What is the enneagram?

Enneagram The term "enneagram" derives from two Greek words, ennea (nine) and grammos (something written or drawn). The enneagram figure consists of a nine-pointed diagram, usually depicted within a circle. The Enneagram of Personality is mostly taught and understood as a model of personality types. It was invented by G.I. Gurdjieff, whose concept of it was symbolic for ancient knowledge and the process of developing insight.

It also shows people’s essence and ways to discover and develop higher states of being. Each Enneagram personality type has distinctive and habitual patterns of thinking and emotions. By recognizing your personality pattern you can use the Enneagram as an effective method for self-understanding and self-development.

The enneagram personality type diagram points towards nine general personality types. Every enneagram personality type is described according to their central passion. The passion and preoccupation that springs forth from this, determine each enneatype’s philosophy of life and consequent beliefs and actions.

It is understood that every type is present to some extent in every person – yet one enneatype is always dominant. It’s one’s main way of looking at things and reacting to impulses.

Enneagram personality types

Click on any of the enneatypes for more information

Enneagram personality type 1: The Reformer

The rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.

Enneagram personality type ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.

Enneagram personality type 2: The Helper

The caring, interpersonal type: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive.

Enneagram personality type twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.

Enneagram personality type 3: The Achiever

The success-oriented, efficient type: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.

Enneagram personality type threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be-role models who inspire others.

Enneagram personality type 4: The Individualist

The sensitive, introspective type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

Enneagram personality type fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

Enneagram personality type 5: The Investigator

The intense, cerebral type: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.

Enneagram personality type fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

Enneagram personality type 6: The Loyalist

The committed, security-oriented type: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.

Enneagram personality type sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent "troubleshooters," they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious-running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.

Enneagram personality type 7: The Enthusiast

The busy, variety-seeking type: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered.

Enneagram personality type sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.

Enneagram personality type 8: The Challenger

The powerful, dominating type: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.

Enneagram personality type eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self-mastering, they use their strength to improve others' lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.

Enneagram personality type 9: The Peacemaker

The easygoing, self-effacing type: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent.

Enneagram personality type nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

Enneagram personality type subtypes

An enneagram personality type is influenced by three other factors:

  • Enneatypes may have wings
    Aside from the core type, a person may be influenced by one or both of the two adjacent personality types. These are called 'wings', and they give a different nuance to the core personality. That means that a certain type will display traits of an adjacent type, creating combinations.
  • Stress and security points
    The lines of the enneagram all have a direction: one coming into a core enneatype, and one going out. The outgoing line indicates the growth path or integration direction. It means that when a certain enneagram personality type develops, it will most likely be in the direction of the type that the line runs towards. The person will develop the positive traits of that enneatype (not the negative ones). Inversely, the disintegration lines indicates what happens to a person under stress. The negative traits of the type it points from are then activated.
  • Instinctual subtypes
    Every person expresses his or her instinctual energy differently. The enneagram personality typology divides this energy in three groups: self-preservation, sexual (or one-on-one) and social. This respectively implies that a certain enneagram personality type will internally stress and externally express the need to protect himself, to connect with important others or partners or to get along or succed in groups. All three instinctual subtypes are simultaneously present in a person, but one of them is always dominant. Sometimes a second is nearly as developed.


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