We describe the foundations of the Enneagram, and its nine personality types or enneatypes to assess its use in people’s development and coaching. We found that the identification of our enneatype based on the Enneagram is quite confusing. From what we have learned, we propose a way to find out in a simple way the type of personality according to the Enneagram.
The Enneagram, the model of the nine personality types or enneatypes, is widely used in people’s development. That’s the reason why we have decided to include it in this series of articles on coaching tools. As in other cases, we will seek to understand its foundations and assess its suitability to be used in coaching and people’s development.
One of the purposes of the Enneagram is to increase awareness about oneself and from there to promote the development. The same thing we look for in NeuroQuotient, but with a fundamental difference. In NeuroQuotient® we do not deal with personality, only with behaviour and with its cerebral foundations (neuro-behaviours).
Our approach to the Ennegrama, to simplify it within the framework of a post, has been quite difficult. Much more than when we deal with the DISC or MBTI or Insights Discovery models. This is because the Enneagram does not have a simple structure that supports it and facilitates the identification of the nine personality types.
The tools we discussed in the previous posts have simple models that support them. The William M. Marston’s model concerning the DISC. In the MBTI the theory of Carl Jung adapted by the Myers-Briggs ladies. And in the Insights Discovery, also the psychological functions of Carl Jung’s consciousness adapted by the Lothian lords.
In the case of the Enneagram, it is much more uncomfortable to answer the question
With which of the nine personality types of the Enneagram do each person feels identified?
So that we can learn the fundamentals about the Enneagram, we will focus on two great experts: Richard Riso and David Daniels. From his works:
We have chosen them, because both Riso-Hudson and Daniels-Price, seek to facilitate the identification of the enneatype, the type of personality in the Enneagram. We believe that in a simpler way Riso-Hudson especially with its questionnaire TRIE (Rapid Test of Identification in the Enneagram).
Anyway, to solve the difficulty of identifying our personality type according to the enneagram, we’ll make a proposal of an alternative system. We’ll see it later.
Origin of the Enneagram. The model of the nine personality types or enneatypes.
Riso and Hudson tell us that we must distinguish the Enneagram symbol from the nine personality types.
The symbol is part of the traditions that gave rise to the Judaism, Christianity and Islam religions. This symbol is made up of three parts: the circle, the triangle and the hexagram.
The introducer of the symbol in the modern world was George Ivanovich Gurdjief (1875). Along with his friends sought to learn as much as possible of the ancient traditions. They
named themselves ‘Seekers After Truth’ (S.A.T.).
In the seventies, Naranjo worked with panels of people to consolidate the characteristics of each type. Defining the traits of each of the nine personality types. This Naranjo work cleansed the Enneagram from most of the esotericism that it could initially reflect.
Claudio Naranjo created and develops the program S.A.T. whose purpose is to carry out a psycho-spiritual task that embraces both the therapeutic and the contemplative aspects. In the therapeutic aspect, it is based on a deep investigation of infant conditioning through the Psychology of the Enneatypes. He retained the name of (S.A.T., Seekers After Truth).
The number of each personality type in the Enneagram symbol and some structure from the ‘triads or centres’.
To be faithful to our purpose, of making the complex affordable, we will start by placing the 9 numbers of the enneatypes on the enneagram symbol. (Fig 2)
On the triangle is located the 9 at the top vertex and the 3 and the 6 at the base. The 3 on the right and the 6 on the left. The rest of the numbers of the other of nine personality types are placed on the hexagram. Starting with the 1 on the right of the 9 and continuing in the direction of the clockwise. The 9 personality types of the Enneagram are correlated from the 1 to the 9 on the circle.
Types 9, 3 and 6 are in the middle of what are called ‘triads or centers’ (Fig 3.). Each ‘triad’ encompasses the personality type anterior and posterior.
The first step to development, remember, is the awareness. In this path ‘the triads or centers’ play an important role. They are based on the three centers of the human psyche: instinct, feeling and thought. They focus, respectively, on doing, feeling and thinking. It is worth remembering that in NeuroQuotient, when we talk about neuro-behaviours, we are referring to doing, thinking and feeling, like a whole, and their cerebral foundations.
A triad indicate a main unmet need. Let’s see a summary in Tables I.1, I.2, I.3 of each of them and the personality types of the Enneagram that constitute it.
|Triad Description||Characteristics of the enneatype|
|8||Limit out. Against the environment. ‘Nobody will dominate me’|
|They try to influence the world without being influenced by it. They resist the influence of reality. They establish a limit – their physical body – between what they consider ‘the self’ and ‘not the self’.||Limits outwards and inwards.|
|1||Limits outwards and inwards.|
|Triad Description||Characteristics of the enneatype|
|2||Image towards others. Pleasing others to be appreciated by them. ‘I’m worth because they love me’|
|The Feeling Center||3||Identity / Attention||Interested in the development of their image. They compensate for the lack of identification with their source of identity (the heart / feeling) by creating a false identity and being identified with it.||mage in and out. They develop an image and try to be like it. ‘I know I’m worth it because I achieve things’|
|4||Image presented inwards. Based on fantasies and stories from the past. I want to be different. ‘I worth it because I am unique and different from the others’|
|Triad Description||Characteristics of the enneatype|
|5||He retires from life (The only safe place is the mind) until he masters some skill that allows him to feel safe to come out of hiding.|
|The Thought Center||6||Anxiety|
|They look for a sense of inner guidance. They can not calm their minds. They try to generate strategies to face the uncertainty of the future.||Attention directed inwards and outwards. He throws himself into external activity and then fears making mistakes or feels overwhelmed by self-imposed demands|
|7||They face life. They seem to be afraid of nothing, but they have fear of his inner world. They have their mind occupied so that his buried anxieties do not surface.|
The personal development with the enneagram is very deep. Once we have identified our enneatype, the possibilities of self-awareness that we can acquire is very valuable. However, the first step, determining our personality type in the Enneagram is complicated. This is due to the lack of a simple basic structure.
Looking for a simple way to locate our personality type in The Enneagram.
But, in this blog we are looking for more the practicality than the transcendence and we have tried to simplify this selection. We believe that it is possible to do it from the DISC model and the so-called Social Styles or Hornevian groups of the nine personality types of The Enneagram.
At the end of the post we will find a brief description of each of the nine personality types of the Enneagram. But before, we are going to make a proposal of structure. From there we can select our approximate type and in the final descriptions we will see if it fits more or less to us.
We can remember that the DISC model is structured in a 2 × 2 table. The 2 × 2 = 4 DISC personality types according to the Marston’s model are defined based on two dimensions. 1. Perception of oneself as superior or inferior to the environment (motor self) and perception of the environment as unfavorable or favorable (motor stimulus).
What would happen if we used these same two dimensions to situate the nine personality types of the Enneagram? Actually, the enneatypes can be placed in a 3 × 3 table. Only an intermediate value, neither high nor low, would be necessary in each of the two DISC variables.
After looking in depth at each of the nine personality types of the Enneagram, it seems quite accurate that those that correspond to DISC are D = 8; I = 7; S = 2; C = 1 (Figure 4 left).
But, in the intermediate cross to have a 3 × 3 table which enatypes can we place? (Figure 4 right)
We believe that the solution is in the Social Styles or the Hornevian groups.
The Social styles or The Hornevian groups
The Hornevian groups indicate the social style of each personality type, and the way in which each one satisfies their primary needs that the triads indicate.
The Hornevian groups are named after Karen Horney. Horney was a psychiatrist who, starting with Freud, identified the three ways that people use to try to resolve their internal conflicts. These Hornevian groups also indicate the social style of each type.
There are three styles: aggressive, withdrawn and compliant.
The aggressives, according to Horney, ‘go against’. Faced with difficulties, they do not back out or seek protection from other people. Does this sound like someone who feels superior to the environment, right?
The group of aggressives include types 8, 7 (we had already placed them in the row above), and 3. The 3, in the upper vertex of the red isosceles triangle (see Figure 4). So, type 3 will surely be the one that will fit in the middle frame between 8 and 7.
The group of the ‘compliants‘, according to Horney, share the need to be useful to other people. Faced with difficulties, they ask themselves what the right thing is. How can I meet the expectations of others? How to be responsible?
Thinking more about the expectations of others than their own, it is very likely that with these guys feel inferior to the environment, right?
The group of compliants includes types 1 and 2 (we had already placed them in the bottom row) and 6. The 6 in the upper vertex of the blue isosceles triangle (see figure 5). The 6 we can put between 1 and 2.
A triad indicate a main unmet need. Let’s see a summary in Table I of each of them and the personality types of the Enneagram that constitute it.
Finally, we have the group of the ‘withdrawns’. According to Horney, they react to stress by withdrawing from their participation in the world, entering an interior space. Seeing the isosceles triangle that we have left (green) with the 9 in the upper vertex, we can think that the 9 will fit in the center of the middle row. Taking into account also what Riso and Hudson tell us, that the 4 want to be different from the others and in social situations they are far away, we can think that 4 will fit better to the left.
We would then have the Table of Figure 6.
Then, how can we identify our approximate personality type in the Enneagram, from the Social styles and the DISC model?
From here, from the 3 × 3 structure that we have proposed, we could try identifying our personality type in the Enneagram, asking the following questions.
1. In the face of difficulties and stress?
- I face them face-to-face, by myself, without seeking the support of others (row above)
• I try to do things well, without mistakes, and looking for the support of others (row below)
• Intermediate response. It depends on the situation (middle row).2. How do I perceive the environment?
- Like a threat. I can not easily trust others (left column)
• As something favorable. I trust easily others (right column)
• Intermediate response. Depends on the situation. I trust, but not always. I do not trust, although sometimes I do (middle column).
In which box of Figure 6 do your answers cross? This would be your approximate personality type in the Enneagram.
Description of the nine personality types. Do you feel identified with it?
We will briefly describe each of the nine personality types according to the Enneagram. In this way you will be able to verify if for you the quick system of identification of the enneatypes that we have devised works. Then if you want, you will be able to learn and deepen more in the Enneagram and in your development from the bibliography that we mentioned at the beginning.
So far, we have named each type of personality in the enneagram simply with a number. This is how experts recommend it. We totally agree with that. As soon as we give it a name we stop learning, because we interpret it according to the meaning that this name previously had for us.
But anyway, we will name the nine personality types according to Riso and Daniels Table 2. And in Table 3, we will put a brief description, also starting from both authors. From the outset, we can see that neither name nor description exactly match! This is another disadvantage of not starting from a simple basic structure.
It is also worth noting that all descriptions include strengths and opportunities for improvement. This is because the nine personality types in the Enneagram can be at different levels of development. We have been saying that one of the problems of personality models based on types is that they tend to pigeonhole and hinder transversal development. At least, the Enneagram clearly raises the development within each of the types.
|1||The Reformer||The perfeccionist|
|2||The Helper||The Giver|
|3||The Achiever||The Performer|
|4||The Individualist||The Romantic|
|5||The Investigator||The Observer|
|6||The loyalist||The Loyal Skeptic|
|7||The Enthusiast||The Epicure|
|8||The Challenger||The Protector|
|9||The Peacemaker||The Mediator|
|1||The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic||Honest, responsible, conscientious, hard-working, dependable, practical, self-reliant. Resentful, rigid, judgmental, non-adaptable, overly critical.|
|2||The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive||Caring, helpful, relationship-oriented, generous, sensitive to others’ feelings, supportive and exuberant.Prideful, dependent on approval of others, intrusive, demanding, privileged.|
|3||The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious||Enthusiastic, action-oriented, problem-solving, successful, efficient, practical and competent. Image-driven, over-worked, impatient, competitive, out of touch with feelings.|
|4||The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental||Creative, empathetic, idealistic, capable of emotional depth, compassion.Moody, withdrawn, self-absorbed, over-sensitive, demanding, unsatisfied with what is.|
|5||The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated||Scholarly, perceptive, thoughtful, self-reliant, dependable, respectful, calm in crisis.Detached, isolated, overly intellectual, withholding, hoarding.|
|6||The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious||Perceptive, sensitive, loyal, warm, witty, courageous and strategic thinking.Anxious, hyper-vigilant, pessimistic, contrary, over-active imagination.|
|7||The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered||Adventurous, playful, imaginative, energetic, optimistic, quick-thinking.Self-absorbed, dispersed, uncommitted, impatient, unrealistic.|
|8||The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational||Courageous, strong, fair, truthful, determined, generous, protective of others.Excessive, angry, dominating, lustful, afraid of vulnerability.|
|9||The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent||Excellent mediators, caring, supportive, adaptive, steady, receptive, non-judgmental.Stubborn, ambivalent, self-forgetful, indecisive, conflict-avoidant.|