Fanita English is one of the leading figures inTransactional Analysis. She had a practice as a psychoanalist when she had an “Aha!” moment while reading Eric Berne’s “TA in Psychotherapy”. She was the first trainee at TA Institute, formed in 1964 by Eric Berne, David Kupfer, Bob Goulding and Mary Edwards (Goulding). Since then she has made significant contributions to Transactional Analysis theory in her articles, books and training, especially on concepts such as “script”, “racketeering” and “three cornered contracts”. She is the EATA Gold Medal Award Winner 2010 and twice winner of the Eric Berne Memorial Award.
Fanita was born in Galati and she left Romania when she was 4 years old, spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Istanbul, studied in Vienna, London and Paris and escaped to the USA following the Nazi invasion of France. She describes herself as a citizen of the world, as she has travelled extensively to teach Transactional Analysis around the globe. With a life story inspired by the model of a gipsy woman – strong, colourful and free, we were honoured to have her as our first interviewee, the week following her 99th birthday.
Interviewer: Alexandra Gheorghe. Co-interviewer: Marina Vasile October, 2015
The interview – The past, present and future of TA
In this interview Fanita English addresses some of her contributions to TA, particularly the concept of script, while also surprising us with her Romanian.
She talks about her experience of having her therapist try to impose his own understanding on her as a client. She also touches on how it was for her to be a woman psychotherapist in those days.
While stressing the importance of contracts, Fanita describes how she contracts with clients now, at this point in her practice.
She also talks about what she sees as an essential ingredient in a therapist’s struggle to keep up the hope when the going gets tough in practice.
/// Berne, E. (1961) “Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy. A Systematic Individual and Social Psychiatry”. New York: Grove Press.
/// English, F. “Whither Scripts”, Transactional Analysis Journal, October 1988, pp. 294-303.
/// English, F. “The Three-cornered Contract”, Transactional Analysis Journal, October 1975, pp. 383-384.
/// English, F. “The Substitution Factor: Rackets and Real Feelings”, Transactional Analysis Journal, October 1971, pp. 225-230.
/// English, F. “What Motivates Resilience After Trauma?”, Transactional Analysis Journal, October 2008, pp. 343-351.
/// English, F. “Let’s Not Claim It’s Script When It Ain’t”, Transactional Analysis Journal, April 1977, pp. 130-138.