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It's really not what it's portrayed to be...
on 27 June 2013
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.