In the Transactional Analysis world over the years there has been sort of a tradition or cultural norm to change one’s name. Many have changed their name - christian name and/or surname, some have done it a number of times. I never have but at times it has been a bit of the thing to do.
However there is a theoretical basis for this tradition evolving. Eric Berne in his book, “What do you say after you say hello” talks about names and the role they can play in determining a persons life script. In therapy groups sometimes you get people who want to do some work on their name.
Over the years in many workshops and therapy groups I have begun with the round question for each participant - What is the story behind your name? Who named you and why? What does your name mean to you, your mother, and so on? Nicknames also can be very important, how they got them and what they mean to the person.
One never ceases to be amazed at some of the answers you get. Some people have whole elaborate stories or information that they know about their name and how they became named what they did. Some people come to realise that they know all this stuff about their name that they did not know they knew.
A man may report that he was named after uncle Harry and then describes how uncle Harry was a drunkard and a womaniser. As a 6 year old boy learns this what sort of impact is that going to have on his script. Or a woman reports that she is named after grandma Merle who was a spinster who spent her life doing good work in sub Saharan Africa. What sense is a little 6 year old girl going to make of all that?
Then there is the whole area of sex role scripting when a father wanted a boy and got a girl so he gives her a name like Kim. That type of thing can often result in a sense that there is something wrong within the child. In one sense your name is your public signature and thus it is seen as having some importance in one’s sense of identity as Eric Berne described.
My name is actually, Anthony Gilbert Browning White. Gilbert comes from my grandfather on my mother’s side - Gilbert Troup. What I have been told about him is that he was a very learned doctor and anaesthetist in this state for many years. My mother had a special attachment to her father and in one way revered him. When he died they created an award named after him that is given each year to the most successful student of anaesthesiology at a medical school here. On a side note about 5 years ago at a dinner function I attended, I discovered that the woman sitting opposite me had actually won it. Bit of an odd situation really.
I have spent my work life in the helping professions. Is this my life script from my naming?
However it is not all cheese and biscuits I may add. Whilst she revered him and felt a special connection to him I have learned over the years from her that he had a tendency to neglect his domestic duties. Whilst he was much loved by his patients he at times would tend to them before he tended to his own family. This as one can imagine resulted in some disquiet amongst family members including my mother who named me after him. Has this had an impact on my life script? Such are the vagaries of child development.