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Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Blogs about inhabiting this present moment

Three Favorite Ego Games

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 20th 2013

wooden blocks spelling egoTransactional psychologist Eric Berne wrote a seminal book about the innumerable games the ego plays. He called it Games People Play. Dovetailing his pioneering work, here are three identified patterns of ego activity or meta-games, that is, the form across all ego games or the ego's game of games, that clearly run across the games being played by the ego:

1. Two or more egos playing projection catch: one ego throws something that it cannot bear to face or accept (i.e., a projection) "at" or "to" or "onto" a second ego who typically catches it in its craws and then sends back its own reactive projection, that is often the polar opposite of what the first ego sent, to the first ego who catches it; this so continues;

2. Two or more egos in collusion: one ego dreams up a "story" that it deems, declares and verbalizes to be "right" and tosses it "at" or "to" or "onto" another ego who joins with the first ego in that story being right. So long as this state of affairs continues, both egos are happy as clams in brine. If sufficient feedback from reality or other egos explodes the story being right, then criticalness and blaming finger-pointing ensues along with self-righteous, after-the-fact "I told you so's," making up reasonable-sounding reasons and plausible excuses along with angry attacks, scapegoat finding and other distraction maneuvers until a revised "right story" or a new "right story" comes on board and the collusion so continues;

3. One ego gets swelled with itself and power plays its own upsetting drama: one ego all by itself, having consciously or unconsciously "made up" its desires, wants, needs, goals, expectations, intentions and attachments, comes across a thought, belief, behavior or anything that it perceives to be a threat, attack or danger to what it had made up, a fully dramatized "ego attack" ensues. Here the ego takes its psychic mental energy and either turns it in emotionally (i.e., acting in) to shove into the body or somatize these fearful, angry and hurt feelings and progressively produce bodily upsets and disease processes, or turns it outwardly emotionally and behaviorally (i.e., acting out) to project "at" or "to" or "onto" others and things in their environment in a defeating, dysfunctional and destructive manner, or both simultaneously or reciprocally. Other egos sometimes join into the fray with "collective ego" mayhem occurring, other times avoid and deny what is happening, and at still other times get scared and call police or other authorities to lock up this insane-acting ego and get it far away from them.


Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician in private practice in Pleasanton, CA in the East San Francisco Bay area. Licensed as a psychologist in California since 1987 and in the field since 1976, he specializes in Presence-centered therapy principally with adults and couples. Presence-centered therapy is a conscious attuning to the richness of this present moment (sometimes called mindfulness or wakefulness) along with witnessing, that is, observing what the mind is up to now by looking from outside of it. His practice is centered upon inhabiting this present moment, witnessing and "buying out" of the ego-mind's unworkable patterns, desensitizing root emotional charges, and gaining effective tools to thrive in the world. He specializes in providing therapy for adults facing anxiety, significant stress, work issues, relationship challenges and depression as well as couples with marital issues, communication issues, self-defeating behavior, divorce mediation, co-parenting and pre-marital counseling. Core to his approach is installing, building and developing strong internal resources, an enhanced capacity to hold, bear and tolerate strong emotions, and highly adaptive tools to better thrive in the world.He can be reached directly through his website (featuring over 215 articles, 27 YouTube videos and pages upon pages of highly practical annotated resource links) or by email at . Dr. Friedman is available for business consulting, business training and executive coaching (detail on his home page).

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