Bill Cornell


Interviewer: Diana Diaconu. Co-interviewer: Alexandra Gheorghe
November, 2015


Being part of the transactional analysis community for over forty years now, Bill Cornell has contributed to the weaving of its fabric in various forms and he has engaged vigorously with its members in further developing TA theory and technique. He is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (in the field of psychotherapy), a co-editor for the Transactional Analysis Journal, and the author of a rich series of books and journal articles.

His background includes having studied behavioral psychology (at Reed College in Portland, Oregon) and phenomenological psychology (at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA). At the same time as training in transactional analysis, he trained in Radix, a neo-Reichian body psychotherapy. The intricate relations between these frames of reference have influenced Bill’s own approach to theory and practice.

He was awarded the Eric Berne Memorial Award in 2010 for the contributions he made to transactional analysis theory regarding the notions of life script, the Child ego state, and protocol.

This interview was carried out in Bucharest on the occasion of one of Bill’s trips to Romania, where he facilitates several ongoing study groups.

The interview can be watched by accessing the links below. Each video is preceeded by a summary of the topics approached in the conversation

VIDEO NO. 1: “A Phenomenology of Writing and Elaborating Theory”

  • Writing as a way of articulating something that the clinician struggles to understand and a process that starts as a conversation or an argument with oneself.
  • Describing the elephant in the room or finding out what facilitates the organization of different theoretical models.
  • Allowing for multiplicity and difference versus maintaining a rigid approach to theory.
  • Bill’s reflections about the evolution of his own writing over the years: What has changed and what has remained consistent?

VIDEO NO. 2: “Multiple Facets of Belonging”

  • Transference as a fact of life, and not “a disease”: The issue of multiple roles, approached from a cultural, as well as a personal perspective.
  • The responsibility and vulnerability of taking a position of influence in the community: “writing and teaching, to me, is not about having a bright idea; it’s about creating community”.
  • The “tricky business” of feeling and being idealized.

VIDEO NO. 3: “Going Back to Basics”

  • The blessings and costs of resilience, in a personal voice. The resources engaged in maintaining resilience.
  • A brief imaginary conversation with Eric Berne.


/// Cornell, W.F. (2015). Somatic Experience in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy: In the expressive language of the living. Hove, England: Routledge.

/// Cornell, W.F. (2014). Grief, Mourning, and Meaning: In a Personal Voice. Transactional Analysis Journal, 44, 302-310.

/// Cornell, W.F. (2010). Aspiration or Adaptation?: An Unresolved Tension in Eric Berne’s Basic Beliefs. Transactional Analysis Journal, 40, 243-253.

/// Cornell, W.F. (2009). An Eruption of Erotic Vitality between a Male Analyst and a Male Patient. In Heterosexual Maculinities: Contemporary perspectives from psychoanalytic gender theory (Edited by Reis, B. & Grossmark, R.). New York: Routledge.

/// Cornell, W.F. (1988). Life script theory: A critical review from a developmental perspective. Transactional Analysis Journal, 18, 270-282.

/// Wallerstein, R.S. (2015). Psychoanalysis as I have known it: 1949-2013. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 25, 536-556.