Social Rituals*

The simplest forms of social activity are procedures and rituals. Some of these are universal and some local, but all of them have to be learned.

This is seen in its fullest flower in the early stages of marital group therapy, when the parties feel defensive; it can also be observed on social occasions. White makes a subtly derogatory remark about Mrs White, disguised as an anecdote, and ends: ‘Isn’t that right, sweetheart?’ Mrs White tends to agree for two ostensibly Adult reasons.

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The Stocking Game

This is a game of the ‘Rapo’ family; in it the most obvious characteristic is the exhibitionism, which is hysterical in nature.

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They'll Be Glad They Knew Me

This is a more worthy variant of ‘I’ll Show Them’.

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The classical game is played between domineering fathers and teen-age daughters, where there is a sexually inhibited mother.

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Why Don't You -- Yes But

‘Why Don’t You—Yes But’ occupies a special place in game analysis, because it was the original stimulus for the concept of games. It was the first game to be dissected out of its social context, and since it is the oldest subject of game analysis, it is one of the best understood. It is also the game most commonly played at parties and in groups of all kinds, including psychotherapy groups.

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Wooden Leg

The most dramatic form of ‘Wooden Leg’ is ‘The Plea of Insanity’. This may be translated into transactional terms as follows: ‘What do you expect of someone as emotionally disturbed as I am—that I would refrain from killing people?’ To which the jury is asked to reply: ‘Certainly not, we would hardly impose that restriction on you!’ The ‘Plea of Insanity’, played as a legal game, is acceptable to American culture and is different from the almost universally respected principle that an individual may be suffering from a psychosis so profound that no reasonable person would expect him to be responsible for his actions.

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The Social Rituals are taken from the book 'Games People Play' written by Dr. Eric Berne. They are the foundation for the Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy school of Psychiatry Dr. Berne pioneered.

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