Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships
by Eric Berne, M.D.
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Book review by John Hewitt
The late Dr. Eric Berne initiated the psychiatric school of thought known as transactional analysis. The validity of his work has been rehashed for many years, but for the purposes of a writer who is looking for the psychology behind people’s actions, Games People Play is a must buy. He has written other books of equal worth, such as What Do You Say After You Say Hello and Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups, but most of those books have gone out of print and will have to be located in used book shops and other specialty stores. Games is still a strong seller, however, over thirty-five years after its original publication.
Berne’s focused on patterns of action that people display over and over again, which he referred to as scripts or games. Some of these scripts required a crowd, while others could be limited to one or two people. He analyzed games such as NIGYSOB, (The initials SOB mean exactly what you think they do) in which a person who has the upper hand takes more pleasure in making the loser look bad than in actually winning. Another, Why don’t you? yes but, involves the interesting party game in which one person presents a problem and the rest of the group offers suggestions, all of which are turned down no matter what their value.
Berne doesn’t just describe the games, he gives the reasoning behind them, and what each player gets out of it. He also analyzes the interaction from the point of view of the participants, who act as child, parent, or adult, according to the circumstances. This is good reading if you want to add dimension to your characters or insight into your situations. It is truly a must-have, and also pretty entertaining reading.
History of Eric Berne