Corgi, 1975. ISBN 0-552-09806-X

Eric Berne was a psychoanalyst who became well known in the 1970s for his system of "transactional analysis", the transactions in question being mostly those between a young child and its parents. He proposed various structures for this relationship based on the roles parent/adult/child that every person plays and presents life stories as scripts that can be good or bad.

This was his last book completed just before his death in 1970. It nicely ties together his main discoveries and provides a fascinating selection of "scripts" tracing them from their source and presenting them in his very effective parent/adult/child format. The system can be presented diagramatically and one needs to use it to get the most out of the book. However, once over this hurdle the system is very useful and effective. This reviewer has experimented with it on a number of occasions and it really does explain and predict in the way that he claims.

Berne's bad luck was that he wrote the book in 1970 when psychology was going through a bad patch with a flood of bizarre systems appearing. The good gets lost with the bad and T.A. now tends to be labelled as an outmoded California fashion related to Freudianism.
It's good to see that Berne arrives at his system empirically with his basic framework being bolstered with all the evidence he can find. He examines accents, voices, vocabulary, types of laughter, names, in fact anything he can lay his hands on to provide effective cross checks to his main structural analysis .

In the preface he says that the book is "primarily intended as an advanced textbook of psychotherapy, and professionals of different backgrounds should have no difficulty in translating into their own dialects the short and simple annals of transactional analysis. No doubt some non-professionals will read it too, and for that reason I have tried to make it accessible to them . It may demand thinking, but I hope it will not require deciphering."

This is a fair statement as it is a book that has to be read in its entirety to work. He uses handy memorable terms for scripts and their elements and the reader can become familiar with rackets , games and trading stamps along with other tools, and in the last chapter apply a detailed script check list. He also has a chapter that deals with the objections to his theory in an even-handed way.

This book is essential reading.

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