Mind games

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 or 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, 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 meanwhile 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 denial of the victim's reality, social undermining, and the trivializing of what is felt to be important.[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]

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