See What You Made Me Do

Original First Edition of Games People Play 1964

Original First Edition of Games People Play from Eric Berne’s private library.

In its classical form this is a marital game, and in fact is a “three-star marriage buster,” but it may be played between parents and children and in working life.

(1) First-Degree SWYMD: White, feeling unsociable, becomes engrossed in some activity which tends to insulate him against people. Perhaps all he wants at the moment is to be left alone. An intruder, such as his wife or one of his children, comes either for stroking or to ask him something like, “Where can I find the long-nosed pliers?” This interruption “causes” his chisel, paintbrush, typewriter or soldering iron to slip, whereupon he turns on the intruder in a rage and cries, “See what you made me do.” As this is repeated through the years, his family tends more and more to leave him alone when he is engrossed. Of course it is not the intruder but his own irritation which “causes” the slip, and he is only too happy when it occurs, since it gives him a lever for ejecting the visitor. Unfortunately, this is a game which is only too easily learned by young children, so that it is easily passed on from generation to generation. The underlying satisfactions and advantages are more clearly demonstrated when it is played more seductively.

(2) Second-Degree SWYMD: If SWYMD is the basis for a way of life, rather than merely being used occasionally as a protective mechanism, White marries a woman who plays “I’m Only Trying to Help You” or one of its relatives. It is then easy for him to defer decisions to her. Often this may be done in the guise of considerateness or gallantry. He may deferentially and courteously let her decide where to go for dinner or which movie to see. If things turn out well, he can enjoy them. If not, he can blame her by saying or implying “You Got Me Into This,” a simple variation of SWYMD. Or he may throw the burden of decisions regarding the children’s upbringing on her, while he acts as executive officer; if the children get upset, he can play a straight game of SWYMD. This lays the groundwork through the years of blaming mother if the children turn out badly; then SWYMD is not an end to itself, but merely offers passing satisfaction on the way to “I Told You So” or “See What You’ve Done Now.”

The description of this game on this page is incomplete.  For a complete description of this game, refer to Games People Play.