As humans, we always try to understand the motivations for our behavioral responses, or in relationships, why others react in certain ways. We question why interactions with certain people seem streamlined and natural, while with others, we experience discomfort and even stress when communicating.
In their quest for self-discovery and finding the right partner in life, many come across the Enneagram personality typing. Enneagram finds commonality between many of the personality types as well as allowing for personal development. Completing an Enneagram personality test can help people finally comprehend their own demeanor and characteristics.
The following article is entirely focused on the Enneagram system. We’ll cover history, compare it with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and briefly go over each Enneagram type. Let’s begin.
As a tool, Enneagram may embrace many aspects of the human psyche. For example, as a social species, the ability to ‘fit in’ may form part of the inherent desires of humanity. In the study of an individual’s Enneagram personality type, it could assist a person in achieving a sense of self-appreciation. Thus, the associated freedom might encourage an individual to follow their integration lines and wings in pursuit of personal development.
While it is unlikely or even impossible for an individual to change their Enneagram type, growth within their type and the expression of their wings could help people become the best version of themselves. So, it’s safe to say that studying Enneagram growth and stress lines may certainly be beneficial for individuals.
As a byline, in the Nineteenth-century novel, Jane Eyre, the great Charlotte Bronte wrote about Mr. Rochester, “Partly because it is his nature—and we none of us help our nature;” This comment seems pertinent to Enneagram personality typing.
Definition and meaning
The word Enneagram is a geometrical term. It is derived from the Greek words ennea and gramma, which loosely translates to nine and drawing. So, an Enneagram is effectively a nine-sided drawing.
As a model of interconnected personality types, the drawing makes perfect sense. The almost curricular shape depicts how personalities interlink. In this way, individuals may perceive and conceptualize that they are not as alone as they might sometimes presume.
Enneagram pronunciation is ‘ANY-a-gram’, and the Enneagram personality model is a diagram of the Enneagram figure, with the nine points represented as numbers, 1—9.
The origins of the Enneagram diagram may be unclear, as well as the traditions from which certain concepts of the Enneagram personality model may have arisen. However, the modern hypothesis was largely derived from the 1950s teachings of philosopher Oscar Ichazo and the 1970s theories of Claudio Naranjo—a Chilean psychiatrist.
It is possible that philosopher George Gurdjieff had some influence on Enneagram personality typing since his teachings showcased the developmental possibilities present in every individual. According to one research paper by Virginia Wiltse, Ph.D., and Helen Palmer, M.A., comparable concepts to Enneagram may date back to the findings of fourth-century Alexandrian Monk, Evagrius Ponticus.
So, the answer to who created the Enneagram personality model may vary, though the modern form stems from the theories of philosopher Oscar Ichazo.
Enneagram vs. Myers-Briggs
Both the Enneagram Personality model and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) are among the multiple personality frameworks. MBTI is sometimes known as the 16 Personalities model. Other personality frameworks include the Five Factor Model, CliftonStrengths, the Rational Experiential Inventory, the DiSC assessment, the Four Tendencies, Eysenck, and HDS, among others.
Healthcare professionals extensively employ the aid of MBTI and Enneagram. These models can help their clients gain awareness of their behavioral patterns. Also, these tools could assist professionals to achieve a greater comprehension of the motivations of certain patients. Many corporations may use one or both frameworks for personnel placement or to assist employees in career counseling.
While Enneagram focuses on the core motivations, desires, and fears of an individual, MBTI investigates their interests, needs, values, and motivations. Neither is considered better than the other, merely that they may bring to light varied information about an individual. And both could bring about the development of an individual.
American writer Katharine Cook Briggs, together with her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, who was also a writer, constructed and copyrighted MBTI. The two women based their findings on a simplified version of the principles of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung. However, MBTI may not always be sanctioned by scientific communities.
MBTI finds its basis in a combination of the following choices:
- Introversion or Extraversion (I or E);
- Sensing or Intuition (S or N);
- Thinking or Feeling (T or F);
- Judging or Perceiving (J or P);
This combination allows for sixteen personality types. The degrees of influence may vary. For example, an individual could present with 56% Introversion and 44% Extroversion, i.e. they would be predominantly Introverted with some Extraverted tendencies.
The Enneagram personality model is designed around nine personality types. An individual may be further influenced by both their wings, but mostly their dominant wing. These are the personalities flanking their dominant Enneagram type. Furthermore, personalities may succumb to stress, in which case, the individual could assume the worst characteristics of their disintegration type. Or they may work on their personal growth, and in this case, they would probably simulate the best traits along their integration lines.
In summary of Enneagram vs MBTI, both Enneagram and Myers-Briggs may benefit individuals with their, sometimes unique and at other times comparable, results.
During testing, the Enneagram personality model would align an individual with one of nine unique personality types. These are represented as numbers at each point along the Enneagram diagram. However, Enneagram delves into each personality type in far greater depth than merely assigning a single type to a person.
The wings of each Enneagram type flank the dominant type. For example, if an individual tests with a dominant Enneagram type of Eight, they would usually harbor traits of both their wings, being Seven and Nine. One of these wings would have a greater influence and this is known as their dominant wing. In literature, if this Eight has a dominant wing of Seven, it would be presented as an Enneagram 8w7.
Integration and disintegration lines further transform Enneagram types. These are also known as Enneagram growth and stress lines and are portrayed as lines or arrows on the Enneagram diagram—one for integration, and one for disintegration. During periods of personal development or when circumstances for an individual are favorable, individuals would usually take on the most positive characteristics of their integration type. Likewise, when their stress mounts, they might regress to the worst qualities of their disintegration type.
In addition, the Enneagram personality model sub-categorizes each Enneagram type into one of the triads, being head, heart, or gut. These are each represented as one-third of the Enneagram diagram, where the thinking types fall under the head sector, the instinctive types are part of the gut sector, and the feeling types make up the heart sector.
Like most personality typing, Enneagram operates through a questionnaire. The availability of these Enneagram tests may be extensive, and each would probably pose a variety of questions. An individual might complete the examination, which by and large makes them expose and confront their innermost selves. Each answer is usually audited and substantiated through an additional selection of questions.
In this way, the Enneagram model calculates the dominant Enneagram type of the individual, as well as their wings—both dominant and non-dominant—and their integration and disintegration types. In studying the Enneagram results, an individual might glean a greater self-awareness and may choose to develop within their Enneagram type.
If, during the study of their Enneagram personality type, you seek greater knowledge of the subject, this list of the best Enneagram books and other resources might guide your choice of reading material.
- The Enneagram Made Simple: A No-Nonsense Guide to Using the Enneagram for Growth and Awareness by Ashton Whitmoyer-Ober MA.
This book offers an uncomplicated view of the Enneagram model. As a certified Enneagram coach and psychologist, Whitmoyer-Ober presents the nine personality types in easy-to-understand language. In using this guide, an individual may learn to develop within their Enneagram type and, in so doing, could improve their relationships with others.
This card game might appeal to those who prefer an interactive style of learning. It covers the fundamentals of each Enneagram type and goes on in greater detail through the positives and negatives of each type, encouraging self-awareness, and outlining relationships.
- The How and Why: Taking Care of Business with the Enneagram: A Practical Organization Development Framework as Bridge and Foundation to Drive more … Business Results and Relationships by Ph.D., R. Karl Hebenstreit.
With the aid of Enneagram personality typing, this book aims to support issues and resources related to organizational frameworks. Dr. Hebenstreit discusses matters such as Recruitment, Engagement, and Retention of employees; Strategic Planning; Influence; and Executive Coaching and Development.
- The Enneagram in Love and Work: Understanding Your Intimate and Business Relationships by Helen Palmer.
In this book, Enneagram practitioner, Helen Palmer, expresses interactions between Enneagram types in business and romantic relationships. In both these settings, Palmer details the network of interactions between Enneagram types.
- The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide — Revised & Updated by David Daniels.
David Daniels Enneagram essentials is a book that aims at self-understanding and self-development. As a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School, Daniels is well-rooted to present a scientifically based Enneagram test, which he has included in this book.
Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions regarding the Enneagram system.
What does Enneagram mean?
Enneagram comes from the compound forms of the Greek words, ‘ennea’ which means ‘nine’, and ‘gramma’ which means ‘drawn’ or ‘written’. So loosely, an Enneagram is a Nine-sided diagram. In personality typing, Enneagram refers to the Nine personality types of the Enneagram personality model. These are illustrated at each of the nine points of the Enneagram figure. Also represented in this figure, are the wings of an Enneagram type, as well as their Enneagram integration and disintegration lines.
What is the purpose of the Enneagram?
The Enneagram, when referring to the widely used personality model, is intended as a guideline for helping individuals better understand themselves and others around them. Using Enneagram as a growth tool, a person might develop into the best version of themselves. In turn, Enneagram could improve their relationships with others in business and in their personal lives.
What is an Enneagram number?
The Enneagram personality model is defined on the nine-sided diagram of the same name. At each point of the diagram, the Enneagram number, ranging from 1 to 9 represents the nine Enneagram personality types. These are divided into three categories known as head, heart, and gut, where Enneagram numbers 2, 3, and 4 lie in the ‘heart’ sector, Enneagram numbers 5, 6, and 7 fall under the ‘head’ sector, and 8, 9, and 1 belong to the ‘gut’ sector.
What is an Enneagram test?
For individuals investigating personality types, Enneagram is likely to arise as one of the most popular personality typing models. To establish what Enneagram type they belong to, they would need to complete an Enneagram test. The results of this test would display their dominant Enneagram type, represented as a number, along with their dominant wing.
Widely used and astoundingly well-researched, many rely on the Enneagram personality model for career guidance, personal growth, and improving their relationships with others.
In corporations, human resources departments may establish the Enneagram type of prospective employees. This can assist in placement and in departmental suitability. Mental healthcare providers sometimes test patients or clients in order to understand their reactions to stress. This can equip them to work through issues together.
As a tool primed for self-development, the Enneagram personality model may help them improve relationships in both the workplace and home.
We hope this article helped you better understand what the true purpose of the Enneagram system is and how it can help you on a daily basis.