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What is the Punitive Parent Mode?

The Punitive Parent mode is a feeling that oneself or others should be blamed or punished for doing something wrong or not being good enough. Rules are enforced without compromise or exception. The Punitive Parent often denigrate, devalue, or even hate themselves. It likely stems from excessive criticism, punishment, abuse, or bullying as a child. Eventually the child, and later as an adult, believes that they deserve to be blamed and punished for the slightest perceived mistakes.

The Punitive Parent is an internalized voice that continually criticizes and punishes in a harsh, critical, and unforgiving way. It is almost always related to feeling unlovable. The result is often that a person becomes angry and dissatisfied with themselves—believing that they deserve punishment. They also feel that their needs and rights are not that important. Also, that they do not deserve attention and respect from others, which can become like a wall between yourself and others.

Typical beliefs of the Punitive Parent Mode

Examples of schema beliefs of the punitive parent mode are:

  • I deny myself pleasure because I don’t deserve it.
  • I have impulses to punish myself by hurting myself (e.g., cutting myself).
  • I can’t forgive myself.
  • It’s my fault when something bad happens.
  • I’m a bad person if I get angry at other people.
  • I don’t allow myself to do pleasurable things that other people do because I am bad.
  • I’m angry at myself.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I deserve to be punished.
  • I don’t deserve sympathy when something bad happens to me.

So, what can you do when you happen to recognize the punitive parent inside you? Next, we give you guidelines how to deal with its impact.

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