The Enneagram is a powerful and dynamic personality system that describes nine distinct and fundamentally different patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. The word “ennea” is Greek for nine and “gram” means model or figure. Hence, the Enneagram is a diagram with nine points representing the nine character patterns. Each of these nine patterns is based on a particular perceptual filters that determine our worldview. Each of the nine patterns has a belief about what you need in life for survival and satisfaction.
The Enneagram is our oldest typology system. It is thought to have originated in the ancient brotherhood of Sufi sects, and was brought to the West by the Armenian philosopher George I. Gurdjief early last century. It is based on the joining of two numerical progressions, the Law of the Triad and the Law of the Octave. Since that time there has been much development of the system into the most comprehensive character typology.
The Enneagram is the most sophisticated typological tool in psychology, as it describes character structure based on inherent qualities and core motivation rather than simply behaviour.
Why learn the Enneagram?
The purpose of learning one’s egoic structure is not to become a better ego, but to wake up to one’s true nature and stop all false identification and a life of ‘efforting’. We must however get a firm grip on something before we can really let it go. The Enneagram reveals the nine variations of the basic beliefs which limits us and keeps us separate from our world and from our spiritual essence. Once these patterns of subconscious identification are brought to light, they can be discarded in the search for the true Self. As you determine your type you will discover how you’ve created your world and that which veils your essential nature.
The Nine Types
The Enthusiast – believes you must keep life up and open to assure a good life. Consequently, Enthusiasts are optimistic, upbeat, possibility- and pleasure-seeking, and adventurous, but also can be pain-avoidant, uncommitted, and self-serving.
The Questioner – believes you must gain protection and security in a hazardous world you just can’t trust. Consequently, Questioners are themselves trustworthy, inquisitive, good friends, and questioning, but also can be overly doubtful, accusatory, and fearful.
The Observer – believes you must protect yourself from a world that demands too much and gives too little to assure life. Consequently, Observers are self-sufficiency seeking, non-demanding, analytic/thoughtful, and unobtrusive, but also can be withholding, detached, and overly private
The Creative – believes you must obtain the longed for ideal relationship or situation to be loved. Consequently, Creatives are idealistic, deeply feeling, empathetic, authentic to self, but also dramatic, moody, and sometimes self-absorbed.
The Performer – believes you must accomplish and succeed to be loved. Consequently, Performers are industrious, fast-paced, goal focused, and efficiency- oriented, but also can be inattentive to feelings, impatient, and image-driven.
The Helper – believes you must give fully to others to be loved. Consequently, Helpers are caring, helpful, supportive, and relationship-oriented, but also can be prideful, overly intrusive, and demanding
The Perfectionist – believes you must be good and right to be worthy. Consequently, Perfectionists are conscientious, responsible, improvement-oriented, and self-controlled, but also can be critical, resentful, and self-judging.
The Harmoniser – believes that to be loved and valued you must blend in and go along to get along. Consequently, Harmonisers are self-forgetting, harmony-seeking, comfortable, and steady, but also conflict avoidant and sometimes stubborn.
The Protector – believes you must be strong and powerful to assure protection and regard in a tough world. Consequently, Protectors are justice-seeking, direct, strong, and action-oriented, but also overly impactful, excessive, and sometimes impulsive.
The Instinctual Subtypes
This Introduction has been written for EnneagramHQ by Beatrice Chestnut, Phd.
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 instinctual drive toward Self-Preservation, Social interaction in groups, or One-to-One bonding.
These 27 “sub-type” descriptions offer an even more nuanced view of the personality types than the nine types alone, shedding light on our most unconscious level of functioning so we can become more self-aware.
Claudio Naranjo’s most recent descriptions of these 27 subtypes provide valuable information that can assist with the often difficult task of locating a person’s correct type. The content of the 27 subtypes also highlights the reasons why two people of the same type can look very different and clarifies the impact of the operation of biological goals that drive our behavior.
Each of the 27 “subtypes” reflects a character type shaped by a mixture of the passion of the type and one of three powerful biological instinctual energies. When these two forces within the psyche come together, they create an even more specific focus of attention, reflecting a particular insatiable need that drives behavior.
The passions of the nine types are central emotional-motivational factors within the personality that often operate at an unconscious level and greatly influence personality structure and activity. They are: anger, pride, deceit, envy, avarice, fear, gluttony, lust, and sloth.
The three instincts refer to the three most central instinctual drives in humans (and all animals) for self-preservation, social interaction, and one- to-one bonding.
According to this theory, while all three key instincts operate in all of us, in each individual, one of these three drives, or fundamental instinctual goals of human behavior, dominates. In most people, there is usually another one that is secondary and a third that is much less operative.
When the dominant instinct is put in service of the “passion,” it results in a distinct and more nuanced character, a sub-type (one of 27) of the main personality type (one of nine).
Instinctual Subtype – Self Preservation
The Self-Preservation instinct focuses attention on and shapes behaviour around issues related to survival and material security in terms of whatever that means for a person of a specific type. This powerful biological drive directs energy toward safety and security concerns, including having enough resources, avoiding danger, and maintaining a basic sense of structure and well-being in the world.
Instinctual Subtype – Sexual / One to One
The Sexual / One to One instinct focuses attention on and shapes behaviour around issues related to the quality and status of relationships with specific individuals in terms of whatever that might mean for a person of a specific type. This powerful biological drive directs energy toward the achievement and maintenance of relationships with important others, including sexual connection, interpersonal attraction and bonding, and finding a sense of well-being through forming one-to-one connections with people in one's life.
Instinctual Subtype – Social
The Social instinct focuses attention on and shapes behaviour around issues related to belonging, recognition, and relationships in social groups in terms of whatever that might mean for a person of a specific type. This powerful biological drive directs energy toward whether or not one is included and recognised in the group or community, how one is positioned and regarded in groups, and how much power one has relative to other members of social groupings.
We would like to acknowledge and attribute to David N. Daniels, M.D. for the introductory sections and overview of the types on this site. All information has been used with permission.
For more information see drdaviddaniels.com
We would like to thank Beatrice Chestnut, PhD for providing an overview to the Instinctual Subtypes and their 27 variants.
Sourced from Beatrice's Book: The Enneagram System's 27 Personality Subtypes.
For more information see beatricechestnut.com