The word Enneagram derives from the Greek words ennea (“nine”) and gram (“something written or drawn”) and refers to this nine-pointed figure inscribed in a circle. The enneagram symbol conveys a great deal of knowledge about the nature of change, both in the human psyche and other natural systems.
The Enneagram system of personality types situated around the enneagram symbol offers profound insights into the way people think, feel, and behave. It lays out nine distinct personality types and the patterns and habits that characterize them. Its great power lies in the accuracy and depth of the personality descriptions and the transformational path it offers those who wish to grow to reach their fullest potential.
The Enneagram describes three centers of human intelligence — the head, heart, and body — nine interconnected personality types, and 27 subtypes — three versions of each of the nine types, based on whether a person has a predominant drive toward Self-Preservation, Social interaction in groups, or One-to-One bonding. I’m describe Claudio Naranjo’s most recent articulation of the subtypes in detail in my book, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge. I believe these subtype descriptions offer an even more nuanced view of the possible manifestations of the human personality, shedding light on our most automatic functioning so we can become more self- aware.
We humans are all limited to the extent that we are trapped in invisible automatic patterns that we don’t see. We all take on specific coping strategies early in life to get along with others and get what we need, and these early strategies for dealing with the world around us become fixed and rigid patterns that can be hard to change because they are old, familiar, and comfortable. By illuminating the habitual patterns that constrain us (that we often don’t see because they are unconscious), the Enneagram provides a map for becoming freer of compulsive habit, more conscious in the choices we make, and more capable of a wider range of coping strategies in daily life.
In short, it helps us wake up to our unconscious (and thus automatic and invisible) repetitive patterns that direct our beliefs, our emotions, and our behavior so that we can live life more fully and have a more satisfying experience of everything.
Stay tuned to this space for new Enneagram resources to be added soon!
New Global Enneagram Learning Community: Click on the link on the right to access MundoEneagrama.com, a new Global Enneagram Learning Platform and Community. I'm excited to be a part of this new venture launched by my friend and colleague, Brazilian Enneagram teacher, Uranio Paes.
Also...stay tuned for many more Enneagram resources to be added here soon, including "How the Different Enneagram Types Get Along at Work," information about "Wings" and "Arrow-Line Connected Points," and other topics of interest to Enneagram students.
Three Centers and Nine Personality Types and 27 sub-types: What they are and how they aid in self-development
The nine points on the Enneagram represent nine distinct personality types – nine distinct worldviews or ways of paying attention associated with different patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
The Enneagram model suggests that each individual views 360 degrees of reality through a narrow slice of perception based on early coping strategies that were used to adapt to the environment in childhood. These coping strategies grow into patterns of perceiving the world and shape what we pay attention to and what we don’t pay attention to.
These adaptive strategies help us to survive and thrive in childhood, but after we reach adulthood, they can represent overused strengths and an overly narrow set of habits through which we interact with the world.
Studying your personality as defined by the Enneagram map can help you to see more clearly what you tend to think, feel, and do habitually and automatically. By becoming more aware of your unconscious habits, you can expand your capacity to interact with the world in more effective ways, and direct your behavior more from conscious choice rather than unconscious habit.
Each of the nine types comes in three versions according to which of three basic animal instincts is dominant, the self-preservation instinct, the Social instinct (for getting along with others in the social group), or the One-to-One (or Sexual) instinct (oriented to bonding with one other person).
These 27 sub-characters highlight distinct differences among people of one (of the nine) type. They are more specific and more nuanced personality types than the nine categories. I have been studying these subtypes a lot lately and it’s getting so it’s hard for me to even talk about just nine types, especially because for some of the nine types, these three versions can be quite different from one another — like with Fours and Sixes.
Please stay tuned to this web site for more information about the unique character of the 27 types in my book, my blog, and upcoming workshops.