WIR #20: Games People Play

Games People PlayBerne, Eric, M.D. Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships. New York: Ballantine Books. Copyright © 1964 by Eric Berne. Copyright renewed 1992 by Ellen Berne, Eric Berne, Peter Berne, and Terence Berne

Eric Berne's web site:

I finished this a couple of hours ago. It's rich. It's difficult and it's easy. It's not the sort of thing that can be mastered, let alone understood, after just one reading. If I might quote again Kurt Vonnegut Jr's summation of this book:

An important book . . . a brilliant, amusing, and clear catalogue of the psychological theatricals that human beings play over and over again. The good Doctor has provided story lines that hacks will not exhaust in the next 10,000 years.

It wasn't until after I had finished this book, when discussing it with a writer friend, that I remembered that Vonnegut was a humorist, albeit that his humor was black. In light of that, his use of the term "hacks" takes on an entirely different aura, especially in the context of a comment that is inaugurated with "An important book . . . a brilliant, amusing, and clear catalogue . . . ." Just as important, I think, is Jack M. Bickham's endorsement of this psychological theory.

These "games" that people play are a source of many conflicts and, conflict being the central fire that fuels fiction, it would be foolish to hurl epithets such as "psycho-babble" at Berne's work.

A good book, and definitely one worth reading several times, to gain a more thorough understanding of these "games" so that they can be played by characters in the fictional arena.

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