This is an amazing book written by Eric Berne in 1963. While a little outdated and completely male-centric, as well as routed in Western culture, at least the book admits games will change along-side the socio-cultural landscape: ‘new games are continually being discovered’ (Berne 1963:61). I would love to see culturally specific versions of this book around the world, but, by reading it, wherever you are from, you will get the idea.
It pioneers an approach now widely used in therapy: Transactional Analysis. If you have ever had mental health issues I highly recommend you read this book; it will help you have healthier relationships. ‘I’m OK – You’re OK’ is also a great follow-on book.
It discusses the concept of social intercourse, and says that it is a way of working. Let me go back a few beats.
So as we are growing up, we learn social intercourse in three stages: material programming, social programming, and individual programming. Material programming is the way in which we build ourselves as humans, social programming is the way in which we learn social propriety, i.e during rituals such as weddings, or even going to the hairdresser. Individual programming is where we learn from our own life experiences.
From marital games to sexual games to good games, Berne discusses the many games people can play during social intercourse, and the ways in which they are played.
I highly recommend this book, and while I’m moving on to a new book now, I will keep going back to it I’m sure.