The Activity of Listening       

About Us

Franklin H. Ernst, Jr., M.D.

December 21, 1923 - June 16, 2009

     Franklin was born in Glendale, California to Olive Coraline (Johnson) Ernst and Franklin H. Ernst. In 1928 his father moved the family to San Fernando Valley. There, his grandfather Frank Friedriche Heinricke Ernst and his father, personally built a home on ten (10) acres of property that his father purchased in 1926. In 1939 his father moved the family to a homestead in Tulelake, California. While in Tulelake High School, Franklin Jr. earned straight A’s, played football, basketball, and ran track. He graduated in 1941.

      Franklin enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley where his father also worked. Franklin graduated with honors (Phi Beta Kappa) and then entered the University of California Medical School in San Francisco where he graduated in 1946. His medical internship was at San Francisco County General Hospital. He specialized in Medical Psychiatry after medical school, one (1) year in medical residency at Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts followed by two and a half years at Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco, California. Dr. Ernst became “Board Certified” in the medical specialty of psychiatry and neurology in 1953.

      Called back into the military for the Korean conflict, Franklin served two years (May 1951-1953) with the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force. He was Chief of Psychiatry at Travis Air Force Base Medical Hospital (Fairfield, California) in charge of the psychiatric services while war casualties were being brought back from Korea.

      After being honorably discharged from the Air Force, Franklin was employed at Napa State Hospital for two (2) years. He also started his private practice of medical psychiatry in Vallejo and practiced medicine there until retirement in 2001. Dr. Ernst was a founding member and president of the Northern California Psychiatric Society, NCPS. In 1965 he became a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He became a Fellow in the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) and was very active in the local Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society from its founding in the late 1950's. He was a Life Member of the California and Solano County Medical Societies. He founded the non-profit Golden Gate Foundation for Group Treatment, Inc. in 1965; also being the editor of a newsletter titled “The Encounterer.” The Foundation closed its doors in 1985.

      In 1958 Franklin started attending the Transactional Analysis Seminars of Eric Berne MD, and studied/trained under him in Transactional Analysis. Dr. Ernst later became a founding member and teaching member of the Association. ranklin is credited by Berne for his contributions to Berne’s book, "Games People Play."

      Dr. Ernst wrote several articles, monographs, and books including "The Handbook of Listening, Transactional Analysis of the Listening Activity," "The Game Diagram," "The OK Corral: Grid for What’s Happening," and others. Franklin said, “Mastery of the universe is proportional to the symbols man has by which to represent his universe."

      Franklin met Margaret Ellen “Peggy” O’Neil, a nurse, in San Francisco at the end of World War II. They married on April 4, 1947, at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California. They made their home in San Francisco and later moved to Napa, California in 1953 where they raised their three sons. They loved each other very much.

      Franklin was preceded in death by “Peggy” in 1989; and his two brothers, Kenneth J. Ernst and William H. Ernst.

      Franklin Ernst is survived by three sons: Franklin “Harry” Ernst III of Vallejo, California; Thomas Neil Ernst, M.D. of Redmond, Oregon; Daniel Boyd Ernst of Salt Lake City, Utah; five (5) grandchildren: Tobin Ernst, Andrew Ernst, Shaun Ernst, Aaron Ernst, Heather Ernst; sister, Helen Golden of Southern California; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

      The Funeral Service was held on Saturday, June 27, 2009.  Franklin H. Ernst, Jr., M.D. was buried at Sunrise Memorial Cemetery.

"Mastery of the universe is proportional to the symbols man has by which to represent his universe."

Franklin H. Ernst, Jr., M.D.

A Prayer

       Hi, I’m Harry Ernst.     Dad asked me to read to you. (June 27, 2009)

       My earliest memories as a boy were with Dad eating breakfast together before he went to work. Later I remember him on the parallel bar doing amazing things high up in the air. Oh Dad loved to ski, too. And he loved to watch baseball. He told me over the years many stories and he taught me much. His father and uncle loved to fly fish in the high Sierra Nevada.

        Dad’s faith in God was a very strong faith, and private. He reminded me that the Lord’s prayer in Mathew 6:9 is preceded by instructions. Matt 6:5 says: “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and Thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

       My mother taught me as a young boy the prayer and I heard on occasion Dad quietly say: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

       In his writings Dad said:  “A person's day to day life is filled with a variety of encounters, one after another, with a variety of persons and circumstances. Some encounters are a simple greeting, a single transaction such as “Hi-Hi!”  Other encounters will involve varying numbers of words being exchanged. At the conclusion of each encounter, no matter how many transactions between the parties, the outcome is resolved in one of the four categories of encounter resolutions.

       Each social encounter will have a different value for the particular person. An encounter with a spouse or playmate will have a higher personal value than one with a casual office or grocery store acquaintance. Nevertheless, a person experiences the outcome of each encounter with another person, as one of the FOUR QUALITIES OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:

                “I Am OK AND You Are OK” or

                “I Am OK AND You Are Not OK” or

                “I Am Not OK AND You Are OK” or

                “I AM Not OK AND You Are Not OK.”

       The strokes a person exchanges during his/her encounters with others (encounter by encounter) have consequences.”

       Dad also quietly recited Psalm 23, A Psalm of David many times:

       “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of rightousness for his name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and the staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

       And so, as Franklin Ernst Jr., “Doc,” Dad says good bye to us, as he departs us, to be with his father,  I call after Dad.   “Dad, we all love you.   I love you.    Thank You.     Good Bye.”


Franklin H. Ernst, Jr., M.D.

To see a list of his writings go to "Publications."