Original First Edition of Games People Play 1964

Original First Edition of Games People Play from Eric Berne’s private library.

Descriptively this belongs to the class of games which find their most florid expressions in law, and which includes “Wooden Leg” (the plea of insanity) and “Debtor” (the civil suit).  Clinically it is most often seen in marital counseling and marital psychotherapy groups.  Indeed, some marital counseling and marital groups consist of a perpetual game of “Courtroom” in which nothing is resolved, since the game is never broken up.  In such cases it becomes evident that the counselor or therapist is heavily involved in the game without being aware of it.

“Courtroom” can be played by any number, but is essentially three-handed, with a plaintiff, a defendant, and a judge, represented by a husband, a wife, and the therapist.  If it is played in a therapy group or over the radio or TV, the other members of the audience are cast as the jury.  The husband begins plaintively, “Let me tell you what (wife’s name) did yesterday.  She took the …” etc., etc.  The wife then responds defensively, “Here is the way it really was… and besides just before that he was… and anyway at the time we were both…” etc.  The husband adds gallantly, “Well, I’m glad you people have a chance to hear both sides of the story, I only want to be fair.” At this point the counselor says judiciously, “It seems to me that if we consider…” etc., etc. If there is an audience, the therapist may throw it to them with: “Well, let’s hear what the others have to say.”  Or, if the group is already trained, they will play the jury without any instructions from him.

The description of this game on this page is incomplete.  For a complete description of this game, refer to Games People Play.