Note: In 2003 Dr Novellino received the Eric Berne memorial award which was handed to him by Dr Steiner as the Acting Chair of the EBMA Committee at a ceremony at the ITAA conference in Oaxaca Mexico. At that time in a conversation  Dr, Steiner and Dr Novellino agreed to initiate a correspondence regarding the growing transactional analysis/psychoanalysis controversy with the aim of publishing the results in the TAJ. Dr Steiner offered to serve as the English editor of Dr Novellino’s letters and the correspondence which extended over seven months resulted in these letters. Thanks are due to Jude Steiner-Hall who read and critiqued  Dr Steiner’s letters and to Melinda Tucker  who further edited  Dr Novellino’s work.  

Berkeley, 27.10.2003


My Dear Michele:

I congratulate you on winning the 2003 EBMAward for your article “Unconscious Communication and Interpretation in Transactional Analysis.” The award brings to center stage a controversy that has been simmering in transactional analysis regarding its relationship with and to psychoanalysis. I also welcomed your recent article in the 2003 July issue of the TAJ “Transactional Psychoanalysis.”  In addition to the TAJ article I will refer to your submission in The Script of August 2000 “A Manifesto for Transactional Psychoanalysis.”

The titles of your articles make reference to “Transactional Psychoanalysis.” Taken literally, transactional psychoanalysis would appear to be a form of psychoanalysis modified by transactional methods. For me, who abandoned psychoanalytic core beliefs and methods under the tutelage of Berne, this presents no problem; I believe that psychoanalysis is in need of modification and making it more transactional may be a meaningful improvement.

However, as I read both of your pieces it seems that what is being modified is not psychoanalysis but transactional analysis, with psychoanalytic thinking and methods; in other word a “psychoanalytic transactional analysis.” You confirm this when you very frankly state that you want “transactional psychoanalysis to refer to the development of Bernian psychotherapy within the psychoanalytic framework.” (emphasis mine)  If, in fact, you seek to modify transactional analysis with psychoanalytic theory and methods, I must resist.

My question then, is: Are you arguing for a  “transactional psychoanalysis” or a “psychoanalytic transactional analysis”?

The evidence is that you intend the latter namely a psychoanalytic transactional analysis. You write: “The main ideas of transactional analysis are viewed as a phenomenological and interpersonal development of Freudian psychology.”

Who views TA that way? I don’t, and disagree most emphatically. Transactional Analysis is not a development of Freudian psychology, though it may share theoretical roots with it. In developing transactional analysis Berne created an alternative to psychoanalysis. Not a branch but a radical departure, developed because the practice of psychoanalysis, as Berne knew it, was to his way of thinking, fundamentally mistaken.

I see you as a well trained and erudite colleague. I respect your careful thinking and thorough writing style.  Your position reminds me of Tycho Brahe’s in the 16th Century. He was a learned astronomer who extensively studied planetary motion at a time when the Ptolomeian view prevailed; that Earth was the center of the universe. He decided that his observations were best explained by a planetary system with the sun at its center, as proposed by Nicholas Copernicus.

Did Tycho Brahe therefore become a follower of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory? He did not; he could not abandon Aristotelian physics which required that the Earth be the center of the universe. Aristotelian physics was based on the premise that objects fall to their natural place, the Earth, because the Earth is the center of the universe. If the Earth were not the center of the universe, physics, as it was then known, was utterly undermined. Brahe developed a system that combined the best of both worlds. He kept the Earth in the center so he could retain Aristotelian physics with the Moon and Sun and all the stars revolving about the Earth. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn revolved about the Sun thereby resolving some of the obvious visual contradiction to the earth-centered theories. He was not able to make a clean break with a system which his own observations contradicted.

Forgive me if I this comparison seems disrespectful, please believe me that I don’t mean to offend you. In my view talking about unconscious, transference and counter transference is a way of explaining events in language that preserves the psychoanalytic view of the universe. Such language, in my opinion, represents a clinging to outdated thinking that will undermine transactional analysis forward motion in theory and practice.

I understand that when you use these terms they no longer have the traditional psychoanalytic meaning but these three psychoanalytic words have deep theoretical roots and when they are used they can’t be completely separated from the meaning attached to them.

Allow me a classic example. Suppose I say from (I assume) my Adult “George, pass the hammer” and I get in response “Why do you always criticize me?”  One way to explain this disruption in communication is transference. With that, whether we mean to or not, we imbue this event with surplus meaning, an aura of possible Oedipal issues, unconscious defense mechanisms, displaced libido and neurosis. I remember the glamour that surrounded psychoanalytic terminology when I used it and understand its attractiveness.  Unfortunately for me at least they would not help understand what was actually going on with George.

If by transference we simply mean that George is transferring his feelings from another situation to this one, leaving out any of the psychoanalytic implications of the word then we are misusing the concept and making it weak, that is stripping it of its significance while unwittingly keeping the Freudian overtones that go with it. When every communication misunderstanding becomes transference and a potential counter transference problem the words have lost their meaning and are being misused

George’s response may be a transference phenomenon as described by Freud or it may be that he is transferring feelings from another situation, say a brother or a boss. I would not use the term transference except when I was convinced that there was a classic Freudian transference in play. I believe that to use the word for a simple misinterpretation based on a uncomplicated, previous, interpersonal conflicts muddies rather than clarifies a sophisticated interpretation of the situation.

But just as importantly, it implies that the locus of this interpersonal disruption is in George’s inappropriate transference. What if my tone was covertly critical when I asked for the hammer and his response was not only a transference but totally appropriate?

A countertransference interpretation of my response is even more confusing. Suppose I am mildly annoyed because of his response to my question and I need the hammer now? Is that countertransference? Maybe it is an appropriate response. And so on.

What I am asking here is: What is the advantage of calling these disruptions in communication transference transactions? How does it help me in what I consider my main task as a therapist: to respond in a constructive manner without Rescuing or Persecuting, that is, without getting hooked into a game?

The same question is valid with respect to the term “unconscious.” It goes without saying that a great deal of our behavior has motivation that we are not aware of. To say that it is unconscious brings in all of the surplus Freudian meaning that goes with it. The term I prefer to use is “out of awareness” and therefore, generally available to awareness. That way I avoid all of the romantic melodrama of dynamic repression that is attached to that word for those who resonate to or understand Freudian concepts. And in the rare case that something is dynamically repressed due to a libidinal conflict then I can use that valuable term and use it precisely, as Berne would have.

Today is Thanksgiving and I am fortunate to have my wife, three children and four grandchildren with me to celebrate around the traditional turkey meal. Happy Autumn to you and yours.

I eagerly await your response.

Sincerely yours



Dear Claude,

It is with great interest I respond to your questions and critiques: it gives me an opportunity to clarify my vision on future of TA.

I will go directly to your initial question: “Psychoanalytic transactional analysis or transactional psychoanalysis?” My response is that there is no need for “either/or” or “not/not”, but instead we are in the face of an “and/and”.

I mean the term transactional psychoanalysis as the application of the principles of Transactional Analysis Psychodynamic Roman School (Moiso and Novellino) in the individual psychotherapy setting: The milestones of this approach are the analysis of transference and countertransference, the operation of interpretation and the analysis of unconscious communication . In my opinion, the term psychoanalytic transactional analysis should refer to a historical identification of the many transactional analysis authors (Moiso and Novellino, Hargaden and Sills, Gilbert, Shmukler and some others) that propose a recovery of Berne’ s psychoanalytic roots to follow up a reconstruction of transactional analysis.

I am aware I sense that there is an ulterior level in your question:

1) with a transactional psychoanalysis you see the risk of a modification of transactional analysis,

2) regarding a psychoanalytic transactional analysis you see an undoing of Berne’ s clear separation between transactional analysis and psychoanalysis.

In both case there’ s something wrong, so I am defined into a paradox: the only way out for me is to admit that I intend transactional psychoanalysis as a modification of psychoanalysis!

Can I modify psychoanalysis, being a transactional analyst? Can I participate in modifying transactional analysis remaining a transactional analyst? My answers are no to the first question and yes to the second one.

I have two questions for you, Claude:

1) do you think that transactional analysis is in need of some modification ?

2) why is the recovering of Berne’s roots a betrayal of our common father’ s program?

Some reflections about those questions on my side.

First of all, I have never seen a critique on your own to the multiple modifications of Berne’ methodology, especially in a gestalt direction: I see a lot of risks in the integrative stream, for example the minimization of the importance the Berne gave to interpretation. Why has there been a total absence of works on interpretation technique until my paper for which I received the EBMA in 2003 ?

We all are aware of the different blends between TA and neurolinguistic programming, behaviorism, narravitism and so on. The only stream that you see as dangerous is the psychoanalytic one, in spite of the many works on this subject in this last decade. I see a real weak point in your thinking  which I would like to document.

You refer to psychoanalysis considering only the orthodox Freudian analysis, that you consider obsolete, and may be you are right (i.e. the Oedipus complex seen as a general theory for all neuroses). However, when I write on these matters, I consider the theory and technique of transactional analysis as strictly in terms of the relational psychoanalytic movement, which is something well differentiated from original Freudian apparatus. The Oedipus complex is not a milestone anymore, while the idea of relationship is, and that is a classical Bernian epistemology.

I see Berne’ s works as greatly embedded with psychoanalytic thinking, and his revolution was to evolve to a relational model of mind and of therapeutic alliance, a model that is effectively studied in terms of ego states, transaction, games and scripts.

I look at the ” radical departure ” that Berne proposed from psychoanalysis as tied to the following items:

1) the predominance of efficacy in the therapeutic work,

2) the humanistic philosophy of a therapist that directly confronts and leads the patient toward autonomy.

You write about concepts like transference and unconscious as “weak” in the relational psychoanalytic movement: what do you mean with the word weak? Who are the authors you refer to? I myself, and many other transactional analysts, find Sullivan, Mitchell, Stern, Gill, Kohut as authors whose theories closely follow the beginning revolution Berne proposed in the sixties.

Now let’s talk about the George vignette. You write that in a psychoanalytic framework  “every communication misunderstanding becomes transference and a potential countertransference problem “…but where did you read that?

In a transactional analysis psychodynamic approach, we consider transference and countertransference a potent and effective way of reading some channels of communication between patient and therapist: the therapist has to recognize these channels. As an example to correctly diagnose when an unconscious communication is going on.

You seem to ignore all the psychoanalytic literature that describes the existence of here and now communication in the therapeutic setting, that has to be distinguished from transference phenomena. I totally agree that there are crossed transactions that are out of the transference realm. Maybe you are referring to the classical transference neurosis that Freudian psychoanalysts induce, and that is a very different way of thinking and working.

You question is: “What is the advantage of calling these disruptions in communication transference and countertransference transactions?”. My own question is: Are you in a neutral and scientific mind, or have you decided that is always a mistake? I extensively explained that my theory is that to recognize transference and countertransference gives a useful access to protocol, and this is very close to what Berne wrote.

Let’ s go back to the George  vignette. Your position is that the  “…main task as a therapist is to respond in a constructive manner without Rescuing or Persecuting, that is, without getting hooked into a game. “Ok…and afterwards? I assume that what you expect from yourself as a therapist is to follow Bernian operations, which include interpretation when it is adequate.

I have a last thought. You write: ” The appeal of this approach ( i.e. TA ) was that it had shed all the arcane and murky language of psychoanalysis in favor of clear, crisp language.”

I totally agree with that, if we consider the usefulness of communicating with the patient, and I understand that Berne was interested in that, but I read Berne’s ideas such as psychic organs, the psychodynamic advantages of games, the game formula and others, as theoretical deep concepts that all therapists have to master, and which are as complex as transference and unconscious are. In other words, we need one language for theory and one another for therapeutic setting: we have to become clear and crisp for patients. Mind is a complex matter to describe, therapeutic language has to be understandable.

In summary, I see your position as prejudicial, and I think you don’ t grant that modern transactional analysis makes a contribution when you discount and scorn the actual psychodynamic movement in transactional analysis: it’ s one thing to discuss and confront each other, another to devalue the different opinions.

I respect your honesty, and I wait for a further exchange.

Michele Novellino


My dear Novellino:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my letter.

I am sorry that you view my disagreement with the psychodynamic movement in transactional analysis as a scornful devaluation. I was hoping that could express my opinion without that reaction. But I accept that this is how it feels; it is, after all, a strong negative opinion.

In your letter you say:

I have never seen a critique on your own to the multiple modifications of Berne’ methodology, especially in a gestalt direction:… We all are aware of different blends of TA with neurolinguistic programming, behaviourism, narravitism and so on. The only stream that you see as dangerous is the psychoanalytic one, in spite of the many works on this subject in this last decade.

Michele, your statements help me see that my concerns are two fold. The first is political/organizational and has to do with the integrity of the transactional analysis movement.

From the political perspective Gestalt and its TA component Redecision are not a threat to transactional analysis. Redecision has not deeply modified transactional analysis on a theoretical or methodological level. In fact it is a very good example of an advancement that does not alter the fundamental assumptions of Berne’s thinking. And as a methodology it only adds selected Gestalt techniques to transactional analysis methods. At redecision conferences, the language spoken is transactional analysis not gestalt. In any case, Gestalt does is not able to engulf transactional analysis but psychoanalysis does threaten to engulf transactional analysis. Gestalt based articles do not flood the TAJ, Gestalt terminology does not infiltrate transactional analysis literature. No one claims that Berne was really a Gestaltist. I am not concerned about Gestalt or other influences on transactional analysis because their influences are measured rather than massive as in the case of psychoanalysis.

This is a political issue within the transactional analysis movement and has to do with the survival of transactional analysis. I am committed to preserve the integrity of transactional analysis in the face of political and theoretical psychoanalytic pressures.

The other concerns that I have are theoretical.

You ask:

1)do you think that transactional analysis is in need of some modification?

2)why is the recovering of Berne’s roots a betrayal of our common father’s program.

My answers are as follows:

  1. Of course transactional analysis is in need of modification.
  2. Recovering Berne’s roots is definitely not a” betrayal” of his program if the enterprise is merely historical. It is a discount of Berne’s program if recovering his roots is the first step in growing a new system, namely psychoanalytic transactional analysis.

As you know I don’t disagree with you as to Berne’s psychoanalytic roots. I also know that early in the transition between being a psychoanalysts and becoming a transactional analyst he made frequent references to psychoanalytic literature and used psychoanalytic terminology. After all, unlike Paul, he was not converted from one day to the next and it took time for him to become confident in his own terminology and way of thinking.

But his goal was clear, a radical departure from psychoanalysis, especially from what he saw as its overly complicated theories and terminology. Towards the end he achieved that independence not just of method but of theory.

The concepts of unconscious, transference and counter transference are not a problem for me if they are used in the classical Freudian sense. In that case they may validly apply to a minority of unconsciously, Oedipally or libidinally motivated, crossed transactions. On the other hand in the neo-Freudian, relational meaning they are in my opinion weakened concepts; diminished from their powerful psychoanalytic meaning. In their weakened form they are confusing and when used in transactional analysis they create the illusion that transactional analysis is still tied to psychoanalysis in more than historical ways. I think that illusion is harmful to transactional analysis’s development which in my opinion should be in the direction away from rather than back to psychoanalysis thinking and methods.

As I have said repeatedly I have no problem with transactional analysis being used to inform and modify psychoanalytic thinking. I would call that “transactional psychoanalysis.”  My problem is with reshaping transactional analysis into a psychoanalytic framework. This I would call “psychoanalytic transactional analysis.” Hagarden, a spokesperson for psychoanalytic transactional analysis, calaims  it is a misnomer (TAJ October 2003, pg 363.) because it suggests that psychoanalytic transactional analysis is tied to classical drive theory,  which tie, she argues, is far from the truth. Yet in another article ( TAJ October 2001, pg 241 ) she wonders how we “separate honesty from unconscious sadistic or narcissistic impulses” which sounds to me like drive theory and questionable Freud. I claim that, just as in the case of Tycho Brahe who was fatefully tied to earth-centered theories, relational psychoanalysts are fatefully connected to classical Freudian theory and method and to psychoanalysis terminology.

Your thinking is irrevocably tied to this terminology and there is clearly no chance that you and other relational neo-Freudians will abandon it, given your deep commitment to, and involvement with these views. Nor should you, since you have done a lot of useful thinking and excellent therapy along these lines. All I want to do is to stem the tide of these views, which are flooding the TAJ, transactional analysis conferences and  transactional analysis discourse. And to accomplish that I am not asking you to stop all that you are doing, as indeed you can’t, won’t and shouldn’t. It is up to me an others to resist transactional analysis’ regression to psychoanalysis.

You ask: Are you in a neutral and scientific mind, or have you already decided that speaking of transference and counter transference is always a mistake?

I am definitely irritated (and therefore not in a wholly neutral, scientific state of mind) at the use of a psychoanalytic frame of reference in transactional analysis. My irritation has to do with certain relational psychoanalysts who, when writing for the TAJ, usually will include a few pro-forma words mentioning Berne or give a tip of the hat to this or that transactional analysis point of view and then launch into writing that reads like it belongs in a psychoanalytic journal. Given that the ITAA spends tens of thousands of dollars on the TAJ I believe that its contents should serve its mission; “to advance the theory, principles and practice of transactional analysis.” I don’t believe it serves the TAJ’s mission to be overtaken by relational psychoanalysis. That is not to say that speaking of transference and counter transference is always a mistake, in my opinion. It is a mistake when used by a transactional analyst in its weakened “relational” meaning.

My irritation is even more acute with writers who clearly reject Bernian contracts, have a dark and dim view of Berne and his motives and love long-winded and imprecise discourse with a certain easy going looseness of argument which aspires to be charming. I intend to confront these writers at every step hoping that they will become more thoughtful and careful in their statements given that they are published in a TA sponsored publication.

Now to respond to a few other statements you make:

To my statement that the “…main task as a therapist is to respond in a constructive manner without Rescuing or Persecuting, that is, without getting hooked into a game,” you reply:

“OK…and afterwards? I assume that what you expect from yourself as a therapist is to follow Bernian operations, which include interpretation when it is adequate.”

I remind you that interpretation is only one of eight possible operations: interrogation, specification, confrontation, explanation, illustration, confirmation, interpretation  and  crystallization (Principles of Group Treatment  page 241) In my opinion interpretation  is seldom called for; I prefer to return to work on the contract by using the first six.

Later you state:

Berne’s ideas such as psychic organs, the psychodynamic advantages of games, the game formula and others, as theoretical deep concepts that all therapists have to master, and which are as complex as transference and unconscious are. In other words, one language for theory and one another for therapeutic setting: we have to become clear and crisp for patients. Mind is a complex matter to describe, therapeutic language has to be understandable.

I disagree that any of Berne’s concepts are as complex or muddy as transference and unconscious. In fact, Berne was committed to using the same language for theory and for talking to clients. His view was that if something you are trying to say can’t be put in simple language “understandable to a high school graduate” then “its not worth saying.” Relational psychoanalysis discourse, as I know it, does not meet that standard.

I believe relational psychoanalytic terminology anchors you in Freudian theory far more than you realize. I don’t want transactional analysis to be held down by terminology that chains us to psychoanalytic ways of seeing things. I do believe that you are being as respectful of Berne as you can, given your views. In addition your devotion to him is unquestionable. What I am saying is that terms like transference, counter transference and unconscious were at least logically coherent as Freud used them. In my experience the various neo-Freudians have rendered these terms so vague through revisionist usage they are now almost meaningless, except historically. With all due respect for your scholarship and intellect I don’t believe they add value to the theory or practice of transactional analysis.

In summary,

I witnessed Eric Berne going through the process of transforming himself from a psychoanalyst to a pioneer in a clinical theory and method which was a radical departure even if based on psychoanalysis. This departure was far seeing, innovative, information-based and understandable—transactional– and leaning away from the psychodynamic and intrapsychic. That is not to say that all psychodynamic thinking was excluded which is clearly neither possible nor desirable, but that it took a back seat to transactional thinking.

The appeal of his approach was that it had shed all of the arcane and murky language of psychoanalysis in favor of clear crisp language. Some of the language was excessively Child based but nevertheless clarifying. Berne called this language refreshingly “Martian” in contrast with what he called “all that jazz” that characterized the psychoanalysis-based language of the times.

In the last years the language and discourse that Berne wanted to get away from, is returning in the writings of relational psychoanalysts. I am calling this process to the attention of transactional analysis adherents so that they can judge in what direction they wish to go in. We are all free to express our opinions and I express mine to preserve what I saw, and still see, as Berne’s vision. I sincerely believe his vision is not promoted by the relational psychoanalytic view and its irrevocable ties to psychoanalysis.

I hope it was not too blunt, but I am trusting that you will take them in the spirit that it was written; open discussion in the Adult ego state, with profound respect for our obvious differences.

Spring is approaching and I am very excited to be going to Japan to give a series of lectures on strokes, the stroke economy and stroke-based transactional analysis. All this because my little fable of the warm fuzzies was translated into Japanese with Japanese illustrations and is doing very well. My wife will come along and it promises to be most informative and fun.





Dear Claude:

Thank you for your accurate and impassioned reply.

I would like to start off by referring to what you said about the state of your emotions: you were feeling deeply irritated and, therefore “…not in a neutral, scientific state of mind…”. I wish no disrespect, but between two transactional analysts ( and hence, according to the communication rules of our common father, Eric ), at this point I find I must make a choice. I have to choose between making a complementary transaction ( and therefore, responding with my Child ego state  or perhaps with my Parent…but I  don’ t know you well enough to know which ego state inspired your anger ) or continuing with my Adult and risk a crossed transaction with you. Yet, all jest aside, I understand that avoiding the risk of relational psychoanalysis flooding transactional analysis is an abiding commitment for you.  I myself am not so convinced. I therefore trust in your desire, which you stated at the close of your letter, for the opportunity to exchange frank and honest opinions.

First, I believe you are right about one thing: The 2003 EBMA has helped bring along  existing reality out into the open – i.e. , the increase in the number of authors who are working on a psychoanalytic revision of transactional analysis, such as myself and Moiso, Erskine, Hargaden and Sills, Shmukler, Clarkson, Muller, and many others. Although these authors have differences in focus, there is a clear and common ground, at least as far as I am concerned. We all consider ourselves transactional analysts who find research at the psychodynamic level of the therapeutic relationship can lead to progress in Bernian theory and technique, within our own community as well as externally, for our non – transactional analysts colleagues. I believe that this project shares the same goal of political and organizational “ integrity “ you mentioned at the opening of your letter. The fact that the same aim is being pursued with such a different spirit encourages me to the health and openness of debate that has always characterized our community.

You say you are opposed to what you define as an invasion of TAJ by relationally – psychoanalytic – oriented papers. Do you mean that there are” too many “ of  them ? Yet, the question I would ask is : what is motivating them ? Are you worried about the economical investments of how the articles published with TAJ can address the TA criteria and promote real progress in transactional analysis ? Do you not think that the TAJ editor already adequately watches over this aspect ? I would also like to comment on some of your statements , on which you base the determination with which oppose me and other transactional analysts.

1)  You say that integration with Gestalt “…is not a threat to transactional analysis. “ I absolutely cannot agree with this premise and if anything, I believe the opposite is true. During the 1980’ s, at least in Europe, there was not a single exam for transactional analysis that did not require candidates to bring along a tape with a recorded redecision technique, whereas any interpretative intervention was considered absolutely apostasy.  Yet, did not Berne himself speak of interpretation ? Not to mention the impact of this “ Gestaltization “ on the external image of transactional analysis. In my opinion, we have managed not only to irritate Gestaltists, who rightfully oppose the principle of using Gestalt as a source of “ techniques “, but have also alienated transactional analysts from developing thorough knowledge of the psychodynamic foundations upon which Bernian techniques is grounded.

I’ll go even further: the assumption of a theoretical framework can be modified by default as well, i.e., by circumventing certain assumptions, and that is I believe has happened, with the total death of work in interpretation until my paper was published in 1990. At that time you did not seem concerned: it is because interpretation is not a fundamental premise of Berne’s ?   Perhaps that’s why you did not perceive redecision technique , which ended up substituting interpretation as an intervention for deconfusion, as a modification of Berne’ s foundations.

Claude, I believe this is the critical point between your way of defending Berne’ s roots and mine. You seem to be concerned about language, and I worry about methodology. Thus, I really believe that in the long run, we do have the same ideal – that of preserving “the integrity of transactional analysis”, but starting from opposite premises, which leads you to think I betray Berne in some ways.

2) You state that “…this ( i.e., Berne ) goal was clear, a radical departure from psychoanalysis…”, and this another point to be discussed. You explicitly refer to psychoanalysis as Freudian doctrine, to be respected in just a few of its points, but to be rejected altogether as a base for transactional analysis. I have already dealt elsewhere with this misunderstanding: relational psychoanalysis also represents a radical development away from Freudian psychoanalysis, because it shifted from the conception of a monadic mind – i.e., based on a theory of impulses – to the conception of a dyadic mind –i.e. , based on the primacy of relations. This is where I find Berne’s real revolution, achieved even a few decades earlier.  I think what remained in Berne was the psychoanalytic way of understanding the nature of mental suffering, i.e. as the result of unresolved childhood relational experiences reflected in the here-and-now.  Indeed, in his last book, Berne wrote of scripts as the equivalent of the transference neurosis.

3) You continually refer to the idea of Freudian transference- i.e., linked to the Oedipus complex – which the psychoanalytic domain itself has by now almost completely left behind. Furthermore, the fact that you consider the relational psychoanalysis of transference concept as weaker than the Freudian view is a respectable opinion, but certainly not a scientific proof of the uselessness of the relational psychoanalysis of transference. Nor is it a proof –worse – of harm in applying it to a modern conception of a closer transactional analysis. I mentioned this aspect in my previous letter: where faced with regressive personality disorders, I do not believe a therapist’ s simple avoidance of games will ever suffice to achieve significant therapeutic goals.

4) Lastly, concerning the irritation you feel toward these relational- psychoanalytic – oriented transactional analysts, who “ … reject Bernian contracts…”, I am sure you cannot be referring to me, since I have made wide reference in my writing of the needs to follow classic Bernian treatment phases. What I have done is to re-examine them, mostly for the individual setting, in light of new tools that can provide powerful techniques for analyzing transactions requiring consideration of unconscious phenomena.

In essence, I believe that this debate of ours represents an opportunity to stimulate our reader’s curiosity and extend participation whose aim remains one: the growth of transactional analysis in the clinical spirit that always inspired Berne.

Warmly and with my utmost esteem,



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