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I’m Ok, You’re Ok

Discover your inner parent and your inner child

By Thomas A. Harris
  • Read in 15 minutes
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas A. Harris

I’m Ok, You’re Ok (1969) is a valuable guide to understanding how our past experiences and memories affect our life in the present. Even our earliest childhood years can keep us from leading the life we desire – so find out how you can take control of your emotions and break free from the past in order to have a healthy and happy future.

Key idea 1 of 9

Our memories are linked to powerful emotions that are better understood when analyzed.

Have you ever heard a loved one talk in his or her sleep?

You may think these nocturnal mutterings are rather mysterious – but they’re actually prompted by memories stored in the brain.

Certain parts of the brain are responsible for our memories and the feelings we associate with them.

This was first discovered in 1951 by the Montreal brain surgeon Wilder Penfield, who stimulated certain parts of his patients’ brains with an electrode. Since the patients were only under local anesthesia, they could describe the different responses to the various areas being stimulated, which is how Penfield found that the temporal cortex of the brain is connected to visual memory, language and emotion.

When Penfield touched a certain point on the patient’s brain, the patient would make seemingly random statements, such as describing a previous conversation or a popular television commercial.

What was really impressive was that the patient didn’t only reexperience the memory but also felt emotions connected to it. In other words, the patients relived the experience emotionally, not only recalled it.

You can also relive memories unconsciously.

Our own memories are most often triggered by everyday occurrences and impressions, such as sounds or smells. Once triggered, these memories can cause us to relive past experiences.

Though this process usually happens unconsciously, we can also take the time to dig up memories, especially when we want to analyze our emotions.

For example, say there’s a song that makes you feel sad whenever you hear it. You may not understand this unconscious reaction, but if you were to sit down, perhaps with a therapist, you could figure out which past experience and emotions the song is attached to.

The author did this very thing with a patient to help her remember that her mother, who died when she was just five years old, used to play a particular song on the piano.

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