John Lennon wrote a song about it; suspense thriller novels have been based on it; even romantic comedies poke fun at it. Let’s face it: we all could be cast on Survivor; Redemption Island, in the way we play games with one another.
Dr. Eric Berne (1910-1970), a Canadian-born psychiatrist, developed Transactional Analysis. This is a powerful tool that can be used to help an individual develop awareness and understanding behind motives and how he or she interacts with other people. This understanding leads to change: making better choices; altering responses that are counterproductive; or making changes in negative belief systems and eliminating dysfunctional behaviors. To read more…
Dr. Eric Berne became famous after his book, Games People Play, was published in 1964. In it, Berne defined certain behavioral patterns as “games.”
There are many games people play.
Some are destructive, some may be beneficial, and some are complex. Berne believed dysfunctional behavior resulted from childhood choices that were made for survival.
The “Game List” published on ChangingMinds.org includes:
- Attraction-Rejection Game - is the classic lovers' alternating chase game.
- Blame Game - avoiding responsibility by blaming others.
- Catch me Game - is about the thrill of the chase.
- Clever me Game - seeking approval for things done well.
- The Drama Triangle - The persecutor, victim and rescuer story.
- Poor me Game - seeking sympathy by expounding on ills.
- Recognize me Game: seeking attention to assuage limited self-esteem.
- Save me Game - seeking salvation.
- Status Game - elevating social position.
- Stop me'Game - the self-harm of addicts and others to get attention.
- War Game - Destructive two-sided conflict.
Why is understanding how we participate in games important?
Understanding the “Why” behind our behavior and the choices we make will help one to recognize destructive behavior patterns that seem to repeat themselves. This understanding and awareness is the catalyst for change.
Each repeated transaction, the communication exchanges between two people, will influence how we think, feel and see ourselves. Our transactions are not solely the words that we choose to deliver our message. Our transaction includes how we say those words (punitively, authoritatively or compassionately) and our temperament (hostile, angry or calm). How we interact during the transaction determines how the game will be played out.
Understanding what’s going on under the surface and what our role is (how we play a part in the transaction) can help us improve relationships, communication and break unhealthy behavior patterns.
I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty.”