Title: I’m OK - You’re OK
Author: Thomas A. Harris, M.D.
I’m OK - You’re OK  is a self-help book that helped popularize Transactional Analysis in the late 1960’s. Transactional analysis is a method of analyzing interpersonal relationship systems from the point of view of social interactions and Parent-Adult-Child (P-A-C) ego states. The goal of the method is to move the reader into a “I’m OK - You’re OK” life position wherein dysfunctional “games” are eliminated.
One of this book’s stated goals is to explain the jargon of transactional analysis into everyday language that is easily understood. With regards to the jargon, it managed to mostly do that (although its definitions didn’t become the default standard as it predicted). However, the social context (in which the concepts are embedded) did not age well. The assumed audience appears to be white, heterosexual, professional men with masculine gender roles (1950’s style). Women are often othered in the text, and examples use “housewife”, “girl”, and “mother” roles . Social attitudes range from still applicable to no longer in fashion to outright wrong. Consider that a CONTENT WARNING.
According to the book, social interactions are made up of “transactions” in which people give or receive “strokes”. Dysfunctional transactions are known as “games”. Games can be dismantled (and a basis for a healthy life created) by analyzing the transactions from the point of view of different ego states:
Parent - Taught concept of life (Recording of early childhood external events)
Adult - Thought concept of life (Recording of data acquired and computed through exploration and testing.)
Child - Felt concept of life (Recording of early childhood internal events)
If things are working well, then Parent and Child states give historical information about how one default reactions work and the Adult state works to analyze reactions and reality to come up with the best thing to do. There are four life positions:
I’m not OK - You’re OK
I’m not OK - You’re not OK
I’m OK - You’re not OK
I’m OK - You’re OK
“I’m OK — You’re OK” is presented as the desired life state to achieve and this is the main focus of the book. Hence, the title.
Some of the concepts in this book (and in Games People Play ) are interesting and possibly useful ways of looking at social interactions, one’s response to them, and how to change them. However, I am hesitant to recommend the book due to the context it is embedded in. While I could just write the context off as “a product of its times” (as is sometimes recommended for previous generations of science fiction and fantasy novels), self-help books are intended to teach. The question then becomes, what is it actually teaching?  This is a question worth asking before recommending any book. This book teaches both its method and its assumptions of social behaviours.
Evil Overlord Assessment:
Games are fun. Everybody loves games. Everybody plays games. The trick is to WIN! Who cares if they cause an uproar, as long as you get the strokes you are looking for. Yes, intimacy is important, but it’s highly over-rated and risky. Better to reliably manipulate others with their need for strokes (of course you’d never fall for this stuff, you are clever). Honestly, this will work… I promise. I’m only trying to help.
 This book has one of the oddest endorsements (back cover) I’ve encountered: “I’m OK - You’re OK may make it up there right next to the Holy Bible or maybe even The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.” — Life. That certainly says something. I’m not sure what.
 Pages 96-97 give an example of a man ass-grabbing a woman and lines up her possible P-A-C responses. Making a joke of it with an embedded message is favoured. That is out-of-line with today’s ideas on consent culture and rape culture. I don’t want to go back to the “good old days”.
 Before it was popular to be wrong about vaccines causing autism, it was common to wrongly blame “refrigerator mothers” for it.
 Title: Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis. Author: Eric Berne, M.D. (ISBN: 0-345-41003-3) I tried to write a review of this book (which contains transactional analysis theory and a selection of game descriptions), but the contextual sexism and other issues made writing the review feel like I was poking my eyes with a fish fork. There are useful ideas in there (i.e. transactions, strokes, games, etc), but the context would have resulted in a review made up mostly of content warnings.
 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea celebrates finding endangered species and eating them BECAUSE they are endangered and we might not get another chance to eat them. This is obviously ridiculous right? It’s not like we still do this, right?
 Siderea: De Facto Sexism discusses an example of how unintentional discrimination can occur.