Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types

Overview

PERSONALITY TYPES, the first book by Don Richard Riso, has become the leading guide to the Enneagram, as well as a cherished classic in the literature of personal growth around the world. This is the groundbreaking book that set the standard for insight and accuracy about this ancient symbol of human personality. UNDERSTANDING THE ENNEAGRAM soon followed and has since become another indispensable reseource, teaching readers not only how to understand this psychological framework in daily life but how to use it in...

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Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types

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Overview

PERSONALITY TYPES, the first book by Don Richard Riso, has become the leading guide to the Enneagram, as well as a cherished classic in the literature of personal growth around the world. This is the groundbreaking book that set the standard for insight and accuracy about this ancient symbol of human personality. UNDERSTANDING THE ENNEAGRAM soon followed and has since become another indispensable reseource, teaching readers not only how to understand this psychological framework in daily life but how to use it in many different settings. Don Riso and Russ Hudson have now fully revised and updated this authoritative guide to the Enneagram, based on their continuing work in the field, which is attracting ever-increasing attention. Discover how to use the Enneagram to find fulfillment in your personal develpemnt and in all of your relationships.

This practical, simplified guide explains to readers how they can apply the enneagram in their daily lives.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618004157
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 180,559
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Richard Riso, M.A. is the foremost writer and developer of the Enneagram in the world today. The most-published and best-selling author in the field, he is an internatioinally recognized authority on the subject. He is the president of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc., and founder of The Enneagram Institute. He has been teaching the Enneagram for more than twenty years, pioneering a revolutionary new approach to ego psychology through his 1977 discovery of the Levels of Development. His four best-selling books are available in British, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and French editions. Mr. Riso was a Jesuit for thirteen years, holds degrees in English and philosophy, was elected to the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Stanford University in communications (social psychology).

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
The Practical Guide to Personality Types

We are like prisoners in an unguarded cell. No one
confines us against our will, and we have heard that
the key that will release us is also locked inside.
If we could find the key, we could open the door and
be free. Yet, we don't know where it has been hidden,
and even if we knew, part of us is afraid to break
out of our prison. Once out, where would we go, and
what would we do with our newfound freedom?

This is not a meaningless metaphor: we are
prisoners of our ego, enchained by our fears,
restricted in our freedom, suffering from our
condition. No one prevents us from searching for the
key that would free us. We must, however, know where
to look for it and be willing to use it once we have
discovered where it is.
With the Enneagram, we have found a master
key, one that will unlock many doors. It gives us
access to the wisdom we need to escape from our self-
imposed prison so that we can embrace a fuller life.
The Enneagram helps us to let go of the limiting
mechanisms of our personality so that we can more
deeply experience who and what we really are. It
provides insights that can help in freeing us from
our fears and conflicts, from our wayward passions
and compulsions, from our disordered desires and
inner confusions.
No part of this process is automatic,
however. Even after we have identified our
personality type, it still may not be clear how to
use the insights we have been given. People often
ask, "Now that I know my type, what do I do with it?
Where do I go with it now?" Understanding theinner
workings of the personality types helps to some
degree, but information alone is not enough to free
us. Instead, we need to understand the transformative
process and our role in it. The paradox is that we
cannot bring about our transformation yet, without
our participation, it cannot be done. So what part do
we play in our own inner development, and how can the
Enneagram help?
The Enneagram can help because it is an
invaluable map for guiding us to the points of
blockage in our particular personality structures.
The fundamental premise of the Enneagram is that
there are nine basic personality structures in human
nature - nine points of view, nine value systems,
nine ways of being in the world. They have much in
common with each other, although each manifests its
own set of attitudes and behaviors, reactions and
defenses, motivations and habits. And each requires
its own unique prescriptions for growth.
The central message of this book is that by
showing us what our personality is made of, so to
speak, the Enneagram indicates what is necessary for
our real growth and transformation. Everyone is not
cut from the same cloth, or poured into the same
mold; therefore everyone's psychological and
spiritual issues will be somewhat different, and the
order in which they can best be addressed will be
different. By helping us understand the structures of
our own personality type, the Enneagram shows us how
and why we have closed down and become constricted in
our growth. It provides us with a panoramic view of
what is happening in us and in our significant
relationships. It gives us nonjudgmental,
nontechnical language in which to talk about these
ideas, and it demystifies much in the realms of
psychology and spirituality. We see that these
realities are neither foreign nor strange: they are
the worlds in which we already live.
In addition to giving us insight into our day-
to-day behaviors, the Enneagram offers an answer to
our spiritual yearnings because it shows us with
great specificity how our personality has limited us,
what our path of growth is, and where real
fulfillment can be found. It teaches us that the
longings and structures of our personality are
actually useful guides to the greatest treasures of
our soul. By regarding our self-defeating patterns
and even our psychological pain and limitations as
indicators of our spiritual capacities, we are able
to see ourselves in a different light. With this new
perspective comes compassion, healing, love, and
transformation.
We believe that, rightly understood, the
Enneagram can have a tremendously positive effect in
the world today. By touching people profoundly,
mirroring their experience of themselves and helping
them trace the trajectory of their lives, it reveals
our common humanity. It speaks to the soul,
reawakening faith, hope, and love. Many of our
students and readers have told us that the Enneagram
has helped them to rediscover spirituality - and even
brought many of them back to the churches and
traditions they once left. Their deepened
appreciation of spirituality and awareness of what
spirituality really means allowed them to operate
more gracefully within institutional frameworks. They
could see the soul of the religion they had left and
were able to orient themselves to its true Spirit.
In this book, we have enriched our
presentation of the Enneagram with ideas from Fourth
Way* schools such as the Gurdjieff Work, the Diamond
Approach of A. H. Almaas, the seminal insights of
Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, and other awareness
practices. We have also drawn upon major religious
traditions (principally Christianity, Buddhism,
Islam, and Jewish mysticism). We hope that this book
will be a useful introduction to the Enneagram for
those who are unfamiliar with this system, as well as
a valuable resource for those already familiar with
it, as there is much new information here.
Above all, we hope this book will demonstrate
the Enneagram's relevance to all forms of
transformational work - and firmly place the
Enneagram in its true psycho-spiritual context. The
Enneagram can be applied on a superficial level, of
course, and the reader may wish only to use this
information to find out what type he or she is, or to
find out the type of someone else. New and valuable
insights are possible with even this kind of
pragmatic information. But to get the full benefits
of the Enneagram, one must integrate it into a
genuine spiritual practice. Otherwise, the
information alone tends to become an end in itself -
and ironically tends to solidify the personality
structures rather than liberate the person from them.
But when the Enneagram is part of a spiritual
practice, it more readily becomes a means for
recognizing our True Nature, and hence for loosening
the structures and limitations of the personality.
Of course, having a spiritual practice does
not guarantee ego transcendence and liberation from
egocentric structures and consequent suffering. But
without a spiritual practice, it is less likely that
we can become liberated from the limitations of our
personality. The momentum of the ego is too great,
and it cannot be transformed without bringing an even
greater force to bear upon it: the awareness that
comes from a spiritual perspective on ourselves and
our lives.

The two principal areas in which to use the Enneagram
are for self-understanding (seeing ourselves as we
actually are) and for understanding others (so that
we can have more harmonious relationships).
By far the most legitimate use of the
Enneagram is to understand ourselves. It can help us
understand our fears and desires, strengths and
weaknesses, defenses and anxieties, how we react to
frustration and disappointment - and, more
positively, what our truest capacities and greatest
strengths are so that we can build on them rather
than on misjudgments and illusions.
We will get the most benefit from the
Enneagram if we approach it with a spirit of open-
ended inquiry, using it as a support for discovering
things about ourselves and for seeing how our
characteristic issues are played out. As we observe
ourselves with the help of the system, we will see
what we are up to again and again, especially how we
are fleeing from ourselves - and why. And although we
may discover many things that make us uncomfortable
or that do not fit into the self-image that we have
of ourselves, it is important not to judge or condemn
ourselves for what we find. As we study our type, we
will begin to understand more clearly than ever that
our personality is a form of defense that we have
continued to use for reasons that started in our
infancy. Our personality has brought us this far, but
we may not need some of its features as much as we
once did. Because the Enneagram predicts the healthy,
transcendent qualities that we can expect to attain,
it helps us to have the courage to let go of old
outmoded habits.
There are three stages to this work. First,
we need to learn self-observation so that we can see
our behavior as objectively as possible. Second, we
need to increase our self-understanding so that we
can know the true motives for our behavior. And
third, we need to cultivate awareness or presence,
which facilitates and deepens the process of
transformation. Self-observation and self-
understanding alone will merely provide us with
insight to get us to the threshold of transformation,
but it is only through presence and awareness that
transformation actually occurs. Without developing
the ability to "show up" fully, the transformative
moments of our lives will have limited effect.
The Enneagram is not only about understanding
and transforming ourselves, however; it helps us in
understanding others, in fostering compassion for
them and developing insight into how they think, what
they fear and desire, what they value, and what their
strengths and weaknesses are. In short, we more
easily appreciate perspectives that are different
from our own.
Indeed, understanding others more profoundly
allows us not only to appreciate the good we find in
them but also to be more objective and compassionate
about things we may not like about them. Although we
tend to think that other people are basically like
us, it is helpful to recognize that different types
think and feel and react quite differently. By
understanding personality types, we can see others
more objectively, connecting deeply with them yet
remaining in our own center, true to ourselves. By
understanding the Enneagram, we paradoxically become
both more self-possessed and more capable of reaching
out to others.
In fact, we often use the Enneagram in our
relationships because it is as important to
understand others as it is to understand ourselves.
We simply cannot (and do not) go through life with no
idea about "what makes others tick" - about how they
are likely to react in various circumstances, about
their motivations, about how genuine or truthful or
good they are. Whether or not we are conscious of it,
we always use some kind of "personality theory." It
is therefore extremely helpful to recognize what our
implicit theory is and to make sure that it is as
accurate and comprehensive as possible.
Another reason for understanding the
Enneagram is that it helps us recognize our
unconscious tendencies before they become self-
defeating habits so that we can avoid the tragic
consequences of those habits. The Enneagram can act
as an "early warning system" of potentially harmful
behavior, allowing us to do something about it before
we become trapped in unhealthy patterns. If our
attitudes and behavior did not have potentially
tragic consequences, we could think, "Well, why
should I care about self-knowledge? What difference
does it make to know more about myself or my
personality type?"
The answer is that our attitudes and our
actions always have consequences, some of which can
affect the whole of our lives. This makes acquiring
self-knowledge and insight into others an
extraordinarily practical thing to do. Without self-
knowledge, we can make choices that may turn out
disastrously. Without knowing our own motives and not
having control over our behavior, we can do harmful
things to ourselves, our spouse, our children, our
friends and acquaintances - even to people we may
never meet.
Furthermore, without being good judges of the
characters of others, we can be terribly hurt and
abused. Many marriages end in bitterness and divorce
because people do not know either themselves or each
other. How often have we heard somebody say, "If I
had only known what my husband was really like, I
would never have married him." Or, "If I had only
known the Enneagram twenty years ago, my life would
have been so different . . ." We can console
ourselves with the thought that at least we know the
Enneagram now - and with its help, we will be much
more likely to avoid the suffering caused by our lack
of self-knowledge and the unwise actions that may
result. With insight, we have a much better chance to
avoid tragedy and become happier.

Each of the great spiritual traditions uses different
metaphors to express many of the same discoveries
about human nature and to express its insight into
the way out of our predicaments. At its deepest, the
Enneagram is not only profound psychology but a path
toward the spiritual since true self-knowledge is the
first step toward spirituality. Despite the
Enneagram's origin in a variety of spiritual and
metaphysical traditions, however, it is not overtly
religious. It can be - and has been - adapted to many
different religions and religious expressions because
it reflects the patterns found in human nature. By
helping us more clearly understand the human side of
the relationship between the Divine and the human,
the Enneagram can become an integral part of any
spirituality.
Thus, while it can say very little about the
revealed truths of religion, the Enneagram can say a
great deal about the forms that the human ego takes -
and these are the primary obstacles to a direct
experience of the Divine. It demonstrates both the
need for working on ourselves and the direction we
must take if we are to do so. The Enneagram is a tool
that, when used properly, can help us discriminate
between the more superficial aspects of ourselves -
our personalities - and the deeper aspects of our
true nature - our Essence. That is all it is. But
considering the sublimity of this work, the Enneagram
is a treasure, something more valuable than anything
we could have hoped to discover.
Even in a purely psychological,
nontheological frame of reference, we want to
understand the Enneagram so that we can become more
free - more liberated - from whatever is blocked,
negative, and destructive - from whatever is unfree,
conflicted, fearful, and wounded in ourselves. The
Enneagram can aid our healing so that we can use our
growing freedom in ennobling and constructive ways.
Once we begin to be liberated from our ego
states and our inner conflicts - from the darkness
and fear inside - with each step we take toward the
light, we will gain that much more freedom and create
new capacities in ourselves. Strength will build upon
strength, grace upon grace, virtue upon virtue, and
each new capacity will summon forth yet another as we
become the persons that we are meant to be.
In the end, however, the Enneagram will be as
useful and rewarding as we make it. The Enneagram
will enrich us to the degree that we understand it
correctly and use it properly in our lives. We can be
confident that we will find endless insights and
great riches here.

Understanding the Enneagram is a practical guide to
this system, building on many of the insights first
presented by Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. We are
not concerned here with the basic structure and
theory of the Enneagram or with comprehensive
descriptions of the nine personality types, as they
have been provided in our other books.
Indeed, very little material is repeated from
Personality Types, and what little was necessary to
repeat is completely revised and expanded. This book
is also cross-referenced to the Revised Edition of
Personality Types so that you can return to that
longer resource if you want to find out more about
something. Furthermore, much of the new material here
is completely independent of the earlier book (the
Type Profiles, the Questionnaire, and the
Recommendations for Personal Growth, for example) and
can be used without reference to it.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ENNEAGRAM
The Enneagram reveals the patterns by which we
organize and give meaning to all of our experiences.
Its basic premise is that if we could see the core
pattern around which we organize and interpret all of
our experiences, the framework on which we hang the
events of our lives, we could make much quicker
progress in our spiritual and psychological growth.
This core patterning is, of course, our personality
type.
When we recognize our type and see it at work
in ourselves, aspects of our personality that have
been hidden from us are revealed, and paradoxically,
start loosening up. We suddenly have considerably
more psychological space in which to maneuver because
we can see ourselves with more perspective.
It would not be far-fetched to say that one
of the main points of the Enneagram is to show us
where our personality "trips us up" the most. It
highlights both what is possible for us, as well as
how self-defeating and unnecessary many of our
reactions and behaviors are. Our type has both
positive and negative qualities, but we do ourselves
no favor either by exalting it or by condemning it -
not to mention using it to judge other people or
their types.
No matter what our type is, and no matter
what particular form our ego has taken, we all face
one central problem - estrangement from our deepest
nature. We may have had intimations that what lies
beneath the structure of our personality is something
miraculous, the very thing that we have wanted more
than anything else, even though we have looked
everywhere else to find it. Despite our intimations,
it is difficult to let go of our personality and to
trust that there is actually something
more "essential" in us. It is difficult to believe
that there is actually a spark of Divinity in me.
But there is good news as well because the
structures of our personality tell us what the main
blockages to our true nature are. This is why the
Enneagram, properly understood, is an extraordinary
tool for psychological and spiritual growth: it
illuminates the unconscious parts of ourselves that
stand in the way of our being more fully alive. It
demonstrates that what stands in the way between
ourselves and bliss is our attachment to our
personality.
Perhaps one of the most challenging notions
for us to accept at the beginning of transformational
work is that the personality - the ego and its
structures - is an artificial construct. But it only
seems real because up until now it has been our
entire reality. Identifying with our personality has
been how we have lived and gotten by in life. Insofar
as it has enabled us to do so, the personality has
been a useful, even highly valuable, friend.
As our insights deepen, however, we come to
accept the hard truth that our personality is largely
a collection of internal defenses and reactions,
deeply ingrained beliefs and habits about the self
and the world that have come from the past,
particularly from our childhood. To put this more
simply, our personality is a mechanism from the past,
perhaps one that has helped us survive until now, but
one whose limitations can now be seen. We all suffer
from a case of mistaken identity: we have forgotten
our True Nature and have come to believe that we are
the personality. The reason we must explore the
defenses of the personality and the vulnerabilities
it is protecting is so that we can reexperience our
Essential nature - our spiritual core - and know
directly who we really are.
Each of us came into the world as pure
Essence, although that Essence was still undeveloped.
Each of us has also had a mother and a father (or
other caretakers) who already had their personalities
very much in place. Because they had to protect
themselves from experiencing their own developmental
gaps and losses, it was not possible for them to
fully support the unfolding of all of the aspects of
our spirit, no matter how much they loved us. In
short, to the degree that they could not be with the
fullness of their own Essence, they could not
recognize or help develop the fullness of our
Essence. From this perspective, we can also see that
these blockages may go back many generations.
Our parents unintentionally sent "messages"
to us as children to hide ourselves. We gradually
came to believe that one or more parts of us were not
safe to have or to display to the world. No matter
how well intentioned our parents were, to some
degree, we all succumbed to the process of hiding and
covering over our Essential nature. Out of the need
to make unconscious adjustments to our caregivers
came the need to form a personality. We began to feel
that "What I am is not acceptable, so I need to be
different. Maybe I need to be happier, or quieter, or
less energetic." The costs of these necessary
survival adjustments are great, although perhaps the
greatest cost is that we gradually become terrified
to be seen as we are. We have spent most of our lives
not allowing ourselves to be seen, not seeing other
people, and most destructively, not wanting to see
ourselves.
Further, the painful events of early
childhood create a particular way of interpreting our
experiences so that later life events reinforce our
beliefs about our self and the world. For instance, a
child who has been physically abused will tend to
view the world as threatening and will have problems
getting close to people. Such a person will expect,
and tend to find, abusive situations. As a result of
this reinforcement of our earliest sense of self, our
personality gets "thicker" and we begin to
think, "This is me - it's just the way I am." We
identify with our reactions and our habitual self-
image and beliefs. We do not want to see what is
beneath the personality because to go into the areas
that have been blocked and covered over means that we
will reexperience our deepest hurts. Furthermore,
doing so reveals the insubstantiality of our
personality - and that is extremely threatening both
to our sense of identity and to our ideas about how
to survive in the world.
This is not to say that personality is
necessarily bad, but when the mechanisms of the
personality are running the show, the most dire
things can happen. All of us can think of dozens of
times when we came within a hairsbreadth of disaster
but for the fact that we had enough presence of mind
to stop the momentum of events and avert a
catastrophe. We can all look back to times when, if a
few of the wrong words had been spoken, or if we had
allowed rage, sarcasm, or pride to take over, the
rest of our lives would have taken a different turn.
We can all remember pivotal moments when we could
have allowed ourselves to go along with the rush of
our personality, but did not. Something intervened.
That something was awareness. Suddenly we
were able to wake up to the danger, the foolishness,
and the self-destructiveness of what we had been
doing, and to stop it before things got worse. In
retrospect, we may get cold shivers when we think
about how close we came to losing a job, our best
friend, our marriage, or to alienating our children.
If something in us had not been awake to see what we
were unconsciously doing, the rest of our lives would
be very different. That we were present in those
crucial moments changed the course of our own history
and made all the difference.
Awareness is part of our Essential nature: it
is the aspect of our Being that registers our
experience. Awareness is such a fundamental capacity,
that it is almost impossible to imagine what it would
be like to be without it. In more mundane terms, we
can also recognize awareness as our capacity to pay
attention. Unfortunately, our attention is usually
drawn into deep identifications with the
preoccupations of our personality - into fantasies,
anxieties, reactions, or subjective memories. When
our awareness becomes identified with these aspects
of our personality, we lose contact with the
immediacy of our lived experience. Our attention
shrinks away from a broader perspective and from what
is actually occurring around us. It contracts into
narrow concerns or reactions and we "fall asleep."
When we begin to pay attention to what is
actually here, however, to become more aware of the
sensations and impressions of the present moment,
something very interesting happens. The simple act of
returning our attention to the present causes our
awareness to expand. We become aware of much more
than the narrow concerns of our personality, and we
reconnect with aspects of our nature we did not
suspect existed.
What would it be like if we were present so
often that we no longer waited until the last minute
to react to impending disaster? What if we were so
awake that we could see the reality of our
circumstances, even as they shift and change? We
would be able to notice impulses arising in us as if
they were trains pulling into a railroad station. We
could see destructive impulses coming while they were
still at a safe distance, and decide consciously
whether or not to board them, as it were. What would
our lives be like if we did not automatically get on
the train to be whisked away to some undesirable
destination before we knew what had happened? What if
we were so present that we no longer lived in a
semifog of habits and diminished consciousness, going
through much of our lives as if we were barely there
at all? What if we were so present that we no longer
felt that life was some kind of death sentence,
something we must endure until we finally got through
it? Rather than experience most moments as tedious
and dull - and feeling the need to protect and
distract ourselves from their pain and boredom - what
if we experienced every moment as a gift, something
indescribably precious, unique, and irreplaceable?
The good news is that we can have a new life
if we are willing to learn and practice a few simple
lessons.
The first is that there is more to us than
our personality. Our true Self and our personality
are not the same thing, and it is the quality of
presence that restores the proper balance between
them and allows us to embody the expansive qualities
of our true nature. The personality is highly
automatic: it tends to create the same problems for
us again and again. But the personality is only
automatic when we are not aware of it. When our
awareness arises and we directly experience the
mechanisms of our personality, they cannot function
as automatically as before.
Furthermore, the habits and reactions of our
personality take up far more of our energy than we
can imagine. Many of us believe that letting go of
the patterns of our personality will render us
ineffective and dull-minded. Actually, the opposite
is true. Learning to let go, to relax, to become more
present and awake, liberates enormous energy in us
and enables us to accomplish far more than we would
have thought possible.
The second important lesson is that presence
never becomes habitual. We will never find a formula
or technique that will automatically allow us to be
present all the time. Such an automatic method of
being present would be a contradiction - a way of
being awake while we were actually "asleep." We do
not have to push ourselves, change our basic life
circumstances, or use willpower for transformation to
occur. A real, lasting solution lies in another
direction - by coming back to ourselves with ever-
deepening awareness, we see and experience the
structures of our personality from a larger
perspective, and our old habits begin to loosen and
drop away. The miracle is that to the degree that
they are fully experienced, our old, self-defeating
structures will begin to dissolve.
By speaking to the truth of who we really
are, the Enneagram reminds us of our own innate
nobility and spiritual potentials. It helps us
discern the more superficial, automatic self of
personality from the profound riches of our Essence -
our True Self.
This is the core of spirituality; real
spirituality involves becoming more real. And as we
become more real, we begin to become more aware of
the Divine since the "really real" is the Divine. In
order to come in contact with what is "really real,"
we must understand and disidentify with the limiting
and destructive aspects of our personality. As we
gradually learn to disengage from our various habits
and fears, agendas and behaviors, we begin to
understand the magnificence we are called to.
There is the widespread sense that humanity
is at an important milestone. While the last century
has seen enormous strides in science, medicine, and
technology, real understanding and healing of the
human psyche has not kept pace. Given our enormous
technological power, and with it, our increased
potential for self-destruction, we have come to a
point in history where genuine self-knowledge is no
longer a luxury. Whether or not human beings will
learn to live together peacefully remains in doubt;
whether or not we will be able to stop ourselves from
stripping the earth of its resources remains in
doubt; whether or not we will be able to stop fearing
those who are unlike us and whose customs and
religion are different from our own remains in doubt;
whether or not hatred will turn out to be a stronger
force than love remains in doubt.
One thing is for sure, however. Unless we
humans are able to get over our identification with
our egoselves - and with it, our willingness to
destroy what does not support our ego and its
demands - we will not survive. Unless we are able to
see beyond our impoverished and desperate ego to the
magnificence of the universal Self manifesting in
each of us, we will be unsatisfied. Unless we truly
learn to love ourselves, we will destroy ourselves.
At this momentous time in human history,
something powerful and decisive has been revealed to
the world: the Enneagram. Its insights puncture our
defenses and lay bare the inner workings of our
psyches with their mysterious mix of spiritual
yearnings and destructive impulses. The Enneagram
helps us rediscover our own humanity and also the
humanity of all human beings. With its help, we can
rediscover the ancient spiritual truth, taught by
many different traditions, that we must love one
another or perish.
What greater gift could be given to the world
as we embark on a new millennium? And what deeper
truth could we learn day in and day out, every moment
of our lives?
The Basics of the Enneagram
This section is included so that readers can grasp
the basics of the system or refresh their memories
about the Enneagram. (For more details, consult PT,
27-55.) *
One of the most important things that
distinguishes the Enneagram from other personality
typologies is that it is a dynamic system. This means
that the nine types are not static categories - they
are interrelated in specific ways, as indicated by
the inner lines of the symbol. The Enneagram is
valuable because it sheds light on our major
challenges to growth as well as on our hidden
strengths. It describes nine distinct personality
types - nine ways that human nature expresses itself,
nine different perspectives on life, nine modes of
being in the world. It has important implications not
only for self-help but for intimate relationships and
all other forms of interactions as well, such as
therapy, education, and business, to name
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vii

BASICS AND NEW DEVELOPMENTS 1 1. The Practival Guide to Personality Types 3 2. The Traditional Enneagram 31 3. The Nine Personality Types 66 4. The levels of Development 136

ASSESSMENT 167 5. Identifying Your Type: A Questionnaire 169 6. Misidentifications 189

NEW CONNECTIONS, NEW DIRECTIONS 7. The Centers 245 8. Psychological Categories 247 9. Advanced Topics 312 10. Recommendations 327 11. Personality, Essence, and Spirituality 355

Biography 382 Index 387

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First Chapter

Chapter 1
The Practical Guide to Personality Types

We are like prisoners in an unguarded cell. No one confines us against our will, and we have heard that the key that will release us is also locked inside. If we could find the key, we could open the door and be free. Yet, we don't know where it has been hidden, and even if we knew, part of us is afraid to break out of our prison. Once out, where would we go, and what would we do with our newfound freedom?
     This is not a meaningless metaphor: we are prisoners of our ego, enchained by our fears, restricted in our freedom, suffering from our condition. No one prevents us from searching for the key that would free us. We must, however, know where to look for it and be willing to use it once we have discovered where it is.
     With the Enneagram, we have found a master key, one that will unlock many doors. It gives us access to the wisdom we need to escape from our self-imposed prison so that we can embrace a fuller life. The Enneagram helps us to let go of the limiting mechanisms of our personality so that we can more deeply experience who and what we really are. It provides insights that can help in freeing us from our fears and conflicts, from our wayward passions and compulsions, from our disordered desires and inner confusions.
     No part of this process is automatic, however. Even after we have identified our personality type, it still may not be clear how to use the insights we have been given. People often ask, "Now that I know my type, what do I do with it? Where do I go with it now?" Understanding the inner workings of the personality types helps to some de gree, but information alone is not enough to free us. Instead, we need to understand the transformative process and our role in it. The paradox is that we cannot bring about our transformation yet, without our participation, it cannot be done. So what part do we play in our own inner development, and how can the Enneagram help?
     The Enneagram can help because it is an invaluable map for guiding us to the points of blockage in our particular personality structures. The fundamental premise of the Enneagram is that there are nine basic personality structures in human nature - nine points of view, nine value systems, nine ways of being in the world. They have much in common with each other, although each manifests its own set of attitudes and behaviors, reactions and defenses, motivations and habits. And each requires its own unique prescriptions for growth.
     The central message of this book is that by showing us what our personality is made of, so to speak, the Enneagram indicates what is necessary for our real growth and transformation. Everyone is not cut from the same cloth, or poured into the same mold; therefore everyone's psychological and spiritual issues will be somewhat different, and the order in which they can best be addressed will be different. By helping us understand the structures of our own personality type, the Enneagram shows us how and why we have closed down and become constricted in our growth. It provides us with a panoramic view of what is happening in us and in our significant relationships. It gives us nonjudgmental, nontechnical language in which to talk about these ideas, and it demystifies much in the realms of psychology and spirituality. We see that these realities are neither foreign nor strange: they are the worlds in which we already live.
     In addition to giving us insight into our day-to-day behaviors, the Enneagram offers an answer to our spiritual yearnings because it shows us with great specificity how our personality has limited us, what our path of growth is, and where real fulfillment can be found. It teaches us that the longings and structures of our personality are actually useful guides to the greatest treasures of our soul. By regarding our self-defeating patterns and even our psychological pain and limitations as indicators of our spiritual capacities, we are able to see ourselves in a different light. With this new perspective comes compassion, healing, love, and transformation.
     We believe that, rightly understood, the Enneagram can have a tremendously positive effect in the world today. By touching people profoundly, mirroring their experience of themselves and helping them trace the trajectory of their lives, it reveals our common humanity. It speaks to the soul, reawakening faith, hope, and love. Many of our students and readers have told us that the Enneagram has helped them to rediscover spirituality - and even brought many of them back to the churches and traditions they once left. Their deepened appreciation of spirituality and awareness of what spirituality really means allowed them to operate more gracefully within institutional frameworks. They could see the soul of the religion they had left and were able to orient themselves to its true Spirit.
     In this book, we have enriched our presentation of the Enneagram with ideas from Fourth Way* schools such as the Gurdjieff Work, the Diamond Approach of A. H. Almaas, the seminal insights of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, and other awareness practices. We have also drawn upon major religious traditions (principally Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Jewish mysticism). We hope that this book will be a useful introduction to the Enneagram for those who are unfamiliar with this system, as well as a valuable resource for those already familiar with it, as there is much new information here.
     Above all, we hope this book will demonstrate the Enneagram's relevance to all forms of transformational work - and firmly place the Enneagram in its true psycho-spiritual context. The Enneagram can be applied on a superficial level, of course, and the reader may wish only to use this information to find out what type he or she is, or to find out the type of someone else. New and valuable insights are possible with even this kind of pragmatic information. But to get the full benefits of the Enneagram, one must integrate it into a genuine spiritual practice. Otherwise, the information alone tends to become an end in itself - and ironically tends to solidify the personality structures rather than liberate the person from them. But when the Enneagram is part of a spiritual practice, it more readily becomes a means for recognizing our True Nature, and hence for loosening the structures and limitations of the personality.
     Of course, having a spiritual practice does not guarantee ego transcendence and liberation from egocentric structures and consequent suffering. But without a spiritual p ractice, it is less likely that we can become liberated from the limitations of our personality. The momentum of the ego is too great, and it cannot be transformed without bringing an even greater force to bear upon it: the awareness that comes from a spiritual perspective on ourselves and our lives.

The two principal areas in which to use the Enneagram are for self-understanding (seeing ourselves as we actually are) and for understanding others (so that we can have more harmonious relationships).
     By far the most legitimate use of the Enneagram is to understand ourselves. It can help us understand our fears and desires, strengths and weaknesses, defenses and anxieties, how we react to frustration and disappointment - and, more positively, what our truest capacities and greatest strengths are so that we can build on them rather than on misjudgments and illusions.
     We will get the most benefit from the Enneagram if we approach it with a spirit of open-ended inquiry, using it as a support for discovering things about ourselves and for seeing how our characteristic issues are played out. As we observe ourselves with the help of the system, we will see what we are up to again and again, especially how we are fleeing from ourselves - and why. And although we may discover many things that make us uncomfortable or that do not fit into the self-image that we have of ourselves, it is important not to judge or condemn ourselves for what we find. As we study our type, we will begin to understand more clearly than ever that our personality is a form of defense that we have continued to use for reasons that started in our infancy. Our persona lity has brought us this far, but we may not need some of its features as much as we once did. Because the Enneagram predicts the healthy, transcendent qualities that we can expect to attain, it helps us to have the courage to let go of old outmoded habits.
     There are three stages to this work. First, we need to learn self-observation so that we can see our behavior as objectively as possible. Second, we need to increase our self-understanding so that we can know the true motives for our behavior. And third, we need to cultivate awareness or presence, which facilitates and deepens the process of transformation. Self-observation and self-understanding alone will merely provide us with insight to get us to the threshold of transformation, but it is only through presence and awareness that transformation actually occurs. Without developing the ability to "show up" fully, the transformative moments of our lives will have limited effect.
     The Enneagram is not only about understanding and transforming ourselves, however; it helps us in understanding others, in fostering compassion for them and developing insight into how they think, what they fear and desire, what they value, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. In short, we more easily appreciate perspectives that are different from our own.
     Indeed, understanding others more profoundly allows us not only to appreciate the good we find in them but also to be more objective and compassionate about things we may not like about them. Although we tend to think that other people are basically like us, it is helpful to recognize that different types think an d feel and react quite differently. By understanding personality types, we can see others more objectively, connecting deeply with them yet remaining in our own center, true to ourselves. By understanding the Enneagram, we paradoxically become both more self-possessed and more capable of reaching out to others.
     In fact, we often use the Enneagram in our relationships because it is as important to understand others as it is to understand ourselves. We simply cannot (and do not) go through life with no idea about "what makes others tick" - about how they are likely to react in various circumstances, about their motivations, about how genuine or truthful or good they are. Whether or not we are conscious of it, we always use some kind of "personality theory." It is therefore extremely helpful to recognize what our implicit theory is and to make sure that it is as accurate and comprehensive as possible.
     Another reason for understanding the Enneagram is that it helps us recognize our unconscious tendencies before they become self-defeating habits so that we can avoid the tragic consequences of those habits. The Enneagram can act as an "early warning system" of potentially harmful behavior, allowing us to do something about it before we become trapped in unhealthy patterns. If our attitudes and behavior did not have potentially tragic consequences, we could think, "Well, why should I care about self-knowledge? What difference does it make to know more about myself or my personality type?"
     The answer is that our attitudes and our actions always have consequences, some of which can affect the whole of our lives . This makes acquiring self-knowledge and insight into others an extraordinarily practical thing to do. Without self-knowledge, we can make choices that may turn out disastrously. Without knowing our own motives and not having control over our behavior, we can do harmful things to ourselves, our spouse, our children, our friends and acquaintances - even to people we may never meet.
     Furthermore, without being good judges of the characters of others, we can be terribly hurt and abused. Many marriages end in bitterness and divorce because people do not know either themselves or each other. How often have we heard somebody say, "If I had only known what my husband was really like, I would never have married him." Or, "If I had only known the Enneagram twenty years ago, my life would have been so different . . ." We can console ourselves with the thought that at least we know the Enneagram now - and with its help, we will be much more likely to avoid the suffering caused by our lack of self-knowledge and the unwise actions that may result. With insight, we have a much better chance to avoid tragedy and become happier.

Each of the great spiritual traditions uses different metaphors to express many of the same discoveries about human nature and to express its insight into the way out of our predicaments. At its deepest, the Enneagram is not only profound psychology but a path toward the spiritual since true self-knowledge is the first step toward spirituality. Despite the Enneagram's origin in a variety of spiritual and metaphysical traditions, however, it is not overtly religious. It can be - and has been - adapted to many different religions and religious expressio ns because it reflects the patterns found in human nature. By helping us more clearly understand the human side of the relationship between the Divine and the human, the Enneagram can become an integral part of any spirituality.
     Thus, while it can say very little about the revealed truths of religion, the Enneagram can say a great deal about the forms that the human ego takes - and these are the primary obstacles to a direct experience of the Divine. It demonstrates both the need for working on ourselves and the direction we must take if we are to do so. The Enneagram is a tool that, when used properly, can help us discriminate between the more superficial aspects of ourselves - our personalities - and the deeper aspects of our true nature - our Essence. That is all it is. But considering the sublimity of this work, the Enneagram is a treasure, something more valuable than anything we could have hoped to discover.
     Even in a purely psychological, nontheological frame of reference, we want to understand the Enneagram so that we can become more free - more liberated - from whatever is blocked, negative, and destructive - from whatever is unfree, conflicted, fearful, and wounded in ourselves. The Enneagram can aid our healing so that we can use our growing freedom in ennobling and constructive ways.
     Once we begin to be liberated from our ego states and our inner conflicts - from the darkness and fear inside - with each step we take toward the light, we will gain that much more freedom and create new capacities in ourselves. Strength will build upon strength, grace upon grace, virtue upon virtue, and each n ew capacity will summon forth yet another as we become the persons that we are meant to be.
     In the end, however, the Enneagram will be as useful and rewarding as we make it. The Enneagram will enrich us to the degree that we understand it correctly and use it properly in our lives. We can be confident that we will find endless insights and great riches here.

Understanding the Enneagram is a practical guide to this system, building on many of the insights first presented by Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. We are not concerned here with the basic structure and theory of the Enneagram or with comprehensive descriptions of the nine personality types, as they have been provided in our other books.
     Indeed, very little material is repeated from Personality Types, and what little was necessary to repeat is completely revised and expanded. This book is also cross-referenced to the Revised Edition of Personality Types so that you can return to that longer resource if you want to find out more about something. Furthermore, much of the new material here is completely independent of the earlier book (the Type Profiles, the Questionnaire, and the Recommendations for Personal Growth, for example) and can be used without reference to it.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ENNEAGRAM
The Enneagram reveals the patterns by which we organize and give meaning to all of our experiences. Its basic premise is that if we could see the core pattern around which we organize and interpret all of our experiences, the framework on which we hang the events of our lives, we could make much quicker progress in our spiritual and psychological growth. This core patternin g is, of course, our personality type.
     When we recognize our type and see it at work in ourselves, aspects of our personality that have been hidden from us are revealed, and paradoxically, start loosening up. We suddenly have considerably more psychological space in which to maneuver because we can see ourselves with more perspective.
     It would not be far-fetched to say that one of the main points of the Enneagram is to show us where our personality "trips us up" the most. It highlights both what is possible for us, as well as how self-defeating and unnecessary many of our reactions and behaviors are. Our type has both positive and negative qualities, but we do ourselves no favor either by exalting it or by condemning it - not to mention using it to judge other people or their types.
     No matter what our type is, and no matter what particular form our ego has taken, we all face one central problem - estrangement from our deepest nature. We may have had intimations that what lies beneath the structure of our personality is something miraculous, the very thing that we have wanted more than anything else, even though we have looked everywhere else to find it. Despite our intimations, it is difficult to let go of our personality and to trust that there is actually something more "essential" in us. It is difficult to believe that there is actually a spark of Divinity in me.
     But there is good news as well because the structures of our personality tell us what the main blockages to our true nature are. This is why the Enneagram, properly understood, is an extraordinary tool for p sychological and spiritual growth: it illuminates the unconscious parts of ourselves that stand in the way of our being more fully alive. It demonstrates that what stands in the way between ourselves and bliss is our attachment to our personality.
     Perhaps one of the most challenging notions for us to accept at the beginning of transformational work is that the personality - the ego and its structures - is an artificial construct. But it only seems real because up until now it has been our entire reality. Identifying with our personality has been how we have lived and gotten by in life. Insofar as it has enabled us to do so, the personality has been a useful, even highly valuable, friend.
     As our insights deepen, however, we come to accept the hard truth that our personality is largely a collection of internal defenses and reactions, deeply ingrained beliefs and habits about the self and the world that have come from the past, particularly from our childhood. To put this more simply, our personality is a mechanism from the past, perhaps one that has helped us survive until now, but one whose limitations can now be seen. We all suffer from a case of mistaken identity: we have forgotten our True Nature and have come to believe that we are the personality. The reason we must explore the defenses of the personality and the vulnerabilities it is protecting is so that we can reexperience our Essential nature - our spiritual core - and know directly who we really are.
     Each of us came into the world as pure Essence, although that Essence was still undeveloped. Each of us has also had a mother and a father (or ot her caretakers) who already had their personalities very much in place. Because they had to protect themselves from experiencing their own developmental gaps and losses, it was not possible for them to fully support the unfolding of all of the aspects of our spirit, no matter how much they loved us. In short, to the degree that they could not be with the fullness of their own Essence, they could not recognize or help develop the fullness of our Essence. From this perspective, we can also see that these blockages may go back many generations.
     Our parents unintentionally sent "messages" to us as children to hide ourselves. We gradually came to believe that one or more parts of us were not safe to have or to display to the world. No matter how well intentioned our parents were, to some degree, we all succumbed to the process of hiding and covering over our Essential nature. Out of the need to make unconscious adjustments to our caregivers came the need to form a personality. We began to feel that "What I am is not acceptable, so I need to be different. Maybe I need to be happier, or quieter, or less energetic." The costs of these necessary survival adjustments are great, although perhaps the greatest cost is that we gradually become terrified to be seen as we are. We have spent most of our lives not allowing ourselves to be seen, not seeing other people, and most destructively, not wanting to see ourselves.
     Further, the painful events of early childhood create a particular way of interpreting our experiences so that later life events reinforce our beliefs about our self and the world. For instance, a child who has been physically abused will tend to view the world as threatening and will have problems getting close to people. Such a person will expect, and tend to find, abusive situations. As a result of this reinforcement of our earliest sense of self, our personality gets "thicker" and we begin to think, "This is me - it's just the way I am." We identify with our reactions and our habitual self-image and beliefs. We do not want to see what is beneath the personality because to go into the areas that have been blocked and covered over means that we will reexperience our deepest hurts. Furthermore, doing so reveals the insubstantiality of our personality - and that is extremely threatening both to our sense of identity and to our ideas about how to survive in the world.
     This is not to say that personality is necessarily bad, but when the mechanisms of the personality are running the show, the most dire things can happen. All of us can think of dozens of times when we came within a hairsbreadth of disaster but for the fact that we had enough presence of mind to stop the momentum of events and avert a catastrophe. We can all look back to times when, if a few of the wrong words had been spoken, or if we had allowed rage, sarcasm, or pride to take over, the rest of our lives would have taken a different turn. We can all remember pivotal moments when we could have allowed ourselves to go along with the rush of our personality, but did not. Something intervened.
     That something was awareness. Suddenly we were able to wake up to the danger, the foolishness, and the self-destructiveness of what we had been doing, and to stop it before things got worse. In retrospect, we may g et cold shivers when we think about how close we came to losing a job, our best friend, our marriage, or to alienating our children. If something in us had not been awake to see what we were unconsciously doing, the rest of our lives would be very different. That we were present in those crucial moments changed the course of our own history and made all the difference.
     Awareness is part of our Essential nature: it is the aspect of our Being that registers our experience. Awareness is such a fundamental capacity, that it is almost impossible to imagine what it would be like to be without it. In more mundane terms, we can also recognize awareness as our capacity to pay attention. Unfortunately, our attention is usually drawn into deep identifications with the preoccupations of our personality - into fantasies, anxieties, reactions, or subjective memories. When our awareness becomes identified with these aspects of our personality, we lose contact with the immediacy of our lived experience. Our attention shrinks away from a broader perspective and from what is actually occurring around us. It contracts into narrow concerns or reactions and we "fall asleep."
     When we begin to pay attention to what is actually here, however, to become more aware of the sensations and impressions of the present moment, something very interesting happens. The simple act of returning our attention to the present causes our awareness to expand. We become aware of much more than the narrow concerns of our personality, and we reconnect with aspects of our nature we did not suspect existed.
     What would it be like if we were present so often that we no longer waited until the last minute to react to impending disaster? What if we were so awake that we could see the reality of our circumstances, even as they shift and change? We would be able to notice impulses arising in us as if they were trains pulling into a railroad station. We could see destructive impulses coming while they were still at a safe distance, and decide consciously whether or not to board them, as it were. What would our lives be like if we did not automatically get on the train to be whisked away to some undesirable destination before we knew what had happened? What if we were so present that we no longer lived in a semifog of habits and diminished consciousness, going through much of our lives as if we were barely there at all? What if we were so present that we no longer felt that life was some kind of death sentence, something we must endure until we finally got through it? Rather than experience most moments as tedious and dull - and feeling the need to protect and distract ourselves from their pain and boredom - what if we experienced every moment as a gift, something indescribably precious, unique, and irreplaceable?
     The good news is that we can have a new life if we are willing to learn and practice a few simple lessons.
     The first is that there is more to us than our personality. Our true Self and our personality are not the same thing, and it is the quality of presence that restores the proper balance between them and allows us to embody the expansive qualities of our true nature. The personality is highly automatic: it tends to create the same problems for us again and again. But the p ersonality is only automatic when we are not aware of it. When our awareness arises and we directly experience the mechanisms of our personality, they cannot function as automatically as before.
     Furthermore, the habits and reactions of our personality take up far more of our energy than we can imagine. Many of us believe that letting go of the patterns of our personality will render us ineffective and dull-minded. Actually, the opposite is true. Learning to let go, to relax, to become more present and awake, liberates enormous energy in us and enables us to accomplish far more than we would have thought possible.
     The second important lesson is that presence never becomes habitual. We will never find a formula or technique that will automatically allow us to be present all the time. Such an automatic method of being present would be a contradiction - a way of being awake while we were actually "asleep." We do not have to push ourselves, change our basic life circumstances, or use willpower for transformation to occur. A real, lasting solution lies in another direction - by coming back to ourselves with ever-deepening awareness, we see and experience the structures of our personality from a larger perspective, and our old habits begin to loosen and drop away. The miracle is that to the degree that they are fully experienced, our old, self-defeating structures will begin to dissolve.
     By speaking to the truth of who we really are, the Enneagram reminds us of our own innate nobility and spiritual potentials. It helps us discern the more superficial, automatic self of personality from the profound riches of our Essence - our True Self.
     This is the core of spirituality; real spirituality involves becoming more real. And as we become more real, we begin to become more aware of the Divine since the "really real" is the Divine. In order to come in contact with what is "really real," we must understand and disidentify with the limiting and destructive aspects of our personality. As we gradually learn to disengage from our various habits and fears, agendas and behaviors, we begin to understand the magnificence we are called to.
     There is the widespread sense that humanity is at an important milestone. While the last century has seen enormous strides in science, medicine, and technology, real understanding and healing of the human psyche has not kept pace. Given our enormous technological power, and with it, our increased potential for self-destruction, we have come to a point in history where genuine self-knowledge is no longer a luxury. Whether or not human beings will learn to live together peacefully remains in doubt; whether or not we will be able to stop ourselves from stripping the earth of its resources remains in doubt; whether or not we will be able to stop fearing those who are unlike us and whose customs and religion are different from our own remains in doubt; whether or not hatred will turn out to be a stronger force than love remains in doubt.
     One thing is for sure, however. Unless we humans are able to get over our identification with our egoselves - and with it, our willingness to destroy what does not support our ego and its demands - we will not survive. Unless we are able to see beyond our imp overished and desperate ego to the magnificence of the universal Self manifesting in each of us, we will be unsatisfied. Unless we truly learn to love ourselves, we will destroy ourselves.
     At this momentous time in human history, something powerful and decisive has been revealed to the world: the Enneagram. Its insights puncture our defenses and lay bare the inner workings of our psyches with their mysterious mix of spiritual yearnings and destructive impulses. The Enneagram helps us rediscover our own humanity and also the humanity of all human beings. With its help, we can rediscover the ancient spiritual truth, taught by many different traditions, that we must love one another or perish.
     What greater gift could be given to the world as we embark on a new millennium? And what deeper truth could we learn day in and day out, every moment of our lives?
The Basics of the Enneagram
This section is included so that readers can grasp the basics of the system or refresh their memories about the Enneagram. (For more details, consult PT, 27-55.) *
     One of the most important things that distinguishes the Enneagram from other personality typologies is that it is a dynamic system. This means that the nine types are not static categories - they are interrelated in specific ways, as indicated by the inner lines of the symbol. The Enneagram is valuable because it sheds light on our major challenges to growth as well as on our hidden strengths. It describes nine distinct personality types - nine ways that human nature expresses itself, nine different perspectives on life, nine modes of being in the world. It has important implications not only for self-help but for intimate relationships and all other forms of interactions as well, such as therapy, education, and business, to name only a few. But the primary use of this system is to help us discover our true nature and the obstacles to expressing it in the world.
     The following short descriptions may help you identify your type.
Type One, the Reformer, is principled, purposeful,
self-controlled, and perfectionistic.
Type Two, the Helper, is generous, demonstrative,
people-pleasing, and possessive.
Type Three, the Achiever, is adaptable, ambitious,
image-conscious, and arrogant.
Type Four, the Individualist, is expressive, romantic,
withholding, and temperamental.
Type Five, the Investigator, is innovative, cerebral,
detached, and provocative.
Type Six, the Loyalist, is reliable, committed, defensive,
and suspicious.
Type Seven, the Enthusiast, is spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and excessive.
Type Eight, the Challenger, is self-confident, decisive,
dominating, and confrontational.
Type Nine, the Peacemaker, is reassuring, agreeable,
disengaged, and stubborn.
     We have given the personality types these names, just as other authors have given the types different names. The names we have chosen reflect traits of each type that are relatively healthy. In the Arica presentation, by contrast, the types are given names based on their "ego fixations"; for example, the One is given the name "Ego Resentment." (See Lilly and Hart or Wagner for the other correlations.*)
     The names that we have assigned to each type wer e also chosen to help focus on the type's most prominent role. From another perspective, each type's most important weakness is related to (but not the same as) its most important strength. You may find a little of yourself in each type, although one type should stand out as most typical of yourself. That is your basic personality type.
     To understand personality types is to understand general patterns. This understanding is enormously useful, but we must keep in mind that the types are generalizations and that no person is precisely like the description of his or her type. General descriptions must walk a fine line between being specific enough to convey precise information about each type while being general enough so that all the individuals who belong to each type can find themselves in it. The rule, then, is this: the types are general patterns; individuals are unique variations on those patterns.
     An analogy might help. Just as we all know what we mean when we say that something is the color "red," once we have understood the personality types, we are given similarly specific information when we say that someone is a "Five." In both cases, the words "red" and "Five" give us only a general idea of the particular class under consideration; in both cases, there are hundreds of possible individual variations. For example, crimson, brick, scarlet, maroon, burgundy - and many more hues - are variations on red, and yet we know very clearly what someone means when he or she says that something is "red." Even if we cannot be certain of the precise shade of red the person is referring to, we still know enough to distinguish a red object fro m a black one or a yellow one. Red is clearly not black, and yellow is certainly not red - just as a Five is not an Eight or an Eight a One. Categories such as these are different and distinct. To further the analogy, just as we can distinguish between types, we can distinguish between individuals within a type. I might be a cobalt blue while someone else is an aquamarine blue: we are both still in the "blue family" and therefore have a number of traits in common. And yet we are still different, still ourselves, and still unique. Once we know the Enneagram, we know that we are talking about general patterns when we refer to different types.
     Seen from this point of view, the personality types of the Enneagram are as diverse and distinct as the colors of the rainbow, only much more complicated. Each one of us is an individual, unique person, and yet a moment's reflection will reveal some of the many ways in which we are alike. In fact, we should expect to find that human beings are alike in many ways. After all, we share the same biological basis for our common human nature. We all have blood and bones, the same basic male or female anatomy, we all use language and are able to deal with abstract ideas, we have all had parental figures, and we have all had to learn to relate to ourselves, the world, and other people. Even though cultural differences influence us a great deal, certain underlying qualities are common to all human beings.
     Nor is uniqueness denied by the Enneagram. Uniqueness is to be found in the different facts of our lives: no two individuals in the history of the human race have been born at the same instant, to the same parents, into the same family and culture, with the same genetic endowments, educated in the same way, and the subject of precisely the same influences. What makes us unique is our unique history. But what makes us part of a personality type is the fact that we also share certain traits with other human beings. Although we are unique, we are not totally different. It would be an impossible world if everyone were literally completely unique, that is, if everyone were a totally dissimilar entity unto himself or herself. Language, literature, the arts, commerce, communication - all of society and culture - would be impossible if people did not have a great many qualities in common.
     From the point of view of psychology, if people were totally unique, they would also have totally different neuroses, and no general theories or techniques could be devised to help them. The fact that we are like each other (and are especially similar to those of our personality type) is shown most clearly by how much alike people with common personality disorders are. Depressives are like other depressives - thinking and saying things very similar to other depressives. Hysterics resemble other hysterics; those who dissociate from reality are like others who do the same, even in their appearance and their responses to the world around them.
     All this being said, finding one's personality type can still be challenging. Those new to the Enneagram frequently encounter three common problems. First, people tend to pick the personality type they would like to be rather than the one they actually are. Learning to be objective about ourselves and about our core motiva tions is, of course, very difficult - nevertheless, objectivity is one of the very things we are ultimately trying to achieve with the Enneagram. (More guidelines for identifying your type are given in Chapter 5.)
     Second, people tend to make an identification based on a single trait. For example, someone might say, "Twos are kind, and I'm kind, so therefore I must be a Two." While it is true that Twos are kind, so are Nines and Fours - and sometimes Ones, Threes, Fives, and all of the types. It is almost impossible to determine your type based on one trait: it is important to see the larger pattern of traits as well as the motivations behind them. Once you have discovered your personality type, you will find that it really does describe you better than any of the other types. Of course, it will also contain traits that you may not have recognized in yourself before as well as traits that are as familiar as old clothes. (For more guidelines about distinguishing between similar types, see Chapter 6.)
     A third common problem is that people are tempted to pick and choose among the traits as if the descriptions were a smorgasbord. This approach does not work because the personality types are not arbitrary. The traits that constitute each of the types have not been haphazardly thrown together by human nature. On the contrary, they grow out of each other, proceeding from each other like the colors of the rainbow. They are expressions of our basic fears and desires, our fundamental needs and values and reactions to ourselves and the world around us. While there may well be strange and contradictory traits found among the types, they are all of a piece.
     Nor are the nine types of the Enneagram arbitrary: they fall into three groups of three, each group being one of the Triads of the Enneagram. (Each of these three Triads is also associated with a "center" or function of human intelligence - the Thinking Center, the Feeling Center, and the Instinctive Center. These have also been called the head, heart, and gut centers, respectively.) The three types in each Triad share a number of significant issues and features. Primary among these is that each of the three types in a Triad shares that Triad's center as the basis of their personality structure. For example, types Two, Three, and Four are the three types found in the Feeling Triad - and their common assets and liabilities involve issues related to the heart. These types are most centrally concerned with finding a sense of value and identity, as well as with expressing the other authentic qualities of the heart. Types Five, Six, and Seven constitute the Thinking Triad - and their strengths and weaknesses involve their ability (or inability) to find a sense of inner guidance and support - functions traditionally associated with the Thinking Center. These types have difficulty making decisions and determining how to move into the future. Finally, types Eight, Nine, and One are the types in the Instinctive Triad - and their assets and liabilities involve their ability to relate in a more or less balanced manner with their own instinctual energy - with their vitality and life force. These Triads can be understood more clearly on the Enneagram itself.
     Each Triad has an inner structure based on a dialectical relationship among the three types in it (PT, 28-30). In each Triad, one type overexpresses the characteristic faculty of the Triad, another type underexpresses the faculty, and the third type is most out of touch with the faculty (this is the "primary type" of each Triad and is the type on the equilateral triangle).
     If we move around the Enneagram Triad by Triad, beginning with personality type Two in the Feeling Triad, we will see these dialectical relationships more clearly. The Two is the type that tends to overexpress its feelings. Twos become effusive and overly friendly, expressing only their positive feelings for others while repressing any awareness of their own needs or ulterior motives. The Three is the primary type of the Feeling Triad. Because Threes are most out of touch with their feelings, they focus on tasks and performance while unconsciously being motivated by their feelings - principally their desire to be valued and accepted. The Four is the dialectical opposite of the Two; Fours are painfully self-conscious and underexpress their feelings, revealing themselves instead through various forms of art or creativity, or simply by withholding the direct expression of their feelings. All three types have common problems with their identities and with hostility, both of which are expressed differently and have different causes (PT, 34-37).
     In the Thinking Triad, the Five is the type that, in a sense, overexpresses thinking: Fives are the most cerebral and mentally intense of all of the types. They live for their ideas, their concepts, and their imagination while neglecting many of the practical aspects of life. The Six is the primary type of th is Triad. Sixes are most out of touch with the inner guidance that an open Thinking center can provide. Sixes think plenty; in fact, they overthink - anxiously figuring things out and second-guessing themselves so much that they are unable to recognize their own inner guidance. Sixes look to beliefs or to trusted others to reassure them and to give them the confidence to act decisively. The Seven is the type that underexpresses thinking. This does not mean that Sevens are unintelligent - quite the opposite, many Sevens are bright and quick-minded. The problem is that Sevens jump quickly from one thought to another, or from thinking into doing, without really thinking through the ramifications of their actions. This can lead them to do too many things at once, becoming hyperactive and addicted to staying in motion. These three types have common problems with insecurity and anxiety, which are expressed differently and have different causes (PT, 37-39).
     And, finally, in the Instinctive Triad, the Eight is the type that overexpresses its instinctual energy. Eights constantly assert themselves, their independence, and their vitality, potentially wearing out themselves and others. Their desire to assert themselves can also lead them to attempt to challenge and dominate everything and everyone around them. Eights relate to the world by seeing themselves as stronger and more realistic than everyone else. The Nine is the primary type of the Instinctive Triad. Nines are most out of touch with their instinctual energy - their passion, anger, and zest for life. Nines would like to transcend this energy or "mellow it" in order to maintain their peace of mind and ease in life. Thi s lack of identification with their own instinctive energy can lead Nines to identify more strongly with others, living through someone else. Nines also try to maintain their independence, but not by asserting it like Eights. Nines feel autonomous by withdrawing their active attention from others. The One is the type that underexpresses its instinctual energy, but primarily by trying to control it. Ones try to resist acting on their instincts, believing that they need to feel justified by being right before they act. Ones constantly measure themselves against ideals of various sorts that they strive to attain. All three types have in common aggression and repression (PT, 39-41). Of course, these issues are expressed differently and have different causes. (More about the Triads can be found in PT, 28-30, 34-43, and 433-36, and in the Overview of the description of each type.)

In the Enneagram, as in life, there are no pure types. Everyone is a unique mixture of his or her basic type and one of the two types adjacent to it, called a "wing." Second in importance to the basic type, the auxiliary type, or wing, provides the basic type with other psychological functions, sometimes complementing the basic type, sometimes working in opposition to it. Of all the theoretical aspects of the Enneagram, the so-called wing theory is the most controversial because some writers feel that there is no wing, some (including the authors) feel that there is usually one dominant wing, and others feel that there are two wings, one on each side of the basic type.
     The truth, with regard to this dispute (as with others regarding the theory of the Enneagram), can be discovered only by l ooking to human nature: what are human beings really like?
     We initially saw that the vast majority of people we encountered in our workshops seemed to have a dominant wing, but there were also a number of individuals who seemed to have either both wings or no wings. We have resolved this apparent conflict by thinking of the wings in relation to the circle part of the Enneagram symbol. If you look at the symbol itself, you can easily see that the circle could be divided into nine segments or arcs corresponding to the nine types. Thus, a type is not a single point where the inner lines of the Enneagram touch the circle, but a range of points along the circle's circumference. Our personalities, we could say, fixate or crystallize somewhere along that segment. For instance, a Three's personality might crystallize on the segment of "Threeness" closer to type Two. This, of course, would be a Three with a Two-wing. Another Three might crystallize on the opposite end of the segment, closer to Four. This person would be a Three with a Four wing. Naturally, the farther away from the central point, and the closer to one of the other points, the stronger the person's wing would be. But a person who crystallized close to the center point of the range of Threeness could be said to have both wings, or no wings, depending on whether you see the glass as half full or half empty. This is an example of creating a map or theoretical framework to account for what we actually encountered in real people.
     Also remember that, in truth, we possess the entire Enneagram in our psyches. Seen from this point of view, it would be true to say that we have "two wings " since (to return to our example) a Three with a Two-wing would also automatically have something of the Four by virtue of possessing all of the human potentials symbolized by the Enneagram.

There has also been some question about whether it is possible to change your basic personality type, especially as you become older. Some people feel that they were one type when they were children but became another type as adults owing to various factors in their lives.
     We remain convinced that people do not change from one basic personality type to another. We develop from childhood as an example of a certain personality type - as a unique individual within a larger group - and we essentially remain that type for the rest of our lives. We grow or deteriorate from that beginning point, our basic type, which reflects who we have become as the result of genetics and our childhood experiences, especially the relationships we have had with our parents. Which type we have become is profoundly who we are, and this does not change to a radically different type.
     But of course, in reality, people do change, and the Enneagram accounts for psychological change of various sorts. We may shift in our emotional states many times a day, but usually in recognizable patterns. These patterns can be predicted by the inner lines on the Enneagram. Everyone "moves" in specific Directions of Integration and Disintegration as indicated by the lines of the Enneagram from the basic type.
     The Direction of Disintegration or Stress (which signals that the person is under increased stress and that the normal coping mechanisms of the b asic personality type are being overtaxed) is indicated on the Enneagram by the sequence of numbers 1-4-2-8-5-7-1 and 9-6-3-9. The Direction of Integration (which signals that we are more secure and can mark the further integration of your basic type) is indicated by the reverse of these two sequences; thus, 1-7-5-8-2-4-1 and 9-3-6-9. For example, a One under stress will move to Four, the type in its Direction of Disintegration, while a One who is more relaxed can move to Seven, the type in its Direction of Integration; a Nine will go to Three when more secure, or to Six under greater stress.
     While it is helpful to have separate Enneagrams for each of these sequences, it is really not necessary once you know what the two lines from each basic personality type mean - one indicates that type's Direction of Integration; the other indicates its Direction of Disintegration (PT, 47-51) - and the arrows can be eliminated.
     Thus, four of the personality types are pertinent for a full analysis of any individual - the basic type, the wing, the type in the Direction of Integration, and the type in the Direction of Disintegration. We must attempt to see how these four types (at their various Levels), along with other important personality factors (such as intelligence, which the Enneagram does not categorize), combine in us to help make us the unique persons we are. Thus, as we continue our quest for self-understanding, not only the basic personality type but also the wing and the types in our Directions of Integration and Disintegration must be taken into consideration.
     It is also important to have a sense of the movement within our own personality. The many hundreds of traits that make up our type are part of a larger pattern - our type as a whole. The traits found in each type are not arbitrary: they are interrelated in extremely complex and subtle ways. Moreover, people fluctuate among the traits that constitute their type along a Continuum of nine Levels of Development, ranging from high-functioning states to painful, potentially pathological ones.
     Because people are constantly changing and are functioning in different Levels of Development, not everything in the descriptions will apply to them equally. When you are healthy, the unhealthy traits will not apply to you as you are right now. Nevertheless, you should be able to recognize all of the traits of your basic type as genuine tendencies inherent in yourself.
     Our unhealthy traits should strike us as accurate reflections of what would happen to us - of how we would become - if we were to become emotionally unhealthy or neurotic. Likewise, we should recognize the traits of the types in the Directions of Integration and Disintegration as accurate descriptions of behavior we have observed in ourselves. The Continuum (with the nine Levels of Development it comprises) can be pictured as follows:

As you get to know the personality types - and yourself - in more depth, you will find that on a profound level, the Enneagram lays out the full range of psychological possibilities, revealing the many different potential parts of yourself in all of the types. While it remains true that everyone emerges from childhood as a unique member of only one basic personality type, it is equally true th at as we develop over our lifetime, it is possible to integrate the healthy psychological aspects of the other types as we activate new capacities. We can move beyond the type in our Direction of Integration to the next type and then to the next, around the Enneagram in an endless upward spiral of integration (PT, 54-55, 418).
     The Enneagram is not imposing a narrow theory on human beings. Rather, it is a framework within which we can understand the subtle dynamics that make each of us who we are. Everyone constantly changes, and the very structure of the Enneagram reflects the fact that human nature is in process, always coming into being.

Copyright (c) 1999 by Don Richard Riso. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
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  • Posted September 6, 2009

    Interesting and easy to read

    I had attended a weekend retreat where I was introduced to the Enneagram. This book was recommended. I found it to be helpful in describing the types and expanded on what I learned in the class.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2006

    Very Good Read

    I refer to this book again and again. A detailed description of each enneagram type is included,and you get an accurate picture of each type as well as the opportunity to test for your own type. The only downfall of this book is that some of the more interesting aspects of the enneagram types aren't included and there are some boring details.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2008

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