See What You Made Me Do


In its classical form this is a marital game, and in fact is a ‘three-star marriage buster’, but it may also be played between parents and children and in working life.

  1. First-Degree SWYMD: White, feeling unsociable, becomes engrossed in some activity which tends to insulate him against people. Perhaps all he wants at the moment is to be left alone. An intruder, such as his wife or one of his children, comes either for stroking or to ask him something like, ‘Where can I find the long-nosed pliers?’ This interruption ‘causes’ his chisel, paintbrush, typewriter or soldering iron to slip, whereupon he turns on the intruder in a rage and cries, ‘See what you made me do.’ As this is repeated through the years, his family tends more and more to leave him alone when he is engrossed. Of course it is not the intruder but his own irritation which ‘causes’ the slip, and he is only too happy when it occurs, since it gives him a lever for ejecting the visitor. Unfortunately this is a game which is only too easily learned by young children, so that it is easily passed on from generation to generation. The underlying satisfactions and advantages are more clearly demonstrated when it is played more seductively.
  2. Second-Degree SWYMD: If SWYMD is the basis for a way of life, rather than merely being used occasionally as a protective mechanism, White marries a woman who plays ‘I’m Only Trying to Help You’ or one of its relatives. It is then easy for him to defer decisions to her. Often this may be done in the guise of considerateness or gallantry. He may deferentially and courteously let her decide where to go for dinner or which movie to see. If things turn out well, he can enjoy them. If not, he can blame her by saying or implying: ‘You Got Me Into This’, a simple variation of SWYMD. Or he may throw the burden of decisions regarding the children’s upbringing on her, while he acts as executive officer; if the children get upset, he can play a straight game of SWYMD. This lays the groundwork through the years for blaming mother if the children turn out badly; then SWYMD is not an end in itself, but merely offers passing satisfaction on the way to ‘I Told You So’ or ‘See What You’ve Done Now’.

    The professional player who pays his psychological way with SWYMD will use it also in his work. In occupational SWYMD the long-suffering look of resentment replaces words. The player ‘democratically’ or as part of ‘good management’ asks his assistants for suggestions. In this way he may attain an unassailable position for terrorizing his juniors. Any mistake he makes can be used against them by blaming them for it. Used against seniors (blaming them for one’s mistakes), it becomes self-destructive and may lead to termination of employment or, in the army, to transfer to another unit. In that case it is a component of ‘Why Does This Always Happen To Me?’ with resentful people, or of ‘There I Go Again’ with depressives—(both of the’ Kick Me’ family).
  3. Third-Degree SWYMD: in a hard form SWYMD may be played by paranoids against people incautious enough to give them advice (see ‘I’m Only Trying to Help You’). There it may be dangerous, and in rare cases even fatal.

‘See What You Made Me Do.’ (SWYMD) and ‘You Got Me into This’ (UGMIT) complement each other nicely, so that the SWYMD-UGMIT combination is a classical basis for the cover game contract in many marriages. This contract is illustrated by the following sequence.

By mutual agreement Mrs White did the family bookkeeping and paid the bills out of the joint checking account because Mr White was ‘poor at figures’. Every few months they would be notified of an overdraft, and Mr White would have to square it with the bank. When they looked for the source of the difficulty, it would turn out that Mrs White had made an expensive purchase without telling her husband. When this came to light, Mr White would furiously play his UGMIT, and she would tearfully accept his rebuke and promise it would not happen again. Everything would go smoothly for a while, and then a creditor’s agent would suddenly appear to demand payment for a long-overdue bill. Mr White, not having heard of this bill, would question his wife about it. She would then play her SWYMD, saying that it was his fault. Since he had forbidden her to overdraw their account, the only way she could make ends meet was by leaving this large obligation unpaid and hiding the duns from him.

These games had been allowed to go on for ten years, on the basis that each occurrence would be the last, and that from then on it would be different—which it was, for a few months. In therapy Mr White very cleverly analysed this game without any assistance from the therapist, and also devised an effective remedy. By mutual agreement he and Mrs White put all charge accounts and their bank account in his name. Mrs White continued to do the bookkeeping and make out the checks, but Mr White saw the bills first and controlled the outgoing payments. In this way neither duns nor overdrafts could get by him, and they now shared the budgetary labour. Deprived of the satisfactions and advantages of SWYMD-UGMIT, the Whites were at first at a loss, and were then driven to find more open and constructive types of gratification from each other.

Partial Analysis

The aim of this game is vindication. Dynamically the mild form may be related to premature ejaculation, the hard form to rage based on ‘castration’ anxiety. It is easily acquired by children. The external psychological gain (avoidance of responsibility) is prominent, and the game is often precipitated by the threat of impending intimacy, since the ‘justifiable’ anger offers a good excuse for avoiding sexual relations. The existential position is, ‘I am blameless’.


The antithesis to First-Degree SWYMD is to leave the player alone, and to Second-Degree SWYMD to throw the decision back on White. The First-Degree player may react by feeling forlorn, but seldom angry; the Second-Degree player may become sulky if he is forced to take the initiative, so that systematic anti-SWYMD leads to disagreeable consequences. The antithesis to Third-Degree SWYMD should be put into competent professional hands.