Do you like to pretend you are a pirate searching for gold? Hidden Treasure by Alice McDowell won’t take you down the plank, but it will take you on a journey to your true self.

Through artwork, personal stories from people she has worked with, and her knowledge of psychology and the work of spiritual masters, McDowell walks the reader through the five patterns that she believes prevent us from knowing our true self. The book also contains exercises so the reader can participate in the journey while reading the book.

The five patterns that McDowell discusses are originally from the work of Wilhelm Reich who believed these five character structures developed from trauma. The patterns, or structures, are: the schizoid structure; the oral structure; the masochist structure, the psychopathic structure, and the rigid structure.

McDowell adds descriptors to each of the patterns that sound less harsh that the original character structures presented by Reich. For example, the schizoid structure is referred to as the outsider/creative one, and I find that descriptor to be much more appealing, easier to understand, and not so much like a personality disorder.

The book is well written, and presented in a way that is easy to understand, relate to, and follow. The examples that are used from real people’s experiences and lives draw the reader in, help to thoroughly explain each pattern, and help the reader see which patterns define the coping mechanism, or way of dealing with the world, that is interfering with operating from the true self.

I can see this book as a great tool for both groups and individuals alike. The book might be used by a therapist to run a group, or by lay people to recognize patterns, move through them, and participate more fully in their lives.

The book could easily be of benefit to an individual without the support of a group, though. The information is written and presented in such a way that it would be easy to use the book as a self-help guide to understanding and working toward more fulfillment in life.

A reader might be tempted to jump to the chapter where they found their dominant pattern and only read through and work the exercises in that chapter. I would argue against doing that, though, because when I read through the book I found that I identified with most of the different patterns, and I assume that would be common for most readers.

Even as I identified with most patterns, I did find one that defined me more than the others. Because I found that I had characteristics of each of the patterns though, it made the whole book interesting and relevant and not just those parts that dealt with my primary pattern. I found doing all the exercises, even those outside of my dominate pattern, to be helpful, rewarding and interesting.

For example, I believe I am the outsider/creative one (or schizoid structure), but I find that I also have a lack of trust which falls under the controller/leader (or psychopathic character structure). There were many such crossovers for me as I delved further into the book seeking the Hidden Treasure.

McDowell is obviously well versed in psychology and spirituality and has the unique ability to put difficult concepts into simple to understand words, stories, and drawings. If you are adventurous and want to take a journey into the great ocean of self, aye aye matey, this book is for you.

Hidden Treasure: How to Break Free of Five Patterns that Hide Your True Self
Alice McDowell, Ph.D.
She Writes Press
November 2017
253 pages, Softcover

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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