The pay off: a good fight that reduces the closeness and intimacy
in a relationship where intimacy makes us uneasy.
The set up: two people, usually spouses, co-workers, or parent and
child, are trying to impress each other or get the other person to do
something. "My ______ (house, car, job, performance, brain, social
ability, etc.) is very good."
The ulterior motives: to feel superior by putting the other person
down, to have the other person serve or defer to you. "My _______ is
bigger and better than yours; therefore, you should do what I want
you to do."
The pay offs: an ongoing, competitive argument about who is best
and who should be the boss. There is always some hope of winning the
argument and so the relationship continues on but without emotional
Summary of games and how to stop them
First, recognize that games involve deception. The way to stop
gaming is to see what is really happening. That isn't easy, but ask
yourself if any of the above games sound slightly familiar or similar to
your own behavior. That is the only hint you will have; don't expect to
always have instant insight and think "Oh, I do that!" Our unconscious
doesn't just pop open as soon as someone peeps in.
Second, realize that we are all frustrated and angry at times (see
chapter 7). Games involve lots of putdowns. It is not surprising that
we try to express our negative feelings subtly. It's safer to be sneaky!
And, besides that, secret attacks are harder to defend against.
Furthermore, if we feel angry and mean, it is less stressful sometimes
if we do not think about our hostility, i.e. if our destructive urges are
shoved into our unconscious. Thus, the interaction in games is rather
strange: no one knows what is really happening! Neither the game
player nor the victim is consciously aware of the purpose of this social
interaction, until the pay off of the game is being collected. Even then,
neither person may recognize what happened, the game player just
knows this happens to him/her a lot. In addition, an interaction with
any one person may produce many pay offs, some desirable, some
destructive, some mixed. This helps conceal games. Example: the
teacher who enjoys belittling and putting down students who haven't
done their homework, may be a good teacher in other ways, such as
lecturing or kidding around. The detection and control of games, for all
these reasons, requires insight and a conscious motivation to change
the unconscious interaction.