The Art Of Readable Code

The Art Of Readable Code by Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher

art-of-readable-codeI didn’t know much about this book. I knew that it was written by two Googlers. It was under 200 pages. And the title was intriguing. Sounded great, let’s see how good it is.

After reading it I have to say that it’s really good. Again, an incredible book for beginners something everybody should read between their first and second year programming. Really well written, no clutter, funny cartoons. Really good book.

Code should be easy to understand. AND
Code should be written to minimize the time it would take for someone else to understand it.

These are the two main mantras in the book. I would even say one mantra. The idea that you write code for some other person to read is great. They also say: “Maybe that person is you in 6 months”. And I agree. I noticed this in the beginning of my ‘career’ (for a lack of a better word). I looked at code I’ve written 6 months before and had problems understanding it. Today, I can look at code I’ve written 3 years ago and have not many problems understanding it.

Use a thesaurus

Because English is my second language I often do this while searching for better names. But I think even for native speakers there’s a payoff. I try not to make it too non-obvious, though.

Append important information to variable names. e.g. delay_ms, unsafe_user_comment, textfield_utf8, etc.

I like this idea and it’s extremely valuable in non-static typed languages. Which makes me think whether you should, for example, define two types of input. Save and Unsafe text. You write all your ‘internal’ function only using save text and therefore have to check your unsafe text you’re getting from the user / input.

Names should be non-ambigious


Comments as “director commentary”

Love this. If there’s something non-obvious describe it. If you tried a few things describe it. Really good advice.

Examples in the comments / docstring

I love when library writers do this. Python has a great implementation which allows you to define examples and tests in the docstring. But nonetheless, something worthwhile.
All in all, really good! I knew most of the stuff thanks to

  • functional programming (bottom up, dreaming about what you want to do, no side-effects, )
  • edw519 who said that naming is one of the most undervalued activities in programming. His comments got me started to use clean and consistent naming.
  • my own laziness (writing as little code as possible)

I would recommend it to new comers, i.e. with about 2 years of experience. They will probably get the highest payoff. Absolute recommendation!

The 5S for the Office User’s Guide

The 5S for the Office User’s Guide by Don Tapping

If you can’t do 5S then forget all the rest!5s-office-guide

This book is great. It’s practical, it’s easy to read and it’s full of actionable advice. I can recommend it especially given the lack of good books in the service / office environment.

We did 5S quite regularly in our office even before I was a QM. It just felt freeing and people felt good after they threw out a few trash cans of old paper.

Lean eliminates waste or non value-added activities. Waste is defined through the eyes of the customer (i.e., client, patient, other process owner, etc.).

That’s one of the basic idea of lean. Erase non value-added activities. These are basically all activities “that customers are not willing to pay for”.

Non value-added activities are usually symptoms of a problem within a process.

The idea of creating value for the users ‘at all cost’ is pretty revolutionary and challenges the status-quo. You can defend something as ‘we always did it like that’ if the customer isn’t willing to pay for that. It’s a customer-driven environment and it’s cultural. Therefore it isn’t easy to do lean management well.

Now that we can think about customer value, we can think about waste which is everything that doesn’t add value. These are the different kinds of waste:

  • Unnecessary Services (or overproduction of those services)
  • Mistakes (or defects)
  • Delays
  • Unnecessary Motion
  • Overprocessing
  • Excess Inventory
  • Excess Transport
  • People Utilization

Most organizations find that 5% to 20% of the work or service provided is value-added.

If you start measuring processes you quickly learn how much time is actually spent on value-added activities. Here are some examples:

Examples: Excessive copies of emails, Duplicate reports, Ineffective meetings, Irrelevant data to customers.

Examples: Data entry error, Missing information, Wrong information, Scheduling issue, Customer returns.

Examples: Searching for data – electronic or paperbase, Ineffective email distribution lists, Scheduling issue.

Examples: Unnecessary data collection, Redundant paperwork, Ineffective meetings and reports.

Where do we start?

  1. How can we start to communicate about these wastes throughout the organization?
  2. What are some “low-hanging fruit?”
  3. What can be done immediately to improve a process and reduce costs with minimal cost to the organization?”

One of the most important success factors will be the commitment of the management. Without their commitment it won’t work. They will provide financial resources, time for training and participation, and consequence if the employees won’t go the new way.


There’s a lot written about 5S and I will just take quotes out of the book:

  • The essence of Sort is found in the saying, “When in doubt, move it out.”
  • The essence of Set-In-Order is found in the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  • Shine involves cleaning everything, keeping everything clean, and using cleaning as a way to ensure that the areas are maintained as they should be.
  • Standardize involves creating guidelines for keeping the area organized, orderly, clean, and making the standards visual and obvious.
  • Sustain involves education and communication to ensure that everyone uses the applicable standards.

And that’s basically it. It’s easy but incredible powerful. And I agree with the leading quote. If you can’t do 5S don’t try to do more complicated QM.

I won’t go into the PM part of introducing 5S but it’s discussed in the book. Here are some of the tips for doing 5S.

Some tips

  • Create legends for labels that are in common areas.
  • Areas that are clean and well-lit allow for more satisfied customers as well as employees.
  • Participation in development of standards is the best training.
  • Locate visual controls at point-of use.
  • Perform management “walk-abouts.”

It boils down to: Make it easy and accessible.

Breakthrough advertising

Breakthrough advertising by Eugene Schwartz

breakthrough-advertisingThere’s a lot written about this book. I won’t go into detail. But one of the most stark things about this book is its high price (used hardcover costs $396.00):


Some say this book made the most millionaires. Some say it made their career. So what it is about?

the copy writer does not create the desire of millions of women all over America to lose weight; but he can channel that desire onto a particular product, and make its owner a millionaire

This is probably one of the main points in this book. Creating trends is incredible hard, riding them not so much.

All in all, I think it’s an incredible book. It’s truly a manual to make money. That doesn’t mean that you can just grab the book and money is pouring out but the books describes in depth each step in writing copy and explains strategies in detail.

Analysis is the art of asking the right questions and letting the problem dictate the right answers.

Mass desire

  • copy channels desire onto a particular product but doesn’t create it
  • Mass desires are the pubic spread of private wants
  • Using these trends allows for leverage
  • a) permanent forces: health, -technical problems => differentiates of the product + freshness
  • b) forces of change: detect & chart possible trends

Stage I: Choose the most powerful desire that can possibly apply to your product

Each desire has three dimensions:
a) urgency, intensity, degree of demand to be satisfied aka. pain level
b) staying power, degree of repetition, the inability to become satiated aka. frequency of pain
c) scope aka. how many people have this problem

Stage II: Acknowledge the desire (reinforce it / offer means to satisfy) in the headline

Stage III: Show how your product performances satisfy the desire

a) Start by listing all different performances it contains and group them against the mass desires each satisfies

Your prospect’s state of awareness

You copy connects the market with the product. Your headline is the first step.

The headlines is based on three questions:

a) What is the mass desire that creates this market?
b) How much do these people know about the way your product satisfies this desire?
c) How many other products have been presented to them before yours?

How aware is your prospect?

I) Customer knows your product and what it does and knows he wants it
II) Customer knows the product but doesn’t want it yet

Your headline should focus on one of these tasks:

a) reinforce desire
b) sharpen / extend the image of the product
c) introduce new proof / details
d) announce new mechanism for better satisfaction / elements former  limitations
e) completely change the image (USP)

You use the brand name / logo and point out the product’s superiority

III) Customer knows that the wants the product but he doesn’t know yet that there’s a product

IV) Customer has a need but doesn’t understand the connection between him and the product

Start with the need / solution in the headline. Dramatize the need and present the product as the inevitable solution

V) Prospect isn’t aware of his need or he won’t admit it // need is very general

a) Price means nothing yet
b) The name means nothing
c) Function and desire mean nothing

You are echoing your market (emotional, attitude). You are defining them for themselves. The reader has to own the headline: his headline, his problem, his state of mind.
You’re not selling the product, you are selling the ad. Your goal is that they keep on reading to that they can get through each awareness phase.


The young Lincoln, poring over borrowed school-books far into the night – seeking in the dim light of his log fire the transforming light of knowledge – eager to grow – eager to do . . . here is an example which has inspired the man who strives against the odds of circumstances to make his place in the world.
To-night, in cities and towns and villages . . . thousands of men will drop their daily labors to fight, beneath the lamp, the battle that Lincoln fought. . .
Up from the mines, down from the masts of ships . . . from all the places where men work, they will go home and take up their books because they yearn to grow, because they seek higher training, greater skill, more responsibility. . .
Some of them are men who work in one field whereas their talents and desires are in another. Some . . . are halted in their progress because they do not understand the higher principles of their business or profession. Some left school in boyhood because poverty made it necessary. . .
Fifty years ago these men . . . would have had no place to turn for the courses of study and for the personal guidance that they need.
Thirty years ago there was founded a school to help them – a school created for their needs and circumstances – a school that goes to them no matter where they are – a school . . .
Created in response to a need, the International Correspondence Schools have developed their scope and usefulness to the growth of that need . . .

How many products have been there before you?

I: First to market

If prospects learn about your product, they become more interested, more enthusiastic and believe more

Be simple, be direct, don’t be fancy; dramatize the claim, bring your product and prove that it works

II: You’re second

If the direct claim (I) still works
copy it and enlarge on it; drive it to a limit

III: People already bought products and (II) is at its limit

People accept their fate but still have the desire; they are looking for something new
Introduce a new mechanism; shift from what the product does to how it works; reduce the claim from (II) down and integrate it; e.g. „I am 60 pounds lighter“ => „lose fat“; integrate the claim into your first paragraph

IV: Elaboration on the new mechanism

Make it easier, quicker, surer, solve more problems, overcome old limitations, promise extra benefits (like II)

V: Dead market

Use the technique of fifth awareness phase

38 ways to strengthen your headline

I. Verbalization

Reinforcing a claim by binding other images to it

  • Measure the size of the claim
  • Measure the speed
  • Compare it
  • Metaphorize it
  • Make the prospect feel, seek, touch, see or hear it
  • Show prime examples
  • Dramatize the claim / results
  • Use paradoxes
  • Remove limitations
  • Use people / values the prospect wished to be identified (celebs, professionals, etc.)
  • Show how much the claim does in detail
  • Use a question
  • How to
  • Use authority
  • Before – After
  • New, Now, announcing
  • Stress exclusivity
  • Turn the claim into a challenge for the reader (Does she or doesn’t she? Which?)
  • Use quotations
  • Symbolize the claim / find parallels
  • Use contradictions to common sense
  • Offer information
  • Give the problem / need a name
  • Warn about possible pitfalls if the reader doesn’t use the product
  • Break the claim into two sentences or repeat (part of) it
  • Compare your product to other usages (if you can count to …)
  • State the difference
  • Surprise the reader that former limitations that have now been overcome
  • Address people who can’t buy your product (If you already…)
  • Address the prospect directly
  • Dramatize how hard it was to produce the claim (When X did A we had to …)
  • Accuse the claim of being too good
  • Challenge the prospects present limiting beliefs
  • Turn the claim into a Q&A

The Art of Creative Planning

I: Word-Substitute technique: Use headline substitute words
II: Use formulas
III: Analytical approach (see above)

A man will not visualize future disasters occurring to himself, but he is perfectly capable of visualizing, and buying preventative from, the image of such future problems affecting others around him.

Inside your prospect’s mind — what makes people read, want, believe

I. Desires

expand, sharpen, channel them and give them a goal
Your prospect must want

II. Identifications

roles or traits the prospect wants
your product must represent

III. Beliefs

opinions, attitudes, prejudices, etc your prospect lives by
your product must fit


  • fill out vaguest desires with concrete images
  • your writing the scripts of your prospect’s dreams (xI000)

When limited space:

  • Compression: boiling down into key words
  • The campaign: Repetition of key words with progression

I. Present the product / result directly by a thorough, completely detailed description of its effect

II. Put the product in action / describe what will happen to him

  • Let your reader visualize himself proving the performance of your product (provide a test) in the most specific and dramatic way

  • Extend the vision over a longer time horizon

  • Viewpoint from someone your reader can identify with (ordinary people, experts, celebs)

  • Use the disadvantages of the old product as compare it to the new one

Games People Play


Here’s the second book from 2012. Same circumstance as the last one. This also completes 2012 as far as I know.

Social Intercoursegames-people-play

  • Stimulus hunger / emotional deprivation

    • Most favored form: physical intimacy

    • On a biological chain, same relationship to survival as food-hunger

  • Sensory Deprivation

    • E.g. solitary imprisonment

  • Both can bring / encourage biological changes

  • Similarly to hunger for food

  • Transformation from infant’s stimulus hunger into recognition-hunger

    • Varies between people; film star: many „strokes“ per week; scientist one „stroke“ from a master per year

  • “stroke“ unit of social action

    • can be a stroke, pinch, or even non-physical => some acts of recognition

  • Any social intercourse is better than none

Structuring of Time

  • After recognition-hunger comes structure-hunger

  • „What do you say to him/her then…?“

  • Programming the time

    • Material

      • Mainly measurement and probability estimates

      • Social factor is subordinated

    • Social

      • Traditional (semi)-ritualistic interchanges

    • Individual

      • When you know people better

      • People often play “games”

        • Regulated environment

        • Substitute for real intimacy

    • Examples

      • Pre-defined activities by work

  • Structuring time is important because boredom can lead to emotional starvation

    • Solitary person can structure time in

      • Activity

      • Fantasy

    • Member of social aggregation

      • Rituals

      • Pastimes

      • Games

      • Intimacy

      • Activity

    • Gains of social contact

      • Relief of tension

      • Avoidance of noxious situations

      • Procurement of stroking

      • Maintenance of an established equilibrium


Structural Analysis

  • Ego states

    • Different states with feelings and body posture

    • Coherent feeling & behavior patterns

    • Grouped in

      • Resembles parental figures [exterophysic / Parent]

      • Autonomously directed towards objective appraisal of reality [neopsychic / Adult]

      • Represents archaic relics which were fixated in early childhood [archaeopsychic / Child]

    • Means that you act like your parent, objectively or like a child would

    • Implications

      • Everyone carries his parents around inside of him

      • Everyone has an Adult

      • Everyone carries a little child around inside of him

    • Structural Diagram of ego states

      • Parent

      • Adult

      • Child

    • Remarks

      • Child can be charming, pleasuring and creative

      • Adult can be

        • Direct: Do as I do

        • Indirect: Don’t do as I do, do as I say – requirements

      • Child can be

        • Adapted: behaves like its parent would what him to

        • Natural: spontaneous expression

      • Adult is essential for survival

        • Calculates probabilities

        • Processes data

        • Regulate activities

        • Mediate between child and adult

      • Parent helps

        • Act as parent of actual children

        • Makes many responses automatic

Transactional Analysis

  • Unit of social intercourse = transaction

  • Start of transaction: transactional stimulus [ego state one]

  • Response: transactional response [ego state two]

  • Ego states by difficulty (easiest first)

    • Adult — Adult [Complementary Transaction Type I]

    • Child — Parent [Complementary Transaction Type II]

  • Communication breaks if a crossed transaction occurs

    • Most problematic: Crossed Transaction Type I

      • Stimulus: Adult — Adult

      • Response: Child — Parent

      • => Crossed transaction

    • Crossed Transaction Type II

      • Stimulus: Adult — Adult

      • Response: Parent — Child

  • Ulterior, simple: Angular transactions

    • Focuses on two ego states, e.g. Adult and Child

      • Stimulus: “This one is better” (A) “… but you can’t afford it” (A2)

      • Response: as (A) “That’s the one I’ll take” (C)

  • Ulterior, duplex: ulterior transaction

    • Four ego states, e.g. flirtation

      • Adult — Adult, about the topic

      • Child — Child, about a sex play

Procedures and Rituals

  • Procedure = series of simple complementary Adult transactions manipulating reality

  • Reality can be

    • Static: all possible arrangements of matter, e.g. arithmetic

    • Dynamic: possibilities of interactions of all energy systems, e.g. chemistry

  • Effectiveness = actual results

  • Efficiency = psychological criterion, can be contaminated by Parent or Child

  • Ritual = stereotyped series of simple complementary transactions programmed by external social forces

    • Often used by people to achieve some amount of strokes

    • You can see strokes as some kind of currency; if people don’t get their strokes they will have hunger

  • Procedures and rituals are somewhat predictable

  • Rituals can be evaded by using procedures as a substitute


  • Simple pastime = series of semi-ritualistic, simple, complementary transactions arranged around a single field of material, whose primary object is to structure an interval of time

    • Beginning and end are often signaled by procedures or rituals

    • Maximum gain for each party

    • Higher adaption will mean higher gain

  • E.g. chit-chat, cocktail parties, discussions about topics that interests a group

  • Games can be played on different levels, e.g. ‘PTA’

    • A — A: talks about school reforms

    • P — P: how the kids are lazy

  • Different topics and ego states don’t mix well

  • Help stabilizing positions of persons (existential advantage)

  • Positions become fixed early (first to seventh year)

    • Positions of adults tell a lot about their childhood

    • If there’s no intervention, people try to defend their positions or try to avoid contradictions


  • (Set of) simple transactions for a stated purpose


  • game = ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome

  • Series of moves with a snare or ‘gimmick’

  • Difference to procedures, rituals, and pastimes

    • Ulterior quality

    • Payoff

  • Every game is

    • basically dishonest

    • outcome has a dramatic quality

  • Dynamic instead of static like attitudes

  • The stimulus player will lapse into the state ‘despair’ if the response player will refuse to play the game


Life Games


  • Process:

    • Player drinks and gets a hang over frequently

    • Partner [Persecutor] often want to stop this habit

    • Third player [Rescuer] is concerned with player and wants to help

    • Player stops for some time and then starts again

    • Fourth player will protect player from his partner who don’t understand him [Patsy / Dummy]

    • Agitator: provides supplies without even being asked for them

  • The real pleasure doesn’t come from drinking

    • Pleasure from talking about suffering

  • Pastimes:

    • ‘Martini’: how many drinks and how they were mixed (social drinker)

    • ‘Morning After’: Let me tell you about my hangover (alcoholics)

  • Related:

    • ‘Dry Alcoholic’: Goes to the process of financial or social degradation without a bottle

    • ‘Addict’: more sinister, more dramatic, more sensational and faster

  • Rescuer sometimes encourage the player to drink, so that the game continues

  • Games from others:

    • Rescuer: ‘I’m only trying to help you’

    • Persecutor: ‘Look What you’ve done to me’

    • Patsy: ‘Good Joe’ — how can I help people?

    • Players shift to play ‘Wooden Leg’ because rescue organizations promote that alcoholism is a disease which allows the game to continue

  • Player has to stop the game

    • Often players are going to play an other game because they are afraid of intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Being the adult in the relationship

      • Often problematic because the public wants people to play the game

      • One clinic cured people by stopping the game which was done by not entering — this was responded by indignation and the treatment stopped


  • Process:

    • Player takes on debt — gives him a ‘purpose’

    • Further moves, see TAC and TAG-AWI

  • Related:

    • ‘If it weren’t for the debts’ — mild form

    • ‘Try and Collect’ (TAC):

      • buy lot of stuff on credit

      • try to escape creditor

      • creditor is determined to collect the money

        • Player gets angry and play ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch’ — demonstrates that the creditor is greedy and ruthless

    • ‘Try and Get Away With It’ (TAG-AWI)

      • players are small landlords

      • regardless of outcome, player can play ‘Why does this always happen to me?’

  • Antithesis:

    • TAC: Request immediate payment in cash

    • TAGAWI: Promptness and honesty

Kick Me

  • Player tries to attract misfortune

  • ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ (WAHM)

    • inverse pride: ‘My misfortunes are better than yours’

  • Positive form: ‘What did I really do to deserve this?

Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch

  • Player tries to find an error in an agreed on contract and then exploits this fact to be furious

  • Related:

    • ‘Ain’t it awful’ (AIA)

    • seeks injustice in order to complain about them to a third party [Confidant]

    • Confidant also often plays AIA

  • Antithesis:

    • Correct behavior

    • Contractual structure should be explicitly stated in detail at the first opportunity and strictly adhered to

    • Yield gracefully without dispute if errors happen

See what you made me do (SWYMD)

  • First-Degree:

    • White is in an activity that tends to insulate him against other persons

    • Other person interrupts him and leads him to make an error

  • Second-Degree:

    • White takes SWYMD as a basis for life

    • Let other people take a decision

      • If it is good, he enjoys it

      • Otherwise, he plays ‘You got me into this’ (UGMIT) (variation of SWYMD)

      • He can also play: ‘I told you so’ or ‘See what you’ve done now’

  • Third-Degree:

    • Paranoid people play this against people who want to give them advice

    • SWYMD-UGMIT classical combination for cover game contract in many marriages

  • Antithesis:

    • First-Degree: leave player alone

    • Second-Degree: Give decision back to white

    • Third-Degree: Therapy

Martial Games


  • Couple begins process which leads to intimacy

  • One player mentions something the other one don’t want to hear so that she can escape intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Response player doesn’t try to offend other player

    • Initial player just ignores remarks

  • Related:

    • ‘Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t’ — Player says to other one, that he doesn’t do X, but if he does X player will criticize him

    • ‘Lunch Bag’ — husband takes leftovers and makes himself lunch for work

      • Wife must be some kind of self-less

      • Husband has the privilege of eating lunch by himself

      • Possibility of catching up work


  • Players:

    • Plaintiff – husband

    • Defendant – wife

    • Judge – therapist

  • Antithesis:

    • Therapist says to husband: ‘you’re absolutely right’ – asks how the husband feels about this, then corrects his statement and says that he feels that the husband is actually wrong

      • If the husband is honest: game doesn’t progress

      • If he is not honest, he will show some kind of reaction and the game can progress

    • Alternatively: Husband and wife are not allowed to talk to a third-party; they can only talk about you (partner) or themselves => game stops

Frigid Woman

  • Husband advances his wife but is repulsed

  • Repeat this until his wife says that all men are beasts, he doesn’t really love her or is only interest in sex

  • Some time after that he stops trying

  • The wife becomes forgetful and may walk half-dressed in the bedroom or flirts with other men at parties if she’s heavily drunk

  • Husband tries to approach her again but is repulsed

  • Wife starts ‘Uproar’ — which takes the place of sex

  • Husband stops completely

  • Wife again starts provoking him until she approaches and kisses him

  • Husband starts to engage with her until the wife stops and says “All men are beasts, all I wanted was affection, but all you are interested is in sex”

  • Related:

    • ‘Rapo’

  • Antithesis:

    • All highly dangerous

    • Taking a mistress

    • Husband takes psychotherapy

    • Best: Both go into therapy together


  • Housewife which is at home, often with kids, cleaning, etc

  • Starts with ITWFY and ‘Blemish’

  • Then ‘Harried’ starts

    • She will do everything

    • Act on demands

    • Volunteer every time

    • Then she will crash and don’t do anything

    • After that happens some times, she will get untidy & develops symptoms

  • Antithesis:

    • She must stop being every role simultaneously

Look how hard I tried

  • Process:

    • White goes in therapy with his spouse but resists it

    • At home, he finally gives in and tries to cooperate

    • After some therapy sessions he refuses to come any longer

    • Now his wife is forced to take the next step (e.g. divorce)

    • The husband is now blameless

  • Antithesis:

    • White is declared as not ready for a therapy

  • Related:

    • ‘I am helpless’ / ‘I’m blameless’: Child let parent take the responsibility

    • ‘Look hard I was trying’

      • Ex. Husband has gastric ulcer

      • First degree: tells everybody but still continues working — gets everybody’s admiration

      • Second degree: Don’t tell anyone, works till he collapses — wife now is plagued with guilt and in a corner position

      • Third degree: The cancer progresses until the husband kills himself saying that he was trying


  • Spouse makes derogatory remark and ends with: ‘Isn’t that right, sweetheart?’

    • Partner often agrees because

      • Correcting small details would be seen as pedantic

      • People don’t want to disagree with someone calling one ‘sweetheart’

      • Partner helps them to tell about misfortunes

  • Antithesis:

    • Be offensive and direct

    • Say ‘Yes, honey”

Party Games

Ain’t it awful

  • ‘Nowadays’

    • self-righteous, punitive Parental pastime

    • ‘You can’t trust anybody, nowadays’

  • ‘Broken Skin’

    • Slogan: ‘What a pity’

    • Talks about health issues

    • Positive outlook is seen as betrayal

  • ‘Water Cooler’ or ‘Coffee Break’

    • Three-handed game

    • Character ‘They’

    • ‘Look what they’re doing to us now’


  • Starts out with a depressive Child position ‘I am no good’

  • Which is then transformed into a Parental position ‘They are no good’

  • Player only feels comfortable with a new person if they find their blemish

  • This can develop into authoritarian personalities


  • Schlemiel means cunning

  • The victim is often a ‘good-natured fellow’

  • Moves:

    • White makes some mistakes that involve black

    • Black may respond with rage but know that then white will win the game

    • White says that he’s sorry

    • Black forgives white

    • White continues to destroy black’s property

  • Antithesis:

    • Don’t offer the demanded absolution

      • ‘Tonight you can embarrass my wife, ruin the furniture and wreck the rug, but please don’t say “I’m sorry”’

Why don’t you – Yes but (YDYB)

  • Moves:

    • White complains about a problem

    • Other players offer solutions “Why don’t you try X’

    • White responds with ‘Yes, but Z” where Z is an other problem

  • The game helps to reassure and gratify the Child

  • Payoff:

    • Game usually ends in silence

    • Meaning that nobody has a solution

  • Antithesis:

    • Responders play ‘I’m only trying to help you’ (ITHY)

    • Don’t play ITHY — ‘That is a difficult problem. What are you going to do about it?’

    • ‘X didn’t work’ — ‘That’s too bad’

Sexual Games

Let’s you and him fight (LYAHF)

  • Manouevre: Woman will let two men fight for her and fulfills her promise

  • Ritual: She already made her decision and if this men loses she must live with the wrong man

  • Game: While the two men are fighting, she meets up with a third man


  • First-Degree: Woman flirts with men, as soon he has committed the game is over

  • Second-Degree: White’s primary gratification comes from rejecting him

  • Third-Degree: White leads black into a compromising physical contact and then claims that he has raped or done other harm to her

    • Society can force white to Third-Degree because the sexual contact isn’t accepted

  • Antithesis:

    • The man has to distinguish game from real moves

Stocking Game

  • Moves:

    • Woman (White) comes into a strange group and exposes herself in a provocative way

    • Men get aroused and other women are angry

    • White plays innocent

  • White tries to prove her cynical world view

  • Antithesis:

    • Other women should handle the game


  • Often played by teenage daughters and fathers

  • Moves:

    • White finds a fault in black or the other way around

    • The outcome can end in

      • White retires into his bedroom and slams the door

      • Black retires into her bedroom and slams the door

      • Or both retire and slam the doors

  • Slamming of the doors highlights the fact that they have different bedrooms

    • Avoidance of sexual intimacy

  • Antithesis:

    • Often daughters try to leave the house early, e.g. premature marriage

    • Father finds an outside sexual interest

Good Games

Busman’s Holiday

  • Rather a pastime than a game

  • Player works his profession in an other country in his holidays


  • Men compliments a woman whenever possible but within appropriate limits

  • They don’t want to offer themselves but their work (e.g. poetry)

Happy to Help

  • Player helps or spends money with some ulterior motive


The significance of games

  • Games are passed on from generation to generation unless there is a successful intervention

  • People who play the same games have often offspring

  • ‘Raising’ children is often teaching them games

  • Society teaches that intimacy is not welcomed but in privacy which leads to playing games

  • People have friends who play the same games as them

The players

  • The more disturbed people are, the harder they play

  • Two classes play the games with the greatest conviction:

    • Sulks

      • Man who is angry at his mother

      • He doesn’t like women

      • Similarly with female sulks

    • Jerks / Squares

      • People who are overly sensitive to Parental influences


  • Release of three capacities

  • Awareness

    • ‘Where is the mind when the body is here?’

      • Thinking about some event

      • Immerse in the activity

      • Is aware to the environment

  • Spontaneity

    • Option, the freedom to choose

    • Liberation from the compulsion to play games

  • Intimacy

    • Spontaneous, game-free candidness of an aware person

    • Uncorrupted Child living in the here and now