We don’t announce everyone’s birthdays in our NATAA community – but when it’s a 104 th birthday, of someone who is still leading an amazing life – we are delighted to be able to send our love and greetings to our dear Fanita English.
In July, the International Transactional Analysis Association held an awards ceremony, where they presented her with the Fanita English Lifetime Achievement Award, named in her honor. Fanita gave her acceptance speech over zoom, to the admiration and appreciation of the worldwide community, even as some were participating in the middle of the night in their far-flung time zones. The reason for all this attention is not “just” a long life.
Fanita’s achievements in the field of TA are as both a theoretician and a practitioner. She was Eric Berne’s first student at his institute in Carmel, California, founded her own Institute in Philadelphia, and conducted training and therapy in many countries as well as giving presentations at conferences and serving on the Board of the ITAA.
Among her contributions are the concepts of substitute feelings, childhood adaptations, episcripts, and motivators. Her articles have appeared in the Transactional Analysis Journal, including those for which she received the Eric Berne Memorial Award in 1978 and again in 1997. You can find many details of her life and work at this dedicated site created by her trainee and friend Joachim Karnath.
While we recognize her many awards and achievements, it’s Fanita as a person we are celebrating. From her creative and clever solutions to challenges she faced in her childhood and through World War II, her solving problems in mental health, especially with institutions serving children, to her commitment to theory and teaching in many discussions with colleagues, Fanita has always been energetic, interesting, interested, and willing to challenge the status quo. Her unique style creates an impression that people never forget. And if she wants you to get a point that she is making, she will do her best to ensure that you get it!
One of Fanita’s qualities is being a learner about life, taking in new ideas and practices, and passing them on. For example, in recent years, she has shared her practice of being able to meditate for short or long periods of time, letting go of the urgency of the immediate moment.
So let us celebrate Fanita and all the joys, sorrows, and wisdom of a life that is still being well-lived!