|About the Book|
Its rare that you come across a book that takes you six months to finish, with more or less weekly efforts to just get it over with. 274 pages later and I still cant identify Harriss thesis.This book suffers from trying to be everything and ends up being nothing. Despite my bitter frustration from laboring through this insipid, disorganized mess, I still will give Harris the benefit of the doubt and assume this was all done in good faith and was a concerted effort to reach out to people in need. That being said, this one belonged on the clearance rack in 1969.It astounds me that this book advertises itself of the cover as Over 15 million copies in print and The classic bestseller that has changed the lives of millions. Of course this is typical self-promotion, but Id like to remind everyone that the number of books sold says nothing of the their worth. Regarding psychotherapy and counseling, I never had to read a text by Carl Rogers in school, nor have I ever met someone who mentioned reading one of his- yet he is indisputably one of if not the most significant and influential figure in psychotherapy. By contrast, I never heard of Harris until I picked up this book, despite his millions sold.The real shame of this book is that he does a disservice to psychotherapy as a whole and Transactional Analysis in particular. I have yet to read Eric Bernes original Games People Play, but what I have read by him is very clear, sensible, and meaningful. Berne uses clear everyday examples to illustrate his points. His writing is focused and generally tightly confined to the topic. Harris wanders way out into errant speculation as a matter of course. Blanket statements about society and moral decay, criticisms of organized religion, meandering discussions of philosophy, spirituality, and mystical experience, race relations in America, the nature of warfare, hippies and 1960s American counterculture (and the social forces that caused it), adolescent rebellion, violence in the media, rational basis for theories of ethics, proper use of time, prejudice in families and society, the state of marriage in America, international politics, the cause of the Vietnam war (in terms of Parent nations and Child nations trying to grow up) etc. etc. etc. As you can see, Harris believes he can do it all in this book and that no topic is either outside the bounds of either the principles of TA or his own expertise. I personally believe that such difficult and involved topics should be left to the professionals, if only because youre liable to look like a jackass with your own ignorant, half-informed opinions. Theres an old joke in psychology based on the idea that everyone can do it by virtue of the fact that everyone has a brain (and therefore is an expert)- Harris turns the joke on its head by claiming experience in counseling sessions gives him say in all human affairs.One last nail Id like to drive in the coffin before I put this one to rest. Harris betrays himself with numerous examples of his own apparent fear of intimacy with other people or willingness to engage others on a meaningful and personal level. Its always strange and in some ways tragic to see a psychotherapist with no insight into his or her own identity and motivation trying to manage the affairs of other people. If you want an example of what not to do in treatment, simply refer to 1) pp. 157-8 - illustrates sophisticated use of P-A-C to make a threat while explicitly claiming not to (If you keep doing that, youre going to hook my Parent and then well both feel bad. Harris labels this Adult and contrasts with You do that again and Ill slap you silly! which is, of course, the same message but not veiled in P-A-C doublespeak). 2) pp. 209-10 - Harris quotes long and strikingly clear explanation of group therapy processes by S.R. Slavson, then immediately follows with In my own clinical experience, I have not been able to validate the above statement. Harris totally and obviously misses Slavsons gist, and then tries to tear down the reasoning. Its painful to watch, and brings to mind the old Chinese saying Riding an ass and being unwilling to dismount.In sum, dont waste your time. I finished this one so you wont have to. Put the word out on the wire and stick to the orginal Eric Berne.