Book Review by Jack Falt*, INFJ

Wyman, Pat, Three Keys to Self-Understanding: An Innovative and Effective Combination of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Assessment tool, the Enneagram and Inner-Child Healing, Gainesville, FL: Center for Applied Psychological Type, 2001, ISBN 0-935652-57-4, 326 pp

This book is one of those you wish everyone would read and they would get out of it as much as you did. Wyman has taken three major psychological theories and woven them into one comprehensive therapeutic whole. I really enjoyed the way she expresses herself and then I realized that one reason was because she has the same psychological type as I have. But I think that most people would feel comfortable with her clear, forthright style of writing.

The book describes the therapeutic process using the integration of three tools: the MBTI® instrument, the Enneagram and Inner-Child Healing. First the author takes a chapter to describe each of these tools. Both the ones on Jung/Myers theory and Enneagram are very clear. Knowing Jung/Myers theory fairly well, and something about the Enneagram, I felt she explained them very well in the limited space she had available.  The Inner-Child Healing material is less structured and its chapter is thus more descriptive and not something that can easily be placed into a matrix.

Essentially, the author is saying that the MBTI® instrument is an assessment tool to determine our True Self. The Enneagram measures the main kind of defence mechanisms we have used to survive our childhood. Psychological Type and Enneagram Type are thought to be innate. If we lived in ideal families, our Jung/Myers personality types would be nurtured and we would blossom into ideal human beings. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, we all come from families with a certain amount of dysfunction in them. There are no perfectly functional families, so the dysfunctional family really is the normal or average family. Our Enneagram type becomes activated as we try to get our needs met by people who are trying to do their best, but are not very successful at providing for our needs. As an example, the Enneagram type 1 is the Perfectionist. Perfectionists believes that if they are perfect in every way, their parents will love them in exactly the way they want to be loved. When this doesn’t work, they try even harder to be even more perfect (which still doesn’t work).

These are the common garden variety of problems. This book addresses the severe wounding caused by caretakers who have actually abused their children, emotionally, physically, spiritually and even sexually. The author recognizes that the parents were themselves severely abused, but that does not lessen the pain of her clients.

The author is very clear that a cognitive approach will not work with these damaged people. Just getting the client to recognize how irrational their responses have been won’t really bring about significant change. She finds she has to use an affective approach with these wounded women. (The author uses the third person feminine pronoun since almost all of her clients are women.) These women have to experience the emotional pain and work through it rather than activate their defence mechanisms to mask the emotional pain.

The book gives numerous case studies indicating the clients’ MBTI® and Enneagram Types so that the reader can see how these two kinds of types interact. This method of therapy takes a relatively long time but the final chapter gives short first hand accounts of how after a year or more, the clients’ lives have changed.

The book emphasizes the need for a spiritual dimension in therapy. This does not mean religion with its proscribed answers to life’s problems, but being in touch with one’s inner Higher Self.

I feel that this book is very worthwhile for anyone giving a Jung/Myers theory presentation. Even if you are not doing one-on-one counselling, it can help you to be aware of where people may possibly be coming from. There always seems to be those in any group who bring a lot of baggage to a workshop that has to be dealt with in a way that is not harmful to that individual or other members of the group. A basic Jung/Myers theory workshop is not the time and place to do therapy, but recognizing where some of this “stuff” comes from, you may be more tolerant of their behaviour and you may be able to do individual counselling with them later or refer them on to someone who can help them.

Although this book is quite long, it is well worth the investment of time to read and digest the material.

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