First published in the 1960s and recognized as a classic work of its kind by professionals, the bestselling ‘Games People Play’ is also an accessible and fascinating read. It is a wise, original, witty and very sensible analysis of the games we play in order to live with one another and with ourselves.


Chapter 1

  • the most favoured forms of stimuli are those provided by physical intimacy

  • In technical language, an ego state may be described phenomenologically as a coherent system of feelings, and operationally as a set of coherent behaviour patterns. In more practical terms, it is a system of feelings accompanied by a related set of behaviour patterns.

  • (1) ego states which resemble those of parental figures;
    (2) ego states which are autonomously directed towards objective appraisal of reality and
    (3) those which represent archaic relics, still-active ego states which were fixated in early childhood.

  • ‘That is your Parent’ means: ‘You are now in the same state of mind as one of your parents (or a parental substitute) used to be, and you are responding as he would, with the same posture, gestures, vocabulary, feelings, etc.’
  • ‘That is your Adult’ means: ‘You have just made an autonomous, objective appraisal of the situation and are stating these thought processes, or the problems you perceive, or the conclusions you have come to, in a non-prejudicial manner.’
  • ‘That is your Child’ means: ‘The manner and intent of your reaction is the same as it would have been when you ...
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  • It will be convenient henceforth to call actual people parents, adults or children, with no capital letters; Parent, Adult and Child, capitalized, will be used when ego states are referred to.

  • The word ‘childish’ is never used in structural analysis, since it has come to have strong connotations of undesirability, and of something to be stopped forthwith or got rid of. The term ‘child-like’ is used in describing the Child (an archaic ego state), since it is more biological and not prejudicial.

  • In this system there is no such thing as an ‘immature person’. There are only people in whom the Child takes over inappropriately or unproductively, but all such people have a complete, well-structured Adult which only needs to be uncovered or activated.

  • the Parent is exhibited in two forms, direct and indirect: as an active ego state, and as an influence.
    When it is directly active, the person responds as his own father (or mother) actually responded (‘Do as I do’).
    When it is an indirect influence, he responds the way they wanted him to respond (‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’).
    In the first case he becomes one of them; in the second, he adapts himself to their requirements.

  • the Child is also exhibited in two forms: the adapted Child and the natural Child.
    The adapted Child is the one who modifies his behaviour under the Parental influence. He behaves as father (or mother) wanted him to behave: compliantly or precociously, for example. Or he adapts himself by withdrawing or whining. Thus the Parental influence is a cause, and the adapted Child an effect.
    The natural Child is a spontaneous expression: rebellion or creativity, for example.

  • In the Child reside intuition, creativity and spontaneous drive and enjoyment.
  • The Adult is necessary for survival. It processes data and computes the probabilities which are essential for dealing effectively with the outside world.
  • Another task of the Adult is to regulate the activities of the Parent and the Child, and to mediate objectively between them.

Chapter 2

  • The unit of social intercourse is called a transaction.
    If two or more people encounter each other in a social aggregation, sooner or later one of them will speak, or give some other indication of acknowledging the presence of the others. This is called the transactional stimulus.
    Another person will then say or do something which is in some way related to this stimulus, and that is called the transactional response.
    Simple transactional analysis is concerned with diagnosing which ego state implemented the transactional stimulus, and which one executed the transactional response.

  • The first rule of communication is that communication will proceed smoothly as long as transactions are complementary;

  • The converse rule is that communication is broken off when a crossed transaction occurs. The most common crossed transaction, and the one which causes and always has caused most of the social difficulties in the world, whether in marriage, love, friendship, or work, is represented in Figure 3A as Crossed Transaction Type I.

  • a superficial relationship may be defined as one which is confined to simple complementary transactions. Such relationships occur in activities, rituals and pastimes. More complex are ulterior transactions – those involving the activity of more than two ego states simultaneously – and this category is the basis for games.
    Salesmen are particularly adept at angular transactions, those involving three ego states.

  • A duplex ulterior transaction involves four ego states, and is commonly seen in flirtation games.

  • Transactions may be classified, then, as complementary or crossed, simple or ulterior, and ulterior transactions may be subdivided into angular and duplex types.

  • Since the needs of adaptation require that the Child be shielded by the Parent or Adult until each social situation has been tested, Child programming is most apt to occur in situations of privacy and intimacy, where preliminary testing has already been done.
  • Reality is defined as having two aspects: static and dynamic.
    Static reality comprises all the possible arrangements of matter in the universe. Dynamic reality may be defined as the potentialities for interaction of all the energy systems in the universe.

  • A procedure is said to be efficient when the agent makes the best possible use of the data and experience available to him, regardless of any deficiencies that may exist in his knowledge.
  • The effectiveness of a procedure is judged by the actual results.
  • If A and B were in a hurry, they might both be contented with a two-stroke exchange, Hi-Hi.
    If they were old-fashioned Oriental potentates, they might go through a two-hundred stroke ritual before settling down to business.

    • so true
  • The essential and similar feature of both procedures and rituals is that they are stereotyped. Once the first transaction has been initiated, the whole series is predictable and follows a predetermined course to a foreordained conclusion unless special conditions arise.
    The difference between them lies in the origin of the predetermination: procedures are programmed by the Adult and rituals are Parentally patterned.

  • Individuals who are not comfortable or adept with rituals sometimes evade them by substituting procedures. They can be found, for example, among people who like to help the hostess with preparing or serving food and drink at parties.
  • pastime may be defined as a series of semi-ritualistic, simple, complementary transactions arranged around a single field of material, whose primary object is to structure an interval of time. The beginning and end of the interval are typically signalled by procedures or rituals.

  • Descriptively it is a recurring set of transactions, often repetitious, superficially plausible, with a concealed motivation;

  • Games are clearly differentiated from procedures, rituals, and pastimes by two chief characteristics: (1) their ulterior quality and (2) the payoff.

  • Procedures may be successful, rituals effective, and pastimes profitable, but all of them are by definition candid; they may involve contest, but not conflict, and the ending may be sensational, but it is not dramatic. Every game, on the oth…

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  • An operation is a simple transaction or set of transactions undertaken for a specific, stated purpose.

  • If someone frankly asks for reassurance and gets it, that is an operation. If someone asks for reassurance, and after it is given turns it in some way to the disadvantage of the giver, that is a game.

  • Antithesis. The presumption that a certain sequence constitutes a game is tentative until it has been existentially validated. This validation is carried out by a refusal to play or by undercutting the payoff.

  • despair is a concern of the Adult, while in depression it is the Child who has the executive power. Hopefulness, enthusiasm or a lively interest in one’s surroundings is the opposite of depression; laughter is the opposite of despair.

  • The antithesis to IWFY is permissiveness.

  • long as the husband is prohibitive, the game can proceed. If instead of saying ‘Don’t you dare!’ he says ‘Go ahead!’ the underlying phobias are unmaske…

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  • The aim of IWFY may be stated as either reassurance (‘It’s not that I’m afraid, it’s that he won’t let me’) or vindication (‘It’s not that I’m not trying, it’s that he holds me back’).

  • IWFY is a two-handed game and calls for a restricted wife and a domineering husband. The wife may play her role either as a prudent Adult (‘It’s best that I do as he says’) or as a petulant Child. The domineering husband may preserve an Adult ego state (‘It’s best that you do as I say’) or slip into a Parental one (‘You’d better do what I say’).