t learn, it’s mostly our childish behaviour — I mean we think we haven’t learnt, but we have actually; because sometimes the childish behaviour gets the job done. Sometimes, however, we see certain behaviour as being more effective when done or said by our parents, guardians, or figures of authority, that’s how we learn this ‘parent’ side of ourself.]
So, thus far, your partner/friend/date etc. has called you a ‘liar’ from their ‘child’ self, and you have also ‘reacted’ from your ‘child’ self if you called them a liar too.
However, if you decided to sound mature or if it hurt your ‘ego’ (or your sense of self), then you decide to tell them to take it back. Here, you really haven’t responded effectively either (you think it’s mature, but it isn’t — not all grown ups act maturely, rather, effectively all the time). Hence, both these communications have been grossly ineffective, the Child-Child communication, and the Child-Parent, communication as well.
What is the effective communication style then?
Reimagine the situation, someone called you a ‘liar’, they’ve already shot the arrow from their ‘child’ state, now it is your turn to decide what to do with that arrow. So, instead of calling them a liar, or asking them to take it back as it is unacceptable, you can maybe open yourself up and try to understand why they said what they said. This not only makes you not operate from your dysfunctional states, but also gives the other person to operate from their functional, rather effective, good state. By wanting to understand where it came from, and then deciding how to reply, you have practiced your ‘ ADULT’ ego-state. Also, by giving them the chance to elaborate, and hence understand what they might have done was not the most appropriate perhaps, and in rectifying it by saying something else, or by apologising, you’ve given them a chance to operate from their ‘adult’ state too. Now, the communication, or the transaction (as early psychologists referred to it) would be complete and effective. An effective communication comes from an ADULT-ADULT discussion.
This is known as the PAC Model, or the Transaction Analysis model and can be used to study and intervene-in relationship-distress. PAC refers to P = Parent, A = Adult, C = Child.
By drawing lines or arrows between these two representations of self, just imagine the number of ways, two people can communicate in, ineffectively. LOL again.
Adulting is really not as easy as it looks in teenage; neither as aspirational. We’re basically following the scripts we learnt in our childhood, and trying to re-write those for our benefit.
The End (of this script).
Or maybe Part #3 coming soon. Who knows.