Transactional Analysis In Psychotherapy - Eric Berne
Eric Berne is one of my favourite thinkers of the 20th century.
His model of transactional analysis is brilliant and useful.
Once you understand the games that you yourself are playing, and the games and pastimes being played around or with you, you can avoid them.
All of the games in this model (social games, not board games) equate an avoidance of intimacy. In the absence of games, genuine human relationships can exist.
If you haven’t read any Berne, start with “Games People Play”, before reading this book.
I also appreciate this era of writing (1950s-70s). Before this time the language was too tedious to read, and after this time the psychology genre turns to neurotransmitters and genes as their focus. While it is useful to know which actions, compounds, and thinking patterns contribute to the production of “good” neurotransmitters or “bad” stress hormones, that knowledge is only so useful. Human behavior isn’t only a matter of supporting good hormones. And the piles of books relating genetics to behavior is completely useless.
In my opinion, being able to identify the games people play, and the reasons why relating to their basic ego states is the most immediately useful information you could have to improve your relationships, functioning within society, and personal attitudes and behaviors.