A key aspect of having effective relationships is the recognition of the multiple personalities within us and within others. Based on the Parent-Adult-Child (PAC) model conceived by Thomas A Harris I think that our multiple personalities have their foundations in one or more of our Parent, Adult and/or Child. See my article on Perspective for more information on the PAC model.
In extreme cases these multiple personalities manifest in the form of severe mental illness such as multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia; read more about:
- Mental Illness at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_illness
- Multiple Personality Disorder at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder
- Schizophrenia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia
Fortunately for most of us, experiences of these psychological extremes are rare occurrences. Anybody who has been through severe emotional distress such as denial, anger, grief etc will have experienced these extremes even if just for the briefest of moments. These temporary extremes can be described as altered states which can also be caused by stimulants, relaxants, and depressants (e.g. alcohol, cigarettes, drugs etc). I think that stimulants, relaxants and depressants primarily affect our Child while weakening the function of the Parent and Adult. My rationale being that the effects are intense, uncontrolled and temporary. Natural stimulation and relaxation methods such as good eating, exercise, play, appreciation of the outdoors and meditation also primarily affect our Child but under ‘supervision’ of the Adult with input from the Parent and are therefore of a lasting nature. See this article for more on altered states:
In my view, the most common form of altered state is rage, anger at its most intense. When a person is in this state they are manifesting a very different personality from the one that they usually do. The Rage Personality has its foundations in our Child. Rage can be hot and loud such as road-rage or cold and silent such as resentment. Regardless of whether it is hot or cold, when rage takes over we are not our normal selves and may end up saying or doing things that we regret. Guilt invariably follows a Rage Personality episode and often creates a vicious cycle of rage-guilt-rage-guilt-rage-guilt as we attempt to justify our destructive expression of our rage instead of apologising; a state of affairs which almost inevitably leads to conflict.
So we need to develop means of detecting the build up of rage and managing its expression. Put simply we should avoid interacting with others when we are angry. We should count to 10, go for a walk, meditate; anything but expressing the rage at others. When we have calmed down and our Adult has reasserted itself with input from the Parent we can resume our interactions with others and work towards resolving the causes of the rage.
Here are a few examples of personality types that may exist within us:
I think that the Fantasist Personality operates primarily through the Child and has higly idealistic expectations. When these expectations are not met tantrums and sulking are among the inevitable consequences. In my experience the Fantasist Personality is responsible for those who, inappropriately, have multiple relationships dropping and replacing those that fail to meet their expectations. Typically they will ‘exhaust’ an area then move elsewhere to repeat the pattern.
I think that the Perfectionist Personality operates through the Parent with expectations that everything should be “perfect”. In extreme cases this may manifest as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Read more about OCPD at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive%E2%80%93compulsive_personality_disorder. My view is that the Perfectionist Personality is responsible for those who move on from relationships when things become “imperfect”.
This one is interesting because I think the Victim Personality operates primarily through the Parent and is also heavily influenced by the Child. The Victim Personality recalls and replays memories of put downs and admonitions etc stored in the Parent and the associated feelings stored in the Child. The Victim Personality only seems comfortable in the “poor me” mode, feeling undeserving of respect or praise. I think that it is responsible for those who move on from relationships where they are being treated with respect, kindness and consideration.
I think that the Controller Personality operates primarily through the Child with a drive to control everything in order to avoid replays of past upsets. It is responsible, in my view, for those who move on when they perceive that they are no longer in control.
Stay strong and serene.