Games People Play Book Summary - Games People Play Book explained in key points
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Games People Play summary

Eric Berne

The Psychology of Human Relationships

3.6 (565 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Games People Play by Eric Berne explores the psychology behind human behaviour and interactions by analyzing the different "games" people play in everyday life. It provides a framework for understanding how we communicate, relate to others, and navigate social situations.

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    Games People Play
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    Every person has three ego states: Parent, Adult and Child.

    You might have noticed that, despite the general chaos of human behavior, there are certain recurring behavioral patterns.

    The author certainly noticed this.

    After observing thousands of patients, he posited that, when interacting, people act from one of three ego states Parent, Child and Adult. These states comprise systems of feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and are developed over the course of a lifetime. Which ego state you’re acting from at any given moment depends on both your past and the present moment.

    For example, while growing up, each child imitates its caretakers – and that’s where the Parent ego state comes from. Say your mom got angry with you when you did something wrong, and showed her anger by shouting. As an adult, you may unconsciously adopt this kind of behavior, raising your voice when your child misbehaves. Of course, the Parent state needn’t be negative – just an unconscious imitation of your parent or parents.

    Then there’s the Adult ego state, the source of our rational thinking. It develops as we learn how to reflect on our experience throughout childhood, and allows us to make decisions based on what is present in the here and now. It’s the state that processes information and tackles problems with assertive, logical thinking. It emerges when you ask someone to stop crunching popcorn in the cinema, for instance, or when you analyze a broken engine to see what needs to be fixed.

    Finally, the Child ego state is the spontaneous way of being that we’re born with. It’s the origin of our emotions, creativity and intimacy. But, over time, the Child can get buried beneath the Parent and Adult states; it is possible, however, to free the Child of these influences, and return to the spontaneity of the natural Child.

    For instance, we often act from the Child state during sex – an activity that isn’t taught by parents or consciously learned.

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    What is Games People Play about?

    Games People Play (1964) explores the fascinating and bizarre world of psychological games, where players unconsciously manipulate each other into acting in alienating and self-destructive ways. Eric Berne dissects the hidden dynamics beneath the games people play – and shows how to escape from them and find true intimacy.

    Games People Play Review

    Games People Play (1964) is an insightful exploration of human interactions and the psychological games we all play. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with real-life examples and case studies, it sheds light on the hidden dynamics that drive our relationships.
    • By identifying common patterns and strategies in our interactions, it helps readers better understand themselves and others.
    • The book's fascinating analysis of social games offers practical tools for improving communication and building healthier connections.

    Best quote from Games People Play

    Parents, deliberately or unaware, teach their children from birth how to behave, think, feel and perceive.

    —Eric Berne
    example alt text

    Who should read Games People Play?

    • People interested in human behavior
    • Life coaches and therapists
    • Anyone who wants to learn how to deal with difficult people

    About the Author

    Dr. Eric Berne (1910-1970) was a Canadian psychiatrist who developed the influential theory of transactional analysis in the mid-twentieth century. He wrote over 30 books, including What Do You Say After You Say Hello? and Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy.

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    Games People Play FAQs 

    What is the main message of Games People Play?

    The main message of Games People Play is that human interactions can be understood as a series of psychological games.

    How long does it take to read Games People Play?

    The reading time for Games People Play varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Games People Play a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Games People Play is worth reading as it provides valuable insights into human behavior and offers practical knowledge for understanding interpersonal dynamics.

    Who is the author of Games People Play?

    The author of Games People Play is Eric Berne.

    What to read after Games People Play?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Games People Play, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Fascinate by Sally Hogshead
    • Labor of Love by Moira Weigel
    • The Game by Neil Strauss
    • Sizing People Up by Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth
    • Curious by Ian Leslie
    • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
    • Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey