Archive for the 'Enneagram' Category


enneagram types 5, 6, 7

Here is the remaining fear types, 5, 6, and 7* wrap-up:

5 – The Observer. Withdrawn into a cerebral world of abstraction and fascinating ideas. Fives are nutty professors and ivory-tower idealists. Also know as “Thinkers,” they are detached from love and intense emotion. Intruded upon as children, Fives withdrew to protect their private space, and learned to watch invasive behavior without emotion. They seldom intuit well on the level of feeling: they are inclined toward intuitive training that emphasized detachment, mental focusing, and inner observation. However, with their talent for ignoring distractions and concentrating their mental energies, Fives can give the world everything from hare-brained conspiracy theories to insights like E=mc2.

6 – The Trooper. Afraid to believe and then be betrayed, Sixes are keenly attuned to potential threats. Having lived in fear as children, Sixes learned to scan their environment for possible sources of harm. Their hot-and-cold emotional reactions reflect an inner vacillation between loyalty and distrust, especially of authority. They respond by either finding a trusted protector or by fighting the system. Sixes set high goals but often fail to complete projects. They may procrastinate, fearing that the risks of taking action will outweigh the possible rewards. Because habitual vigilance influences their intuitive style. Sixes can be expert at detecting hidden intentions of  of others behind social masks. Their task is to separate anxiety-based projections from accurate intuitive perception.

7- The Epicure. Experts at having a good time, Sevens believe that love and work should be an adventure. They like to plan and carry out an extraordinary range of activities, often with the hidden purpose of avoiding negative feelings. As children, Sevens diffused fear by escaping into imagination, planning and play, and by disarming threatening people with charm. Optimists, they are intent on keeping all their options open, and have trouble focusing or committing to a single course of action. At their worst, they are selfish and unfocused. At their best, Sevens’ mastery of a wide range of skills and interests produces a state of mind that helps them recognize the “fit” of seemingly unrelated fields of information.

I hope you have found these posts on the Enneagram interesting and informative.

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*These type vignettes are excerpted from an interview with Helen Palmer,  Intuitive Styles of the Enneagram,  by D. Patrick Miller, Intuition Magazine, (date uncertain).


enneagram types 2, 3, 4

Continuing on with the Enneagram emotion group of 2, 3 and 4*:

2 – The Giver. Focused on providing care and receiving close, personal feedback, Twos find their sense of identity almost entirely in relationships. Having earned love as children by meeting others’ needs, Twos have learned how to sense the wishes of those around them. They may be tempted to use this ability to manipulate people and enhance their sense of power, but by adapting themselves to suit others’ needs, they also risk losing a sense of themselves. The challenge for Twos is to discriminate between “giving in order to get” and genuine intuitive attunement to other people’s unspoken moods and preferences.

3 – The Performer. Optimistic, upbeat, and ambitious. Threes drive the engines of enterprise and success. But they typically must struggle to let go of their falsely inflated self-images and dreams, and accept their real, limited selves. Prized for their achievements as children, they learned to suppress emotion and focus on gaining status. They also learned to “read” their audience and can adjust their performance, sometimes unconsciously, to match the needs of different groups. Masters at fulfilling social expectations, Threes are the chameleons of the Enneagram. At their best, they can intuitively register the untapped strengths of a group or team, and sense the best moment to engineer a collective success.

4 – The Romantic. Typically withdrawn, reflective, and intensely emotional, Fours long for unattainable love. They have a highly developed aesthetic sense and have explored all the nooks and crannies of their inner lives. Having felt abandoned as children, Fours unconsciously focus their attention on the finer points of what is missing; by comparison, what is available seems to lack appeal. To avoid feeling left behind, young Fours learned to “be with” an absent loved one by internally sensing that person’s moods and feelings. As a result, they can often intuit others’ suffering and respond with empathy or sensitive artistic expression. Resonating with the emotions of others can also leave them feeling “flooded” or taken over as they unconsciously carry other people’s depression and pain. Their intuitive task is to distinguish between accurate empathy and emotional projection.

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Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion with fear group, 5, 6 and 7. Thank you for your interest in the Enneagram.

*These type vignettes are excerpted from an interview with Helen Palmer,  Intuitive Styles of the Enneagram,  by D. Patrick Miller, Intuition Magazine, (date uncertain).


enneagram types 8, 9, 1

Continuing on from You and Me and the Enneagram, brief descriptive vignettes of each of the 9 types  follow*. We will start at the top with the anger group of 8, 9 and 1. Recall, that the purpose of this system is not to get a leg up on friends and neighbors, but to have a more comprehensive understanding of one’s own shadow side, as Carl Jung would put it—the part that causes us trouble—the part we sometimes think is admirable, but in God’s eyes… not always the case. Maybe it’s just a lot of blankets piled on ourselves in which to hide our true, essential selves,  as Jesus put it: “… except you become as little children…” Essential selves, just how we were born and made in the image…that’s what we want to uncover and nurture.

To have a working understanding of this system, please consult any of the many books and teachers on the subject (Richard Rohr, Don Richard Riso, Helen Palmer, Claudio Naranjo, Jerome Wagner to name a few), or attend a lecture or workshop.

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8 – The Boss. Gravitating to positions of authority and control, Eights set the rules in love and business life. But behind their habitual bluster and aggressive manner lies a core of kindness, expressed as a strong desire to protect loved ones and stand up for justice. Eights describe a combative childhood in which respect was earned through strength, and they had to grow up young. Uncomfortable dealing with feelings, they tend to deny empathy. Instead, Eights are often strong physical intuitives, literally moving into conflict with a powerful presence that extends beyond their bodies. Many also have a body-based recognition of the qualities of power in the people around them. used wisely, their take-charge stance can be a powerful source of support to others.

9 – The Mediator. Pleasant, ambivalent, and often slothful, Nines are said to merge with the feelings and concerns of those around them. They began doing this as “overlooked” children whose own needs, feelings, and points of view were ignored. Unseen, Nines lost track of their own identities and distracted themselves with creature comforts. The learned to maintain connection by mirroring others’ lives as a way of telling them, “We are the same.” This identification can be so complete that they find themselves “becoming” the other person. picking up that person’s mannerisms, energy, and opinions. Nines can be strong body-based intuitives, but they need to resist the temptation to “zone out” and become absorbed in the energy fields of those around them, or mesmerized by TV. They can make constructive use of their merged states if the learn to recognize the difference between their own impulses and signals  that come fom others.

1 – The Perfectionist. Oriented toward correctness and “doing the right thing,” Ones live in judgment of themselves and others. They yearn for those moments of perfection, when everything fall into place “just so,” especially if these moments come as a result of their own hard work. As good little boys and girls who earned love by never making a mistake, Ones learned to sense when events ere on track toward perfection. As a result, many have become classic picture-straighteners who can’t rest until even the slightest flaws are corrected The good news is that they can refine ideas and products to a degree that others might not imagine possible. Ones intuitively recognize the orderly flow of perfectly balanced effort, because their bodies relax and “feel right” in the pleasure of a job well done.

*These type vignettes are excerpted from an interview with Helen Palmer,  Intuitive Styles of the Enneagram,  by D. Patrick Miller, Intuition Magazine, (date uncertain).


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.

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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.


half full / half empty

Today is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.*  The sun has returned and no rain in sight…I think. Of course, I am a city girl and don’t really know one cloud from another, but it sounds good to say it…uplifting…positive after the gloom.

Have all the troubles and cares resolved themselves? No, but the sunshine really does help to think more creatively about them. All my life I’ve had people passing judgment on me for one thing and another, especially for the way I am wired and how my brain functions. Have heard enough about pessimism vs. optimism and want to say clearly that according to contemporary scientific research there is a good reason for people being at either end of that spectrum—or if they are lucky—in the middle of it (that is where I try to reside). My partner is reading a book called, “Fingerprints of God, The Search for the Science of Spirituality,” by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. In the pages of this book are  interesting accounts of cellular and genetic brain wave reasons for people (like me) being difficult, i.e., unlike most—or as my partner would say: “A handful!”

Although I try to balance in the middle of full and empty, I am basically a glass half empty person. My sensory perceptions are tuned way up high most of the time. I resonate with people who have neurological disabilities. I don’t try to be pessimistic, it’s the fall-back state that takes over after enough blows to my person overtake my fragile equilibrium. So what does one do when perceptions flood the senses? In terms of people and place, this is pretty much how I have always been: flooded with perception and sensate knowing. The thing is that where people are concerned, I am more often on target (or close to target) than not, so it is difficult to let go of what others may term merely a hunch, but for me is a lead to understanding.

I am 70 years old and have been tuning in to behavior and motivation (mine and that of others) since I was 12. That’s a long time.  I was once headed for clinical social work, i.e. to be a therapist. Church discipline got in the way of completing that  course of study. I believe I am gifted of God in this area and would have made a very good therapist, but I also have a streak of impatience and don’t know how long I could have hung in with clients who need coaxing and cajoling to do the work of seeing, accepting and working with their shadow selves. People don’t like change, especially when it comes to their own personal sacred cows—myself included. What I think, has given me a handy edge on this is my use and knowledge of the Enneagram—a personality typing tool whose sole purpose is to bring awareness of the shadow defenses in ourselves that get in the way of becoming all that God intends for us to be.

Raven 1x1.5 Well…as my luck would have it (half-empty, right?) while I’ve been waxing eloquently here about shadows, gifts and sacred cows, the sun has once more disappeared and dark gray gloom descends upon my backyard, surrounding my lovely windowed studio, and crying: “Nevermore, Nevermore.” Looks like I will have to be extra creative today to stay ahead of Mr. Gloomy day. It’s just too bad chocolate upsets my stomach!

*(Psa 118:24)

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June 2020

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