Hot Wires I

Who is the little girl or guy with the tangle of wires in one hand and a butter knife in the other? It's the "Little Professor". They want to know what would happen if you unplugged the lamp and stuck a butter knife in one of those slots in the wall. They would like to hear what kind of noise the dog makes when you pull hard on its ears.

Naturally curious, ready to explore, and always ready to try new things, the Little Professor" is one of three expressions of the Child ego in Transactional Analysis theory. Though often irritating and frustrating to the Controlling or Critical Parent expression of the Parent ego, the Little Professor is viewed as a generally healthy expression of the Child ego.

While the Little Professor is busy throwing daddy's car keys at the fan, the Natural Child, a second of the three Child ego expressions, whirls around on one foot. As he or she makes gurgling, burbling, or "yippee" sounds no one else can understand. There are no coherent messages or communications in these random sounds that are unrelated to normal speech, but they do express the natural joy, winsome vulnerability, and whimsical playfulness of the Natural Child.

Because of the healthy freedom and lack of self-consciousness embodied in the Little Professor and Natural Child, they are often paired together in a sub-grouping called the "Free Child". They stand in healthy opposition to the chameleon-like calculations of the Adaptive Child.

Whether through fear, a need to simply survive in an environment perceived as hostile, or an overload of negative or critical injunctions and messages from a Critical Parent or other significant authority figure, the Adaptive Child is constantly adapting their responses or rebelling against their circumstances.

In contrast to the freedom, playfulness, and curiosity of the Little Professor and the Natural Child, the calculated adaptations of the Adaptive Child are neither natural, authentic, nor attractive.