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May 10, 1910
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||July 15, 1970
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, U.S.
|Known for||Transactional analysis|
|Influences||Erik Erikson, Wilder Penfield, Sigmund Freud, René Spitz|
|Influenced||Timothy Leary, Thomas Anthony Harris, Albert Mehrabian, Claude Steiner|
Background and education
Berne was born May 10, 1910 as Eric Lennard Bernstein in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a Jewish family. He and his sister Grace, five years younger, were the children of a physician, David, and a writer, Sara Gordon Bernstein. David Bernstein died in 1921. Thenceforth the mother raised her two children alone.
Bernstein received his baccalaureate degree from McGill University in 1931, and his doctorate degree in medicine and surgery in 1935. While at McGill he wrote for several student newspapers using pseudonyms. He followed graduation with a residency in psychiatry at Yale University, where he studied psychoanalysis under Paul Federn. He completed his training in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1939.
Berne's training was interrupted by World War II and his service in the United States Army Medical Corps, where he reached the rank of Major. After serving at Bushnell Army Hospital in Ogden, Utah, he was discharged in 1945.
In addition to technical papers on psychoanalysis, he published The Mind in Action in 1947. He became a group therapist attached to several hospitals in San Francisco. He also began to develop the Ego-State Model introduced by Dr. Federn.
Berne's work began to diverge from the mainstream of psychoanalytic thought. He published his work in several technical journals, but met with largely negative reactions. His break became formal in 1949 when he was rejected for membership in the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute.
Berne wrote a series of papers and articles on intuition, describing in one popular exposition his apparently uncanny ability to guess the civilian occupation of soldiers from just a few moments' conversation with them. His musings on the faculty of intuition led to his groundbreaking work on transactional analysis.
Berne mapped interpersonal relationships to three ego-states of the individuals involved: the Parent, Adult, and Child state. He then investigated communications between individuals based on the current state of each. He called these interpersonal interactions transactions and used the label games to refer to certain patterns of transactions which popped up repeatedly in everyday life.
His seminar group from the 1950s developed the term transactional analysis (TA) to describe therapies based on his work. By 1964, this expanded into the International Transactional Analysis Association. While still largely ignored by the psychoanalytic community, many therapists have put his ideas in practice.
In the early 1960s he published both technical and popular accounts of his conclusions. His first full-length book on TA was published in 1961, titled Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy. Structures and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups (1963) examined the same analysis in a broader context than one-on-one interaction.
Games People Play
In 1964 Berne published Games People Play which, despite having been written for professional therapists, became an enormous bestseller and made Berne famous. The book clearly presented everyday examples of the ways in which human beings are caught up in the games they play. Berne gave these games memorable titles such as "Now I've Got You, You Son of a Bitch", "Wooden Leg", "Why Don't You... / Yes, But...", and "Let's You and Him Fight".
The essense of games described by Berne is that they are not zero-sum games, (i.e. one must win at the other's expense), where the person who benefits from a transaction wins the game. On the contrary, the "games people play" usually pay all of the players off, even the phenomenally losers, since they are about psychic equilibrium or promoting adopted self-damaging social roles instead of rational benefits. These payoffs are not conscioulsy sought by the players but they are leading to the ultimate unconsious life script of each as set by their parental family interactions and favored emotions.
Some of this terminology became a part of the popular American vocabulary.
Berne said that ‘any social intercourse (…) has a biological advantage over no intercourse at all’, so, people need any form of ‘stroking’ (a physical contact, e.g., exchange) to live. 
Berne was married three times. His first wife was Elinor McRae. They married in 1942, had two children, and divorced acrimoniously in 1945. In 1949 he married Dorothy DeMass Way, with whom he also had two children before their divorce in 1964. After his popular success, Eric married a third time, to Torre Peterson in 1967. The couple took up residence in Carmel, California, where he wrote, but he continued some clinical work in San Francisco. This marriage also ended in divorce, in early 1970.
- The Mind in Action; 1947, New York, Simon and Schuster.
- The Structures and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups; 1961; (1984 Paperback reprint: ISBN 0-345-32025-5).
- Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy; 1961; (1986 reprint: ISBN 0-345-33836-7).
- Sex in Human Loving; 1963.
- Games People Play: the Psychology of Human Relations; 1964 (1978 reprint, Grove Press, ISBN 0-345-17046-6); (1996 Paperback, ISBN 0-345-41003-3)
- The Happy Valley; 1968, Random House Publisher, ISBN 0-394-47562-3
- A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (Paperback); 1975, Grove Press; ISBN 0-394-17833-5
- What Do You Say After You Say Hello?; 1973; ISBN 0-553-23267-3
- A Montreal Childhood; 2010, Seville (Spain), Editorial Jeder. ISBN 978-84-937032-4-0
- Claude Steiner
- Mind games
- Script analysis
- Games People Play (Joe South song) thought to be a direct reference to Eric Berne's work on transactional analysis.
- Rosner (2005), p. 21
- Stewart (1992), p. 1
- Stewart (1992), p. 2
- Stewart (1992), p. 7
- D. Walczak. 2015. The process of exchange, solidarity and sustainable development in building a community of responsibility. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6 (1S1):506.
- Rosner (2005), p. 22
- Stewart (1992), p. 10
- Rosner, Rachael (2005), "Eric Berne", in Carnes, Mark Christopher; Betz, Paul R., American National Biography: Supplement, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-522202-4
- Stewart, Ian (1992), Eric Berne: Volume 2 of Key Figures in Counselling and Psychotherapy, London: SAGE, ISBN 0-8039-8466-9
- Jorgensen, Elizabeth Watkins; Jorgensen, Henry Irvin (1984), Eric Berne, Master Gamesman: A Transactional Biography, New York: Grove Press, ISBN 0-394-53846-3
- Stewart, Ian; Joines, Vann (1987), TA Today : A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis, Nottingham: Lifespan Publishing, ISBN 1-870244-00-1
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Eric Berne|
- Official website for Dr. Eric Berne maintained by his family
- American National Biography article
- International Transactional Analysis Association web site
- United States Transactional Analysis Association web site
- Korea Transactional Analysis Association web site
- curso Eric Berne
- Complete Bibliography of Dr. Eric Berne
- All About Games People Play with a list of all games
- A summary of Games People Play
- The Karpman Triangle/Berne
- Faces of the Victim
- Everything about TA
- Transactional Analysis Blog
- Karpman Drama Triangle