Games People Play
Games People Play

Games People Play

Ego states which deal with the here and now in a nonemotional way are called Adult. When in Adult, we appraise reality objectively and make fact-based decisions, while making sure that Child or Parent emotions or ideas do not contaminate the process. (Location 74)

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“Stroking” may be used as a general term for intimate physical contact; in practice it may take various forms. (Location 240)

By an extension of meaning, “stroking” may be employed colloquially to denote any act implying recognition of another’s presence. Hence a stroke may be used as the fundamental unit of social action. An exchange of strokes constitutes a transaction, which is the unit of social intercourse. (Location 243)

The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours. In this existential sense, the function of all social living is to lend mutual assistance for this project. (Location 255)

Such a project is technically called an activity; the term “work” is unsuitable because a general theory of social psychiatry must recognize that social intercourse is also a form of work. (Location 259)

The essential characteristic of human play is not that the emotions are spurious, but that they are regulated. This (Location 284)

The advantages of social contact revolve around somatic and psychic equilibrium. They are related to the following factors: (1) the relief of tension (2) the avoidance of noxious situations (3) the procurement of stroking and (4) the maintenance of an established equilibrium. (Location 300)

(1) ego states which resemble those of parental figures (2) ego states which are autonomously directed toward objective appraisal of reality and (3) those which represent archaic relics, still-active ego states which were fixated in early childhood. (Location 333)

Actually the Child is in many ways the most valuable part of the personality, and can contribute to the individual’s life exactly what an actual child can contribute to family life: charm, pleasure and creativity. If the Child in the individual is confused and unhealthy, then the consequences may be unfortunate, but something can and should be done about it. (Location 360)

Conversely, so-called “mature people” are people who are able to keep the Adult in control most of the time, but their Child will take over on occasion like anyone else’s, often with disconcerting results. (Location 365)

Thus the Child is also exhibited in two forms: the adapted Child and the natural Child. The adapted Child is the one who modifies his behavior under the Parental influence. He behaves as father (or mother) wanted him to behave: compliantly or precociously, for example. Or he adapts himself by withdrawing or whining. (Location 370)

Another task of the Adult is to regulate the activities of the Parent and the Child, and to mediate objectively between them. (Location 385)

First, it enables the individual to act effectively as the parent of actual children, thus promoting the survival of the human race. Its value in this respect is shown by the fact that in raising children, people orphaned in infancy seem to have a harder time than those from homes unbroken into adolescence. (Location 386)

If two or more people encounter each other in a social aggregation, sooner or later one of them will speak, or give some other indication of acknowledging the presence of the others. This is called the transactional stimulus. (Location 398)

The agent, estimating from the data before him that a scalpel is now the instrument of choice, holds out his hand. (Location 402)

The first rule of communication is that communication will proceed smoothly as long as transactions are complementary; and its corollary is that as long as transactions are complementary, communication can, in principle, proceed indefinitely. (Location 408)

As long as the transactions are complementary, it is irrelevant to the rule whether two people are engaging in critical gossip (Parent-Parent), solving a problem (Adult-Adult), or playing together (Child-Child or Parent-Child). (Location 410)

These are both Child-Parent responses, and as the transactional diagram shows, the vectors cross. In such cases the Adult problems about drinking or cuff links must be suspended until the vectors can be realigned. This may take anywhere from several months in the drinking example to a few seconds in the case of the cuff links. (Location 420)

social, level these are directed to the Adult of the housewife, whose Adult reply would be: “You are correct on both counts.” However, the ulterior, or psychological, vector is directed by the well-trained and experienced Adult of the salesman to the housewife’s Child. (Location 445)

Since the needs of adaptation require that the Child be shielded by the Parent or Adult until each social situation has been tested, Child programing is most apt to occur in situations of privacy and intimacy, where preliminary testing has already been done. (Location 458)

The programing of a procedure is determined by the material, on the basis of estimates made by the agent’s Adult. (Location 468)

Thus efficiency is a psychological criterion and effectiveness is a material one. A native assistant medical officer on a tropical island became very adept at removing cataracts. He used what knowledge he had with a very high degree of efficiency, but since he knew less than the European medical officer, he was not quite as effective. (Location 472)

From the present viewpoint, a ritual is a stereotyped series of simple complementary transactions programed by external social forces. (Location 477)

Transactionally they represent guilt-relieving or reward-seeking compliances with traditional Parental demands. They offer a safe, reassuring (apotropaic), and often enjoyable method of structuring time. (Location 485)

However, if we use the transaction as the unit of social intercourse, we can dissect out of appropriate situations an entity which may be called a simple pastime. (Location 532)

simple, complementary transactions arranged around a single field of material, whose primary object is to structure an interval of time. (Location 533)

waiting period before a formal group meeting begins; such waiting periods before a meeting “begins” have the same structure and dynamics as “parties.” Pastimes may take the form described as “chit-chat” or they may become more serious, e.g., argumentative. (Location 537)

Pastimes may be classified in different ways. The external determinants are sociological (sex, age, marital status, cultural, racial or economic). (Location 544)

“What Became” (of good old Joe), often played by economic successes and failures; “Morning After” (what a hangover) and “Martini” (I know a better way), typical of a certain kind of ambitious young person. (Location 550)

At the Child-Child level it takes the form of “How do You Deal with Recalcitrant Parents”; its Adult-Adult form, “PTA” proper, is popular among well-read young mothers; with older people it tends to take the dogmatic Parent-Parent form of “Juvenile Delinquency.” (Location 553)

Besides structuring time and providing mutually acceptable stroking for the parties concerned, pastimes serve the additional function of being social-selection processes. While a pastime is in progress, the Child in each player is watchfully assessing the potentialities of the others involved. (Location 569)

In special cases the Adult overrides the Child in the selection process. This is most clearly illustrated by an insurance salesman who carefully learns to play social pastimes. (Location 574)

Another important advantage obtained from pastimes is the confirmation of role and the stabilizing of position. A role is something like what Jung calls persona, except that it is less opportunistic and more deeply rooted in the individual’s fantasies. (Location 589)

The confirmation of his role stabilizes the individual’s position, and this is called the existential advantage from the pastime. A position is a simple predicative statement which influences all of the individual’s transactions; in the long run it determines his destiny and often that of his descendants as well. (Location 594)

Actually a position is primarily manifested by the mental attitude to which it gives rise, and it is with this attitude that the individual undertakes the transactions which constitute his role. (Location 599)

One reason pastimes are so stereotyped is that they serve such stereotyped purposes. But the gains they offer show why people play them so eagerly, and why they can be so pleasant if played with people who have constructive or benevolent positions to maintain. (Location 604)

DEFINITION A (Location 614)

GAME is an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome. (Location 615)

Games are clearly differentiated from procedures, rituals, and pastimes by two chief characteristics: (1) their ulterior quality and (2) the payoff. Procedures may be successful, rituals effective, and pastimes profitable, but all of them are by definition candid; they may involve contest, but not conflict, and the ending may be sensational, but it is not dramatic. Every game, on the other hand, is basically dishonest, and the outcome has a dramatic, as distinct from merely exciting, quality. (Location 617)

An operation is a simple transaction or set of transactions undertaken for a specific, stated purpose. If someone frankly asks for reassurance and gets it, that is an operation. If someone asks for reassurance, and after it is given turns it in some way to the disadvantage of the giver, that is a game. Superficially, then, a game looks like a set of operations, but after the payoff it becomes apparent that these “operations” were really maneuvers; not honest requests but moves in the game. (Location 621)

What he is after, if he is worth his salt, is to “make a killing.” The same applies to “the real estate game,” “the pajama game” and similar occupations. Hence at a social gathering, while a salesman is engaged in pastimes, particularly variants of “Balance Sheet,” his congenial participation may conceal a series of skillful maneuvers designed to elicit the kind of information he is professionally interested (Location 626)

Adult control to yield the maximum gains—the big “con games” which flourished in the early 1900’s are hard to surpass for detailed practical planning and psychological virtuosity. (Location 632)

Because of their dynamic qualities, games are easy to distinguish from mere static attitudes, which arise from taking a position. (Location 635)

The possible seriousness of games and play, and the possibly serious results, are well known to anthropologists. (Location 641)

This unfortunate adventure, along with similar ones, laid bare some important aspects of the structure of her marriage. Out of her many suitors she had picked a domineering man for a husband. She was then in a position to complain that she could do all sorts of things “if it weren’t for you.” (Location 648)

As it turned out, however, contrary to her complaints, her husband was performing a very real service for her by forbidding her to do something she was deeply afraid of, and by preventing her, in fact, from even becoming aware of her fears. This was one reason her Child had shrewdly chosen such a husband. (Location 651)

The theoretical analysis of “If It Weren’t For You,” Marital Type, for example, should state the characteristics of that game in such a way that it can be recognized just as easily in a New Guinea jungle village as in a Manhattan penthouse, whether it is concerned with a nuptial party or with the financial problems of getting a fishing rod for the grandchildren; and regardless of how bluntly or subtly the moves are made, according to the permissible degrees of frankness between husband and wife. (Location 670)

“Beautiful friendships” are often based on the fact that the players complement each other with great economy and satisfaction, so that there is a maximum yield with a minimum effort from the games they play with each other. Certain intermediate, precautionary or concessional moves can be elided, giving a high degree of elegance to the relationship. (Location 718)

The general advantages of a game consist in its stabilizing (homeostatic) functions. Biological homeostasis is promoted by the stroking, and psychological stability is reinforced by the confirmation of position. (Location 725)

Hence the biological gain from IWFY is derived from belligerence-petulance exchanges: a distressing but apparently effective way to maintain the health of nervous tissues. (Location 729)

existential advantage. This position is a reaction to the need to surrender that is inherent in the phobias, a demonstration of the coherent structure which underlies all games. (Location 731)

Internal psychological advantage of a game is its direct effect on the psychic economy (libido). (Location 736)

At the same time it satisfies masochistic needs, if they exist, using masochism not in the sense of self-abnegation but with its classical meaning of sexual excitement in situations of deprivation, humiliation or pain. (Location 738)

is the avoidance of the feared situation by playing the game. (Location 740)

by complying with the husband’s strictures, the wife avoids the public situations which she fears. (Location 741)

This helps to structure the time she must spend with her husband; in the case of Mrs. White, this need for structure was especially strong because of the lack of other common interests, especially before the arrival of their offspring and after the children were grown. (Location 743)

Game analysis only attempts to answer this question without prejudice: given that a young woman is busy, how does she go about exploiting her busyness in order to get some compensation for it? (Location 748)

The new neighbor who is invited for morning coffee is being invited to play “If It Weren’t For Him.” If she plays, well and good, she will soon be a bosom friend of the old-timers, other things being equal. (Location 752)

From the present point of view, child rearing may be regarded as an educational process in which the child is taught what games to play and how to play them. (Location 758)

As elements of his script, or unconscious life-plan, his favored games also determine his ultimate destiny (again with other things being equal): the payoffs on his marriage and career, and the circumstances surrounding his death. (Location 761)

If this had been a household of food or bowel faddists, Mike would also have been packed off to bed by his alarmed parents. If he and they had repeated this performance several times, it might be anticipated that this game would have become part of Mike’s character, as it so often does if the parents cooperate. (Location 776)

The issue is that a game in statu nascendi was broken up right there by the father’s question and by the boy’s frank acknowledgment that what he proposed was a game. (Location 781)

After they become fixed patterns of stimulus and response, their origins become lost in the mists of time and their ulterior nature becomes obscured by social fogs. (Location 783)

are imitative in nature, and that they are initially set up by the Adult (neopsychic) aspect of the child’s personality. (Location 785)

state can be revived in the grown-up player, the psychological aptitude of this segment (the Adult aspect of the Child ego state) is so striking, and its skill in manipulating people so enviable, that it is colloquially called “The Professor” (of Psychiatry). (Location 786)

whose early adventures in setting up games between the ages of two and eight are listened to by everyone present with fascination and often, unless the games are tragic, with enjoyment and even hilarity, in which the patient himself may join with justifiable self-appreciation and smugness. (Location 789)

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. In this connection it should be remembered that the essential feature of a game is its culmination, or payoff. (Location 795)

This is often observed in marital situations when the psychiatric improvement of one spouse (i.e., the abandonment of destructive games) leads to rapid deterioration in the other spouse, to whom the games were of paramount importance in maintaining equilibrium. Hence it is necessary to exercise prudence in game analysis. (Location 808)

are so great that even precariously balanced personalities can safely and joyfully relinquish their games if an appropriate partner can be found for the better relationship. (Location 811)

Since the last act of a script characteristically calls for either a miracle or a catastrophe, depending on whether the script is constructive or destructive, the corresponding games are accordingly either constructive or destructive. (Location 814)

If some of them seem disrespectful, the irony is directed against the games and not against the people who play them. The first requirement for colloquialisms is aptness, and if they often sound amusing, that is precisely because they hit the nail on the head. (Location 885)

After he has paid his debts—the mortgage, the college expenses for his children and his insurance—he is regarded as a problem, a “senior citizen” for whom society must provide not only material comforts but a new “purpose.” (Location 1019)

“Try and Collect” (TAC) is commonly played by young married couples, and illustrates how a game is set up so that the player “wins” whichever way it goes. (Location 1030)

measures. These usually have a coercive element—going to White’s employers or driving up to his house in a noisy, garish truck labeled in big letters COLLECTION AGENCY. (Location 1035)

Bitch.” In this case he wins by demonstrating that the creditor is greedy, ruthless and untrustworthy. The two most obvious advantages of this are (1) it strengthens White’s existential position, which is a disguised form of “All creditors are grasping,” and (2) it offers a large external social gain, since he is now in a position to abuse the creditor openly to his friends without losing his own status as a “Good Joe.” (Location 1039)

an amateur stands as much chance playing against them as he does playing against professional gamblers. (Location 1052)

Since both are by tradition played grimly, nothing is more disconcerting to the professionals than to have an amateur victim laugh at the outcome. (Location 1053)

The corresponding game among women is “Threadbare.” Often genteel, they take pains to be shabby. They see to it that their earnings, for “good” reasons, never rise much above the subsistence level. (Location 1064)

Colloquially, such a woman is called “Mother’s Friend,” always ready to give judicious Parental advice and living vicariously on the experience of others. (Location 1067)

An interesting form of WAHM occurs in well-adapted people who reap increasing rewards and successes, often beyond their own expectations. (Location 1069)

At this point, if he is a NIGYSOB player, he is more interested in the fact that Black is completely at his mercy than he is in good poker or making money. (Location 1073)

explanation. The plumber would not back down. White wrote him a long letter criticizing his integrity and ethics and refused to pay the bill until the extra charge was withdrawn. The plumber finally gave in. (Location 1077)

It soon became obvious that both White and the plumber were playing games. In the course of their negotiations, they had recognized each other’s potentials. (Location 1078)

White took the opportunity to make extensive criticisms of the plumber’s whole way of living. (Location 1082)

The best antithesis is correct behavior. The contractual structure of a relationship with a NIGYSOB player should be explicitly stated in detail at the first opportunity, and the rules strictly adhered to. (Location 1094)