Inner Controller Report

The Inner Controller Critic

Bonnie Weiss, LCSW and Jay Earley, Ph.D.

The Inner Controller tries to regulate certain behaviors that it has decided are not good for you or other people, or that might be dangerous–believing that without its efforts you will fly out of control and ruin your life.

IC2The Inner Controller tends to be rigid and punitive. Many Controllers have fixed and precise standards for how you should live. For example, they have opinions on exactly how much you should eat or drink, express your sexuality, spend money, or engage in other activities that they think do not serve you, or may get you in trouble.  However, the bigger problem is that the Inner Controller tries to enforce these standards by attacking and shaming you when you fail to meet them.


We call this part the Criticized or Deficient Child. It feels very bad about overstepping the bounds of what the Inner Controller thinks is appropriate. It feels deeply flawed and inadequate. The Criticized Child often promises to do better, but the very presence of the shame often leads to binge eating, excessive drinking, etc.

IC4The Inner Controller truly wants what’s best for you, but it goes about this in a harsh and punitive way that doesn’t work. Your Inner Controller probably learned this strategy by modeling itself after the way your parents tried to control you as a child, or possibly from another important person in your early life.

The Controller may be present even if your current habits are not out of line. You may feel like you are fighting a chronic battle with someone who does not see or know who you are today.

A Rebel part may get triggered, believing it must fight against the Inner Controller because it can’t stand to be pushed around. Thus the Inner Controller’s strategy usually backfires and leads to a more extreme expression of the behavior it is trying to stop.  In fact, sometimes these punitive attempts at control can create a problem where there isn’t one, or make a minor problem much worse.

The Inner Controller may be concerned about the real-world consequences of your behavior (e.g. becoming overweight, alcoholic, developing a food addiction). It may be afraid of other people’s judgment or rejection because of your behavior.

The Inner Controller is often in conflict with a part we call the Indulger, which needs to overindulge in food, drink, sex, gambling, etc. This part is driven to excess because of an effort to keep down parts of you that might be needy, angry, or assertive. The two are constantly engaged in a power struggle inside you. For example, the Inner Controller is in charge for a while, and you try to be very careful with your diet. Then the Indulger takes over and you go on an eating binge.

Transform Your Critic

Learn how to explore your Inner Critic and transform it using Internal Family Systems Therapy, a new cutting-edge method. Read our book, Freedom from your Inner Critic.

Learn how to awaken the Inner Champion you need for each of the seven types of Inner Critics. You create a profile of what nurturing and encouraging messages your Inner Champion gives you and what it looks like. This will help you evoke your Inner Champion to support you in your life. Read our book Activating Your Inner Critic Instead of Your Inner Champion.

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