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Games People Play Summary

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Games People Play SummaryThe Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis

We all play games, whether we know it or not.

However, this kind of behavior undermines the healthiness and strength of your relationships.

In our summary of the book, “Games People Play” by Eric Berne, we explore the hidden dynamics between all those conscious and subconscious games that stand in your way of finding real intimacy.

Who Should Read “Games People Play”? and Why?

In “Games People Play” author Eric Berne uses his knowledge to give the readers insight into the bases of human behavior.

He explains why people play games, what kinds of games exist and how you can spot when you are entering some role that undermines your relationships.

We recommend this well-written book to life coaches, therapists and all people interested in human behavior.

About Eric Berne

Eric BerneDr. Eric Berne (1910-1970) was a Canadian psychiatrist who developed the theory of transactional analysis that was quite influential in the twentieth century.

“Games People Play Summary”

You have probably noticed up till now that despite the fact that you cannot always understand and predict human behavior, there are some recurring behavioral patterns.

If you did not notice it, author Eric Berne did.

After studying a large number of patients, he concluded that when people enter an interaction, they act from one of their three ego-states: Parent, Adult, or Child.

These states create systems of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and people develop them over the course of their entire life.

Many of the beliefs and values you have picked up during childhood, so the ego-state you enter depends both on the present and your past.

Why are ego states important?

Because understanding them is the essential first step toward understanding the number of games people play.

Each time you communicate with someone, you enter into one of your ego states.

However, at times, you seem to be acting from one ego state, when in reality you are interacting with another. When this happens, what appears to be the goal of the interaction, is not the real goal at all.

Instead, you are playing a game.

Now, we do not say that each time you are conscious of the games you play.

In fact, many game players are doing it unconsciously. Not only do they not know that they are playing, but they also don’t understand why they are doing it.

That is why understanding the games you play, as well as the ego states is crucial in becoming aware and freeing yourself from all those behavioral patterns that are holding you back.

Read on and continue walking toward a better life filled with more fulfilling relationships.

Key Lessons from “Games People Play”:

1.      Types of Games
2.       Bedroom Games
3.       Why Do We Keep Playing Games

Types of Games

  • Schlemiel

In Schlemiel you manipulate someone into forgiving you.

For example, the leading player breaks something “by accident” when invited to someone’s place.

On the surface, it may look like the player may want to apologize as an Adult for the mess he or she has created.

However, the Schlemiel is trying to manipulate their host into becoming a model of forgiveness as a Parent.

  • Why Don’t You – Yes But

In this game, the player shares a problem with a group, and then the group offers advice and suggestions.

However, all the suggestions are in reality irrelevant, because the player will always find a reason to dismiss each solution.

In this game, the main character is a Child, and the group takes the role of a Parent.

There are many other games, some naïve and harmless, and some wicked and manipulative. For more information, read on.

Bedroom Games

When you read the title of this key lesson, you may have thought this is the fun part.

However, in this part, we will be talking about the complex psychological games that couples play and aren’t connected to fun at all.

  • Rapo

In Rapo, sex becomes a means of revenge.

One person incites a sexual act and then accuses the sexual partner of assault. Although the confrontation seems to happen between two Adults, in reality, it is an interaction between Children.

This game is all about guilt.

  • Uproar.

In Uproar, the players try to get rid of uncomfortable sexual tension by starting a fight.

  • Courtroom. 

A Married couple goes to a therapist thinking they are there to work on their unhealthy relationship.

However, although it may seem like all of the players: the couple and the therapist are in an Adult state, that is not the case.

Instead, one spouse is in the Child state and complains to the therapist, who is in a Parent state, about the other partner.

  • Frigid Wife.

In Frigid Wife, the woman sexually provokes her partner and then rejects all of the advances the partner makes.

She takes on the role of a Parent and puts the partner in the state of a Child.

She does so so that she can reinforce prejudices that state that all men want is sex.

Why Do We Keep Playing Games

If we can see so clearly that all that games do is make our lives miserable, why do we continue to play them?

Well, as we already said, not all games people play are conscious. In other words, each culture, country, and family have their games, and many of the moves we make in our lives, we have picked up during growing up without even realizing it.

Additionally, games enable people to interact with each other without getting intimate, and thus without getting hurt. Most people feel uncomfortable with revealing their true selves to others.

So, playing games allows the players to hide in their comfort zones, instead of getting close and intimate. More precisely, they can be social, without being vulnerable.

What we need to understand is that intimacy and vulnerability are essential for forming strong and true bonds between people. Hence, if we want to create a healthy relationship, we have to give up playing games.

However, if games are a part of everyone’s life, how can we get rid of them?

The first step is acknowledging and understanding all different games people play. You need to become aware of the ego states that exist in each human mind and pay attention when you interact with other people.

If you understand all the games that exist, you will be able to disrupt them whenever you notice they happen.

Drop that mask and do not fear to be vulnerable.

We know it will not be easy, but no other alternative will allow you to have a fulfilling life.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Games People Play” Quotes

Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future. Click To Tweet The solitary individual can structure time in two ways: activity and fantasy. Click To Tweet The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours. Click To Tweet Pastimes and games are substitutes for the real living of real intimacy. Click To Tweet We shared a common interest in how the past effects people—some let it decide who they are, while others make it part of what they will do. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Games People Play” is a compelling read for all people interested in psychology. At times it can get a bit wordy, and the terminology may be confusing for beginners in the field, but apart from that, it is a fascinating read.

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