13
Aug
09

you and me and the enneagram

When once again I brought the Enneagram into a conversation recently with my dear friend OM (as I am wont to do every now and again), I received a straightforward reply: “Despite that being the second most popular post on my blog, I still don’t really know anything about the enneagram. You’ll just have to tell me about myself.” Thank you dear friend for pushing that button. It is time for me to present this system that has been a major component of my intuitive knowing for many years.

The Enneagram is an ancient (Sufi) system of human development based on 9 personality types. Because the types are defined by a particular emotional passion, each one has its own fixation of attention or habitual internal bias. My study of this system began sometime in the 1980’s with Helen Palmer, one of the pioneering teachers of this intuitive system for understanding one self and others.

For the most part, psychology and spirituality are merged together for the purpose of identifying one’s particular style, thoughts and feelings associated with that style—one’s worldview, if you will. Once identified and acknowledged, movement in the direction of good health—emotionally, physically and spiritually can occur. The Enneagram is currently being taught in seminaries of various theological affiliations across the country, as well as through independent schools of spiritual formation.

Enneagram Circle_Colors 2x2

The system arranges itself in a circle with 9 universal traits that are found in each person: goodness, helpfulness, efficiency, uniqueness, wisdom, loyalty, joy, strength, and peace or in other terms: perfection, compassion, energy to succeed, beauty, quiet withdrawal, faithfulness, happiness, power and stability. The 9 are divided into 3 basic groups  containing a common predominant feature, e.g., the anger group is composed of 8-9-1; the emotion group is composed of 2-3-4; the fear group is composed of 5-6-7. Within this, there is a central, prototypical triad of 9-3-6 that touches into each of the three sections, as in the diagram to the left. Of course, anger, fear and emotion are felt by everyone, but are a predominant energy in these groups. In other words, these are baseline energies and can be thought of as lenses through which experience passes and out of which we greet the world.

Each of the nine has two sides, called “wings,” that lend aspects of their particularity to the center point. In other words, a person whose basic traits fall in 3 will have aspects of 2 and 4.

Enneagram Arrows 2x2Another interesting point to this system is that each of the nine will have a direction of integration and disintegration. When relaxed, the positive traits of the personality type the arrow points toward will be taken on, while under stress, the negative traits of the type whose arrow points away will be taken on.

Here are the 9 types in a nutshell:
1 – Perfectionist        2 – Giver                   3 – Performer           4 – Romantic
5 – Observer               6 – Loyal Skeptic     7 – Epicure               8 – Protector              9 – Mediator

The Enneagram is not an analytical system and cannot be compared to the Myers-Briggs typology system. It is my understanding that the basis of the 9 types are developed in the fetal brain and not purely a function of nurture. In other words: we are hard-wired  genetically toward our basic disposition.

I will give a very brief sketch of each of the 9 in coming blog posts, but this might be enough for now. Please remember that the purpose of this system is not to pigeon-hole your neighbor but to understand him/her and to grow and learn. For Christ followers, it is a tool for becoming acquainted with our shadow sides, so that light may dawn and faith deepen. The system is basically oral/narrative and has many proponents and approaches. Mine is based in Helen Palmer’s intuitive teaching.

More next time.

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2 Responses to “you and me and the enneagram”


  1. 1 clarkscottroger
    August 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I admire your ability to explain something (or begin to explain), using a conversational style of writing. My own blog is similar but different and while I thought it was going to be fun I had not counted on needing (quite as much) in the way of writing skills. I will enjoy following this blog and hopefully learn something of blog-writing as well as alternative personality types.

  2. 2 Naomi
    August 21, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Glad my blogging does you some good. I love hearing from readers. Every blog is different and reflects the author/creator of it.


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