Enneagram Transformations

Enneagram Transformations

by Don Richard Riso


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395657867
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/28/1993
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 278,635
Product dimensions: 4.50(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.40(d)

About 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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Transformation and the Enneagram

These Transformations (as I have named the Re-leases and Affirmations for each personality type) are but one answer to the often asked question of students new to the Enneagram, "Now that I know my type, what can I do with it?"

One important answer is that knowing our type helps us become more conscious self-observers, and self-observation is necessary if we are to become free of our unthinking, mechanical reactions. If we do not observe ourselves, we cannot ever hope to be our own master. We will be like marionettes yanked by every impulse tugging on our strings.

If we learn to observe ourselves, however, we create the possibility of consciously choosing our behavior, and thereby of living more effectively. To do this, we must learn how not to identify with our personality — and this is where the Enneagram can be extremely valuable. Paradoxically, we need to see our personality in operation before we can learn how not to identify with it. We must experience the process of disidentifying with our personality and its habitual responses many times before we can acquire a "taste" for nonidentification and thus become convinced of its worthwhile results in our lives.

If we observe ourselves carefully, we will discover that most of what goes on in us is the constant churning of our mechanical responses, little more than the machinery of our personality grinding along pretty much on its own. We find that our attention is constantly possessed by ever-changing fears and desires, fantasies and associations, that lead nowhere while keeping us out of touch with our deeper self. Ironically, we build our identity out of these chaotic and unconscious impulses — embracing them as our self, and defending them with our life.

Ideas about observing ourselves, learning how not to identify with our personality, and of practicing nonidentification with our ego sound foreign and are rather threatening to most of us. And yet, if we think about it, we can probably recall moments of spontaneous nonidentification: most of us have experienced times when we were free from our personality and its (usually negative) responses. Sometimes a life-threatening crisis brings such a moment; sometimes an act of selfless love, an experience of the grandeur of nature, or an encounter with death "wakes us up" to something deep in us that is not our personality and is also clearly not the product of our ego. Moments such as these are vivid and profoundly liberating. Looking back on them, we usually regard them as the times when we were most alive.

An important part of our spiritual quest, then, becomes learning to have moments such as these more often. We need to find a way of waking up and of being more present to our own lives so that they can happen more frequently. There is no better tool than the Enneagram to help us observe ourselves, and thereby get some "distance" on our personality. The more we look into it, the more we will discover that getting distance on our personality is a very good thing indeed. When we learn to disidentify with our personality, instead of feeling naked and deprived, we find that our personality is actually what has blocked us most of our lives. Rather than having been our ally, our personality has been our secret enemy; rather than help us live more effectively, it has gotten in our way; rather than make us stronger, it has made us weaker and more afraid.

The way to escape from the grip of personality is to create a "gap" between our inner-observer and our personality. At first, this gap may last only a second between a stimulus and our response. Our attention will become occupied almost immediately with our personality's usual associations. But we will have also experienced something new. In the brief gap that we have created, we catch a glimpse of a deeper, more essential self and the possibility of real freedom.

Of course, none of this is easy, and the effort to not identify with our ego must be made over and over again. Freedom and real consciousness are won by constantly struggling with all of the reactive, automatic forces at work in us. We must struggle especially with that dark force in us that does not want us to be free or aware of anything higher in ourselves. Part of us wants us to remain asleep, in flight from being, and gladly prevents us from realizing that something more is within our reach.

The Enneagram can help us deal with the contrary forces of our personality by naming them and releasing them. Seeing ourselves and letting go of what is seducing us away from a fuller, more authentic life is at the heart of our daily struggle. This is a difficult and subtle task, and we need the wisdom of the Enneagram to undertake it.

These Transformations are different from those usually found in self-help books. They represent a new approach to self-help, and are the latest development of my interpretation of the Enneagram.

Releases and Affirmations help us "reprogram" our behavior by healing the way we think about ourselves. The Releases allow us first to acknowledge the emotional problems under which we labor. They give us a chance to name the sources of pain in our lives and to work through our negative issues so that we can let them go. They take us "inside" our type to touch the pain that lies at the root of our problems, allowing us to overcome resistance, denial, and self-deception. Naturally, by acknowledging the negative aspects of our personality, we do not want to reinforce them in any way. But we do want to "make the unconscious conscious" by shining a light on our hidden conflicts and contradictions.

In the Affirmations for each type, we turn to the positive qualities that need to be affirmed. As we have just seen, when we release negative attitudes, we let go of a damaged and painful part of us from our past that is causing us problems in the present. When we affirm something good about ourselves, we replace those old, negative beliefs with new, positive ones. The saying "Nature abhors a vacuum" is true of the mind as well, for the mind also needs to be filled. Once a negative attitude has been released, we need to replace it with a positive one; otherwise, the negative message will come rushing back.

The Enneagram thus provides us with two "missing pieces" that are essential for our growth. Since different personality types are different, treating all people as if they were alike undermines the benefits that could be obtained by many self-help programs. The Enneagram adds important specificity to our quest for growth. Specificity is necessary because sound advice for one type may not be sound advice for another. Generalizations about how people grow, how they develop good relationships, or how they can be better friends or parents — among a host of things — either fall flat or can be dangerous if differences between personality types are not taken into account. The Enneagram helps us recognize that each personality type is the filter that affects all of our spiritual and psychological growth. Learning to heal one's type — to make that filter more accessible and less distorting — is the first step on any spiritual or personal quest.

The second way the Enneagram can be useful for self-transformation is by taking into account the internal Levels of Development of each type. The Re-leases and Affirmations work by following the Levels "from the bottom up" — beginning with the negative roots of each type's unhappiness and moving upward through the Levels toward health and balance.

The Levels of Development are a measure of our state of being, ranging from extremely unhealthy states to highly integrated and balanced ones. Each of us moves up and down the Levels of our type according to the habits and defenses that have taken root in us. Understanding the Levels is immensely valuable for growth since, more than any other factor, they show us what we will encounter on the way toward either health or neurosis. The Levels of Development mark the milestones on our journey, and to know them is to have a way of measuring where we have come from and where we are going.

As we move through the Levels, our state of being changes as we release what needs to be released and affirm what needs to be affirmed. As the negative changes into the positive and we begin to sense higher possibilities for ourselves, the Affirmations become prayers from the heart in which we finally do find healing.


A Brief Introduction to the Enneagram

Rather than explain how the Enneagram works in detail, let me refer new readers to my other books, Personality Types (1987), Understanding the Enneagram (1990), and Discovering Your Personality Type (1992).

My first book, Personality Types, contains the only systematic descriptions of the types available, including descriptions of the Directions of Integration and Disintegration and the wings for each type. It is recommended for those who want to have an in-depth treatment of this system. My second book, Understanding the Enneagram, contains all-new material and is a brief guide that answers questions about how to apply the Enneagram in your daily life. Discovering Your Personality Type, the shortest of the three, contains a randomized questionnaire ¡the Riso Enneagram Type Indicator or RETI] to help identify your personality type and extensive materials to help you interpret the results.

The following brief discussion is included to introduce the Enneagram to those who are new to this simple, yet ultimately complex, typology. It presents only the ideas that are necessary for you to use the Releases and Affirmations effectively.

Identifying Your Basic Personality Type

Each of us has a primary role that we play in life. Which of the following nine roles fits you best most of the time?

The Riso Enneagram Type Names

A wide range of behaviors and motivations is associated with each of these roles. The following are four key behaviors for each personality type; they are merely highlights and do not represent the full spectrum found in each. See if the type you have tentatively chosen still seems accurate.

The One, the Reformer, is rational, principled, orderly, and self-righteous.

The Two, the Helper, is caring, generous, possessive, and manipulative.

The Three, the Motivator, is adaptable, ambitious, image-oriented, and hostile.

The Four, the Artist, is intuitive, individualistic, self-absorbed, and depressive.

The Five, the Thinker, is perceptive, original, provocative, and eccentric.

The Six, the Loyalist, is engaging, responsible, defensive, and anxious.

The Seven, the Generalist, is enthusiastic, accomplished, excessive, and manic.

The Eight, the Leader, is self-confident, decisive, dominating, and combative.

The Nine, the Peacemaker, is receptive, optimistic, complacent, and disengaged.

Although you may still not be certain of your type after reading these short descriptions, you probably have narrowed down the possibilities to two or three. If the informal Forewords found at the beginning of each set of Transformations and, more important, the Releases and Affirmations themselves hit home, your "diagnosis" of your basic personality type is most likely on the right track. Keep an open mind about this, however, until you have read the full descriptions in my other books, or have taken the diagnostic questionnaire (RETI) in Discovering Your Personality Type.

The Wing

Experience tells us that no one is only one personality type. The Enneagram goes further and makes it clear that everyone is a mixture of his or her basic type and one of the two types adjacent to it on the circumference of the Enneagram. This second type is called the wing.

The basic personality type accounts for many of the motivations and behaviors found in our overall personality, while the wing complements the basic type and adds important, sometimes contradictory, elements to it. The wing is our "second side," and must be taken into consideration to understand ourselves and others more insightfully. For example, a Nine will have either a One-wing or an Eight-wing, and can best be understood by considering the traits of the Nine uniquely blended with the traits of either the One or the Eight.

Strictly speaking, everyone's personality has elements from all nine types. This means that the type on the other side of your basic type also plays some part in your overall makeup. However, close observation and testing with the Riso Enneagram Type Indicator reveals that everyone has a dominant wing. While the "second wing" remains operative to some lesser degree, the dominant wing is more important. For example, Twos with Three-wings are noticeably different from Twos with One-wings, and while Twos with Three-wings possess elements of type One, the Three-wing is more important and is dominant. It is more succinct to refer simply to a type's "wing" rather than its "dominant wing," since the two terms represent the same concept.

Directions of Integration and Disintegration

The nine personality types of the Enneagram are not static categories: they are open-ended and reflect our psychological growth and deterioration. The numbers on the Enneagram are connected in a sequence that denotes each personality type's Direction of Integration (health, self-actualization) and Direction of Disintegration (unhealth, neurosis). In other words, as individuals of each type become healthy or unhealthy, they change in different ways, as indicated and predicted by the lines of the Enneagram connected to their basic type.

The Direction of Disintegration for each type is indicated by the sequence of numbers 1–4–2–8–5–7–1. This means that if an unhealthy One deteriorates further, it will be to Four; an unhealthy Four will deteriorate to Two, an unhealthy Two will deteriorate to Eight, an unhealthy Eight to Five, an unhealthy Five to Seven, and an unhealthy Seven to One. (An easy way to remember the sequence is to realize that 1–4, or 14, doubles to 28, and that doubles to 57 — or almost so. Thus, 1–4–2–8–5–7 — the sequence returns to 1 and begins again.)

Likewise, on the equilateral triangle, the sequence is 9–6–3–9: an unhealthy Nine will deteriorate to Six, an unhealthy Six will deteriorate to Three, and an unhealthy Three will deteriorate to Nine. (You can remember this sequence if you think of the numerical values diminishing as the types become more unhealthy. For a longer explanation and examples, see Personality Types, 38–39.) You can see how this works by following the direction of the arrows on the following Enneagram.

The following brief descriptions will give you an idea of what happens to each type as it moves in its Direction of Disintegration. For more, see the full descriptions in Personality Types.

Unhealthy Ones become disillusioned with their ideals, finding that they can no longer hope to attain perfection; when they move toward Four, they become depressed and self-destructive.

Unhealthy Fours despair of ever actualizing themselves and their dreams in life; when they move toward Two, they can no longer function and become coercively dependent on others to take care of them.

Unhealthy Twos are highly resentful of the ungrateful treatment they feel they have gotten from others; when they move toward Eight, they strike out at those who have not responded to them in the way they have wanted.

Unhealthy Eights have dominated their environment so completely that they have made enemies of everyone around them; when they go toward Five, they become paranoid about their continued dominance, and possibly even their survival.

Unhealthy Fives have become isolated and incapable of acting effectively in their environment; when they go toward Seven, they begin to act impulsively and unpredictably.

Unhealthy Sevens have become manic and anxiously out of control of their thoughts and their actions; when they go toward One, they impose an arbitrary order in their life, becoming obsessive and compulsive.

Unhealthy Nines have become so dissociated and helpless that they can no longer function; when they go toward Six, they become abjectly self-defeating so that others will have to take care of them.

Unhealthy Sixes have become self-defeating and feel extremely inferior; when they go toward Three, they violently strike out at others both to overcome their inferiority feelings, and to hurt anyone who has hurt them.

Unhealthy Threes have become so consumed by their hostile feelings that they can no longer function in their environment; when they go toward Nine, they dissociate themselves from all of their feelings and shut down completely.


Excerpted from "Enneagram Transformations"
by .
Copyright © 1993 Don Richard Riso.
Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Table of Contents,
Transformation and the Enneagram,
A Brief Introduction to the Enneagram,
Using the Transformations,
General Affirmations,
The Enneagram ana Healing,
About Don Richard Riso's Books,
About the Author,

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Enneagram Transformations 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SusieF More than 1 year ago
A quick resource for all numbers to refer to when a need to understand my own behavior and that of others