The Alcoholic Life Game

Counselling, Weymouth, Alcoholic, Depression, Juniper

Dr Eric Berne (1910-1970) was a psychiatrist who developed a new theory in 1968 called Transactional Analysis and subsequently published a book called ‘Games People Play (the psychology of human relationships)’ which became a classic and world wide best seller. Games are classified into Life, Marital, Party, Sexual, Underworld, Consulting and Good.

Why do we play games?

In his book Berne explains that from birth we need physical intimacy for our well-being on all levels (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) and there are many examples of how damaging it can be if we do not receive ‘good enough’ intimacy from our primary care giver/s. When we grow older, we find the infant intimacy chapter is over and some part of us still seeks out this kind of intimacy for our well-being. There becomes few opportunities for this kind of intimacy in daily life, and when they appear they are sometimes so intense they can be psychologically too hard to cope with, so instead we play games to get this need met (which Berne calls a ‘stroke’). Therefore the primary function of any psychological game, is the payoff (the stroke).  As we are all diverse, some of us need many strokes in one day, whilst others only require a limited amount a month – but we all need strokes. One of the worst punishments for us is solitary confinement, which again has been well documented as to the negative impact this has on our bodies.

So we need to play games for our health and well-being?

We could conclude, games become necessary for people’s health and well-being. As you may have gathered there are good and bad games. Good games such as ‘happy to help’, ‘the good sage’ and ‘busman’s holiday’ are considered ‘good’ when the contribution to society outweighs the motivations of the person. Particularly if the person has become aware of their game playing and accepted their own motivations. Bad games as the name suggests are usually destructive in some capacity.

So more of a case of stop playing ‘bad’ games?

Deprivation of games, even destructive ones, may lead to psychological damage and psychosis without adequate caution and preparation. Furthermore, this caution extends to other people involved in the same game. For example, the healing of one person in a game then leads to the deterioration of another invested in their game.  However, the benefits of living a human life with game-free intimacy however brings a greater pay off than being stuck in a game.

Can we discuss an example of a life game?

In the game of the Alcoholic, interestingly there is no such thing as an alcoholic, but there is a role called the Alcoholic. To remind you, the game is not exploring the biochemical aspect, but the psychological one and who is involved in the game.

This game only needs two players: The Alcoholic and The Rescuer/Persecutor. This game has a familiar feel if you have come across the well-documented ‘drama triangle’. Sadly not as well-documented is the ‘winners triangle’ as a way of stepping out of the drama into a healthier way of being.

The Alcoholic game can involve more players:

  • The Dummy: who is not a rescuer or persecutor, but provides resources and sympathy. This role is attractive to those who are lonely and have something to gain from being nice to the Alcoholic.
  • The Good Guy: similar to the above, but provides resources without being asked
  • The Connexion/Professional: who provides the alcohol, but being professional knows when to stop the supply (e.g. bar tender) unlike the above ‘amateurs’.

In the later stages of the Alcoholic game, the rescuer and persecutor are not needed as much as the supply due to the deterioration of the person.

The pay off for the Alcoholic is not so much in the drinking of drinks; although in certain societies, such as ours in the UK, a person able to drink large volumes of alcohol has an admirable quality, and the sub-game ‘how much did we drink‘ can have a number of strokes.

There is such a role of the ‘Dry Alcoholic’ so drink is not required; the main pay off for the Alcoholic is in the hangover – a hard round of ‘the morning after’ which is basically indulging in self punishment.

Talking in Ego States for a moment, the Alcoholic’s Adapted Child is abused by their Critical Parent. Self worth is low, the childhood belief is they deserve punishment, and it may be so familiar that they seek out strokes of punishment from others. The thesis, if analysing the game, would be ‘see how bad I have been, see if you can stop me‘.

Many ideas to help the Alcoholic were based on changing the role from Victim (Alcoholic) to Rescuer. Berne suggested the psychological cure of an alcoholic lies in stopping the game altogether. The former Alcoholic should then be able to drink socially without putting themselves in danger.  But this game is played hard and therefore difficult to stop but can happen with the right preparation and noone willing to play any of the other roles in the game.

Interestingly those playing this game in the ‘Rescuer’ position found Berne’s rational approach more alarming than the ‘Alcoholic’ did. There is a tendency of the Rescuer in this game to play ‘I’m only trying to help you’. Incidentally, the Persecutor plays ‘Look what you have done to my life’. 

Is game playing innate or do we learn games?

We are born autonomous and game free. Games are passed down from previous generations. Raising children becomes a matter of teaching children which games to play; being candid or honest is usually frowned upon in society. There are a lot of things frowned upon in society so the learning of games is essential to fitting in and being accepted in at least the first two decades of our lives. As you may expect different cultures and social classes have favoured games. We actually befriend those people who play similar games to us. Any group member who doesn’t know how to play or even attempts to change the game will be excluded.

So the children of alcoholics learn how to play that game?

Interestingly children, of alcoholics in particular, tend to use a characteristic of the Alcoholic game called ‘See if you can stop me‘, which manifests as lying, hiding things, seeking negative comments, looking for helpful people, seeking out allies and so on.

The self punishment aspect if the game generally comes into play when those children become older.

How do I step out of the destructive games I play?

Berne suggests three things are needed:

  • Awareness – being in the here and now (this is the Adult Ego State)
  • Spontaneity – the freedom to choose and express feelings (from Parent, Adult and Child Ego States)
  • Intimacy – candidness, liberation (basically our Free Child Ego State).

We all had to adapt to our parents/primary care givers so none of us grow up with a true ‘Free Child Ego State’, however as we are born autonomous and game free, we can choose to return to this state. The more we can engage in the here and now (Adult Ego State) and not allow the mind to take us into the past or the future, the more we are able to step out of the damaging/unhealthy Ego States of the Critical Parent (constant criticism which leads to depression) and Nurturing Parent (constant worrying which leads to anxiety). This allows space to express feelings from the Inner Child that are trapped in the body, things such as journalling, sounding, movement, body work and so on are helpful. As we begin to release blocked emotions/energy, we begin to re-write our negative self-beliefs, relinquish the need for self punishment and we can switch from Adapted Child Ego State to the Free and enjoy things like creativity, imagination, spontaneity and so on. Our Parent Ego States become healthier, instead of criticism there is self-development and instead of over worrying there is self-care. Inner work is hard work, but Berne believed everyone capable of autonomy.

Further Reading:

Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships – Eric Berne

The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis – Ian Stewart and Vann Joines


Featured Image: George Becker

The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld

We believe this is what makes you fearful of the states you call past and future, and makes you reluctant to see the present with clear sight.  Invite both the past and future into the present, so that all would become a seamless web. ” – The Sidhe

The Sidhe : John Matthews : 9780936878058

A short book by archaeologist and scholar John Matthews who was invited to Ireland by a colleague to an excavation site and there he encountered a connection with The Sidhe who imparted their wisdom gained from a world or dimension that runs in parallel with our own. John writes the book in order of his encounters with The Sidhe over about a month, and explains the use of a glyph to help his connection to The Sidhe once leaving the site. Interestingly, the Sidhe mention that some of the crop circles are glyph’s from Gaia for us to connect with our planet in a similar way as John to The Sidhe; other circles they acknowledge are created by fellow humans who perhaps wish their own form of connection. At the end of the book John extracts the six exercises for us all to practice ‘awareness’ and ‘meditating’ to help us connect us to our own inner wisdom and that of the Great Web (or whatever you wish to call that wisdom that is bigger than you or I).

The Great Web that connects all life: it is vital that you learn how to make contact with that form that links us all. Be reconnected to everything, end that state of fragmentation that exists in you and that is everywhere in your world” – The Sidhe

Juniper Relaunch

Counselling, Dorchester, Weymouth, BACP, Equine Therapy, Horse Course

Photo: Janos Borbely

As some readers may recall, Juniper has been on hold as a business for quite some time. Originally starting in 2010 as an Animal Health and Well-being business and a couple of years later incorporating natural therapies for people. In 2014 I ceased trading due to my 14 year old niece, whom I was fostering single-handedly, becoming paralysed whilst at school. She recovered, almost fully, over the following year with the help of a brilliant chiropractor and our pony Jac. During her recovery year I began training as a counsellor and inspired by Jac’s healing ability also trained in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy/Learning with LEAP.

Ironically, now recovered my niece ran away from home several times and social services ended the placement unexpectedly. I was faced with a decision to quit counselling training so I could work full time and sell Jac, or quit my flat by the following month. I took the latter option as I promised Jac a forever home and I was quite determined to become a counsellor. I was only able to stay in Dorset for 6 months, and then a friend thankfully offered a room and place for Jac in Glastonbury. Together we set about creating an Equine ReWilding business with her amazing herd of ponies and horses. I travelled back to Dorset weekly to continue counselling training, and wore down two old cars in the process of both this and travelling to voluntary placements to gain my 100 client hours. Through one of my placements I eventually gained my current job in primary care which being part time fitted around my diploma, the horses and gave me a small income. With it I attempted to live independently in a mobile home.

After one of the wettest winters, with the horses off the land for nearly 5 months my hands and shoulder began to deteriorate with the manual work and this it began to effect my ability to type and do other simple tasks in my paid work. Financially, physically and emotionally things became impossible and thus ended my chapter in Glastonbury. Sadly, this caused Jac and I to end up in different counties, he in Gloucestershire and me back in Dorset.

It was hard going not seeing my best friend daily and also being back in a place that had broken my heart. As Mick Jagger once indicated ‘you don’t always get what you want, but you often get what you need’. So I embraced this change and set about making the most of it. I completed my client hours, finally passing my two year diploma, sat a proficiency exam to become a Registered Counsellor and even got married. Whilst visiting Jac, I began to get creative about setting up Woodland Retreats at his new home and helped a friend (who now looks after Jac within her herd of native ponies) set up Equine EARTH.

With ongoing chiropractic, physiotherapy and sports massage, I got the use of my hands and shoulder back and with that my ability to get back into painting and creating websites for others now with very little pain. I recently redesigned my own website from a blog site back to a website ready to relaunch Juniper. Thank you to those who have supported me on this challenging journey; from those who gave me a home to those who simply sent good wishes; and a special shout out to the British Legion who helped me fund half of the diploma fees.

With no further ado, I would like to introduce my two new venues for Juniper:

If you are local and would like to book a counselling appointment please contact me and for more information on what to expect from counselling please click here.

I also offer online counselling for those who are not local or just prefer the comfort of your own home.

I look forward to meeting you soon.

Best wishes, Georgie

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD, Juniper, Counselling, Dorset

What is the cause of PTSD?

All humans are complex organisms who constantly strive to adapt to the demands placed on them by their physical & social environments. When threatened they react with fear & distress – a survival function. We learn from danger and once passed we ponder on characteristics of the threat (Yule, 1999).

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Zodiac Gateways

Counselling, Dorset, Weymouth, Yeovil, Zodiac

During the first Gateway of the Zodiac Wheel (April) I met the author of ‘Your Zodiac Soul‘ John Wadsworth in a cafe in Glastonbury. He randomly asked my friend if she would take a photograph of both him and his friend and they held up a book. I noticed the book title and I was intrigued so asked if one of them had written the book. John replied that he had; it was 14 years worth of his work and he had managed to capture it into his first book and was embarking on a UK book tour to promote it. Naturally, I bought a signed copy of the book as did my friend. I was not expecting such an experiential and fascinating book, a book that explains the wheel of life, from birth to death to rebirth, rather than the linear idea of birth to death.

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Free your Inner Child

Transactional Analysis, Counselling, Glastonbury, Inner Child, Meditation,

According to Eric Berne’s and his Transactional Analysis (TA) Theory we have 3 parts of us: Parent, Adult and Child Ego State and all have thoughts, feelings and behaviours to help identify which is at the forefront and in charge. We switch between ego states but often can find we are in a certain one most of the time. We may find it changes depending on who we are with.

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A Cup of Tea

Equine Therapy Counselling Light Love Inspire Juniper Counselling Therapies

In basic Transactional Analysis we have 3 ego states: Parent, Adult and Child, three different parts of us. I have noticed that some people find it difficult to get into their adult ego state, which is about being fully present in the moment, only interested in the here and now. A guided meditation or yoga class seems to hard to fit in a chaotic week. What came to mind was a Buddhist ceremony around a cup of tea that I had read in my 20s.

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Rear View Mirror

Counselling, Somerset, Glastonbury, Juniper, Paintedhorse

As this year draws to a close I am usually mindful of the year behind me. ‘Another year over, and what have you done‘ John Lennon asks and I reflect on an answer to give him. This year against the odds, I fought hard to stay on my counselling diploma. Counselling training has been life changing, in so many ways. The life I lived and the relationships I had at the start of my training almost 4 years ago have all changed or have ended.

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Victim Blaming

Juniper, Counselling, Trauma, Brain Science, Equine Therapy, Paintedhorse

I recently attended a truly inspirational and passionately delivered talk by Zoe Lodrick on ‘Dynamics of Power and Control’. Zoe is a Sexualised Trauma Specialist and has expertise in sexualised trauma, domestic abuse, victim behaviour, sex offending and in the interviewing of victims of sexual crimes.  Zoe is a recognised expert on human behaviour/response when faced with a threat/perceived threat, particularly sexual.

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The Fear Layer

Counselling, Dorset, Self Development

As trainee counsellors, we have been told ‘Counsellors without self awareness are limited in their ability to operate with any degree of honesty or integrity with clients‘. Therefore before working with clients, most training providers require that their trainee counsellors have at least 40 hours of personal therapy. And so it was during my 40 hours of personal counselling and beyond that I practically learnt how to identify my innate emotions of anger, sadness, fear and joy. That may sound a little bit strange, how do you not know what emotion you are feeling?

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