Eric Berne

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Eric Berne

Eric_Berne’s Biography

Eric Berne was born on May 10, 1910 in the City of Montreal, Canada, where in 1935 he obtained a degree in medicine and surgery. Later he moved to the United States where in 1938 he graduated in psychiatry at Yale. In this country he worked as a psychiatrist, created a system called Transactional Analysis (TA), which he defined as “a theory of personality and social action and a clinical method of psychotherapy based on the analysis of all possible transactions between two or more people, based on specifically defined ego states. “

As was usual in that place and time, he began his training in the psychoanalytic model being his psychoanalyst Paul Federn, disciple and close collaborator of Sigmund Freud, and who was especially interested in the ego states. When moving to live in Carmel (California) continues his psychoanalysis with Erik Erikson, psychoanalyst of the psychology of the ego.

That same year of 1947, Berne writes The Mind in Action (in Spanish there is a translation entitled Mechanisms of the Mind), an informative work that uses a popular vocabulary and several daily stories that exemplify various aspects of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. The preface to this work is by Abrahan A. Brill who, being one of the initiators of psychoanalysis in the USA. UU., Shows its perplexity to value Berne who says; “He has the happy faculty of documenting and presenting abstruse mental processes in such a simple and tempting way that he can maintain the interest even of a weary reader of psychoanalytic issues.”

This accessible reading style will always keep it. He maintains it in the articles on intuition and communication published between 1949 and 1956, the year in which he was rejected as a member of the Psychoanalytic Society of San Francisco. After that, he continues with the theory he was developing and which begins to be published in the 1958 article Transactional Analysis: a new and effective method of group therapy. In the same sample a model that incorporates aspects of communication in which resonate the postulates of his neighbor and friend Gregory Bateson.

Although he sought alternatives to achieve more effective psychotherapy, he was respectful of the psychoanalytic theories in which he was formed. She surrounded herself with a team of colleagues and regularly organized seminars in San Francisco (California), to share their experiences as group therapists and with a view to developing a model of “social psychiatry” based on the study of interactions (psychological transactions) between people and their ego states, which he called Transactional Analysis.

Transactional Analysis (TA) is a school of psychology focused on personal and social improvement.

Its objective was to achieve a model of accessible and practical therapeutic approach for all: “that a child could understand”. Its main focuses are:

  • Highlights the social and interrelated aspects.
  • Develop a non-technical and accessible language to the understanding of the patient.
  • Maintains the positive consideration of the other as belonging to human nature.
  • Objective of the therapy: to help the person to restore or enhance the original existential position: “I am well, you are well”.

“Eric Berne is one of the most original authors who have written about communication, who knew how to connect very well with an audience of millions of readers and his system continues to be very topical, because he anticipated the main theoretical issues of the now called Society of the Information.” Felicísimo Valbuena

Berne spent 12 years developing his theory, whose first book entitled Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy (1961) was a revolution in the field of interpersonal, group or mass communication. This cost him that they did not want to give him the title of psychoanalyst, a title that was granted posthumously and that was given by his youngest son, Terry Berne, to Francisco Massó Cantarero as thanks for having made the best exposure about his father that he had heard in all his life. For Berne, the rejection was a hard blow, which he fought intensifying his great ambition to add something new to Psychoanalysis. How Freud followed his slogan from The Aeneid: “Arrow if I negate Superos, Acheronta movebo” (If I can not bend the gods above, I will move Acheron (the hells). »Freud created Psychoanalysis, as Eric Berne created the Transactional Analysis.

In this first book he exposes his personality model (ego states), social action (transactions) and the imbrication of both aspects in the way of organizing life in the immediate (isolation, rituals, hobbies, activity, psychological games and intimacy) and long term (life script). The concepts continue to be narrated in an accessible language whose rereading and reflection facilitates discovering the breadth of its meaning.

After publishing in 1963 The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups, a book not yet translated into Spanish and in which it develops various psychological aspects of group functioning; in 1964 publishes Games People Play (translated to Spanish like “Games in which we participate”) that in that year becomes a best-seller in EE. UU Following in 1966 Principles of Group Treatment (translated as “Introduction to group treatment”), in 1968 A Layman’s Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (reissue of The Mind in Action and translated as “Mechanisms of the mind”) and in 1970 Sex in Human Loving (woefully translated as “What do you do with love when you make love?”).

Berne writes all these works in an accessible language that allows the reader to capture the nuclear information in a first reading and understand the implications of it in later readings. He also maintains this style in What do you say after you say hello? (translated as “What do you say after saying” hello “?), work that ends in 1970 in the hospital in Monterrey, where he is hospitalized for having suffered a heart attack on June 26.

Gone is the clinical seminar in Monterrey that, since 1950, was held on Thursdays and was made up of people who are professionally dedicated to health. There is also the seminar that, on Tuesday night, was celebrated in San Francisco and that in 1958 was organized as the Seminar of Social Psychiatry of San Francisco, whose members were heterogeneous in their work dedication; health professionals, “patients” and people from different occupations interested in the TA were grouped, consistent with Berne’s line of making the scope of psychiatry accessible. In 1964, it was renamed the Transactional Analysis Seminar of San Francisco, and its members, together with that of Monterrey, created the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) (International Transactional Analysis Association)

Eric Berne dies at age sixty on July 15, 1970, at the Hospital de Monterrey due to a heart attack. A few months earlier, on March 14, 1970, Fritz Perls, the creator of Gestalt Therapy, had died at age 76. They were two great men, but Eric Berne brought great ideas to the world of communication.

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