Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Analyzing Transactions

First and foremost, Eric Berne created transactional analysis as a radical departure of psychoanalysis. In the process he laid down some innovative principles which decisively departed from psychoanalytic theory and practice

Analyzing Transactions, the subject of this blog is the brainchild of Eric Berne a rogue psychiatrist and failed psychoanalyst who in the early fifties developed a theory and practice of psychotherapy which he called transactional analysis (TA) I joined Berne in 1956 and became first his disciple, then colleague and eventually his friend.

I am a psychologist which means that I am interested in mental processes and behavior; a clinical psychologist which means that I am a psychotherapists devoted to solving emotional problems; a transactional analyst which means that I focus my attention and analyze interpersonal transactions and a radical therapist which means that I look at people’s troubles with attention to political and personal abuse. Above all I consider myself a soul healer a psychiatrist in the original sense of the word. More about all this later.

Berne died in 1970 at age 60. TA got a boost from the best selling book Games People Play which in its 101 weeks on the NY Times best seller list elevated TA into national and international attention. And from there into a movement which at this point has about ten thousand adherents world wide.

Berne was a prolific writer and as he developed his theory and practice he changed as well. That is to say that when he began the process of breaking away from the psychoanalytic views that had invaded his thinking and the fields psychology and psychotherapy in the first half of the century, he had to shed all the language and concepts that belonged to psychoanalysis. An apple doesn’t’ t fall far from the tree, however, and to the end of his life Berne held some remnants of psychoanalytic thinking. Thus he preserved some of the psychoanalytic language in his initial writings but in the brief fifteen years in which he developed TA he gradually shed the largest majority of it.

But he meant to make a clean break and his did in a number of fundamental ways.

* Unlike psychoanalysis He believed that rather than psychoanalyze (Investigate the inner psyche) it was more useful to the client to transactional analyze (Investigate social interactions) which would shed equal if not greater light on the reasons for the clients difficulties and with less effort.

* Unlike psychoanalysis he believed that by changing their transactions people could go through profound and beneficial psychic changes.

* Unlike psychoanalysis he believed that treatment should be based on a treatment contract that placed responsibilities on both the client and the therapist.

* Unlike psychoanalysis he believed that effective treatment could occur in groups.

* Unlike psychoanalysis he believed that the language used between client and therapist should be the same as the language used between therapists and that it should be clear using nouns rather than adjectives, short sentences in a crisp style.

But Berne was not just in opposition to psychoanalysis. He was a visionary theorist and his biggest contribution in addition to making clean break from psychoanalysis was a brand new theory and practice which was based on analyzing transactions.

I don’t pretend to represent Berne’s thinking faithfully but I do aim to hold to the fundamental contributions that he made so what I write from here on is my view and elaboration of the core concepts that Berne put forth.

I am hoping that my postings and the postings of those who read them will make a contribution to the best possible application of TA. If you like (or dislike ) what you read here click on the word "comments" directly below. That will lead you to a page where you can make and publish your own responses to and on this blog.


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