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Games are the ‘snakes and ladders’ of human interaction. Here is an example:

“It reminds me of that old joke- you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.” Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

Games are irrational, hurtful and destructive of loving, caring relationships.

When relationships work well, there is intimacy. An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional closeness. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate attachment or sexual activity. Emotional intimacy involves sharing one’s feelings and being empathic to the feelings of others.

This is a shared, pleasant experience where the STIMULATION is POSITIVE.

When relationships break down, the intimacy is replaced by psychological games. Games are a source of NEGATIVE STIMULATION. They can leave us feeling frustrated, depressed, anxious, worried, hurt, unappreciated, raging, suicidal, homicidal, crazy…

Games are emotional contradictions that leave us feeling bad. Here are some examples of the contradictions:

You make me feel miserable……..make yourself miserable to cheer me up

If only I had more money/sex/time………and even then I’d still feel bad

You’re much cleverer than me…….I’ll show you clever

We’re so happy together……..we can’t stand each other

Why don’t you?……please reject me for giving you advice

I’m doing it all for you……and you don’t care about me

Now I’ve got you son of a bitch….. revenge is sweet, seeing you in as much pain as me

I feel depressed………more like raging inside really

I have a pain in my body…….and you’re it!

I’m sooo totally in love with you………well, myself actually

Kick me…….and you’ll feel how awful I feel

Schlemiel (messmaker) I’ll mess up……..and you’ll have to forgive me

Schlemazel (unfortunate) I’ll get messed about by you……..and have to forgive you

You can depend on me……to control you

You can count on me……to up sticks and leave you stranded

I’m a beautiful princess……but you’re not a patch on my daddy

I’m quite a catch……but you’ll regret the day you caught me

These games need to be addressed before any meaningful therapy or mediation can take place. It is next to impossible for individuals caught up in games to stop playing them, once they become embedded in a relationship. If anything, attempting to stop games simply makes them worse…as they can blow up. They can be dismantled by a Transactional Analyst who understands their nature and get replaced by a more honest, productive narrative.