• V. V. Ovsyannikova Zaporizhzhya National University
  • V. V. Ovsyannikov Zaporizhzhya National University
Keywords: “Let you and him fight” game, literacy, communication, role-play, internalization, inclusiveness, empathy, anticipation, encoding, decoding, cognitive dissonance


The article examines Eric Berne’s “Let you and him fight” game exemplified by its scenarios in the works of famous writers. Eric Berne is absolutely right in his claim that “LYAHF is the basis of much of the world’s literature, both good and bad”. This direction of research highlighted by Eric Berne’s remark is marginalized in the theory of Psychology. The article tries to show the assets of this fruitful approach. All Eric Berne’s examples deal with the traditional triangle, communication within which being directed and dominated by a female manipulator. Every development in the game, both verbal and non-verbal, is understood by Eric Berne to be invariably generated by a woman. This peculiarity seems to be a logical basis for Berne’s treating the psychology of moves behind the cognitive scenario as “essentially feminine”, though the woman does not merely initiate the game – she enjoys the fight provoked by her. Theoretically, “Let you and him fight” game does not exclude the possibility for the Manipulator’s role to be played by a man. However, in Berne’s examples only the woman is held responsible for pulling strings. For this reason it would be more accurate to apply a different formula to the cognitive scenario Eric Berne is really interested in: “Cherchez la femme”. The cognitive scenario of the “Cherchez la femme” game is seen here in its French ménage: the original meaning is much more sexist than its literal translation (“look for the woman”). The French meaning implies that no matter what the problem may be, a woman is at the root of each problem. Following in the wake of psychological case studies provided by L.S. Vygotsky, Karl Leonhard, Paul Watzlawick and others the article illustrates the “Let you and him fight” game by the cognitive scenarios taken from A. J. Cronin’s “The Green Years”, Guy de Maupassant’s “Bel-Ami”, A. Kuprin’s “The Duel”, I. Turgenev’s “First Love”, I. Shaw’s “The Top of the Hill”, J. London’s “Martin Eden” and “White Fang”. The presence of a woman in the cognitive frame shows her in negative colors: she is the trouble-maker. This arrangement of roles – she as the manipulator, he as the victim of manipulation – proves utter untenability of Eric Berne’s statement “the psychology (behind the game) is essentially feminine”: it is masculine and sexist. The examples of the “Cherchez la femme” game were not meant to cover all the possible developments in the scenario: Kurt Vonnegut was right suggesting that the “story lines” (the combinations of moves underlying the games) will not be exhausted in the next 10 000 years.


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