Tanjy, age 7, got a stomach-ache at the dinner table and asked to be excused for that reason. His parents suggested that he lie down for a while. His little brother Mike, age 3, then said, "I have a stomach-ache too," evidently angling for the same consideration. The father looked at him for a few seconds and then replied, "You don't want to play that game, do you?" Whereupon Mike burst out laughing and said, "No!"
If this had been a household of food or bowel faddists, Mike would also have been packed off to bed by his alarmed parents. If he and they had repeated this performance several times, it might be anticipated that this game would have become part of Mike's character, as it so often does if the parents cooperate. Whenever he was jealous of a privilege granted to a competitor, he would plead illness in order to get some privileges himself. The ulterior transaction would then consist of: (social level) "I don't feel well" + (psychological level) "You must grant me a privilege, too." Mike, however, was saved from such a hypochondriacal career. Perhaps he will end up with a worse fate, but that is not the issue. The issue is that a game in statu nascendi was broken right there by the father's question and by the boy's frank acknowledgment that what he proposed was a game.
Eric Berne: Games People Play
Pozn.: Autor knihy kdysi obrazně prohlásil: "People were born princes and princess, until their parents turned them into frogs."