Iconoclasts: Eric Berne

Psychiatry reminds me of economics in that each field is full of “experts” making a good living (as Mel Brooks noted in his movie High Anxiety) and who never really explain anything clearly. These days psychiatrists operate as pill dispensers for PhRMA, using the DSMV-5 as a bible even as it is riddled with speculation and assumption, even bold dishonesty. They are quacks.

Eric Berne (1910-1970) would have eschewed pill-popping, as to him the study of human behavior could be explained in far more concrete terms. His 1964 work, Games People Play: The Basic handbook of Transactional Analysis, was not so much an isolated work as the primary public thrust of a movement in the field. His “games” are not as we understand the term to be passive time-filling exercises, but serious endeavors to achieve status and harmony in life. Often enough the “games” are life and death matters.

Years ago in my former home town I ran into a pal from softball at Wendy’s and we had lunch together. He was newly married, and confided in me that his wife was now undressing in the closet. In game analysis it would have been understood during courtship that each of them had a role to play, so that her turning frigid after marriage was predictable, and his frustration not real: she was not at all enamored by men, possibly misandrous, and he was possibly a repressed homosexual. So each got a payoff.

Berne would probably laugh at my analysis there, but that is the thrust of his work from my amateur view on the sideline, that games involve subtle and sublime communication, and that there is always a payoff for each participant. Often enough games are destructive, and many a rotten marriage is built around one or another of them where, if one partner gets healthy and withdraws the other deteriorates and the marriage ends.

On the other hand, games are often positive. I have been in two marriages, the first resulting in our picture on the back cover of the book (humor), and the second its opposite, a wonderful partner and a happy and calm household. If my wife and I are playing games now, they are wholesome and fun.

Berne was described by a colleague as having “… four personal characteristics: his burning intelligence; his laserlike focus; his dry, quirky humor; and his ability to see underlying order and patterns in the apparent chaos of human interactions.”

Maybe less an iconoclast as a mere standout, I think I would have liked this guy. If I needed a psychiatrist, I would call on him and would emerge wiser … and pill-free.

15 thoughts on “Iconoclasts: Eric Berne

  1. or she hit the wall and no alpha f***’s wanted her anymore and he was your standard beta bucks guy, so she settled for him, and once married she turned off the free sex


  2. in the most places you cannot legally buy a scrap of hemp, a.k.a. marihuana. But if you go to a psychiatrist and complain about depressions, etc. he will give you the strongest drugs available on the market. No problem. A friend of mine made this experience and got almost addicted. Yet still her doctor did not advised her to stop taking but prescribed even stronger drugs. Luckily she realized in time what’s happening and stopped that herself. And they are quite expensive too. She was spending hundreds of EUR on drugs every month for over a year. All of it following the advice of a respected psychiatrist and completely legally of course.


    1. That would be a consequence of propaganda, I guess. Our healthcare system is not free of charge, there is a minimum amount one employer needs to pay each month to the state healthcare fund for all his employees. If you’re unemployed, you get that insurance paid by the state itself, so it’s never really free of charge. But in comparison to the western countries we get an excellent service for no extra charge, prescription drugs are yet another story.

      Free healthcare system would be the best possible way to spend taxpayer’s money since we, the people, piled that money, we should also enjoy the benefits of free services in exchange. Like free healthcare, education, public services, etc… right?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. even though insurance is mandatory (if you stop paying they will take all your property and ruin you and then pay you the insurance) you will always have to pay for something. Especially medication is always only partly covered and psychotic drugs are very expensive. It is also one of my big arguments against pharma (I don’t even call it big pharma anymore). We have mass production for everything and chemical substances have very low production costs. If any medication was really helping, there would be no reason to keep it expensive. For instance AIDS or cancer medication is very expensive which looks like they are keeping people from getting healthy. But that’s not true. It’s harming them, that’s why it is expensive. It makes no sense but it keeps the system alive. If people understood that all medication is bad, that doctors can’t heal them, that every sickness is an individual problem and not transferable, all those drugstores, hospitals, clinics, big part of chemical industry or even universities would become expendable. It’s a trillion dollar business with millions of jobs at stake and therefore so heavily protected.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. OT: they “died” Stephen Hawking on 0314 (pi), the day Einstein was “born”
    Hawking was “born” on 0108, the day Galileo Galilei supposedly “died”.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. James Monroe also July 4, and Marie Currie aged 66. I read some time ago that Queen Mary was bumped off early so the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II wouldn’t be ruined. Three ex-Presidents all dying on July 4, bumped off early so that they would be remembered as patriotic?


  5. From Wikipedia, “Berne had an irrepressible sense of humour.”,

    “Eric Berne was born on May 10, 1910 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, as Eric Leonard Bernstein. He was the son of David Hillel Bernstein, MD, … “.
    “In 1939, Berne became an American citizen and shortened his name from Eric Lennard Bernstein to Eric Berne…”.
    Although on Geni.com his parents are possibly scrubbed, his father was a Hillel and his middle name was Lennard.

    Hitler and Lenin? Berne’s sense of humor?

    It’s interesting that at first in the Wiki article it’s Leonard then Lennard for the rest of the article. Is that a test as I don’t believe it was unintentional?
    The article has red flags, he served as a psychiatrist in the military and worked at the VA.

    A note about American doctors. At best they probably get one class in Pharmacy while attending school and due to being specialists may not be aware what other drug prescriptions their patient is taking. Or that was how it used to be. This can lead to some bad drug interactions as I learned while being a caregiver. I still have the image of a spoon wrapped in sterile cloth kept in the refrigerator in case of epileptic seizures due to these interactions. Always talk to a Pharmacist and chances are the amount of prescriptions drugs can be narrowed down to a few instead of a dozen or more.
    When asked about the price of prescription drugs, it’s for R&D (Research and Development).

    The sixties were a turbulent time for psychiatry and drugs. A quick sampling of the literature you would find on a “hippie’s” shelve,
    Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, R.D. Laing, Jean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (John Rawlings Rees), Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Carlos Castaneda, Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, indirectly M.K. Ultra (Gottlieb, Cameron & Co. ), Furry Freak Brothers, LP’s of Iron Butterfly and Hendrix, Screw magazine … and a little later the scariest of them all “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

    Thomas Szasz, Rudolf Steiner (yea), D’Arcy Thompson, Mother Earth News and Ken Kern get their own shelve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting! Again I am broadsided by peerage connections. But if Leonard Bernstein, the conductor, was a gifted man, so too is Berne. Take what is good, disregard the rest. Berne did a good job uncovering the subplots going on in human relations, my own first marriage included. I credit him with saving, or at least lengthening my life – had I not gotten out of that marriage, I would be today, if alive, overweight, broke, submissive, ignored and even derided … like my ex father-in-law, GRHS.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Here’s a brainfart I like to share,

    To what group is Eric Berne’s book “Games People: The Psychology of Human Relationships” (1964) written for?

    Eric Berne served in the military and the Veteran’s Administration as a psychologist. So, according to Basic MM101, once in the military intelligence, always in military intelligence.

    What is one difference between the Military Culture and the Civilian World?
    It’s always easier to see the command structure in the military.

    When giving a presentation to a committee the first task for the speaker is to recognize who is the person that will make the final decision if your project goes or not. You need to recognize and address the Top Dog, not the quislings around that person.

    So, Berne’s book is a manual for behavioral top-down control applied to Corporation Culture distilled from his military experience. Before Berne’s book there was the book “The Organization Man” by William H. Whyte (1956) describing the growing “collectivist ethic”. Note, the military has a series of manuals titled “Leadership for 3 & 2” or similar. They can turn a nobody into someone who can lead a group of people by game playing.

    One of the first Military games learned is in Boot Camp, “How Not to Be the Sacrificial Lamp”. How do you control a company of ninety pissed off draftees when there is only one of you? Designate someone to be the “F*ck Up”, the person who didn’t fold their underwear properly causing the company to fail their inspection, pre-arranged result of course. Punishment for the company is two thousand jumping jacks with or without rifle. Now, all the anger and frustration of being drafted is not directed at the Company Commander but at the “shitbird” who caused the punishment. A blanket party follows. O.k., the C.C. lost one person to the hospital but still has control of the company. The shitbird will be recycled to another company later. If boot camp is twelve weeks then you lost twelve recruits but have eighty-eight turts to ship off to country. Not bad.

    Side bar: The sixties were the backdrop for “Games People Play”. The Vietnam ‘Conflict’ was taking off and there was a demand for “grunts” to be broken down in Camp Moloch. What is the fastest way to shit these civilians out, break down and reprogram?

    Question: What is the difference between the Military and an Occult group?
    The Military is bigger.

    Learn from the Occult groups how they recruit followers and apply their techniques at a larger scale.
    “Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change” (1978) book is a good introduction. There is an earlier edition.
    Imaginary example: Assign an intelligence officer/professor to go out into the field. Give him a few sheets of Acid and fifty thousand dollars. Tell him to come back with some notes.

    And therefore, Psychology is a Mind F*ck. Its purpose, breakdown a person’s identity and control them.

    “I am you and you are me, and we are all together.” (Paraphrased Beatles song lyric).

    “I am he
    As you are he
    As you are me
    And we are all together.” (Original)

    When you hear the word “We”. Run.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Goo goo g’joob! The new Russiapoisongate has seen the MSM collectively lie and brainwash the hoi polloi without any proof/evidence, 9/11 all over again. British VX nerve gas killed Kim Jong-nam. ‘Expert, text-pert, choking smokers, don’t you thing the joker laughs at you?’ Indeed.


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