Welcome to our website and the
world of the Enneagram personality theory!
Chances are that you have found our website because you already have some
knowledge of the Enneagram and you are seeking more.
However, if this is your first
exposure, the following overview should be helpful.
For additional information, see my
book, The Road to Wisdom, Chapter Four.
Now, more than ever, we live
in a time that requires a greater knowledge of human behavior and the ability to
take control of our lives. In my
professional opinion as a psychologist, the Enneagram is the single most useful,
profound, insightful, powerful and practical tool available to help individuals
grasp the depth and the complexity of the human personality and human behavior.
The Enneagram (pronounced
“any-a-gram”) is a theoretical system for classifying human behavior--designed
to help individuals understand the complexity of their behavior as well as that
of others. In Greek, “ennea” means
nine and “gramma” means point, hence there are nine points or styles of
perceiving and responding to people and events, leading to nine distinct
The Enneagram theory of
personality or individual differences is a typology system.
This means that it is a system of
classifying human behavioral traits into types.
Personality traits are enduring (lasting, continuing) patterns of
thinking, feeling, and behaving that are exhibited in a wide range of personal
and social contexts. For example,
with Type One in the Enneagram system, you will typically see such behavioral
traits as being conscientious, moral, or principled, or, possibly more unhealthy
traits such as being judgmental, inflexible, or self-righteous.
At the heart or core of the
Enneagram theory of “individual differences” lies the belief that: the key to understanding
oneself and others is the knowledge or awareness of differences in “how we view
the world” or “reality” (Perceptual World Views).
Perceptual World Views are
preconceived assumptions and beliefs that influence our perceptions (what we
think we see or hear), our interpretations (what we tell ourselves about what we
think we see or hear), and as a result, how we feel and what we do.
For example, the Perceptual World
View for Type One is to per-fect themselves, others, and the world, and this
type filters everything through this strongly held “view”.
Different types think, feel,
and act differently and tend to believe that their view of the world is “right”
and the “best” or the “only” view.
There are also environmental and physical factors that can influence our
perceptions outside of our “type”.
For example, our perceptions (what we think we see or hear) are influenced by
stress (acute or chronic), sleep deprivation, substance abuse, hormonal
imbalances and pain. Think of the
last time that someone you know was “wasted” or “high”.
How accurate was their perception of
reality at that time?
Unlike any other personality
system developed to explain personality, the Enneagram theorizes that we are a
product of nature and nurture. That is, we are genetically predisposed to be a
certain personality type. And, as a result of all of the learned experiences
that we have had (adapting to environmental challenges) both positive and
negative, both rewarded and punished, our genetically predisposed type either
becomes more dominant or becomes more dispersed or differentiated (a created
mixture of the different types).
Due to our influences from
significant people in our lives and the environmental conditions, it is
sometimes a challenge to determine one’s true Enneatype (referred to as one’s
Essence or Core type). The Butlers
Enneagram Type Assessment (BETA) is a very helpful tool for starting your
journey of determining your Essence or Core type.
(See “About the Assessment” on the home page of this website.)
Origin of the Enneagram
The origins of the Enneagram
are open to debate. I have read
several articles and books on the origins and there are many points on which the
authors agree and many on which they disagree.
Most authors are of the opinion that the philosophy behind the Enneagram
contains components of mystical Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism
and ancient Greek philosophy, particularly that of Socrates and Plato.
If you choose to search for the
origins of the Enneagram, you will undoubtedly come across the names of
Pythagoras, the Christian desert monk Evagrius Ponticus, the Franciscan Ramon
Lull, and George Ivanovich Gurdjieff.
The “traditional Enneagram,”
or modern day use, goes back to the 1960’s when a psychiatrist named Oscar
Ichazo first began teaching it.
Ichazo, born in Bolivia, raised in Peru, and residing in Argentina, created what
he called the Arica school to transmit the knowledge that he had received.
In 1970, a group of Americans,
including noted psychologists and writers Claudio Naranjo and John Lilly went to
Arica, Chile to study with Ichazo.
The Arica school teaches a system of “inner work”--a complex body of teachings
in psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, and spirituality to bring about a
transformation in human consciousness.
Since that time, many have studied and written about the Enneagram,
including Don Riso and Russ Hudson, two pioneers in the development of Enneagram
theory and applications.
A Brief Overview of the 9 Types
Type 1 is driven to per-fect: self, others, and the world. They go about this by having high standards and expectations; being honest, moral,
and ethical; being self-disciplined and conscientious; being logical, rational, and objective; being factual, accurate and precise. They are
vulnerable to being too blunt, too direct, too honest; giving constant criticism and finding fault; condescending sarcasm; being impatient and
inflexible; being intolerant of others beliefs and behaviors. Think about the life of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.
Type 2 is driven by the need to love, be loved, and be needed. They go about this by being kind and compassionate; caring and empathic;
thoughtful; generous; and sacrificing for others. They are vulnerable to telling others want they want to hear rather than what they need to
hear; having trouble giving criticism or feedback; creating dependencies; choosing dysfunctional, emotionally needy people; having trouble
setting boundaries. Think about the life of Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa.
Type 3 is driven by the need to succeed, be respected, and be admired. They go about this by making the most of their abilities; having goals and
working very hard to reach them; being energetic and efficient; being flexible and adaptable; being good at multi-tasking. They are vulnerable to
being overly concerned with “style”, rather than substance; bragging about their achievements; displaying indicators of their importance; using
others to accomplish their goals; blaming others for their shortcomings. Think about the life of Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton.
Type 4 is driven by the desire to be unique, yet understood. They go about this by being introspective/self-aware; trusting what their intuition
tells them; being in touch with their feelings; being authentic and true to self; being creative, imaginative, original. They are vulnerable to
being preoccupied with what is missing in their life; idealizing individuals and relationships; engaging in “push-pull” relationships; living life
at the extremes of the emotional spectrum; brooding about how bad their life is. Think about the life of Steve Jobs and Angelina Jolie.
Type 5 is driven by the need to know, understand, and make sense of. They go about this by being curious, observant, open-minded; pondering why and
asking questions; challenging existing beliefs; looking for patterns and trends; thinking strategically and using the scientific method. They are
vulnerable to being preoccupied with acquiring information and knowledge; avoiding superficial discussions and emotional issues; having trouble
communicating clearly; becoming argumentative and condescending; taking extreme, unorthodox, radical positions that alienate them from others.
Think about the life of Albert Einstein and Jane Goodall..
Type 6 is driven by the need to be safe and secure. They go about this by being responsible, reliable, and dependable; being loyal and trustworthy;
being predictable and seeking predictability; having and living by rules, regulations, guidelines, and procedures; being prepared and on-guard.
They are vulnerable to worry, anxiety, fear, and doubt; being unduly suspicious; magnifying problems out-of-proportion; feeling incompetent and
worthless; having panic attacks. Think about the life of J. Edgar Hoover and Princess Diana.
Type 7 is driven by the need for adventure and fulfillment. They go about this by having fun and enjoying life; being optimistic, positive, and
upbeat; being spontaneous; being charming and charismatic; and by inspiring and empowering. They are vulnerable to demanding instant gratification;
needing to be free and unencumbered; being the center of attention; engaging in risky, indiscriminate, impulsive behavior; ignoring negative, unpleasant
feedback. Think about the life of John F Kennedy and Lucille Ball.
Type 8 is driven by the need to influence and impact. They go about this by seeking challenges--the bigger, the better; being in charge and taking
control; being tough-minded and tough-skinned; not being weak or vulnerable; being resilient – bouncing back stronger than ever. They are vulnerable
to being aggressive and confrontational; being too blunt and tactless; hurting others feelings without even recognizing it; becoming proud and impressed
with themselves; threatening, bullying and intimidating. Think about the life of Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell.
Type 9 is driven by the need for inner peace and harmony with others. They go about this by being easy-going and laid-back; humble and unpretentious;
accepting and nonjudgmental; diplomatic and tactful; compromising and accommodating. They are vulnerable to avoiding confrontation; avoiding setting
priorities; subordinating themselves to others; backing down to those less capable; being too agreeable – peace at any price. Think about the life of
Gandhi and Princess Grace.
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