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Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. Paperback – Illustrated, August 27, 1996
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–KURT VONNEGUT, Life magazine
From the Inside Flap
From the Paperback edition.
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- ISBN-13 : 978-0345410030
- Product Dimensions : 5.46 x 0.48 x 8.24 inches
- Paperback : 216 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780345410030
- Publisher : Ballantine Books (August 27, 1996)
- ASIN : 0345410033
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #22,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It describes abusive games people play like "Let's pull a fast one on Jimmy" or "Broken leg" and tells you exactly how to end your role in them. If you have to deal with people who always make excuses, can't be trusted, constantly criticize you, etc, this is the book to read.
The only thing you need to be aware of, and it's important, is that ending "games", or even just your role in games others keep trying to make you play, can destroy relationships in the short term (and sometimes in the long term). If you have someone really toxic in your life who plays very destructive games, they will be FURIOUS and THREATENED when you terminate your part in the game. For them, playing the game may seem like a matter of life and death . . .
In that instance, you need to be working with a therapist who specializes in using transactional analysis as part of therapy. In fact, that's pretty much always good advice if you want to make big changes in your family, personal, and professional relationships. You can google for therapists that use TA as a method and its worth doing.
At any rate, this is a powerful book. I hope you enjoy reading it.
I couldnt figure out what is wrong with the author, but he doesnt seem to make any effort to break the subject down
and make it more palatable and digestible to the common men.
I could sense that this is an interesting and important subject to be learned (thats why I bought the book in the 1st
place), but the whole reading experience felt like I was hearing someone explaining a subject to himself or defending
a thesis to a body of scholars without any regard to how it would be received or understood by a regular audience.
After struggling to finish it I can only speculate that the author is either clueless about how to explain a subject in
laymen terms, or he couldnt care less about it, or is just a plain snob who thinks that if he is able to explain it to
himself then that should be good enough for the rest of human kind. Or even worse, that because he is supposedly so
knowledgeable on the subject, it is other people's burden to pick up his brain and decipher what he has written, like he
is some sort of gift from the gods to the rest of us. Or perhaps he has written the book to fulfill his ego and make an
impression among his scholar buddies. Or even that he lives so trapped inside his own hermetic bubble that he never
designed the book for the regular men in the first place. Go figure...
And dont even get me started on all the sexism and white-male prejudice from the 60s that is scattered throughout
With all that I must say the overall reading experience for me was very disappointing, frustrating and the practical
value extracted from the book was near to zero, which is sad because the book seems to be highly recommended by
many others in the field.
Also, I must confess that part of that frustration is due to my own fault as Im not a specialist on the field.
Therefore I must carry part of the blame for not getting all the value the book has to offer.
Nevertheless I'd have rated it higher had the book been written in a more approachable manner.
I only hope that other more recent books on this topic can address those shortcomings.
The good: it highlights some common, sometimes destructive patterns of human interaction. Sometimes these are shockingly accurate for how detailed they are - its as though he was summarizing various parts of my life. The basic premise is that humans go through social interactions at different levels. There is the explicit level and there is the implicit background interaction - for instance when a husband asks his wife if she wants a massage, sometimes he's really asking for sex, and when you ask someone how their day is going, you're really saying "I acknowledge that you exist and we're on good terms". But these hidden interactions can take on much more complex forms that we aren't even aware of, and when people can't address the background causes behind disputes and patterns of behavior it can lead to unhealthy relationships and perpetuate more unhealthy behavior. These hidden interactions are called social "games" hence the title of book. The example that struck me was the brilliantly named "Now I got you, you son of a bitch". It's best explained by example: husband forgets to take out the trash - wife flies into a 20 minute fit of rage about how he doesn't appreciate anything she does, doesn't care about her, only cares about himself and shirks away from responsibility whenever possible. To put it in more plain language than the book uses, the actual focal point of the interaction is irrelevant, its a scapegoat that allows the aggressor to justify their rage and bring up all of their other grievances. It comes from a desire for validation and allows the players to avoid dealing with the undying issues causing the dissatisfaction. If you've never witnessed NIGYSOB being played, I envy you and wish I lived your life in which people always dealt with long standing conflict in a mature manner.
Top reviews from other countries
Games are based on a structure such as ‘con’ and ‘gimmick’ and eventually involve a ‘switch’ and ‘payoff’. Each of these concepts are still alive and kicking in our modern world. The names of the games may have to be updated, but their dynamics are still sound. There are still ‘Persecutors’, ‘Rescuers’ and ‘Victims’ albeit people may believe they are the ones who self-identify with the roles. Berne intended that others do the identifying, hence the real usefulness of the concept lay in therapy groups where others decided whether you were the real Victim or were Persecuting from a Victim position (i.e. a cry bully).
Our modern world is too invested in Critical Theory (Where everyone is either an Oppressor or Oppressed) to perhaps appreciate the true genius of Eric Berne. He analysed the dynamics of human interaction in terms of an in-depth knowledge of psychoanalysis – he was humanistic but did believe that malevolence existed. He would have been at odds with some modern views that believe that people are fundamentally good as long as they are oppressed or allies to the oppressed – otherwise they are fundamentally bad. He would have seen this as ‘splitting’ and not a realistic way of understanding the healthy human psyche.
Whilst I thoroughly recommend this book for its ideas, it does need an update to bring it into modern-day context.