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Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships [Kindle Edition]

Eric Berne
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Do you realise you, and all the people you know, play games? All the time? Sexual games, marital games, complex games that you're not even aware of as you go about your usual life? You might play games like 'Alcoholic'; or 'The Frigid Woman' at weekends, or perhaps 'Ain't it awful' or 'Kick me' while you're at work.

First published in the 1960s and recognized as a classic work of its kind by professionals, the bestselling 'Games People Play' is also an accessible and fascinating read. It is a wise, original, witty and very sensible analysis of the games we play in order to live with one another and with ourselves.

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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)

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 417 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Impression edition (26 July 1973)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9IPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,567 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
198 of 199 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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233 of 236 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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84 of 87 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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145 of 151 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic 15 Nov. 2008
This book is an absolute gem and as relevant today as the day it was written. It is essential reading for anyone involved in human relationships at any level. That is to say all of us apart from the few true hermits. Even to those with no knowledge of psychology, the examples make fascinating reading. You will recognise people you know. You may even recognise yourself.

For the psychologists, amateur and professional, Berne achieves what most present day psychologists still find impossible. He combines Freud's personality structure with the stimulus/response psychology of Pavlov, Skinner and Watson. This is a stroke of pure genius. Even most psychologists fail to see the book in this light.

One reviewer suggests the book lacks structure which astonishes me since Berne offers 3 options for time structuring: -

Individual structuring (fantasy and activity)

Social structuring (operations, procedures, rituals, pastimes, games and intimacy)

Material structuring (commonly called work though technically an activity)

These cover personal understanding (the unitary view), socio-cultural awareness (the group view) and material world (the universal view). These are derived from Kant's categories od unity (one), plurality (some) and totality (all). We each use these categories to make sense of our environment. How much more structure can a person need? In fact, other than one, some and all, what else could there be?

Whilst the game descriptions will be of most interest to non-psychologists, the first few chapters provide the bones that are essential for a deeper understanding. They are hard work, even for psychologists, but well worth the effort.
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