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Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships - Transactional Analysis Part 3

Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships - Transactional Analysis Part 3
This episode is Part 3 of 3 in our Transactional Analysis series (make sure you listen to the last 2 episodes before this one!). We dig into many of the different social games that people play: "If It Weren't For You", "Why Don't You — Yes, But", "Courtroom", "Uproar", "Blemish", and a few others.

Notes from Part 1 and Part 2 of our discussion on Transactional Analysis can be found here and here.

All human interactions can be split up into 5 categories including pastimes and games. The difference between a pastime and a game, is that, in a game, there is usually a winner and a loser and there is something ulterior about the way in which one person is behaving.

There are a number of different games that people play that can be split up into categories including life games, party games, marital games, sexual games, underworld games, consulting room games and good games.

Here is a selection of the games that we discussed:

  • ‘If it weren’t for you’ – when someone finds an excuse not to do something and offloads the blame onto someone else to distance yourself from that excuse.
  • ‘Blemish’ – this falls into the party games category and is a game in which you are insecure about yourself and cannot feel comfortable in any interactions until you have found some sort of blemish with the other person in that interaction as well.
  • ‘Uproar’ – “classical game played between domineering fathers and teenage daughters where there is a sexually inhibited mother. Father comes home from work and finds fault with daughter who answers impudently whereupon father finds fault, their voices rise, and the clash becomes more acute. Either the father retires to his bedroom and slams the door or the daughter retires to her bedroom and slams the door or they both retire to their respective bedrooms and slam the doors”.
  • ‘Courtroom’ – when two people are having a disagreement and there is a third party who the two parties both try to bring in to adjudicate on the argument. The move that needs to be made in order to break this game is for the third party to highlight the banality of the game that is being played in an attempt to make the two parties come together.
  • ‘Happy to help’ – part of a category of games known as good games wherein the social contribution outweighs the complexity of the motivations. In this game, White is consistently helpful to other people with some ulterior motive – he/she may be dong penance for past wickedness, covering up for present wickedness, making friends in order to exploit them later or seeking prestige. Whoever questions his motives, must also give him credit for his actions.
  • ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a b*tch’ – when people bring up a topic that they know will force the other person into a corner and you can keep prodding them until they give up. There is a predictable outcome, they know what the result will be and there is rarely an argument or reason to undermine the argument.


I'm Ok, You're Ok - Thomas Harris

Games People Play - Eric Berne

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