How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Berne's Formula G
To feel good (though ultimately they feel bad).
The game plays according to the formula:
C + G = R -> S -> X -> P
Putting words where the letters are, we have:
Con + Gimmick equals Response, leading to Switch, leading to Crossup, ending in Payoff
In play, this gives a starting pair of:
This now leads to the sequence:
Berne's example of this is:
This game may well be based around the need for a sense of control, where the Con is a setup and the Switch grabs control through use of confusion and surprise. In therapist-patient settings, where the patient has control issues, submitting to the therapist may make this feel worse, so they resort to such games in order to show that they are still in control, even though this gets in the way of the cure that they seek.
Many games may have Formula G as an inner pattern, particularly where control is an underlying issue and deception is used to take charge or spring a surprise 'gotcha' on the other person.
Formula G games may take place within a single conversation (as above) and make be played out over weeks, months or even years.
Watch for people gaining control by changing their interaction with you. You can spot this when you feel confused or surprised by what they say or do. When you can see this happening, you can deliberately choose not to play the game. You can also challenge it or shift how it plays out.
Eric Berne, (1964), Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Balantine Books
And the big