Despite the props and scorecards -- the authors recommend keeping a notebook of your changing habits and attitudes -- this is a bright and likable self-improvement book predicated on the theory that every time two people open their mouths a transaction or negotiation takes place. Somewhat reminiscent of the Berne/Harris I'm OK, You're OK thesis. There are people, say the authors, for whom the chronic loser image is ""pure psychological caviar."" It will be no news that a loser image is based on dependency, poor self-esteem, denigration of one's own achievements; that overvaluing others is as unhealthy as undervaluing yourself; that Negative Self-Image people (NSIs) usually gravitate toward other NSIs; that PSI (Positive Self-Image people) don't blame others every time something goes wrong. But Newburger and Lee show you parents and children, co-workers, husbands and wives expressing NSI and PSI attitudes in file most innocuous sounding exchanges whose real message they root out. Wife: ""Of course he's tired every night, he works hard."" (ir never liked sex that much anyway.) Husband: ""She's too good a mother to leave the kids for two weeks in Paris."" (I really don't want to leave the office -- my boss might see how unnecessary I am.) Since the authors insist that every negative feeling including anxiety and depression is a habit and therefore ""kickable"" some may find them too smug or behaviorist. But on the whole this is a bracing, witty and constructive book.