Transactional analysis (TA to its adherents), is an integrative approach to the theory of psychology and psychotherapy. It is described as integrative because it has elements of psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches. TA was first developed by Canadian-born US psychiatrist Eric Berne, starting in the late 1950s
Background and educationBerne 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.
In 1943 he changed his legal name to Eric Berne. He continued to use such pseudonyms as Cyprian St. Cyr ("Cyprian Sincere") in whimsical articles in the Transactional Analysis Bulletin.
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 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".
In Berne's explanation of transactions as games, when the transaction is a zero-sum game, (i.e. one must win at the other's expense), the person who benefits from a transaction (wins the game) is referred to as White, and the victim is referred to as Black, corresponding to the pieces in a chess game.
Some of this terminology became a part of the popular American vocabulary.