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