Survival Games Personalities Play (by Eve Delunas)

I don’t remember where I first heard of Eve Delunas, or this book. Perhaps it was recommended in one of the many books I’ve read about temperament or personality type; perhaps it was on a forum I’m part of which discusses this issues. The book was quite expensive to buy new, so I kept it on my private wish-list for a while. When I spotted it inexpensively at the AwesomeBooks site, I ordered it.

I was at first a bit irritated when I started reading ‘Survival Games Personalities Play’, not because of anything wrong with the writing or the book itself, but because a previous owner had used a highlighter and a permanent pen to underline or emphasise large amounts of text in the book. As I struggled through the first chapters, I wondered if I’d be able to understand anything at all.

It’s a testament to how very good the book is that by the time I was around two-thirds of the way through I no longer noticed the highlights or underlinings!

The book starts with an overview and history of temperament theory, most of which was familiar to me already, but which provides a useful introduction. It then launches into what it calls the ‘survival games’ each temperament tends to ‘play’ when under extreme stress. I found the concept of ‘playing games’ quite a confusing one; to me, games are enjoyable ways of socialising with friends, which we choose. The ‘survival games’ described by the author are completely different: they’re ways of dealing with stress, and are entirely subconscious.

However, that terminology is my only minor complaint about the book. As the author describes each of these ‘games’ in outline, I could see some of them immediately as they relate to various people I know. Others were harder to understand, but it made a useful reference chapter which I glanced at from time to time as I progressed through the book.

After the introductory chapters, there’s a section devoted to each of the four temperaments (Artisans, Guardians, Rationals and Idealists, as David Keirsey first termed them, and as I still think of them). While any of the ‘games’ can apply to anyone of any temperament, it made a lot of sense that certain ones appeal more to particular personality types, and also ties in with my own experience.

The author looks at ways to help people who are stuck in these games, and describes some of the strategies she has used when dealing with problems in marriages, parenting, businesses, and more. She’s a qualified psychotherapist and mentions several different kinds of therapy that helped different people. Some of them sounded rather strange to me, but the point is made that each individual and each case is different. What helps one person might make things worse for another. Hence, she explains, it’s important to see what - if any - ‘games’ are being played, and what temperament most likely fits the people concerned.

The final section gives some actual case studies with a challenge to the reader to figure out the most likely temperaments of the people concerned, and what might help them move forward. The author certainly doesn’t imply that all her methods are successful. In at least one case, the results were very disappointing. But that doesn’t mean it was wrong to try.

The writing is clear, easy to read and full of wisdom. There are some areas where an interested amateur couldn’t begin to go; the author has helped sufferers of serious abuse in childhood or later relationships, where unravelling the ‘survival game’ is only the beginning of helping the person concerned to find healing. But for milder cases, where communication has dried up, or parents are struggling with difficult teenagers, there’s a great deal that could potentially be helpful.

Overall I enjoyed this very much, and expect I’ll dip into the book regularly.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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