The psychology of human relationships

Eric Berne - Penguin Books - 2016 - 176 pages

Games People Play

2023 June 01 | by Arduino Mancini Education - Resilience

In everyday life, we encounter situations that often end up following recurring communication patterns: the staff member harassed by the boss, the alcoholic who does everything not to be rescued, the perpetually busy person happy to have no time to breathe-these are cases that we all have encountered at least once in our lives and have common traits.

Which ones?

We are helped to find out by this crucial text in contemporary psychology, in which Eric Berne introduces a new therapeutic approach, Transactional Analysis, which uses “games” to represent reality.

The term “game” refers to the structure of communication that simply identifies the position and role that a person intends to occupy, and ultimately does, concerning another person or a specific environment.

Friends gossiping about someone who is not there (except smiling when he/she reappears), pleasure in being mistreated, the feverish pursuit of others’ mistakes, are all circumstances in which the people involved tend to recreate situations that are very similar to each other.

Games, as the Author presents them to us, hardly have anything funny about them: rather, they represent traps of suffering from which to free oneself.

And reading this book will help you recognize games and avoid finding yourself in their web; Berne, by describing as games a series of human relationships structured according to well-defined rules, offers an extraordinary record of our time and the difficulty we face in social relationships.

But the main reason for this book’s success lies in the methodological outline of transactional analysis, as a method and theory; it enables the gamer to identify his role in the game that he tends to repeat, thus building the basis for freeing himself from its entanglements.

Before going to the book’s index, here is a short interview with Eric Berne.



One final comment.

Please note that while the first games introduced by Berne are well-structured the later ones are only sketched out: a pity, because if the Author had stepped out of the dimension of the draft and into the one of writing the rigorous work the book would have a different value.

In any case, a must-read book!




1 Structural Analysis
2 Transactional Analysis
3 Procedures and Rituals
4 Pastimes
5 Games



6) Life Games
1. Alcoholic
2. Debtor
3. Kick Me
4. Now I’ve Got You, You Son of a Bitch
5. See What You Made Me Do

7) Marital Games
1. Corner
2. Courtroom
3. Frigid Woman
4. Harried
5. If It Weren’t for You
6. Look How Hard I’ve Tried
7. Sweetheart

8) Party Games
1. Ain’t It Awful
2. Blemish
3. Schlemiel
4. Why Don’t You – Yes But

9) Sexual Games
1. Let’s You and Him Fight
2. Perversion
3. Rapo
4. The Stocking Game
5. Uproar

10) Underworld Games
1. Cops and Robbers
2. How Do You Get Out of Here
3. Let’s Pull a Fast One on Joey

11) Consulting Room Games
1. Greenhouse
2. I’m Only Trying to Help You
3. Indigence
4. Peasant
5. Psychiatry
6. Stupid
7. Wooden Leg

12) Good Games
1. Busman’s Holiday
2. Cavalier
3. Happy to Help
4. Homely Sage
5. They’ll Be Glad They Knew Me

13 The Significance of Games
14 The Players
15 A Paradigm
16 Autonomy
17 The Attainment of Autonomy
18 After Games, What?
Appendix The Classification of Behaviour
Index of Pastimes and Games
Author Index
Subject Index


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