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Games People Play book review by Eric Berne

I recently read a psychological book based on improving social interactions and personal relationships. It’s called “Games People Play” by Eric Berne. The book is about understanding the mental context from which people communicate and what they are trying to achieve in communication. 

In this blog post I will share my thoughts on the book, as well as the notes I took while reading the book.

Chapter 1 – Analysis of Games

  • The context of the book is founded on the necessity of social interaction in relation to health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and mental deprivation can cause biochemical damage, like physical deprivation
  • Social intimacy is vital for health. Social depravity is a number one punishment, and social organisation is used to fight political compliance.
  • Intimacy stimulates health, and even negative interaction stimulates health
  • 3 forms of programming: material, social and individual.

    Part 1 

    In part 1, a certain set of behaviours corresponds to a certain state of mind. Those patterns are called ego states.

    • Each individual seems to have a limited repertoire of behaviours subject to their ego states.
    • With ego states, a particular mind state comes with a predetermined set of behaviours that follow the pattern of that mind state.
    • Each aspect is necessary for continued communication.
    • The ego states available relate to a state of being: parent, adult, or child.
    • Under certain situations, your response will be like how your parent’s would have been,  how you personally objectively feel, and the beliefs they had as a child
    • And the way we act depends on which part of us takes over. Is it the child-like beliefs, our own adult reasoning, or our parents programming?  The child is necessary for creativity and  spontaneity. The adult is necessary for survival and the parent is done for survival, but in the form of tradition and the freedom of thought that comes with that.
    • One a conscious level we can be communicating one way, yet communicating on the other level. 
    • You can communicate on the surface through one ego state, and you can subconsciously communicate on another level (angular and duplex transactions)


    After part one, I could not get through chapter 2 which contained the other 7 or so chapters. It was too wordy and unnecessarily complicated for me. It made a bit of a hard read for me to mentally get into. So I decided to not continue on. So although I liked the first part, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

    Games People Play book review by Eric Berne


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