Eric berne — games people play: the psychology of human relationships
Games People Play
The psychology of human relationships
THIS book is primarily designed to be a sequel to my book Transnational Analysis in
Psychotherapy,1 but has been planned so that it can be read and understood independently. The
theory necessary for the analysis and clear understanding of games has been summarized in Part I.
Part II contains descriptions of the individual games. Part III contains new clinical and theoretical
material which, added to the old, makes it possible to understand to some extent what it means to
be game-free. Those desiring further background are referred to the earlier volume. The reader of
both will note that in addition to the theoretical advances, there have been some minor changes in
terminology and viewpoint based on further thinking and reading and new clinical material.
The need for this book was indicated by interested requests from students and lecture audiences for
lists of games, or for further elaboration of games mentioned briefly as examples in a general
exposition of the principles of transactional analysis. Thanks are due in general to these students
and audiences, and especially to the many patients who exposed to view, spotted or named new
games; and in particular to Miss Barbara Rosenfeld for her many ideas about the art and meaning
of listening; and to Mr. Melvin Boyce, Mr. Joseph Concannon, Dr. Franklin Ernst, Dr. Kenneth
Everts, Dr. Gordon Gritter, Mrs. Frances Matson, and Dr. Ray Poindexter, among others, for their
independent discovery or confirmation of the significance of many games.
Mr. Claude Steiner, formerly Research Director of the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars
and presently in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan deserves special
mention on two counts. He conducted the first experiments which confirmed many of the
theoretical points at issue here, and as a result of these experiments he helped considerably in
clarifying the nature of autonomy and of intimacy. Thanks are also due to Miss Viola Lilt, the
Secretary-Treasurer of the Seminars, and to Mrs. Mary N. Williams, my personal secretary, for
their continued help, and to Anne Garrett for her assistance in reading the proof.
For conciseness, the games are described primarily from the male point of view unless they are
clearly feminine. Thus the chief player is usually designated as "he," but without prejudice, since
the same situation, unless otherwise indicated, could as easily be outlined with "she," mutatis
mutandis. If the woman's role differs significantly from the man's, it is treated separately. The
therapist is similarly without prejudice designated as "he." The vocabulary and viewpoint are
primarily oriented toward the practicing clinician, but members of other professions may find this
book interesting or useful.
Transactional game analysis should be clearly distinguished from its growing sister science of
mathematical game analysis, although a few of the terms used in the text, such as "payoff," are now
respectably mathematical. For a detailed review of the mathematical theory of games see Games &
Decisions, by R. D. Luce and H. Raiffa
— Carmel, California, May 1962
1. Berne, E. Transnational Analysis in Psychotherapy. Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1961.
2. Luce, R. D., and Raiffa, H. Games & Decisions. John Willey & Sons, Inc., New York, 1957.
1 SOCIAL INTERCOURSE