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Games People Play: The basic handbook of transactional analysis. Paperback – Aug 27 1996

34 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; REPR edition (Aug. 27 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410030
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 20.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“An important book . . . a brilliant, amusing, and clear catalogue of the psychological theatricals that human beings play over and over again.”
–KURT VONNEGUT, Life magazine

From the Inside Flap

Dr. Eric Berne, as the originator of transactional analysis, has attained recognition for developing one of the most innovative approaches to modern psychotherapy. Discover how many of these "secret games" you play everyday of your life: Iwfy (If it weren't for you); Sweetheart; Threadbare; Harried; Alcoholic, and many more. A groundbreaking book that bores deep into the heart of all our relationships, GAMES PEOPLE PLAY is a classic that should be read again and again.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Kelley on Oct. 6 2003
Format: Paperback
I hate giving bad reviews because I somehow feel unqualified. But, I bought this book because of all the good reviews, and I feel I've waisted my money. I must admit, I did enjoy the section on Structured Analysis. It is an interesting theory.
First of all, this book was written in the 70's, so the writing style is old. Secondly, the book is too mathematical, which made me wonder whether the author was talking about robots. Finally, the "games" outlined are very vague and impractical. I believe this book is only useful for therapists. But, here in the real world, it isn't useful.
Overall, I do not recommend this book (Unless you are studying psychology, and then I would recommend: "Scripts People Live", by Claude Steiner, instead). If you are looking for a practical book (and modern) that deals with people and their games, then I would recommend: "Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drian You Dry", by Albert Bernstein.
I give this book 2 stars for the section on Structured Analysis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 23 2004
Format: Paperback
Many times in my life, I was placed in social situations that left me feeling so depleted afterwards and I could not exactly grasp why this was happening. When I read this book, I started to understand how many people play these games that end up making me feel used and hopeless. After a year or so, I also began realizing that I play some of these games myself. I realized that although they work as temporary coping devices, they become obstacles to my personal development in the long run. This is when I really decided to change my life. I began living with a new awareness of the behaviors of not only others but my own as well! It has worked wonders and if I could explain this process, I would like to share it with everyone! But since I am not so good at explaining these things, I will suggest a book that explains this very well. It is called "The Ever-Transcending Spirit" by Toru Sato and it explains all of these things in such a great way! Read this book by Berne! Read the book by Sato! It will be the best gift you give to yourself!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric on April 21 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever been caught in a conversational loop that you can't get out of? Oh, woe is me...etc. This is the book that finally explained my mother-in-law, a smart but truly wicked person.
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By Leo E. Walsh on May 23 2001
Format: Paperback
"Games People Play" is a thought-provoking book, still salient after all those years. It got me out of a bad relationship, and made me see myself in a new light. It goes to show that new and improved isn't necessarily better.
I had spent a couple of years chasing a drug-loving girl with a heart of gold. I was enchanted by the night-life some of our acquaintances were exposing me to. The darker sides of town are really quite interesting if you view them from within, but my corporate lifestyle, as well as my general avoidance of drugs, had effectively closed me out of this lifestyle after my experimental college days. Thanks to this book, I saw the game I was playing; "Patsy" to a bunch of druggies and alchies.
"Games" has been helpful in my quest for a real Adult-Adult relationship. Even in business, I find myself striving for Adult-Adult relationships. Knowing the games, it makes it easier to spot them and react to them. It also helps me see where others are coming from.
The book itself wasn't earth shattering for me (Peck's "Road Less Traveled" was), but it was one of the more thought-provoking pop-psychology books I have ever read. I like the fact that it doesn't simply rehash Freudian or Jungian psychology, but builds a new quite useful framework to look at relationships. My problem with the book is that it is too short. I wanted more depth. Because of this, I was wavering between four and five stars, so the four star rating is really a 4.5.
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Format: Paperback
"Thank Psyche," that this 1963 classic is still in print. (600,000 copies; N.Y.Times best-seller list for two years.) It's not trendy and forgettable, it's timeless and fascinating. (Here are our human "GAMES" such as "Kick Me," "Ain't It Awful," and "Happy to Help")
But two more subtle pleasures (which the other reviewers here have not yet mentioned) are the doctor's wry WIT-plus real WISDOM.
His thesis is uncompromising. Dr. Berne shows we play "games" taught us by our warped childhood, or the world and culture. Rock-bottom: "Because there is so little opportunity for intimacy in daily life, and because some forms of intimacy (especially if intense) are psychologically impossible for most people, the bulk of the time in serious social life is taken up with playing games. Hence games are both necessary and desirable, and the only problem at issue is whether the games played by an individual offer the best yield for him." Specifically, Berne says we should discard bad psychological games (based on invalid old life-scripts from the past), in favor of the better social games. (And indeed, the games seem giddily-toxic, especially "Look How Hard I've Tried," "See What You Made Me Do," and "I'm Only Trying To Help You")
So alas, for the intimacy-fearful MANY people, the goal-in-life is to cure the "sick" games, and then just play the non-pathological ones. But, for a FEW fortunates, the open-calm-easy-natural responsiveness of truer psychological maturity IS possible. Berne names it "autonomy." It comprises awareness, spontaneity, and intimacy.
Okay. Skim or skip the theoretical Part ONE. But savor the 106 games in the story-time Part TWO.
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