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Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. Paperback – August 27, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

"We think we're relating to other people-but actually we're all playing games.
Forty years ago, "Games People Play revolutionized our understanding of what "really goes on during our most basic social interactions. More than five million copies later, Dr. Eric Berne's classic is as astonishing-and revealing-as it was on the day it was first published. This anniversary edition features a new introduction by Dr. James R. Allen, president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, and Kurt Vonnegut's brilliant "Life magazine review from 1965.
We play games all the time-sexual games, marital games, power games with our bosses, and competitive games with our friends. Detailing status contests like "Martini" (I know a better way), to lethal couples combat like "If It Weren't For You" and "Uproar," to flirtation favorites like "The Stocking Game" and "Let's You and Him Fight," Dr. Berne exposes the secret ploys and unconscious maneuvers that rule our intimate lives.
Explosive when it first appeared, "Games People Play is now widely recognized as the most original and influential popular psychology book of our time. It's as powerful and eye-opening as ever.
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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: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I was initially a little skeptical of a book that was a bit old, thinking it would be outdated, but I found this to be extremely relevant.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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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.
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the Bibles of the Transactional Analysis school of social psychology/psychiatry. The other "Bible" is I'm OK -- You're OK by Thomas A. Harris, M.D.

Before reading Games People Play, it is a good idea to read I'm OK - You're OK. There are two reasons why. First, I'm OK is a general introduction to Transactional Analysis whereas Games People Play deals with a narrow aspect of the subject. Second, I'm OK is written in an easier style than the present book. In fact, if I hadn't already studied I'M OK, I might not have understood Games People Play.

The author of Games People Play was the founder of the TA school. The author of the other book was his follower. Transactional Analysis was popular during the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, it has lost some of that popularity in America, although it still seems to be going strong in Australia. The society founded by Dr. Berne still exists in this country, today.

Before investing in a copy of the book, you might want to check Wikipedia which has an excellent article about Tranactional Analysis. Games, the subject of this book, are special behaviors that people use to accomplish ulterior designs. For example, the game called "If it Weren't for You I'd...." helps people feel better about NOT doing things they are really afraid to do.

I believe this book and the school of Transactional Analysis are worthwhile for everyone who wants to understand human nature.
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