Book Review

I’m Ok, You’re Ok By Thomas A. Harris, M.D.

In this psychoanalytical theory resource, I’m OK-You’re Ok, Thomas A. Harris, M.D. explains his approach to theory of psychology. The theory is rooted in psychoanalysis and deals with grouping people into four categories of how they approach the world dealing with “okayness”. This isn’t as strong an approach as Freud, but there are a lot of similarities. There is an explanation of games we play which look a lot like defense mechanisms. There is a uniqueness to the approach though and worth the read. While the book claims to be in plain English, it is a little heady and requires a willingness to learn new information as well as patience to go through the diagrams and pick apart the concepts to understand, however it is understandable to someone without a background in psychology and is meant to be a psychoeducational resource. The book’s approach does offer some important applications to how we can look at problems in a variety of contexts as well.

I’m not a psychoanalytic fan, although I profess to love Jung, and the similarities to Freud were somewhat of a turn off for me. The theory is different from Freud in several aspects, but does seem to divide the Parent, Adult, and Child into forms of a Superego, Ego, and Id. The “games” that the author describes are fascinating, and I loved the ways he detailed how these games worked and how to stop them, but they also go hand in hand with defense mechanisms. The theory does make sense and is useful for helping others to handle problems in their lives from a psychoanalytic approach, yet I believe there are more useful approaches out there. The author has found ways to apply his theory to help everyone from students to communities, and there does seem to be positive research results which indicate there is a need to understand and utilize this theory in practices.

I think the author could have used more succinct language to explain the concepts if his goal was to put the theory into a more easily understood common English description of the theory. It was hard for me to understand the fine points in several areas like the way two different categories of people attempt to talk to one another to solve a problem and how there are blockings or contamination of the different aspects of Parent, Adult, and Child. I was a little shocked at some of the discussions between the therapists and patients in the book too; they were just way too Freudian for me. Some of the great take-aways from the book for me though were the comments made about teaching children about sex, the idea of educating children to deal with emotions and make inspiring choices, and how to deal with types of people that play mind games with you that are almost every day occurrences.

This book offers a different perspective of psychoanalytical theory that is proving to be helpful in how people communicate with each other and how we relate to world around us. It is helpful in allowing people to learn about themselves and how they handle life. There is research that shows this theory is having a positive impact on behavior and it is therefore a good idea to familiarize yourself with the concepts provided in it. While there are many different theories in psychology to explain how we relate to the world that are grouped into many different categories, this does appear to be a more helpful one for the psychoanalysis theories that is less abstract and less about sex than Freud.

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