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Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. Paperback

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Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. + I'm OK--You're OK + Scripts People Live: Transactional Analysis of Life Scripts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410030
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“An important book . . . a brilliant, amusing, and clear catalogue of the psychological theatricals that human beings play over and over again.”
–KURT VONNEGUT, Life magazine

From the Inside Flap

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.

From the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

E.Berne in this book analyzes the games, pastimes and rituals people play.
What I got the most of from this book is the realization that people can easily turn words and set you up to feel bad or resentful.
Read this book and read it honestly with no preconceptions, and it will indeed benefit you.
Kevin G. Whitty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 203 people found the following review helpful By Brian Kevin Beck on May 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Thank Psyche," that this 1963 classic is still in print. (600,000 copies; N.Y.Times best-seller list for two years.) It's not trendy and forgettable, it's timeless and fascinating. (Here are our human "GAMES" such as "Kick Me," "Ain't It Awful," and "Happy to Help")
But two more subtle pleasures (which the other reviewers here have not yet mentioned) are the doctor's wry WIT-plus real WISDOM.
His thesis is uncompromising. Dr. Berne shows we play "games" taught us by our warped childhood, or the world and culture. Rock-bottom: "Because there is so little opportunity for intimacy in daily life, and because some forms of intimacy (especially if intense) are psychologically impossible for most people, the bulk of the time in serious social life is taken up with playing games. Hence games are both necessary and desirable, and the only problem at issue is whether the games played by an individual offer the best yield for him." Specifically, Berne says we should discard bad psychological games (based on invalid old life-scripts from the past), in favor of the better social games. (And indeed, the games seem giddily-toxic, especially "Look How Hard I've Tried," "See What You Made Me Do," and "I'm Only Trying To Help You")
So alas, for the intimacy-fearful MANY people, the goal-in-life is to cure the "sick" games, and then just play the non-pathological ones. But, for a FEW fortunates, the open-calm-easy-natural responsiveness of truer psychological maturity IS possible. Berne names it "autonomy." It comprises awareness, spontaneity, and intimacy.
Okay. Skim or skip the theoretical Part ONE. But savor the 106 games in the story-time Part TWO.
Read more ›
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name Nick on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was initially a little skeptical of a book that was a bit old, thinking it would be outdated, but I found this to be extremely relevant. Upon buying the book, I initially jumped to the games section, skipping over the details of Berne's theories. I was immediately struck with how many games I was unconsciously playing in both my relationship with my spouse and in my work life. With my spouse, I found the games "If It Weren't For You" and "Look How Hard I've Tried" to be hauntingly similar to some of our interactions. I've recently been analyzing my transactions with colleagues at work and noticed patterns that fit many of the games described here as well.

Berne's section on the theory behind games is fascinating. I recommend reading about some of the games first and then moving to the theories. By understanding the theories, you learn WHY you inevitably participate in these games. After I understood why I was being drawn into these patterns, I was able to understand my motives. And ultimately, after understanding my motives, I was able alter my actions and responses when needed.

Overall, I found this book to be very useful in understanding my relationships with people. It is refreshingly different than a lot of the self-help material out there. This book cuts right to the chase and gives you tools to live by. I highly recommend it. After reading this book, I also read What Do You Say After You Say Hello by Eric Berne as well as Scripts People Live by Claude Steiner.
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104 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is Eric Berne's popularization of Transactional Analysis, the approach to understanding and treating realtionship disorders that he largely developed. Whatever its efficacy as a form of therapy, it is a fascinating way to veiw ordinary human interactions. I first read this book more than two decades ago and have gone back to reread portions of it ever since.
While Berne's categorizations of pastimes and games seems somewhat skimpy (after all, behavior is infinitly richer than any theory can easily handle) the basic assumptions of Transactional Analysis provide a new way of understanding much that people do that otherwise seems either meaningless or baffeling. It is a real contribution to understanding ourselves.
My life is not 'game free' but at least I recognize more of the games I play, and am less likely to mistake their arbitrary rules for life and death imperatives.
Definitly worth reading for anyone who values self examination.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Many times in my life, I was placed in social situations that left me feeling so depleted afterwards and I could not exactly grasp why this was happening. When I read this book, I started to understand how many people play these games that end up making me feel used and hopeless. After a year or so, I also began realizing that I play some of these games myself. I realized that although they work as temporary coping devices, they become obstacles to my personal development in the long run. This is when I really decided to change my life. I began living with a new awareness of the behaviors of not only others but my own as well! It has worked wonders and if I could explain this process, I would like to share it with everyone! But since I am not so good at explaining these things, I will suggest a book that explains this very well. It is called "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato and it explains all of these things in such a great way! Read this book by Berne! Read the book by Sato! It will be the best gift you give to yourself!
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