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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mind games is used to define three forms of competitive human behaviors:

  1. a largely conscious struggle for psychological one-upmanship, often employing passive–aggressive behavior to specifically demoralize or dis-empower the thinking subject, making the aggressor look superior; also referred to as power games and head games.[1]
  2. the unconscious games played by people engaged in ulterior transactions of which they are not fully aware, and which transactional analysis considers to form a central element of social life all over the world.[2]
  3. mental exercises designed to improve the functioning of mind and/or personality; see also brain teasers or puzzles.[3]

The first known use of "mind game" is in 1963.[4] The first known use of "head game" is in 1977.[5]

Conscious one-upmanship

Mind games in the sense of the struggle for prestige,[6] appear in everyday life in the fields of office politics, sport, and relationships. Played most intensely perhaps by Type A personalities, office mind games are often hard to identify clearly, as strong management blurs with over-direction, and healthy rivalry with manipulative head-games and sabotage.[7] The wary salesman will be consciously and unconsciously prepared to meet a variety of challenging mind games and put-downs in the course of their work.[8]

The serious sportsman will also be prepared to meet a variety of gambits and head-games from their rivals, attempting to tread the fine line between competitive psychology and paranoia.[9]

In intimate relationships, mind games can be used to undermine one partner's belief in the validity of their own perceptions.[10] Personal experience may be denied and driven from memory,[11] and such abusive mind games may extend to the denial of the victim's reality, social undermining, and downplaying the importance of the other partner's concerns or perceptions.[12] Both sexes have equal opportunities for such verbal coercion[13] which may be carried out unconsciously as a result of the need to maintain one's own self-deception.[14]

Unconscious games

Eric Berne described a psychological game as an organized series of ulterior transactions taking place on twin levels: social and psychological, and resulting in a dramatic outcome when the two levels finally came to coincide.[15] He described the opening of a typical game like flirtation as follows: "Cowboy: 'Come and see the barn'. Visitor: 'I've loved barns ever since I was a little girl'".[16] At the social level a conversation about barns, at the psychological level one about sex play, the outcome of the game – which may be comic or tragic, heavy or light – will become apparent when a switch takes place and the ulterior motives of each become clear.

Between thirty and forty such games (as well as variations of each) were described and tabulated in Berne's best seller on the subject.[17] According to one transactional analyst, "Games are so predominant and deep-rooted in society that they tend to become institutionalized, that is, played according to rules that everybody knows about and more or less agrees to. The game of Alcoholic, a five-handed game, illustrates this...so popular that social institutions have developed to bring the various players together"[18] such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-anon.

Psychological games vary widely in degrees of consequence, ranging from first-degree games where losing involves embarrassment or frustration, to third-degree games where consequences are life-threatening.[19] Berne recognised however that "since by definition games are based on ulterior transactions, they must all have some element of exploitation",[20] and the therapeutic ideal he offered was to stop playing games altogether.[21]

Mental exercises

Mind games for self-improvement fall into two main categories. There are mental exercises and puzzles to maintain or improve the actual working of the brain.[22]

Mental exercises can be done through simple socializing.[23] Social interaction engages in many facets of cognitive thinking and can facilitate cognitive functioning. Cartwright and Zander noted that if an alien was visiting Earth for the first time, they would be surprised by the amount of social contact humans make.[24] Caring for one another and growing up in a group setting (family) shows a certain degree of interdependence that shows deep phylogenetic roots. However, this social contact is declining in the United States. Face-to-face interaction is getting more and more sparse. Family and friend visits, including dinners, aren't as common. The amount of social contact a person receives can greatly affect their mental health. A preference for being with others has a high correlation with well-being and with mental long-term and short-term effects on performance.

There are many things involved in a simple interaction between two people: paying attention, maintaining in memory the conversation, adjusting to a different perspective than your own, assessing situational constraints, and self-monitoring appropriate behavior. It is true that some of these are automatic processes, but attention, working memory, and cognitive control are definitely executive functions.[25][26] Doing all these things in a simple social interaction helps train the working memory in influencing social inference.

Social cognitive neuroscience also supports social interaction as a mental exercise. The prefrontal cortex function involves the ability to understand a person's beliefs and desires. The ability to control one's own beliefs and desires is served by the parietal and prefrontal regions of the brain, which is the same region emphasizing cognitive control.[27]

There has been some research, but not nearly enough, to determine how far the relationship between cognitive functioning and social interactions go. There are correlations with old people being involved in recreational sports that indicate a lower risk for dementia.[28] The studies that have been done have been gathered and inferred upon, rather than studying a direct relationship between cognitive function and social interaction. It is important to keep that in mind that this is still a developing field.

The other category of mental exercises falls into the world of puzzles. Neurocognitive disorders such as dementia and impairment in cognitive functioning have risen as a healthcare concern, especially among the older generation. Solving jigsaw puzzles is an effective way to develop visuospatial functioning and keeping the mind sharp. Anyone can do it, as it is low-cost and can be intrinsically motivating. The important part about jigsaw puzzles is that it is challenging, especially compared to other activities, such as watching television. Engagement in such an intellectual activity predicts a lower risk in developing a cognition disorder later on in life.[29]

There is also the category of the self-empowering mind game, as in psychodrama, or mental and fantasy workshops[30] – elements which might be seen as an ultimate outgrowth of yoga as a set of mental (and physical) disciplines.[31]

The ability to imagine and walk oneself through various scenarios is a mental exercise in itself. Self-reflection in this way taps into many different cognitive capabilities, including questioning rigid viewpoints, elaborating on experience, and knowing oneself through their relational context.[32]

See also

References

  1. ^ Gita Mammen, After Abuse (2006) p. 29
  2. ^ Berne (1966), p. 45.
  3. ^ "mind game". American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2016. Retrieved 2020-04-03 – via The Free Dictionary.
  4. ^ "Mind game". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  5. ^ "Head game". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  6. ^ Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection (London 1997) p. 68
  7. ^ A-M Quigg, Bullying in the Arts (2011) p. 201
  8. ^ David P. Snyder, How to Mind-Read your Customers (2001) p. 59
  9. ^ A. P. Sands, The Psychology of Gamesmanship (2010) p. 2
  10. ^ Kathleen J, Ferraro, Neither Angels nor Demons (2006) p. 82
  11. ^ R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (Penguin 1984) p. 31
  12. ^ Laurie Maguire, Where there's a Will there's a Way (London 2007) p. 76
  13. ^ Kate Fillion, Lip Service (London 1997) p. 244
  14. ^ R. D. Laing, Self and Others (Penguin 1969) p. 143
  15. ^ John McCleod, An Introduction to Counselling (2009) p. 255–6
  16. ^ Berne (1966), p. 32.
  17. ^ Berne (1966), pp. 64-147.
  18. ^ John Dusay (1976). "Transactional Analysis". In Eric Berne (ed.). A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. Penguin. pp. 309–310.
  19. ^ Eric Berne. "Rapo". Games People Play – via ericberne.com.
  20. ^ Berne (1966), p. 143.
  21. ^ Berne (1970), p. 223.
  22. ^ P. J. Battaglia, So You Think You're Smart (1988) p. xi
  23. ^ Ybarra, Oscar; Burnstein, Eugene; Winkielman, Piotr; Keller, Matthew C.; Manis, Melvin; Chan, Emily; Rodriguez, Joel (February 2008). "Mental Exercising Through Simple Socializing: Social Interaction Promotes General Cognitive Functioning". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 34 (2): 248–259. doi:10.1177/0146167207310454. ISSN 0146-1672. PMID 18212333.
  24. ^ Lenn, Theodore I. (October 1953). "Reviewed Work: Group Dynamics: Research and Theory by Dorwin Cartwright, Alvin Zander". Journal of Educational Sociology. 27 (2): 91. doi:10.2307/2263258. ISSN 0885-3525. JSTOR 2263258.
  25. ^ Frith, Chris (October 1990). "From Neuropsychology to Mental Structure. By Tim Shallice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988. 462 pp. £15.00". British Journal of Psychiatry. 157 (4): 630. doi:10.1192/s0007125000141030. ISSN 0007-1250.
  26. ^ Smith, E. E. (1999-03-12). "Storage and Executive Processes in the Frontal Lobes". Science. 283 (5408): 1657–1661. Bibcode:1999Sci...283.1657.. doi:10.1126/science.283.5408.1657. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 10073923.
  27. ^ Amodio, David M.; Frith, Chris D. (April 2006). "Meeting of minds: the medial frontal cortex and social cognition". Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 7 (4): 268–277. doi:10.1038/nrn1884. ISSN 1471-003X. PMID 16552413.
  28. ^ Fabrigoule, Colette; Letenneur, Luc; Dartigues, Jean François; Zarrouk, Mounir; Commenges, Daniel; Barberger-Gateau, Pascale (May 1995). "Social and Leisure Activities and Risk of Dementia: A Prospective Longitudinal Study". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 43 (5): 485–490. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb06093.x. ISSN 0002-8614. PMID 7730528.
  29. ^ Fissler, Patrick; Küster, Olivia C.; Loy, Laura S.; Laptinskaya, Daria; Rosenfelder, Martin J.; von Arnim, Christine A. F.; Kolassa, Iris-Tatjana (December 2017). "Jigsaw Puzzles As Cognitive Enrichment (PACE) - the effect of solving jigsaw puzzles on global visuospatial cognition in adults 50 years of age and older: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial". Trials. 18 (1): 415. doi:10.1186/s13063-017-2151-9. ISSN 1745-6215. PMC 5588550. PMID 28877756.
  30. ^ Stanley Cohen & Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts (1992) p. 121
  31. ^ Sophy Hoare, Yoga (London 1980) p. 9 and p. 4
  32. ^ Holmes, Paul; Kirk, Kate (2014). Empowering Therapeutic Practice : Integrating Psychodrama into other Therapies. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 978-0-85700-834-3. OCLC 889973215.

Sources

External links

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