Finished Games People Play. It's a bit of a cult book, part of a minor school of psychology called tranactional analysis which had flurry of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies before falling out of favour. It divides up the human mind into Adult, Parent and Child which roughly correspond to the Freudian Ego, Superego and Id. It views most human motivation as aimed at getting "strokes" to one's self-esteem. It concentrates on human interactions which it categorizes as "pastimes" or "games" in which people adopt various roles in order to get "strokes".
Most of the book is a description of various "games". For instance in See What You Made Me Do:
First-Degree SWYMD: White, feeling unsociable, becomes engrossed in some activity which tends to insulate him against people. Perhaps all he wants at the moment is to be left alone. An intruder, such as his wife or one of his children, comes either for stroking or to ask him something like, "Where can I find the long-nosed pliers?" This interruption "causes" his chisel, paintbrush, typewriter or soldering iron to slip, whereupon he turns on the intruder in a rage and cries, "See what you made me do." As this is repeated through the years, his family tends more and more to leave him alone when he is engrossed. Of course it is not the intruder but his own irritation which "causes" the slip, and he is only too happy when it occurs, since it gives him a lever for ejecting the visitor. Unfortunately, this is a game which is only too easily learned by young children, so that it is easily passed on from generation to generation. The underlying satisfactions and advantages are more clearly demonstrated when it is played more seductively.Quite a few of the games are astutely observed, and you can often think of real-world examples where you've seen them being played. I think that's a large part of the appeal of the book, since it helps you recognize the patterns around you.
However, as psychology, I think it's a bit over-simplistic. For instance, it describes alcoholism as a game in which people take on the role of "Alcoholic", "Rescuer", "Persecutor" and "Patsy". But in reality, I think people often take on the role of "Rescuer" or "Persecutor" because they're genuinely distressed to see a loved one becoming an alcoholic, and genuinely want to help them. I suspect they exclude that motivation because it doesn't fit the model of being entirely motivated by "strokes". Basically the model seems too simplistic to me.
Also there's some pretty dated sexual stuff in there, like the "frigid woman" and "rapo" games. (Psychologists of the period were very concerned with the problem of frigidity in women, but never seemed to get very far in curing it with psychotherapy.)
Overall, fairly interesting, but I think it needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
What I'm Reading 2
Winterstrike by Liz Williams is a generally very good science fiction novel, with a couple of minor flaws, set on a terraformed Mars in the far future.
Does a very good job of setting up a Clarkeian technology-indistinguishable-from-magic, where "haunt tech" populates the world with ghost-like and spirit-like creatures. There's a great gothic atmosphere, with sinister figures gliding along the frozen canals in a Martian winter. There's a rich and imaginative world. The plot is fast-paced with plenty of actions, and the characters are generally convincing.
Minor downsides: bit too much repetition of the capture-escape plot elements, two protagonists who are very similar, and much of the plot is left unresolved for future books in the series.
Even so, overall I was very impressed, will definitely be watching out for more.
Had some annoying minor health issues. Had an RSI-like Mouse Elbow thing, which I seem to have fixed for the moment by switching the mouse to the left hand for a bit.
More seriously, I've got tinnitus, partial deafness, and now an ear infection again. Thought I'd got it fixed with over-the-counter ear-drops recommended by NHS direct: by Wednesday it seemed to be virtually healed, but I got steadily increasing pain over Thursday which got pretty bad, even with codeine it kept me awake Thursday night.
Went to the Charing Cross Hospital walk-in center again though and I've been loaded up with meds by the second doctor. I thought the left ear was screwed and the right was OK, but apparently the left is really fucked, but the right is blocked by earwax too. So I'm now to put olive oil drops in the right ear to soften the wax, I have steroid-antibiotic ear drops to put in the left, and I'm to take antibiotic pills too. Bit surprised: last time I went in I just saw a Nurse Practitioner who gave me one antibiotic spray which sorted it out. The hearing loss was greater then, but the pain is much greater now. Hopefully this combination will fix it.
Not being vastly stoical with the pain this time unfortunately. When I had busted ribs I mostly skipped the painkillers. But while this comes and goes, when it's back the pain is more intense, and it's harder to cope with because it's painful even when I lie still. Must remember to appreciate the painlessness when I get better.
Expanding slightly on the last diary, it's a bit annoying the way people, including one guy at work, are slagging off the Greeks for running up too much debt. As I said with the US mortgage crisis: it's in the interest of every borrower to borrow at the lowest rates possible. It's the lender who should really be responsible for ensuring the interest rate is high enough to cover the risk of the default.
Moreover, it's not as if it's a big, astonishing, freaky surprise that the Euro was threatened by too much borrowing from member states. So from a quick search.
The main objections to the Euro are that it Central Bank decisions are unaccountable and undemocratic; and that certain countries are willfully ignoring the Growth and Stability pact by running large deficits, and thus endangering their single currency partners.R Mutt in 2004 said
Tragedy of the commons is bound to destroy the Eurozone though. Every country's vested interest is to run the biggest deficit-spending welfare state possible, since interest and exchange rates are set globally. Now there's no penalty for breaking the Growth and Stability pact, their only choice is to race each other towards total economic collapse.I said in 2004:
One thing that doesn't seem to have got much UK attention is that they're weakening the Growth and Stability pact even further: now EU finance ministers can prevent the European Commission from punishing countries that break it. Still, that's one for the Eurozone members and their kamikaze economics.So, I wish the Eurocrats would stop clutching their damn pearls so much and gasping about how it's a unbelievable shock that the high borrowing of some member states now threatens the Euro. This was a really obvious problem that even daft Internet blowhards could see coming. And the mechanism that was designed to stop it, the Growth and Stability Pact, was deliberately and consciously dismantled. Don't cut the brake cables and then blame the driver when the car crashes.
(Backstory: the weakness of the single currency is that taxes, spending and borrowing are controlled by the member states, not the EU. So, a member state can pursue economic policies that damage the currency (inflationary policies for instance) and only pay a fraction of the price. The Growth and Stability pact is supposed to restrain them from doing that, but it's been broken by France and Germany, and they've got away without being punished).
Socioeconomics. US recovery: "corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent". Optimal taxation of top incomes in Germany. Spectre of stagnating incomes stalks globe.
Misc. Bad news: XKCD's Randall Munroe has more details on the family illness he mentioned before. How to create a topographically accurate Tube map. Bombings in Burma. Declare it art. Make everything OK. Scale of the Universe, via.
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