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Mind games

Mind games fall into three main categories of human behavior:

  1. a largely conscious struggle for psychological one-upmanship, often employing passive–aggressive behavior to specifically demoralize or empower the thinking subject, making the aggressor look superior; also referred to as "power games".[1]
  2. the unconscious games played by people engaged in ulterior transactions of which they are not fully aware, and which transactional analysis considers to form a central element of social life all over the world.[2]
  3. mental exercises designed to improve the functioning of mind and/or personality; see also brain teasers or puzzles.[3]


  • Conscious one-upmanship 1
  • Unconscious games 2
  • Mental exercises 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Conscious one-upmanship

The term mind games was first used in 1968.[4] Mind games in the sense of the struggle for prestige[5] appear in everyday life in the fields of office politics, sport, and relationships. Played most intensely perhaps by Type A personalities, office mind games are often hard to identify clearly, as strong management blurs with over-direction, healthy rivalry with manipulative head-games and sabotage.[6] The wary salesman will be consciously and unconsciously prepared to meet a variety of challenging mind games and put-downs in the course of their work.[7]

The serious sportsman will also be prepared to meet a variety of gambits and head-games from their rivals, attempting meanwhile to tread the fine line between competitive psychology and paranoia.[8]

In intimate relationships, mind games can be used to undermine one partner's belief in the validity of their own perceptions.[9] Personal experience may be denied and driven from memory;[10] and such abusive mind games may extend to denial of the victim's reality, social undermining, and the trivializing of what is felt to be important.[11] Both sexes have equal opportunities for such verbal coercion,[12] which may be carried out unconsciously as a result of the need to maintain one's own self-deception.[13]

Unconscious games

  • Sarah Strudwick (Nov 16, 2010) Dark Souls - Mind Games, Manipulation and Gaslighting

External links

  1. ^ Gita Mammen, After Abuse (2006) p. 29
  2. ^ Eric Berne, Games People Play (1966) p. 45
  3. ^ "mind game". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  4. ^ Google ngrams
  5. ^ Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection (London 1997) p. 68
  6. ^ A-M Quigg, Bullying in the Arts (2011) p. 201
  7. ^ David P. Snyder, How to Mind-Read your Customers (2001) p. 59
  8. ^ A. P. Sands, The Psychology of Gamesmanship (2010) p. 2
  9. ^ Kathleen J, Ferraro, Neither Angels nor Demons (2006) p. 82
  10. ^ R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (Penguin 1984) p. 31
  11. ^ Laurie Maguire, Where there's a Will there's a Way (London 2007) p. 76
  12. ^ Kate Fillion, Lip Service (London 1997) p. 244
  13. ^ R. D. Laing, Self and Others (Penguin 1969) p. 143
  14. ^ John McCleod, An Introduction to Counselling (2009) p. 255-6
  15. ^ Berne, p. 32
  16. ^ Berne, p. 64-147
  17. ^ John Dusay, "Transactional Analysis", in Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (Penguin 1976) p. 309-10
  18. ^ Berne, Games p. 143
  19. ^ Eric Berne, Sex in Human Loving (1970) p. 223
  20. ^ P &P Battaglia, So You Think You're Smart (1988) p. xi
  21. ^ Stanley Cohen/Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts (1992) p. 121
  22. ^ Sophy Hoare, Yoga (London 1980) p. 9 and p. 4


See also

There is also the category of the self-empowering mind game, as in psychodrama, or mental and fantasy workshops[21] - elements which might be seen as an ultimate outgrowth of Yoga as a set of mental (and physical) disciplines.[22]

Mind games for self-improvement fall into two main categories. There are mental exercises and puzzles to maintain or improve the actual working of the brain.[20]

Mental exercises

Psychological games vary widely in degrees of intensity, ranging from first-degree games – socially acceptable – to third-degree games that are played for keeps. Berne recognised however that “since by definition games are based on ulterior transactions, they must all have some element of exploitation”,[18] and the therapeutic ideal he offered was to stop playing games altogether.[19]

Between thirty and forty such games (as well as variations of each) were described and tabulated in Berne's best seller on the subject.[16] According to one transactional analyst, “Games are so predominant and deep-rooted in society that they tend to become institutionalized, that is, played according to rules that everybody knows about and more or less agrees to. The game of Alcoholic, a five-handed game, illustrates popular that social institutions have developed to bring the various players together” [17] such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-anon.

takes place and the ulterior motives of each become clear. switch At the social level a conversation about barns, at the psychological level one about sex play, the outcome of the game - which may be comic or tragic, heavy or light – will become apparent when a [15] as follows: “Cowboy: 'Come and see the barn'. Visitor: 'I've loved barns ever since I was a little girl'”.Flirtation He described the opening of a typical game like [14]

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