How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Stop me if you can
Primary: Escape, excuse
A has a problem, from alcoholism or other addiction to anti-social behavior.
B is persecutor who berates A, and also gives A an excuse to continue - e.g. as an escape or as reactive revenge. A's habit may also give excuse for A's bad behavior, such as beating up B (who can then play 'Poor me').
C is rescuer who tries to cure A (and can play 'I'm only trying to help'). A goes along with C for a while, getting attention and sympathy, but is actually playing 'See if you can stop me'. A can repeat the game by offering remorse and playing 'This time it's real'.
D is the bartender or drug pusher who actively helps A and profits from A's
behavior, and can play conspiratorial games such as 'Go on, have another, nobody
This 'stop me' game is a common pattern within alcoholism where the alcoholic seeks attention and has 'I was drunk' as an excuse for any misbehaving.
Legitimization and perpetuation happens through well-meaning organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, where the addict gets to tell their story over and over, and receive attention and sympathy as a reward.
When A's get together they indulge in pastimes such as boasting about what/how much they have consumed and how terrible their hangover/withdrawal is.
B's and C's can also play games together, such as 'Ain't it awful'.
Refuse to play rescue games. Do not offer sympathy. Prevent them from getting legitimization elsewhere. Expose the game. Give them information to let them decide when they are ready.
Eric Berne, (1964), Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Balantine Books
Thomas Harris (1996), I'm OK-You're OK, Avon books
And the big