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Games People Play

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Many people have heard about Eric Berne’s book Games People Play, even those who are not particularly interested in psychology. What is it about this book that made it so popular?

Key ideas:

Relationships between most people are mostly “games” – a series of interactions with a predictable outcome. People replace close and sincere relationships with games.

Why do people play games? Babies stop developing without affection. Intimacy is also vital for person. But it is difficult to find and difficult to ask for. If people don’t have real intimacy in their lives, they try to get it through play. Because even negative interactions are better than none.

An example of a game: “If it weren’t for you,” in which one of the spouses always complains that the other is hindering him in realizing his aspirations. But in fact, it is he himself who chooses such “interfering” partners in order to relieve himself of responsibility for his own life. What we try to blame other people for is usually our internal problem.

Each game brings a win – what Eric Berne calls stroking. The prize can be received either by only one player, or both. In playing games, people seek to achieve satisfaction or control.

Most people don’t realize they are playing games. They think they are doing the right thing.

Within each person there are three “I’s”, which often have opposite interests:

  • – Parent – edifying, educating
  • – Parent – rational, objective
  • – The child is spontaneous, curious, irresponsible.

Interacting with people, we “juggle” these states, each of them plays its own games. In any of these states, we can be productive or not.

All these states of “I” are, in fact, masks that we put on depending on the situation or our goals.

While games are destructive and prevent integrity, they provide a sense of comfort and justify inaction. Games for many are becoming an integral part of their personality.

The danger of games is that, after playing, a person destroys himself, turns into an unbalanced person who projects his own inclinations and motivations onto others.

People can stop playing games if they see another way of solving problems.

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