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Games People Play

Games People Play

Games are maladaptive means of getting ones needs met. The concept was introduced in the book Games People Play by Eric Berne, written in 1964. Despite this book’€™s age, the ideas hold up very well!

Games are repetitive interactions following rules but played without awareness. They always end up with players feeling a familiar emotion that is based in childhood and are inappropriate for adulthood.

Lets give some examples of games to explain the process:

Why Don’€™t You, Yes But.

In this game one player sets up the other to offer advice and then rejects each option. To end the game there is usually a switch into blaming the advisor as being useless or to reinforce the victim mentality.

If you get a client like this (or rather when) you can cut across their pattern using the triple negative technique. This technique sounds ridiculous and needs practice. Lets say you want to suggest that the client asks her husband to help with the washing up (when you would expect a “yes but he might get cross” or similar response). Using the triple negative you say No. You wouldn’€™t want to ask him to help you wouldn’€™t you?  She will do it!

Wooden leg

This is another game played by Victims. They constantly €œsay in one way or another €œI can’t do that because I have got a wooden leg/wasn’€™t loved by my mother/am female etc. They will continue avoiding in this way and receiving strokes for their poor me attitude until challenged. They then switch into persecutor of the challenger.

Gee, you are wonderful professor

This game is one that all therapists should be ware of! The player will set someone up, typically an advisor/professional of some sort as being THE one who can help. Perhaps they’ve tried everyone else, or they have heard wonderful things. But this is just a game. The professional is set up to fail so that the instigator can then belittle them. This gives them a feeling of superiority and importance.
Who do you know who plays games? Do you?

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