A man with white hair and plaid shirt standing in front of brick wall.


Eric Berne, MD in the 1960s invented a new way to understand and communicate about complex psychological and social issues that he called transactional analysis, using ordinary words that anyone can use that make it easier for anyone to see what is really going on in human states of affairs. This article focuses primarily on the pervasive and pernicious effects of psychological Games in political states of affairs.

The I’m OK—You’re OK life position is one of four life positions for individuals; the other three are I’m OK—You’re Not OK, You’re OK—I’m Not OK, and You’re Not OK—I’m Not OK. Nations since time immemorial have had a life position of We’re OK, our cronies, lackeys, and knaves are OK, but all other nations are Not OK, and we are going to make them pay. How to change this life position to We’re OK—You’re OK is what Earthian humans need to work on most if they intend to survive indefinitely as a species on planet Earth.

This article explains a recurring Earthian human global process that has produced authoritarian rescuer leaders capable of murdering millions of humans to destroy social, economic, political, and religious systems perceived to have been caused by persecutor groups that would cause perceived victim groups to live in one-down intolerable life positions, a process that has become increasingly lethal with repeat iterations in Earthian human history, having become capable of destroying human life on Earth in the next iteration of world war, caused by the evolution and proliferation of nuclear weapons in the hands of unhinged authoritarian human leaders of nations.    

Politics is almost the antithesis of We’re OK—You’re OK. While politics gets some useful and necessary work done, most of the time structuring of politics is spent playing entropic psychological Games.

When politicians promise to lower poverty rates by creating infrastructure spending and creating programs to fight poverty and the poor stay poor the psychological Game is called  I’M ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU.

When USian government tax and funny money and military equipment are given to allies to fight wars to increase USian national security and USians become even more insecure the psychological Game is called LET’S YOU AND THEM FIGHT.

When politicians promise to lower taxes so middle and lower income USians can become more productive and have higher real incomes and their incomes stay the same or go down the psychological Game is called BUSINESS AS USUAL.

When politicians significantly lower the income tax rates of the elite rich and large corporations and the rich get exponentially richer as the poor get poorer or stay the same the psychological Game is called TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS.

When politicians spend more and more money on the Military-Industrial Establishment and the US becomes less secure the psychological Game is called NATIONAL SECURITY.

When politicians promise to an build an elaborate wall at the southern border of the US and enact draconian policies to keep the poor of planet Earth out of the US the psychological game is called IF ONLY IT WEREN’T FOR YOU.

When governments and their central banks decide to create funny money by punching digits into central bank computers and calling the resulting numbers money and then using the funny money to buy enough government treasury bonds, bills, and notes to generate enough cash for the government to make up the difference between tax money taken in and military and pork and non-pork expenses money paid out, year after year, inexorably piling up more and more trillions of dollars of government debt, that can never be paid back, the Game is called FINANCIAL ENGINEERING.

When ideologically-biased Supreme Court judges rule in favor of idiosyncratic USian groups lobbying for laws to eliminate abortions and reduce the control of women over their own bodies and deny the right of LGTBQ USians to express themselves as they were naturally caused to sexually function the psychological Game is called RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.

When large corporations move the erstwhile good industrial jobs of the US to low-wage countries and substitute more and more robots and artificial intelligence for human labor and more and more USians are left with insecure low-wage jobs the psychological Game is called PROGRESS.

When corrupt bought and paid for USian Supreme Court judges decide based on their idiosyncratic biases and prejudices that a USian president is above the law of the land, immune from prosecution for violating laws of the US, having the power of kings, the Game is called FASCISM.

Psychological Games have always been a major component of Earthian economic and political behavior, and a Game transactional analysts call NIGYSOB has been one of the most significant and pervasive psychological Games in business, economics, and politics.

Psychological Games spelled with a capital G are different from games such as football, basketball, bridge, and chess that are spelled with a lower-case g. Psychological Games are inherently dishonest and games are not.

NIGYSOB (Now I’ve Got You, You S.O.B.) entails psychological Game players trying to reign supreme over others, to triumph over others, to become “one-up”, to be superior, to beat, to win, etc. any way they can. NIGYSOB players are motivated by anger that they feel justified in releasing because of perceived social and psychological actions and manipulations on the part of Persecutors that might cause them to become loser Victims, causing them to feel their psychological, social, economic, and political standing and security are threatened.

Eric Berne defined a psychological Game as: “An ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome. Descriptively, it is a recurring set of transactions, often repetitious, superficially plausible, with a concealed motivation; or, more colloquially, a series of moves with a snare, or “gimmick.” Games are clearly differentiated from procedures, rituals, and pastimes by two chief characteristics: (1) their ulterior quality and (2) the payoff. Procedures may be successful, rituals effective, and sometimes profitable, but all of them are by definition candid; they may involve contest, but not conflict, and the ending may be sensational, but is not dramatic. Every Game (emphasis added), on the other hand, is basically dishonest, and the outcome has a dramatic, as distinct from merely exciting quality”.  See Berne, Eric. (1964). Games people play: The psychology of human relationships. New York: Grove Press, p. 48.

Psychological Games include two sets of transactions conducted simultaneously between Game players, a spoken overt social set, and an ulterior covert unspoken psychological set, with three basic roles, Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim acted out by the players, involving three basic ego states, Parent, Adult, and Child, with switches of transactional vectors between various combinations of the Ego States in all players, as the players switch around from Persecutor, Rescuer, and Victim on a “Drama Triangle”. See Karpman, Stephen (1968). “Fairy tales and script drama analysis,” Transactional Analysis Bulletin. 7(26), 39-43.

Ego states are states of being including thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, feelings, gestures, body language, and other signals determining how people come across with others in communication episodes, whether parent-like, adult-like, or child-like, in all kinds of situations.  People switch ego states depending on who they are communicating with and what sort of circumstances they are in, whether they are parenting, working, socializing, teaching, having fun, playing Games, politicking, or whatever.  They transmit messages from three ego states in themselves to three ego states in others in pair vectors, Parent-Parent, Adult-Adult, Child-Child, Parent-Child, Child-Adult, Adult-Parent, Child-Parent, or whatever combination.  These transactions are especially meaningful in situations in which there is some sort of authoritarian system involved involving leaders and members, such as parents parenting children in homes, teachers teaching students in schools, or bosses bossing subordinates in a business or political organization, which normally entail primarily Parent-Child transactions. In general however the more Adult-Adult transactions there are the better things go in families, schools, businesses, and political organizations. See Berne, Eric. (1970) What do you say after you say hello? The psychology of human destiny. New York: Grove Press, and Berne, Eric (1963). The structure and dynamics of organizations and groups. New York: Grove Press.

Adult ego state transactions are generally factual, honest, and overt; Parent and Child ego state transactions are often dishonest and ulterior lies, often transmitted by body language instead of words.

Donald Trump, the most prominent Game-player on the Earthian political stage at present, is a master at using body language to switch ego states in his monologues, harangues, and diatribes at rallies and in personal conversations. He has a tall imposing body and a strange orange facial color and bizarre hair-do. Most of the time his words do not make sense but his body language is clear: he is not only OK but superior and his loyal cronies, lackeys, and knaves are too. He is adept at switching ego states and transactions by changing his posture and gait as he struts and swaggers about, by flailing his arms and fingers about,  by producing smirks, smiles, grimaces, glares, stares and jerky bodily contortions, and by changing the speed, volume, cadence, and tone of his unique voice, that ranges from guttural to prissy falsetto. He is somewhat analogous to a made-up circus clown and ring-master, and his sycophantic cult members are enthralled and entertained. If he didn’t apply his make-up and fix his hair as he does he would look like what he really is, a pasty pale balding almost octogenarian Earthian human male, and most likely he could not get elected to anything. Trump’s a master of pantomime and playing Games. But don’t be fooled. Trump’s not a circus clown; he’s a dangerous criminal who intends to turn the US into a fascist dictatorship if he gets elected president of the US again. Do you really want to live day by day subject to the whims of a fascist crime boss dictator who can do you harm at any time? Think about that when you vote for Trump for president of the US November 4, 2024, if you do.

NIGYSOB Game-playing underlies all conflicts, competitions, and wars among individuals, groups, and organizations, including nations and corporations domestically and internationally. You might think nations and international corporations competing constantly among themselves do not entail real anger, but it seems to me anger is a major factor when serious fighting breaks out. Leaders try to engender fear and anger among their followers before the first outbursts of fighting to psyche up the followers. You might think a war is not an ego trip for leaders. You might think leaders are simply doing their perceived ethical duty to preserve the safety and security of their followers and constituents. But the unspoken psychological truth is another matter. Wars are also ego trips, with leaders trying to triumph over other leaders, wanting to become one-up top dogs.

You can build a case competitions among political parties in presidential elections more than anything else are NIGYSOB Games, with leaders saying they want to improve the plight of Victim citizens, increase their relative share of national and international income, provide them with better and cheaper health care, and so forth; but here too the contest is probably an ego trip for leaders who are more interested in being the top dog than anything else. Political contests become an ego trip for followers as well as the leaders foment fear and anger among them to beat the bad guy Persecutors and run them out of office. If their party wins followers may also feel “one-up” because their party ideology won, regardless if nothing is done to improve economic and social conditions.

The capitalistic economic system is based on NIGYSOB-playing. It’s what makes the world go round. It makes everyone richer, the defenders of capitalism say, because it motivates people to work harder and longer and more efficiently than they would if they did not have to compete and do battle with others to make a living. Even the losers under capitalism get richer than they would have under socialism, many think, because they assume capitalistic countries are able to capture larger GNPs (Gross National Products) than socialistic and communistic countries.

I was a pretty good football and basketball player back in my junior high, high school, and college years. I found it satisfying calling plays and running the team in a real game before cheering ecstatic fans on a football field, especially when winning, as was the case when I was in the eighth grade, when we won eleven out of eleven games. On the other hand, I don’t recall ever feeling serious anger caused by football and basketball opponents, however much I seriously wanted to beat them. The main payoff if you are an amateur athlete is getting plenty of what transactional analysts call “strokes”, or units of recognition, that can be positive or negative, depending on how well you do something. Eric Berne said positive strokes are what everyone wants and needs. He said they keep your spinal column from “shriveling up”. Politicians also get a lot of strokes, as does anyone in the public eye.

There are basically two kinds of scripts people have to act out in organizations, including political organizations, to keep their jobs or get promoted: psychological life scripts and organizational social scripts.

Psychological Life Scripts are programmed into children by virtue of being constantly exposed to and dependent on their parents before the age of eight. Almost as if by osmosis parents psychologically script their children not to feel, think, and do certain things in various ways and degrees as various events happen in the environment, largely non-verbally by how parents respond to a child, by how they get mad, glad, sad, or scared, or not, when the child does something when various things happen. Psychological scripts are automatically “introjected” into the personalities of children during early childhood, and most children wind up pretty much like their parents, with the same accents, and the same kinds of feeling, thinking, doing, and communicating patterns.

There are also some generic overt social script messages such as brush your teeth, study hard, make something of yourself, work hard, etc. that are socially overt and spoken, but they are not as significant or powerful over a lifetime as psychological script messages.

Psychological life script messages are called injunctions and social script messages are called counter-injunctions. These messages wind up creating a life script that includes a life position. There are four basic TA life positions: I am OK and You are OK, I am OK and you are Not OK, I’m Not OK and You are OK, and I am Not OK and You are Not OK; and there are three generic TA life script outcomes: Winner, Loser, and Non-Winner.

There is no way under competitive capitalism for all people to be fully OK economically and politically, making the I’m OK – You’re OK life position infeasible among all humans.

Most people are what they are because of family scripts, not economic conditions, and they can respond in adult life only in certain ways because of their life scripts. Some people are more flexible and adaptable than others, but most people in order to make a living and achieve some satisfaction in life have to find a slot, niche, and level in an organization in which their life script is considered congruent, regardless of whether the economy is booming, flat, or imploding.

Social scripts, on the other hand, include the sum total of do’s and don’t’s required for a person to be successful dealing with others in a particular job or role. These scripts include the algorithmic steps required to do the specific job you are paid to do and required words and phrases to say to others and how to respond to people around you, up, across, and down the organizational chain of command, including playing the psychological Games people around you want or need to play.

All organizations, including political organizations, require particular social scripts for participants with words and phrases that have to be memorized and used. Almost nobody can be her or his true self most of the time making a living in an organization. Most employees have to act out scripts created by the organization. Organizations such as Disney World are the most scripted of all. Employees there are called characters and are required to wear costumes and “go on stage” after they clock in for work, pretending while on the job to be characters such as Donald Duck or Mickey or Minnie Mouse dealing with customers, parroting memorized lines. While all employees in all organizations have to pretend to some extent they are something they are not to keep their jobs, the scripting is not this extreme in most organizations.

USians who get into politics for a living are just like all other employees under capitalism: they have to act out the right scripts to keep their jobs.

Most people who get fired in organizations are fired because of their psychological life scripts that are thought to be inappropriate in an organizational culture, or for being unwilling or unable to act out social scripts, not for being unable to perform the required physical and mental algorithmic steps of the job.

There are certain things politicians have to do that might be called work in the physical algorithmic sense, but in the best of circumstances they are paid to think and make decisions, not do work. On the other hand, if they do not obey the script requirements of their political party most likely they will be fired or sluiced out of the party organization one way or another. Therefore to get fully honest Game-free politicians only individuals who have no intentions of being a politician for a living should be elected.

Psychological Games are a way of getting stimulation, recognition, and structure as one goes about one’s business of surviving and making a living. Basically they involve trying to gain satisfactions dealing with others, such as by making yourself or someone else feel comfortable or by causing a loss of some sort for others, or by making a fool of someone. Psychological Games entail people discounting problems, opportunities, and people, and the significance of someone or something. All psychological Games entail players acting out one of three roles on a Drama Triangle: Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer.

Why vote in the first place? The best Adult ego state reason would be to take social satisfaction in helping select the best leader for an organization or group to achieve rational goals and objectives for everyone. Lesser Parent and Child reasons would be to create satisfying psychological Game payoffs for yourself and to secure psychological structure, recognition, and stimulation similar to what you experienced with your parents, friends, and others in your early life, and in adolescence, that supported the psychological, social, economic, religious, political, and moral states of affairs of organizations such as your family, school, church, political party, or nation.

Once psychologically scripted most people do not rebel. Red states stay red and blue states stay blue, regardless of the logical Adult ego state reasoning of idealistic generally-OK political candidates with script-free ideas on how to improve the functioning of the economic and political system.

I remember a TV interviewer in 2000 asking an attractive woman who ran a bar and grill why she intended to vote for Bush II. “Cuz he’s a good-lookin’ man” was her quick response.

There are several psychological Games people play in political races; but it seems to me based on observing presidential races on the Internet and elsewhere, listening to comments people make on my Facebook news feed timeline and elsewhere, most politicians play a first-degree psychological Game called RAPO by transactional analysts, since one of the surest ways to get votes in our narcissistic USian culture is to be considered good lookin’.

There are three degrees of psychological Games: First Degree Games entail comments, insults, discounts, jokes, and body language displays designed to build tear down someone’s self-esteem, or gain or lose some sort of psychological advantage; Second Degree Games entail more serious discounts and payoffs, threatening someone, firing someone, getting divorced, etc.; Third Degree Games are sometimes called tissue-tearing Games with payoffs such as getting into physical fights, going to war, winding up in a morgue, etc.

A RAPO Game starts by someone psychologically promising some sort of satisfaction to someone for responding to her or his sexual attractiveness. There are various social and psychological transactions that can bring this about, social transactions being spoken and overt, psychological transactions being unspoken and covert. The payoff for a first-degree RAPO player is not a real sexual liaison but making a fool of a mark or sucker who will be punished or humiliated in some way if he or she responds to the psychological sexual messages. Most psychological Games do not entail sexual messaging but a lot of them do. All psychological Games involve a con of some degree taking advantage of the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of a mark or suckers, promising things the Game starter has no intentions of delivering. Most of the promises of first-degree Games are insignificant and inconsequential. These Games are ubiquitous and most people play them at various times. Sometimes they have to to survive in organizations.

Psychological Games and scripts are what make folk tales and fairy tales (such as Robin Hood, Superman, The Lone Ranger, Snow White, Goldilocks, Cinderella, Jack & Jill, Humpty-Dumpty, Hansel and Gretel, The Big Bad Wolf, and Little Red Riding Hood) interesting and dramatic.

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush II, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden won some political races largely because of being successful psychological Game players, having physical and psychological characteristics that enabled them to transmit non-verbal psychological messages to voters that they would deliver to them psychological and social satisfactions if they voted for them, somehow providing them with various sorts of desired or fantasied psychological stimulation, structures, and recognition. Whether these politicians produced for their voters the psychological satisfactions the voters sought would be difficult to prove, just as it would be for these voters (for sure middle and lower income voters) to prove voting for these politicians produced any economic improvements for them. Any president during the last forty years would have a difficult time proving he produced significant tangible economic benefits for middle and lower income voters, regardless of how much psychological and social satisfaction he produced for them.

And here we are, having degenerated in the US into a situation in which a convicted rapist, Donald John Trump, a former president of the US, is now running for USian president again, and it appears about half of USian voters intend to vote for him again. What does this tell you? I don’t know what it tells you but it tells me that about half of USian voters just don’t care if the president of the US is a rapist. And why is this? Why don’t they care? I don’t know, but it seems to me it does not matter to them because of what Trump has told them about he would do as president if reelected. He wants to be a fascist dictator of the US, and it seems to me this means about half of USian voters like authoritarian dictators, whether in disguise as parents, teachers, preachers, business bosses, or politicians. In other words, they like dictators who tell them what to do, rather than participate in democratic discussions about what to do.

Seems to me Earthian humans are polarized intellectually between two general extreme categories that might be best described as democratic idealists and authoritarian nihilists, with most humans being clustered near the middle of the continuum.

Democratic idealists are not necessarily members of the Democratic Party in the US; and all authoritarian nihilists are not necessarily members of the Republican Party.

A democratic idealist in my view is someone who visualizes new states of affairs that might make an unsatisfying situation more efficient, effective, just, and satisfying through consultation, collaboration, and cooperation.

Authoritarian nihilists in my view are dissatisfied with states of affairs as they are but do not visualize changing them by creating new states of affairs through democratic processes, believing instead that strong leaders in positions of authority will make existing or older superseded systems and processes work better for them by out-competing others.

Most so-called liberals and progressives would be included in the democratic idealist category and most so-called conservatives would be included in the authoritarian nihilist category.

An extreme democratic idealist would focus primarily on ideal states to be achieved in the future; extreme authoritarian nihilists would be focused primarily on what now exists and tearing down what they do not like, not creating better systems to achieve better states of affairs.

Abraham Lincoln once remarked there are two kinds of people who never amount to much in life: those who cannot do what they are told, and those who cannot do anything but what they are told. Unrealistic idealistic builders of imaginary air castles often have a hard time making a go of things in life, and people with no goals and imagination are pretty much stuck where they are, if they’re lucky. Probably most successful people lie somewhere in between the two extremes of idealism and nihilism.

Extreme democratic idealists worry a lot. Extreme authoritarian nihilists just don’t give a rip, and some are happy savages.

I agree with most transactional analysts that Earthian humans are scripted to be what they are emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally in early childhood by Injunctions that are psychologically transmitted from the child ego states of parents to the child ego states of their offspring.

According to Robert Goulding, MD and Mary Goulding, MSW, quoted in my book Business Voyages, page 160, there are about fourteen generic psychological Injunctions widely transmitted in family scripting:

Don’t Be, Don’t Be You (the sex you are), Don’t Be A Child, Don’t Grow, Don’t Make It, Don’t, Don’t Be Important, Don’t Be Close, Don’t Belong, Don’t Be Well (or sane), Don’t Think About X (forbidden subject), Don’t Think What You Think, Think What I Think, Don’t Feel, Don’t Feel X, Mad, Sad, Glad, Scared, etc., Don’t Feel What You Feel, Feel What I Feel.              See Goulding, R. and Goulding, M. (1976). “Injunctions, decisions, and redecisions.” Transactional Analysis Journal, 6(1), 41-48.

These script injunctions are transmitted primarily psychologically, not overtly spoken, from the Child ego state of the parent to the Child ego state of the child. Rarely would a parent socially or overtly tell a child what one of the above injunctions requires. They are primarily transmitted non-verbally by Parent and Child ego states when caregivers exhibit mad, glad, sad, or scared emotions in response to what a child naturally feels, thinks, and does as shared life events occur in early childhood. On the other hand, children are scripted by the ego states they observe parents using when parents feel, think, and do things. Children psychologically “introject” in living color the ego states of parents, including the accents, mannerisms, facial expressions, tone of voice, and behaviors of parents, as parents and children deal with life events. To introject is to take in or absorb the personality and behavioral characteristics of another. So children more or less replicate their parents, and the replications become hard-wired in their brains for life in most cases.

For good or ill, the scripting process may determine not only the personality and behavioral characteristics of a child but also his/her life position and role in life, including determining whether a child grows up to become a democratic idealist or an authoritarian nihilist.

Therefore the scripting process largely determines which political parties win in any culture; and the fate of planet Earth may depend on changing the scripting of humans, which entails a process of change that includes not only changing economic and political systems but also psychological and social systems.

An assumption of transactional analysis is that humans can learn to “see what is really going on” with themselves and others as they transact with one another socially and psychologically living their daily lives so as to increase their chances of living satisfactory lives, regardless of how not-OK their economic, social, psychological, and political worlds might be.

According to transactional analysis theory there are three naturally occurring generic life outcomes caused for humans: winner, loser, and non-winner – caused by inherited physical characteristics and “messages” one is exposed to throughout life – and by the early decisions offspring make about the messages that become determinants of emotional, intellectual, and behavioral responses throughout life.

Whether one inherits a winner, loser, or non-winner script is determined by naturally-occurring inevitable cause-effect chains one is accidentally exposed to. Some transactional analysts assume proportions of winner, loser, and non-winner scripts in the population remain relatively constant from one generation to another.

It follows that the natural scripting process is not fair.

A purpose of transactional analysis is to help individuals and groups insert new causes into natural cause-effect chains so as to increase the probabilities and proportions of winner outcomes in the populace.

Changing a loser script to a winner script requires hard work but it can happen if a person somehow acquires new script messages powerful enough to control frustrating, debilitating, or harmartic script messages recorded in his or her sub-conscious mind. TA can provide people basic concepts and tools for attempting such a thing, perhaps requiring learning to use different ego states and transactional patterns and learning how to communicate in more effective ways psychologically and socially.

Most people seem to think if only Earthian humans could solve their economic, political, military, and religious troubles, beat their competitors and enemies, etc., then everything would be wonderful. Not so, many people would not be happy and successful living in paradise because of script messages recorded in their sub-conscious minds before they were eight years old. In order for everyone to live happily and successfully humans would have to solve not only economic, political, religious, and social problems, but also psychological problems.

Changing a loser script may require changing the ego states one uses and the way one structures time (learning how to spend more or less time in different ways)—withdrawing into their heads, pastiming (shooting the bull), performing rituals, doing work activity, not playing psychological Games, or being intimate with others.

The Prayer of Serenity goes something like this: Lord give me the intelligence and strength to change what needs changing, and the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change, knowing full well that some suffering, losing, and grieving is inevitable.

Using TA in some cases can help people become more serene, by enabling them to see more clearly what is going on to make salutary changes, or by learning to accept one’s script and focus on finding a niche in which it fits. On the other hand, a basic problem or question is whether serenity is possible in today’s world, beset by global warming and climate change and by escalating tensions and agitations among organizations and groups around planet Earth.

TA never promised anyone any rose gardens, or eternal bliss in heaven, but it does advertise that it can help individuals, groups, and organizations become more OK, OK not only in terms of achieving goals but more OK transacting with others so as to live with more dignity, satisfaction, peace, and tranquility, based on Adult mutually agreed-to contracts.

No one can blame you if you believe in tuning out TA and articles such as this one. Maybe the best strategy is to tune out the world as much as you can, burrowing up in your wormhole as much as possible, reading no newspapers and not watching television, with no Internet. The problem however if you do that is boredom. Most humans have an innate need for stimulation, achievement, and recognition.

Regardless of what sort of cognitive structures humans might use, TA or whatever, sooner or later they have to take action, and this entails defining problems, delineating alternatives, making recommendations, choosing things, trying new things, over and over, till something works.

1 – What is the problem?

2 – What are the alternatives?

3 – What do you recommend?

We live in precarious times that probably encourage people to play more frequently AIN’T IT AWFUL, a psychological Game in which Game players collect strokes for complaining about the evils and troubles of the world, positioning themselves as Victims of obsolete economic, religious, and political systems and policies manipulated and exploited by greedy self-interested power-mad narcissistic sociopathic oligarchs and leaders and their corrupt bought and paid for cronies, lackeys, and knaves, especially lobbyists, politicians, and religious leaders, however true this state of affairs might be in reality.

By the same token, it will do no good for humans to passively pretend everything is just hunky-dory and swell, with everything coming up roses for everyone, living in small imaginary Candide-like best of all possible worlds, playing a psychological Game called GREENHOUSE by transactional analysts, in which players are rewarded with plastic strokes for making nonsensical positive cheerful upbeat comments about the environment and social, economic, political, and religious states of affairs, regardless of how bleak they are in reality.

It seems to me the most dangerous psychological Game played politically right now around planet Earth is IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOU, involving polarized individuals, groups, and organizations who experience increasing insecurity and hopelessness causing them to blame others and find scapegoats for their plights, escalating their anger as they transmit threats from their angry Parent and Child ego states to the Parent and Child ego states of others, sometimes attacking others verbally and physically for their perceived misdeeds and beliefs. Some of the threats include the threat of international and civil war. Israel is playing a third-degree IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOU Game with Palestine right now. One can build a case about all politicians do is play psychological Games with supporters, opponents, and enemies.

IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOU is a Game that entails aggrieved humans psychologically acting as if opposing warring or competing parties maliciously and arbitrarily decided using free will to commit the harmful or heinous actions and deeds they are accused of committing, instead of realizing the others were caused by circumstances and script messages to do what they did just like the aggrieved aggressive people were. Getting rid of the other will not solve problems such as poor educational systems, poor family scripts, poor religions, and hamartic economic and political policies and systems.

For more information regarding the use of Transactional Analysis to create better discussion groups and democratic processes read my book Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning.

For more information on how to co-construct better organizations and economic systems using TA read my book Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds

See my article “The Evolution of Spaceship Earth, Inc,” for some management science ideas on how human Earthians might eventually co-construct an idealistic democratic economic system that is viable and satisfying for everyone aboard Spaceship Earth, making it possible for all Earthian humans to develop an I’m OK – You’re OK life position.

This entails human Earthians never doing work that machines can do better, and delegating the day-to-day management of systems for scheduling, producing, and distributing the necessities of life to artificial intelligence programs and supercomputers.

This can be done using linear programming based on the general algorithmic matrix algebra form

Max CjXj, s.t. AijXj <, =, or > Bi

as explained in “The Evolution of Spaceship Earth, Inc.”

Flying aboard an airliner about to land at night moving at four hundred miles an hour at thirty thousand feet, which would you rather have landing the plane, the plane’s computer system and auto-pilot or the pilot and co-pilot, looking out their windows with their hands on their steering devices, seeing nothing but dark clouds and lightning below?

Some AINT IT AWFUL Game-playing goes on in mass and social media, i.e. writers and editors are psychologically Persecuting, Rescuing, or Victimizing someone, but it seems to me most writers and editors are generally trying to paint accurate pictures of what they think is really going on economically, socially, psychologically, economically, and politically. Unfortunately one can build a case that politicians spend most of their time playing psychological Games, wasting most of their time with pastiming (bullshitting), doing rituals (filling out unnecessary forms, attending useless meetings, conducting useless investigations, and the like), and playing psychological Games. Seems to me most expenditures of time, money, and energy in so-called foreign policy are moves in psychological Games.

On the other hand, there is a lot of awful stuff going on. There’s such a thing as Positive Critical Parent Ego State energy, and one can build a case that Critical Parent economic, political, and religious criticism is necessary and rational to stave off dire consequences staring humanity in the face, caused by GWCC and MNWP, global warming and climate change and militarization and nuclear weapons proliferation.

It’s not easy to see what’s really going on, impossible some say, while being inundated with fake news daily around planet Earth, made public in mass media and on the Internet and elsewhere. To see what’s really going on, Earthian humans must use primarily inductive and analogical reasoning, based on probability, not deductive logic. Almost never can anyone prove with deductive logic that a general proposition about economic, social, psychological, or political states affairs is absolutely true. About the best humans can hope for is to develop consensual answers that are generally acceptable and true based on probability.

It’s better to be honestly wrong, saying something is true because you really don’t know it’s not true, than to say something is true when you know damn well it’s not true.

Seems to me most lying is lying by omission (people not telling people things they know are true to gain or preserve advantages in competitive situations). Whether lying by omission is more or less harmful in overall perspective than lying by commission (telling people things you know are not true for ill-gotten gains), is debatable, as is proving whether it’s getting easier or harder for most people to see what’s really going on in economic and political states of affairs.

Political parties, the US government, and mainstream media often lie by omission about what is going on with alacrity, presumably to protect national security and their corporate revenues, in many cases socially presenting selective true facts but omitting analysis about what is really going on.

For whatever it’s worth, I would rather be told what to do by a well-programmed AI robot than a demented deranged unhinged human fascist dictator. On the other hand, I am convinced the best situation would be to be told what to do by a group of randomly-selected intelligent rational humans who had fully studied the facts of the case at hand and who had fully discussed and debated about what to do in an open Game-free, Adult, I’m OK—You’re OK, democratic process.

Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA is a certified transactional analyst and an emeritus professor of management at Georgia Southern University. See for a full listing of credentials