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Games People Play [Mass Market Paperback]

Eric Berne
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1988
Dr. Eric Berne, as the originator of transactional analysis, has attained recognition for developing one of the most innovative approaches to modern psychotherapy. Discover how many of these "secret games" you play everyday of your life: Iwfy (If it weren't for you); Sweetheart; Threadbare; Harried; Alcoholic, and many more. A groundbreaking book that bores deep into the heart of all our relationships, GAMES PEOPLE PLAY is a classic that should be read again and again.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Mm); Reissue edition (May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345327195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345327192
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 10.8 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 801,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A brilliant, amusing, and clear catalogue of the psychological theatricals that human beings play over and over again. (Kurt Vonnegut) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Eric Berne was a prominent psychiatrist and bestselling author.After inventing his groundbreaking Transactional Analysis, he continued to develop and apply this new methodology leading him to publish Games People Play. This became a runaway success and Berne leaves a remarkable legacy of over 30 other books and articles, as well as the founding of the International Transactional Analysis Association.

Dr Berne's other works include Principles of Group Treatment, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis', and What Do You Say After You Say Hello? He died in 1970.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
188 of 189 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seductive, amusing, ahead of its time... 27 July 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a gem. While it lacks a coherent structure, and leaves the reader sometimes puzzled by gaps in the exposition, overall it is original, insightful and amusing. Dr Berne's 'game' theory of human relationships was later refined by him, but this slim book outlines his main argument (the principles of Transactional Analysis) and is the first of the books that gained him public acclaim.

Dr Berne's theory is based on the idea that 'Games' provide a means to an end. They structure our time, and enable us to 'belong' to social groups: an important factor in survival. However, they are limiting, in the sense that they are almost always negative; learned from our parents, or based on narrow influences. The games have names such as: 'See What You Made Me Do' ; 'Ain't It Awful'; and 'I'm Only Trying To Help You'. It is easy to recognise games in action, having read the book. Ultimately, the individual has the choice to continue to play games, or to stop playing games (not easy) and to strive for autonomy.

It is hard to believe this book was written in 1964 - it feels so modern. 'Timeless' is probably the best way to describe it. Are you 'Waiting For Rigor Mortis To Set In', or (essentially the same) spending your days playing 'Waiting For Santa Claus' ?

Read this book, and see how many games you and yours play in your daily life - and why! This book is a must for anyone interested in psychotherapy, or in books which aim to help the individual live a more rewarding life.
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219 of 222 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening 19 Dec 2002
Years ago I chose not to pursue an education in psychology, but I retain a strong interest, if only to make sense of a world where motivations are often misguided and true intent is hard to perceive.
'Games People Play' explains and analyses, with pertinent real-life examples, the continual stuggle between our inner child, parent and adult to dominate a social situation, colloquially termed as 'games'. It explains that the outcome of these games are a fundamental human requirement, and by understanding the way these games are played we learn to understand the motivations of ourselves and our peers.
The first time I read this book, I instantly recognised real life occasions where the information contained was relevant and useful. If you have only a passing interest in psychology, you will still occassionally sit upright while reading and say to yourself - 'So this is why people act like that'.
Some of the passages are eminently quotable - "Everyone carries a little boy or girl around inside of him", and at the very least by remembering some of these key phrases, you will begin to understand the desires and reactions of others.
This is no pop-psychology rubbish - it is clinical psychology explained at a fundamental level, and crafted to be accessible and useful for everyone. The book is rarely dry and monotonous, and I was pleased to find some extremely humorous passages.
I challenge anyone to read this book and not find a revelation or two inside.
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139 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh so true... 16 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had heard of Transactional Analysis as part of a self-development training course at work, where TA was used to explain how conflicts in the workplace occur and what can be done to prevent them.
With some serious relationship problems outside the workplace, I bought Games People Play with the hope it could help to explain some of the things that have been going wrong. I wasn't disappointed, and quite apart from help me do some self-analysis, it has allowed me to see just how many "games" are played by others.
As well as being of great personal benefit, I found descriptions of some of the games (such as Alcoholic and Courtroom) very interesting. Alcoholic, in particlar, is given several pages, as one of the most complicated and destructive games that people play - and even goes some way to explaining how and why AA are effective in helping people.
If the book has a down side, it's perhaps only that it doesn't work as a self-help title without some serious thinking, honesty and soul-searching by the reader. However, it is really not meant as a self-help title and it would be wrong to judge it as one.
On the whole, though, a very interesting study of human behaviour and a good set of "worked examples" for anyone trying to understand Transactional Analysis.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
There's a refreshingly distinct lack of diplomacy in this book. Primarily reference material, it's straight to the point, with no apologies or gentle persuasion for the faint at heart. Paradoxically, I suspect that the very people who need this book the most will find it the least attractive, since it brutally exposes the ulterior and selfish superficiality of Human nature. Even though Games People Play is written for the psycotherapist, it is still compelling reading for the layman, who will find many concepts in the book analogous to his own behaviour. So don't be put off by its clinical style - Games People Play is a strong foundation on which to build a program of personal growth, using techinques and concepts that anyone can understand.
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on a facinating subject 6 Jan 2005
Its difficult to know whether it is the subject or the writer that makes this book such a facinating and enlightening read.
Berne clearly explains what games are and goes through clear examples of some of the more popular ones that people may play.
After I read it I immediatatly realised several "games" that people had been playing with me and that I had been playing with them. This is pretty easy to do after you actually think about things and is also very satisfying.
If I were to level a slight criticism it would be that I had to use the dictionairy every third page as he does tend to use alot of "big" words and I had to read it twice or three times to take it all in.
Well worth a read, it will change the way you think!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable information
I have heard people say that transactional analysis has done a great deal for them.
This is the second time I have read this book. Read more
Published 2 days ago by P.R.Mosel
5.0 out of 5 stars A tool for confict resolution
This book is as relevant as ever in understanding conflict and its resolution in a principled rather than a positional way. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Stephen Woodward
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book Bad font
The subject matter is well theorised in this book. I just hated tge font which put me off reading it which is why I gave it 3 stars.
Published 24 days ago by Ms S. Ayub
4.0 out of 5 stars Part of the Path to Mindful Proactivity
An excellent introduction to the subject of transactional analysis. Familiarity with it, and a good understanding of it will empower the proactivity of the reader. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Malkuth Zadek
5.0 out of 5 stars It is easy to read and it is excellent.
This book was very helpful for me. I could easily relate to practical life.
I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding communication psychology.
Published 1 month ago by Neeraj Kumar
3.0 out of 5 stars required for a course
Only bought this on a recommendation for a course.Quite heavy going but gives an insight into different personalities and characteristics
Published 1 month ago by j a benson
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating study of human interations
This is a fascinating study of how people interact in groups. If you have ever wondered about the dynamics of social groups then this is a must read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Peter Elbro
4.0 out of 5 stars useful insight
some things we know subconsciously, and when explained articulately we feel enlightened

everyone knows someone stuck in a rut with a script they follow that they should... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Broken iPod owner
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting... but sometimes boring
I find this subject very much interesting. I never thought of some of the human relationships as games, but after reading the book everything makes sense. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rui Vareta
5.0 out of 5 stars A good insightful read
This book was recommended to me & proved to be a good insightful read. Good packaging and prompt delivery. Do add it to your reading list
Published 2 months ago by Pammie 18
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