Magyar Szó

"Documenting the life of the Hungarian community in New Zealand"
- Az új-zélandi magyar közösség lapja.

Issue 82 - December 2005

Angry Games People Play

I pointed out in the previous two articles (Magyar Szo, nos. 80 & 81, June & September 2005), our "negative" feelings are inborn, inherited aspects of our nature, but when it comes to their expression, like aggression or hatred, we are conditioned to block out our emotional awareness in order to escape blame or guilt feelings.

To avoid blame we devise games, which are strategies to hide our anger. Some of us suppress the whole feeling side of our personality and come across as well-controlled people. At a birthday party, I met an elderly lady, who clamed that she successfully brought up 10 foster children and never lost her temper. I wondered if angels ever got mad or they only suppressed their resentment because of religious commitments. (She was a devout churchgoer.)

People tend to act out their hostility without realising what they are doing. A game is a kind of communication in disguise, an action which takes place within a person or in between people. On the surface, these interactions appear to be "logical" Adult-to-Adult exchanges of information but they carry concealed meanings which escape the recipient's awareness. Even the sender of the information himself may not know that he is playing games. The reason for it is simple: the message, seemingly, is an Adult-to-Adult form of communication but the real meaning is addressed to our "Child". Being a Child-to-Child exchange, it escapes our awareness. When we feel, we are in our "Child Ego State", it is our internal "Child" who feels sad, mad or glad!


Naturally, some of us have greater needs than others. Some of us have considerable difficulty in facing life and keep on searching for a magical "Mother" to give us the emotional support we never had when we were toddlers. Eric Berne called it "Waiting for Santa Claus". It is an angry-dependent relationship and, when unmasked in therapy, it is found to be the base of most of our emotional difficulties. The greater the need is, the greater the frustration and the anger towards those who fail to meet our needs.

During my analysis, I had a dream: I was an unformed substance, flying through an open window. Just before disappearing into the dark, cold sky, a pair of hands caught me and deposited me on the floor by a plate of food, lying next to the fridge. These hands were around me for some years, keeping me in an intense dependency bond. In due course, I managed to severe the cord, which was tying me to her. Consequently, I gave up waiting for Santa Claus and the anger I felt towards her was gone. However relieved I felt, I had another problem to face: I had to grow up to become independent and self-sufficient.

Can you grow up too and celebrate Christmas with a warm heart? You can stop hating and start loving!

Refs: J. Birnbaum "How to Stop Hating and Start Loving", Pan Books ISBN 0330240647 E. Berne "Games People Play", Deutsch, 1966

Dr Endre Maurer

Magyar Szó Issue 82 - December 2005