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Games People Play: A Book Review

By Blarney in Culture
Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 11:35:55 AM EST
Tags: K5 Book Club, psychology, 1950s, conservatism, L. Ron Hubbard, Eric Berne, Intimacy, Games, nuclear war (all tags)

Welcome to the K5 Book Club! Discussions on K5 have brought up this book. In an unrelated situation, real life people have recommended the same book to me. Mildly cultish following and also a nice short read. Dated but charming, and provides plenty of ammo for accusing your fellows of pathological behavior, which is probably the best reason to read psych books! Definitely up there with Freud and LRH. A true classic.


I've been told by multiple people that 'Games People Play' by Eric Berne changed their lives, personal and professional both, but that doesn't mean they actually read it. I figured I'd read this one, at least to see if I enjoyed it as much as I did "Dianetics", and of course legitimately purchased it from an appropriate retailer and didn't pirate it off of a Free Books site with an Indian domain extension, which I highly recommend you not to do either. The book is divided into 3 pieces - a small theoretical jargon-filled Analysis of Games, the Thesaurus of Games themselves, and a short conclusion titled Beyond Games.

Analysis of Games

This is where Berne lays out his theories of human psychology, life, the universe, and everything. He also has some catchy aphorisms such as "If you are not stroked, your spinal cord will shrivel up." Since we all need each other to 'stroke' us we will play all kinds of Games to get that to happen.

Berne also comes up with a tripartate layout of self, distinct from the Freudian triad of id, ego, and superego, or perhaps this is actually a subdivision of the Freudian ego. To Berne, we're all part Parent, part Adult, and part Child. He ascribes schizoprenia to the lifelong dominance of the Child, for example. And he offers a way to draw it all out:

Parent     /-->   Parent        Parent  <-\       Parent
Adult     /       Adult         Adult   ---\-->   Adult
Child  <-/        Child         Child       \_    Child
--------          --------      --------          --------
Player 1          Player 2      Player 1           Player 2
 Symmetrical Transaction         Crossed Transaction
          (good)                            (bad)
Basically it's good when people relate to each other within the roles they have each chosen for the 'transaction' but it causes conflict when people 'cross' their 'transactions'. Sort of like the laser streams in Ghostbusters. This is pretty boring stuff but is necessary to understand the 'analysis' sections in the Game descriptions, if you want to get into all the technical psychiatric details.

Thesaurus of Games

Most people are going to just skip ahead to the Thesaurus of Games, which is the fun part anyway. It's enjoyable because you can accuse your family and friends of playing various Games while denying doing so yourself. And it'd be the useful part too, if you could recognize life situations and figure out how to get out of the same repeated patterns of behavior that keep you trapped there, assuming you actually wanted to get something useful out of the book. Which you might, maybe, if you really wanted to. Although it's often more fun to simply accuse other people of having various psychological problems, and then you can both accuse each other of 'projecting'. "I know you are but what am I?" This is an excellent way to debate politics, I think. Also sports, art, and science. I think that's why pop psych books sell so well.

What I appreciate most about the Games section is not the Games themselves, but Berne's utter hard-assed assessment of other human beings. He is a touchy feely psychiatrist, to be sure, but he's a product of his time. His conservative, bigoted attitude is refreshing because it is natural for him. Today, to go around extolling the WASPy bourgeosie way of life is inherently an affectation with little connection to reality, indicating one as having the potential to veer off into moonbattery at any moment. Berne isn't like that. He's just old school. Not a shithead, the way you'd have to be to hold similar attitudes today, just a man in an era. And to him, your problems are pretty much your own fault. He may not be the psych you wish you had for yourself. He is, however, the psych you probably wish your friends and family had!

Berne's book dates to the 60s but the attitude is really more 50s. There is not even a hint of the women's liberation movement, of race conflicts and riots, of hippies, of gay rights, or of the nuclear fire threatening overhead. Nothing that endangers the bourgeosie lifestyle is even acknowledged. It's a world where white men in suits make the decisions, and pretty young secretaries type up those decisions while occasionally running off to the restroom to fret over a run in their stocking and, for all we know, lie on the 'fainting couch'. And Berne is a perfect psych for that world.

Wouldn't it be fun to send him a modern patient and just watch him work his bareknuckled magic?

"Well, young lady, what seems to be the problem?"
"I've been cutting myself. See the marks? I do it to feel the pain."
"That's stupid. How about you just not do that anymore?"
"Wow, I never thought of that! None of my other psychiatrists ever said that! Thanks!"

Berne believes that people spend most of their lives playing Games, which may or may not be fun, may or may not be for serious. We learn these games from our parents and others around us and pass them down through the generations. All games can be played in various degrees, ranging from social pastimes to deadly serious games which end in 'the courtroom or the morgue'.The games are classified into categories - Life Games, Marital Games, Party Games, Sexual Games, et cetera, and each category contains several games. Some games are not broken out into their own entry, but are merely treated as sub-games of existing games. Each game is specified as a play with various actors, and some of the games finish with a short bit of jargonic 'analysis'. The jargon makes sense if you read the 'Analysis of Games' section, but it's not really all that important anyway, as Berne himself shows by failing to provide this bit for most of the Games he describes.

The Game of Alcoholic is illustrative of Berne's approach. It's also the first one in the book, and has been copypasted onto K5 at least once already. This is described as a play with up to 5 actors - the Alcoholic, his Persecutor, his Rescuer, his Patsy, and his Supplier. Variations such as "Dry Alcoholic" who ruins his life the same way, but without alcohol, are discussed, as is "Addict" who simply chooses a different substance but plays the same Game. Berne's message is that you may think you're helping the Alcoholic, but you aren't. You need to stop harassing him to quit drinking, or you're just taking on the role of Persecutor. You need to stop trying to get him help, or you're the Rescuer. You need to stop giving him the occasional square meal or you're the Patsy. You aren't helping yourself or anyone else by playing this Game. All the Alcoholic needs is to stop getting drunk and screwing his life up. Real simple, real easy. Self-reliance. Your problems are your own damned fault. Solid, simple message.

Berne's thoughts on homosexuality are similarly hard-boiled. He classifies such behavior under the Game of Perversion, and explicates thusly:

The game of "Homosexuality" has become elaborated into a subculture in many countries, just as it is ritualized in others. Many of the disabilities which result from homosexuality arise from making it into a game... The "professional homosexual" wastes a large amount of time and energy which could be applied to other ends. Analysis of his games may help him establish a quiet manage (sic) which will leave him free to enjoy the benefits that bourgeois society offers...
In other words, brother, keep it on the downlow, don't let your wife find out, and avoid using a wide stance in the cruisey bathroom! And also:
One of the most unfortunate and acute forms of Third-Degree "Rapo" occurs relatively frequently between homosexual strangers, who in a matter of an hour or so may bring the game to a point of homicide.
So yes, queer-bashers are secretly gay themselves (who knew?) but the gays are to blame for their own deaths, as they play the Game of Rapo and thereby lead their murderers on: just as female players of Rapo lead men on and act victimized by the attention they get. That is, when they're not playing "See What You Made Me Do" or "Frigid Woman" or other such feminine Games. Everybody plays a lot of Games, men and women have their defined roles for the most part although the occasional gender disclaimer is present, and political correctness is still 30 years away.

Beyond Games

Anyone here ever read Dianetics, been to a Scientology rally? Just as L. Ron Hubbard offers an expensive and pseudotechnical way of removing one's 'engrams' and becoming Clear, Berne's idea is that we can all be better people by living lives without Games. He doesn't go as far as Elron and claim we'll have superpowers, he simply believes we'll have better lives. Which is a fairly worthy goal. Berne, of course, being the tough conservative guy he is, doesn't want to sell you a magical voltmeter. He just wants you to take a good look at the behavior he's described here in the Games section, and he wants you to stop doing it.

"Doctor, help me, I'm doing all sorts of crazy stuff!"
"Well, stop doing that!"
Can't argue with that. Just stop!

In the end, Games arise from desperation for 'strokes' combined with fear of true Intimacy. Replace Games with true Intimacy, keep it real, and nobody's spine will have to shrivel up!

True Intimacy in your life brings success, respect, the promotion and the corner office. You drive home to your beautiful house in your quiet, caucasian neighborhood as the little boys play ball, the little girls host tea parties for their dollies, and housewives prepare for their husbands to arrive for dinner. Upon entering, your beautiful wife greets you with your slippers and your pipe, filled and ready to light. You relax in your favorite chair as she brings you a cocktail. You faintly hear the sounds of your children, washing and dressing to present themselves to you at dinner, but you are not yet disturbed by them. Your wife brings you a dry martini, which you sip, before leaving to busy herself in the kitchen. As you pull your recliner's lever and lean back, another man pulls a lever in the sky. A shiny silver orb disembarks from a nonstop transcontinental flight. You hear the cat miaow. The last thing you see is limitless white light. You never even hear the mushroom growl.

Fin.

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Related Links
o 'Games People Play' by Eric Berne
o Also by Blarney


Display: Sort:
Games People Play: A Book Review | 32 comments (24 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
hard boiled? (none / 0) (#4)
by Del Griffith on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 11:52:06 PM EST

like eggs?

Id give them 3 minutes, and yet I'd give this 5 seconds.

Nothing personal, my boy but I'm just not into personal disasters like I was.

Until we can buy/sell short/long the crawford exchange, im not tuggin @ that worm.

-------
I...I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. Because I'm the real article. What you see is what you get. - Me


would you prefer K5 Book Club to GFC? $ (none / 1) (#5)
by Blarney on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 09:16:12 AM EST



[ Parent ]
why I aughta (none / 0) (#8)
by DK4 Bloo on Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 06:45:18 PM EST



They teach transactional analsysis in Psych Units (1.00 / 9) (#9)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 12:05:58 AM EST

I have in my scrapbook a coin depicting that pair of stacks of three circles. It was given to us after our group therapist explained transactional analysis in the psych hospital where my Schizoaffective Disorder was diagnosed in 1985. That was Alhambra Community Psychiatric Center in Rosemead, California.



If you are not stroked, your spine will shrivel up (1.11 / 9) (#10)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 12:30:36 AM EST

That problem is Universal among mammals, and I expect some other kinds of animals as well.

Bonita's Animal Behavior professor expressed the exact same concept for the exact same reason as:

"It is better to hit a cat with shovel than to ignore it."

It is because you thought I was expressing cruelty towards innocent puddy-tats that I tartly replied that you must not know much about cats.

While it does take time, effort and patience, I can entice the most batshit insane and viciously feral cats to come up to me, where they allow me to take them into my arms, at which point they purr with wild abandon.



I know, I know. Come on, dude (none / 1) (#17)
by Blarney on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 11:37:40 AM EST

Why do you think the story ends with a cat meowing for attention? Well, right before I drop The Bomb. I'm citing you here, this is a Gift to you.

But it is an abusive relationship all the same. The answer is neither to ignore the cat nor beat it - you either take care of the cat properly or give it away to someone else who can. Berne sees this phenomenon, people induced into Games by their need for attention, as an evil thing which should be left behind.

[ Parent ]

Ah! You were too subtle for me. Thank You. (1.20 / 5) (#19)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 11:50:54 AM EST

Recall that it was an Animal Behaviour instructor who said that about cats. I think his point was that cats need so much attention, that the worse cruelty one can do to a cat is to ignore it.

I have a theory about this. Consider how feral mother cats take care of their kittens in the wild. From time to time they need to take their litter from one place to another, to find new prey or to avoid predators. They do this by biting the backs of their kittens' necks to carry them.

A mother cat, then, would murder her own kitten simply by failing it to carry it to its new home.

Bonita learned while she was studying Animal Health Technology how to hypnotize a cat. Try it yourself sometime. It takes a little practice to do just right.

Suspend the cat by its forearms over one hand, with its back legs on either side of your forearm. With the other hand, stroke the back of its neck and its shoulder blades. Puts them out like a light, because it reminds them of their own mothers!

Veterinarians use this technique to calm nervous cats during treatment.



[ Parent ]

Eric Berne's Website (1.12 / 8) (#11)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 01:19:17 AM EST

I know you're going to want to zero me. I ask you not to, just this once. This comment is very on-topic to the story and doesn't link to any of my own sites.

If you're unsure of whether to buy the book, a read over Dr. Berne's website should convince you.

The book has been in continuous print since 1964 and has sold five million copies.



Psychiatrists aren't stupid, you know (1.27 / 11) (#12)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 01:39:32 AM EST

To explain to everyone else, Berne does such a good job explaining the various games that the San Francisco Psychiatry Seminars was able to identify, that after having read the book, you will readily observe others playing games, and so feel duty-bound to point out to others the games they are playing.

"Buddy, can you spare a dime for a cup of coffee?"

"You're playing the game of Alcoholic. I refuse to play the Patsy."

"Fuck You, bro."

The problem of course is that most of the Games are survival strategies. Berne explains in the theoretical introduction that we learn to play games as infants, because otherwise our parents won't give us the love and affection we need to survive.

The games continue into adulthood, and unless interrupted by psychotherapy or some other life-altering event, are not abandoned until death. To do otherwise, the neurotic is - wrongly - convinced, would bring about their certain death.

Mental Health professionals recognize one's Games damn near the minute one sets foot in their consulting room, but they spend a good long time giving you the bad news. Usually they entice you to trust them just a little, then give a small hint about one aspect of the game.

The crucial moment in psychotherapy comes when the neurotic recognizes their own Game themselves. That happened for me in April, 1994. My therapist Dr. K. of Santa Cruz gave me a photocopy of the chapter called "Obsessive-Compulsive Style" from David Shapiro's 1965 book Neurotic Styles. That is how Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder was originally identified.

Two weeks later she had me admitted to the Dominican Mental Health Unit in Soquel. I was floridly psychotic. I recognized myself in that chapter a little too much. I required all the time from 1994 until this Spring to come to grips with the news that chapter held for me.

The best kinds of group therapy have the patients challenging each other on each others' Games. That's why I earned cold, angry stares from all the women in such a group when I asked a serially abused woman why she preferred men who were likely to beat her.

Beaten women, you see, not only fail to find nice guys attractive. No, they regard nice guys with contempt. To have done otherwise would have failed to earn them the only love they ever knew from their own fathers: violence and incest. To be a serially beaten woman is a Game, you see.



Now look at it from a nominally sane person's POV (none / 1) (#16)
by Blarney on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 11:24:23 AM EST

Try to see this from the outside, if you will.

To put a bunch of mental patients in a 'group' and have them eagerly point out each other's delusions, in the hope that they will see their own - might work. Or, from an outside POV, it might just appear like screaming, angry Bedlam with nobody being helped at all. On the other hand, in a personal therapy session, for the psych to hint most delicately, like a Zen master, until the patient realizes their own pathology, yes, this is standard practice, I understand, we all understand. But an outside observer might well have reason to dislike the process all the same.

Us on the outside with a crazy parent, sibling, lover, or friend. We don't want our loved one cursing us out and accusing us of all kinds of psychological pathologies while blind to their own condition. We don't want to hear about therapy sessions which discuss things 'you wouldn't understand' while the patient is too depressed to get out of bed for entire weeks on end. We want to hear that people are being helped, and we don't want to catch too much crap for it ourselves. And we might well dream of Dr. Eric Berne, two-fisted psychiatrist who calls people on their shit and tells it just like he sees it. You can understand, can't you? Look at things from the outside, from the general perspective of humanity.

[ Parent ]

Your POV is completely valid, but unfortunately... (1.00 / 3) (#18)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 11:45:12 AM EST

... also completely useless.

I meant it when I said that Games are survival strategies. It makes no more sense to a Game player to ask him to stop playing his game, than it would to hand him a loaded shotgun that he may give his mouth a refreshing rinse.

There are two main kinds of mental illnesses: biologically based ones like Manic Depression, Schizophrenia and my own Schizoaffective Disorder, and neuroses, which are caused by unresolved traumas, most often early in life, but they can occur as adults, as with the combat soldier's Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I have a neurosis as well - that is the Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. While I was disappointed to be informed of being Schizoaffective, I managed to deal with it pretty well. But being informed - in a credible way - that I had OCPD transformed me from perfectly sane into floridly psychotic in the space of two weeks, for no other reason than the fact that I agreed with the diagnosis!

Psychotherapy is used for both biological and neurotic conditions. The therapy used for biological illnesses focusses on compliance: staying on the meds, getting the right amount of sleep and exercise and so one, as well as coping skills: finding and holding a job, managing money, finding a place to live.

The psychotherapy that overcomes Games can be completely cured through Talk Therapy alone. Medication is often used to aid temporarily with the symptoms, but medicine is otherwise completely ineffective at bringing about real change.

What you would find most vexing is that the neurotic patient can be well aware of what their Game is, and that they play it all the time. But even so, they won't give it up. That's the point of challenging each other in group therapy.



[ Parent ]

Bareknuckled psych Eric Berne would say . . . (none / 0) (#20)
by Blarney on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 12:04:20 PM EST

That you're just playing Wooden Leg here. "How can a man as insane as I am ever see things from another's POV and modify my behavior and attitude accordingly?" And he would tell you to just fucking knock it off. Then he'd go home and smoke a cigar while clacking away on his Remington.

If you consider other people's points of view to be useless, well, that makes you an asshole. The cure for assholism is to stop being an asshole.

Like I said, Eric Berne sounds like the sort of psych that you may not want to go to yourself, but who you'd want others in your life to go see!

[ Parent ]

Eric Berne wouldn't treat an actual patient that w (1.20 / 5) (#21)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 01:31:57 PM EST

-ay.

The way Shrinks talk to each other is quite different from the way Shrinks talk to Patients. His book was written for other Shrinks.

You must have overlooked that theoretical bit in the beginning of the book. It makes my whole thesis posted just above crystal-clear.

It was only by accident that Games People Play turned out to be so popular. Berne is a very gifted writer, you see. Most professional Psychiatric literature is completely impenetrable to the nonspecialist. The point of Psychotherapy is to convince the patience first to see, then to give up their Survival Strategy.

What you're not getting is that I have already done so.

Seeing my Games was the easy part. Giving them up was the hard part; that took quite a lot longer than just figuring out what my Games were.

You might not accept that I have already given up my Games. I don't have a problem with that. It might not be surprising to hear that I'm not looking for anyone's approval.

Looking for the approval of others, you see, was a key survival strategy of my Games.



[ Parent ]

Don't tell me, show me (none / 0) (#22)
by Blarney on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:10:17 PM EST

You're fully recovered? I'll figure it out when your style of posting changes.

You've bought into a lot of psychiatric culture - you've internalized the values of your therapists - this issue is not descriptive but prescriptive. The Patient is often asked to not expose themselves to psychiatric literature of any kind by their therapist. I've been there, I know how it works. But to believe there is an absolute separation - only in the minds of psychiatrists.

[ Parent ]

I wouldn't have been cured by Psychotherapy alone (1.20 / 5) (#23)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:22:23 PM EST

My whole point in writing my book is that I have recovered from an illness more severe than one would expect weekly psychotherapy to be able to treat.

Strangely, regular reading of Psychotherapy books was recommended by Dr. K. of Santa Cruz. Once I picked up on her recommending such books to me, I started seeking them out on my own.

I found Games People Play on my own in a bookstore. She didn't recommend it to me ahead of time, but was very pleased that I had the initiative to read it.

Possibly her reasoning had to do with my academic background. When I started seeing her, I was a Physics undergraduate, just about to start my software career. I attended grad school right in the middle of our time together.

While Dr. K. is owed the bulk of my therapy credit, it is my obsessive introspective writing that is owed my recover. That turns out to be a very effective way to conduct Freudian Self-Analysis.

I know you don't believe me that I am recovered. As I said, I don't have a problem with that.

But I do want to give others the benefit of what I have learned. That's why I am writing The World of Madness is Round as well as the two Crawfordian Psychoanalysis books.



[ Parent ]

Give me time. Give us all time $ (none / 0) (#24)
by Blarney on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:32:23 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Don't expect me not to be eccentric! (1.20 / 5) (#26)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 02:47:14 PM EST

Another key book, which I labor over repeatedly, is Alice Miller's Drama of the Gifted Child.

She makes the point that the particular kinds of neurotics her book discusses have what she calls a False Self and a True Self.

The untreated neurotic experiences the False Self, but the True Self is in there somewhere, but just potentially - undeveloped, like an infant, even when the patient is an adult.

The process of recovery involves the shedding of the False Self, and the full development and experience of the True Self.

What I regard as my True Self is rightly regarded by most as eccentric indeed. My point is that I don't have any problem whatsoever with being regarded as eccentric.

My False Self struggled very hard to avoid appearing eccentric, because it required approval to avoid being overcome with despair.



[ Parent ]

cutting edge (none / 0) (#15)
by I Did It All For The Horse Cock on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 04:42:42 AM EST




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    \\______/_________|_)
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Recovery is not at all the same thing as cure (1.00 / 6) (#27)
by Donutivore on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 06:42:33 PM EST

While medication can be helpful, it is not at all necessary to treat neuroses with medication. Freud all by himself discovered that you can completely cure neuroses through Psychoanalysis, the first form of the class of Mental Health treatment generically known as Talk Therapy.

While Freudian Psychoanalysis is incredibly effective if it works at all, it is so expensive, intensive and it takes such a long time that very few of those who undergo Freudian Psychoanalysis persist through to the cure.

What is worse is that the cure requires that one face their deepest fears. Thus even many who spend their lives on the Psychoanalysis couch prefer to stay crazy, playing the Game of Patient without ever seeking real healing.

Thus we have today more effective kinds of Talk Therapy that bring relief from symptoms without actually curing the neurosis. The most common are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

This last was developed specifically to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, which was once known as a Garbage Diagnosis because it was widely regarded as completely untreatible. Many therapists refused even to take BPD clients on. But DBT was found to be so effective for BPD that it is now being used to treat other neuroses.

The main use for medication during Talk Therapy is to relieve the symptoms temporarily, just so the patient has the courage to deal with the real work.

Oddly, talk therapy is completely ineffective at curing the biological illnesses such as Manic Depression, Schizophrenia and my own Schizoaffective Disorder, but it is possible to recover from these illnesses completely through Talk Therapy alone, without any use of medication! Of this I am convinced. I will be taking the subject up later on in The World of Madness is Round.

It is also commonly thought that all one really requires to recover from the biological illnesses is to find the right medication, then to be compliant with the meds - that is, taking all your doses at the right times.

Ironically, while the medication can provide complete relief from the symptoms, quite often it does not provide any recovery at all. Thus we have many mentally ill who spend their whole lives living off of the government disability check, spending all their days smoking cigarrettes down at the Mental Health Drop In Centers.

There was one in downtown Truro, Nova Scotia, one of many operated all across the nation by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Recall your complaint about Mental Health Professionals who have no interest in really curing their patients.

Treatment without recovery is the mission of the Truro CMHA at least. While it is formally a part of the national organization, it is actually funded by charitable grants that they constantly have to reapply for. The Truro chapter justifies its funding largely by the number of mentally ill people who use the Drop In Center. That is, hang out all day, smoking cigarretes and eating the charity subsidized food that the members cook in the kitchen there.

While I was a regular member, I didn't spend much real time there. Sometimes I'd drop in for the cheap food, but just to socialize, and not because I was too broke to cook for myself.

They thought I was an absolute wild man, because I was flipping out damn near the entire time I was in Canada, but refused ever to hospitalize myself the whole time I was in Truro, and was endlessly passing out hardcopies of those same essays that make my fellow Kurons so weary.

Crazy yes - but refusing to play the game of CMHA Mental Patient!

I am completely convinced that my Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder has been cured.

But no cure is so much as speculated for either Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, both of which I have severely.

I don't really need to take medication on a daily basis anymore. I can make the symptoms completely disappear just by thinking about doing so.

I even went completely without medication for six solid years and did just fine. No mania, no psychosis of any sort. Some mild depression, but it was quite tolerable.

But I had a good reason for going back on meds and staying on them for many years: Graduate School.

While I can avoid psychosis on a routine basis through mental willpower alone, what I can't do is prevent surprises from sneaking up on me. It is for that reason that I do take my medicine regularly.

You might find the following bit comforting. I blockquote it from the Theoretical Background to The World of Madness is Round:

In the nine months since (last October) I have exhibited what many often warn me are the craziest times I have ever exhibited. Only two people ever believed me that I was experiencing not The Symptoms of Madness, but The Symptoms of Healing from Madness. The kind of healing that I have experienced has been so incredibly painful that I have been at times suicidal, many times psychotic, a few times delusional, and one time threatened - falsely, but convincingly so - violence to such an extreme that I found myself repeatedly bound in heavy leather restraints.

I have some reason to believe that this most recent event might be my last psychiatric inpatient admission for the rest of my life.

The two people who believed me were both uncommonly insightful and empathetic women. One was my therapist Dr. I., the other was an old and dear friend, one to whom I owe the world as she often sets me straight when I Wander from the Straight and Narrow.

Now, I have recovered but I have not been cured. Much like an alcoholic who has sworn off drinking forever, I will for the rest of the days be a Recovering Madman, not a Recovered Madman. There is no Twelve Step Program for folks like me, but I have a pretty good idea what I need to do to stay well.

You don't need to warn me that intentionally skipping my meds and going days on end without sleeping is playing with fire.

I'm well aware of that.

But I don't play with fire needlessly. I was informed by Dominican Intake Psychologist Joan Junquiera that in more traditional cultures, the Schizoaffectives are the Shamans.

I needed no explanation: it is because I am a Shaman that I needed no formal training of any sort both to make schizophrenics stop hallucinating, as well as to stop despondent people from taking their lives.

I joined the Suicide Prevention Service of Santa Cruz County because I wanted to put an ability I already had to good use. The intensive six-week training course only confirmed for me what I already knew. I could have taught that course before I ever took it!

Besides healing, Shamans go on Shamanistic Journeys. Typically they employ hallucinogens. The Huichol Indians of Mexico use Peyote Cactus, that they hunt with bow and arrow as if it were a deer. In the Amazon Rain Forest, they use powdered Ayahuasca root that they blow up their noses with a blowpipe employed by an assistant.

When I want to walk on alternate planes of reality, I go off my meds or go without sleep. I Don't Need Drugs To Get High, you see.

I do this on purpose, because I find that living in an intentionally altered state gives me insights into the human mind that would be otherwise unavailable to me.

Now, let me make myself perfectly clear:

I have recovered completely from my mental illness. But that is quite a different thing from being free of symptoms.

I still have severe psychiatric symptoms all the time. I just find them a useful way to live, that's all.

A while back I heard about this severely schizophrenic guy who operates a big organic farm in British Columbia. For reasons I'm not familiar with, he chooses to go without treatment of any sort, and manages to do just fine. He is self-employed, produced nutritious organic vegetables, makes a tidy profit doing right by his fellow man.

He also hallucinates on a daily basis. I understand that he commonly has giant bugs crawling all over his body.

Hope That Clears All This Up.



crawford remixed (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by horny smurf on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 12:10:55 AM EST

He is self-employed, produced nutritious organic vegetables, makes a tidy profit doing right by his fellow man.

Now, let me make myself perfectly clear:

I have recovered completely from my mental illness. They thought I was an absolute wild man, because I was flipping out damn near the entire time I was in Canada, but refused ever to hospitalize myself the whole time I was in Truro, and was endlessly passing out hardcopies of those same essays that make my fellow Kurons so weary.

But I don't play with fire needlessly. Freud all by himself discovered that you can completely cure neuroses through Psychoanalysis, the first form of the class of Mental Health treatment generically known as Talk Therapy.

In the Amazon Rain Forest, they use powdered Ayahuasca root that they blow up their noses with a blowpipe employed by an assistant. Now, I have recovered but I have not been cured. Recall your complaint about Mental Health Professionals who have no interest in really curing their patients.

While I was a regular member, I didn't spend much real time there. I understand that he commonly has giant bugs crawling all over his body. Much like an alcoholic who has sworn off drinking forever, I will for the rest of the days be a Recovering Madman, not a Recovered Madman.

Some mild depression, but it was quite tolerable. While I can avoid psychosis on a routine basis through mental willpower alone, what I can't do is prevent surprises from sneaking up on me. I joined the Suicide Prevention Service of Santa Cruz County because I wanted to put an ability I already had to good use.

Some mild depression, but it was quite tolerable. Much like an alcoholic who has sworn off drinking forever, I will for the rest of the days be a Recovering Madman, not a Recovered Madman. I understand that he commonly has giant bugs crawling all over his body.

I have some reason to believe that this most recent event might be my last psychiatric inpatient admission for the rest of my life. While medication can be helpful, it is not at all necessary to treat neuroses with medication.

[ Parent ]

yo, excellent formatting skills (none / 1) (#28)
by Ezra Loomis Pound on Fri Jul 02, 2010 at 08:21:39 PM EST

and I enjoyed the read.

:::"Let me tell ya, if she wasn't cut out to handle some fake boy online, well sister, life only gets more difficult, and you only get more emo as you age." --balsamic vinigga :::#_#:::
Nice. (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by TDS on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 11:35:29 AM EST

I read Berne's book a few years ago and I have to admit since then I keep seeing the games being played.

Where might be useful in situations where you have the same old arguments with the same people. Its often interesting to use the notion of games and strokes to figure out why.

Although you Bel Air'd the intimacy issue, IIRC, Berne has quite an interesting take on it. Its a strange blend of hard-ass 50s guy meets let it all hang out 60s hippy; you can have a healthy relationship only if you are prepared to accept the consequences as a mature adult. If they want to leave, they want to leave, don't start whining like a baby if that happens. The vast majority of people aren't capable of that though.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.

Hindsight (none / 0) (#31)
by Blarney on Sat Jul 03, 2010 at 09:49:32 PM EST

Well, I guess the reason I dropped the Bomb at the end (besides my GFCness) is that I didn't really see how Berne could have his hippie stuff while keeping his 50s worldview. But that's just how things look after 50 years, he probably saw it differently at the time. Or maybe, didn't see what was going on outside his office, that's possible too.

[ Parent ]
Not the best of the bunch (none / 1) (#32)
by nsolo on Sun Aug 01, 2010 at 11:52:03 PM EST

Unlike "Dianetics" I would not call "Games People Play" the central work in the field.  "Im Ok, Your Ok" is more central to Berne's "Transactional Analysis".  I personally  feel "Scripts People Live" to be the best read.

Another books I find interesting are "The Road Less Traveled" and "People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck

Games People Play: A Book Review | 32 comments (24 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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