An entertaining and useful book for to anyone interested in some of the mechanics and motivations that are part of the human condition. It is concise and has sound academic underpinnings that put it above the self-help /pop-psychology type of production. The central theme is that of ‘awareness’. By this I mean that as individuals and groups of which we are a part we form strategies and narratives about ourselves in order to explain and justify our behaviour. In standard parlance, we can assign ourselves various roles –‘child’, ‘parent’ and ‘adult’ depending on our past experiences and ideas on how we can best negotiate life. Our willingness to use such strategies amounts to a ‘game’. It is interesting to note that some strategies can be wilfully self-destructive, others might be more positive in outcome. Some strategies might advance the cause of a person, others merely establish a status quo that suits themselves and the parties with whom they are interacting.
It all sounds very mechanistic and to some extent it is. Are we really all just playing ‘parts’, consciously or otherwise? Surely, elements of culture, religion, situation and expectations all have their part to play? As much as we might be able to determine the course of and satisfaction we derive from our lives, we are born into a particular environment and this must shape us in some way. I also worry that the ‘professionalization’ of awareness and if you like, the guidance required to achieve ‘useful’ life habits and attitude orientation, means that in some way the individual is absolved from responsibility for achieving their own version of happiness and feelings of worth. This is not the same as the ‘pull yourself together’ argument. It suggests that through the ages philosophers, religious and what might be termed ‘thinkers’ like Michel de Montaigne, have wrestled with issues to do with appropriate conduct, feelings and intuitions and understandings of Humankind and their place in the World, why should lesser mortals be surprised that we face the same doubts and issues. The stress has always been on how the individual responds to the questions and problems that life poses. Obviously, there are cases where the psychiatric professional is required, but not nearly as often as many practitioners would have us believe. After all, they too have an interest in creating an arena where we can feel free to seek ‘help’. The ‘pay –off’ comes naturally at the conclusion of the book. Here notions such as ‘awareness’, ‘spontaneity’ and ‘intimacy’ are introduced. The suggestion is that we can be in ‘transactionship’ with others, but that we should be seek if at all possible, some degree of authenticity. That we can work towards some sort of ‘adult’ awareness of ourselves, our lives and those of others. It is in this embrace of ‘life’ as opposed to the adoption of strategic poses that some kind of fulfilment or journey towards fulfilment might begin. A good read, jargon free and enlightening. Recommended.
Although I sadly didnt enjoy this book whatsoever I refrained from giving it a one star because I did learn a couple of things from its content. I really struggled to finish this book. A book, to me, is a journey which evolves from one chapter to the next. This however is more like a long list. A long list with a detailed explanation after each heading. This,in my honesty, is only the 2nd book(to date)on psychology but I'm sure their is much better ones in the app store.
Nowadays people claim that they act from all sorts of highflown moral and ideological motives, or of course from causes outside of themselves and beyond their control which make their apparant faults the responsibility of others. This classic still stands to show otherwise.
The entire book comes across as if the author doesn't actually fully understand his topic, or how to explain it properly. I'm sure this book is fantastic for those who are very experienced in this area of psychology. However for those who are simply interested in learning more about the psychology of the "games" we play, this book is not for you.
From the title, to the review on the back make this book appear to be something for the average person : it's not. However, this may be my own fault for not reading more about this book before purchasing, however the annoyingly complicated way it's written is not the most grating part.
Another frustrating thing about this book is Berne's use of examples!
Women, in Berne's mind seem to all be housewives, need a controlling husband, and silly little things who like to play "wardrobe" for hours on end. After all "playing politics" is for men, and "man topics" don't mix with "women topics"...
(Now, I understand this book was written a long time ago, however I don't find I can trust a psychologist who feels women are incapable of understanding something, or even seeing them as proper human beings, it makes you wonder how much of this is simply based on his own sexist stereotypes and not on actual science, and this man does actually fully support the debunked methods of Freudian psychology).
One example that sticks out the most in my mind is the example of a women choosing a domineering husband and then complaining when he won't let her do things (i.e. dance) however, when he does allow this she finds she has a fear of dance floors... Apparently the husband is doing his wife a favour by controlling her as he prevents her from facing her fears. According to Berne this is better than the wife getting therapy for her numerous fears. Berne also says that the choice of a domineering husband was because she day dreamed about sexual abuse; and the women was foolish to want more freedom as it meant she missed out of the lavish gifts her husband gave her as he felt guilty for being so controlling.
And to imply the domination and deprivation that she doesn't want excites her sexually adds insult to injury.
A second example that sticks out in my mind is when Berne describes the game of "See what you made me do". In which the wife is in charge of accounting for the family finances. Once again the thing that causes a problem in this is the woman, and the best way to fix this solution is to, yet again, take control away from the woman as she cannot be trusted. Berne once again infantilizes the women in his scenarios.
In the following section almost every "game" played consists of a woman doing some "foolish", something most people do, that riles the "darling, hard working husband" and he reacts in an over dramatic, but "totally justified" way, once again playing the woman as foolish and childish.
If we then look at the game of "Harried"... oh look! The stupid little woman picks a husband with foolishly unrealistic expectations and then bullies his wife for not fulfilling them. But this is okay, as she only takes on too much so that she can manipulate him; and without this criticism she'd be unhappy...
The most stomach churning part of this book occurs in the section of "Sexual Games", namely between fathers and daughters; and how it's apparently natural for the father to covet his daughter, and this is harmless and normal. I just love how he blames this attraction from the father on the mother/wife as she is too frigid to please him, and that's why the father is playing "uproar" with his daughter.
On a final, frustrated note, the names Berne gives the games are enough to make you want to tear your hair out by the end of the book. They don't really describe the actual "game" that's being played, and they just grate when you read them over and over again.
This book is very insightful and potentially helpful for everyone. Some gamey or manipulative people are easy to spot but reading this book is likely to cause some "light bulb moments" for most people which illuminate recognisable patterns of behaviour. It focuses on the ways that people interact by specifically looking at games that people play (consciously and unconsciously). Dr Eric Berne created Transactional Analysis (which basically studies the interactions between individuals). TA is also very interesting and helpful and this book is one of the subjects.
This is a seminal book. It provides a race through transactional analysis and outlines the games we play in our relationships, and which can blight our lives and lead us to repeat the same mistakes if we do not reflect and respond in a new way....
The book I read to research this post was Games People Play by Eric Berne which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. This book is probably the definitive text on transactional analysis, a form of psychotherapy centred on various roles people play in different situations. If you read this book you are certain to recognize roles you play. Although the book has games in the title it refers to roles and they aren't necessarily bad although some are. They are ways people have of coping with situations and psychologists in their studies have noticed various patterns which make up this form of therapy. One of the main principles in transactional analysis is the roles of persecutor, helper and victim. We all play each of these roles at one time or another and much of our lives is spent going from one to the other. The book also looks at roles like if some people go on a picnic someone with a drink problem might get the others to have one drink of alcohol each and use it to have about 5 drinks himself. The person might not realize he is being manipulative and obviously the cure for this situation is to decline the drink although then he might get abusive. Another situation is when someone gets married they might run up endless debts buying a house and car etc not to mention the wedding and honeymoon. We live in a society that regards things bought on credit as owned when actually the creditor often has the debt secured on them and owns them. In the case of a mortgage the debt lasts for most of that person's working life. It can become the case that person runs into trouble paying it off and can end up with a huge debt and little to show for it especially if the house is sold and covers part of the debt. You can see what I mean about this roles being common place and we all play them. This book is only around 150-200 pages but is really good and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.