TBI and the Wooden Leg Game

Colorful sweatshirts on a clothing rack

What’s your Sweatshirt?

When I was in college, the book by Eric Berne, Games People Play was a best-seller. People usually have a Main Game they play. Berne described our Games as Sweatshirts…by how we talk, we tell people what game we want to play with them. Body language is a great lead-in for some; for others, their body language reinforces their Game…tells people that…

I am not making this up…see how I limp?

My Sweatshirt

The main game I played was the Wooden Leg Game: “Poor Me, I Have A Wooden Leg.” Most of us don’t have a wooden leg, but we use our injury or affliction instead of “wooden leg.” For me, it was:

Poor me, I have brain damage.

I had a great story: diagnosed by a competent psychologist as having 15% permanent brain damage in the memory and short-term learning areas. Very true; I still am limited in memory, and  there’s a lot that I simply can’t do, like learning computer programs and smart phones.

The Good News

But that’s not the story. The story is what I can do, what I have regained. There’s more than just one major concussion: I have had ten concussions as well as sleep apnea. I should be a vegetable, but instead, I can memorize 15- and 16-part computer passwords. That was not the case five or ten years ago. Back then, I sat in my car in the Clackamas Town Center for 30 minutes until I could remember where I lived and how to drive the two miles to get back home.

Games People Play

The book sold over 5 million copies and people are still buying it, because it puts into everyday language how most of us act out our lives. The website below notes the levels we play at: Level One is how to pass the time. You tell me your story; I will sympathize and then tell you mine, and we can spend hours at this. We can add…

Ain’t It Awful?

If we find another player that will play nicely with us, but we want to change the subject and talk about the weather, the traffic, movies, kids…hey, the possibilities are unlimited, aren’t they? Just look how the weather experts blew the predictions of the January 2015 winter storm that was supposed to bury the NE United States! (did you get hooked by that? When we learn to listen to our self-talk, we may begin to dismantle these games.)

Here’s a website that I wish had been there when I was studying the book, as it is like Cliff Notes but with a great set of activities that small groups of people can play to better understand how we play our games. I am reading through this website again, because I can see the games others play, but not all the deeper levels of my own. It’s a great Study Guide after you read the book.

Here’s the Great News

I have the power to change my game, and did. You have the power to change your game, too. In addition to Berne’s Games People Play and the website noted above, you can also deconstruct your game by using the exercises in the book Divine Transformation by Dr. and Master Zhi Gang Sha. This author is a Western medicine Doctor as well as a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, but his books are tools of transformation using the wisdom and knowledge he gained since age six in the ancient arts of the Far East.


  1. Patricia Stewart on October 13, 2015 at 12:32 am

    I have benefitted greatly from understanding and transforming my own life using both these great books!

    • Terry McGill on April 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Patricia!

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