“Realizing our true nature liberates us from the cravings and illusions of our personality, so that we are able to interact from moment to moment with simplicity, grace and unshakable inner peace.”
–Don Riso and Russ Hudson The Wisdom of the Enneagram
The word Enneagram comes from the Greek words ennea meaning “nine”, and gramma, meaning “written”. It is an ancient, sacred geometric figure, which represents nine personality types and their complex interweaving. The Enneagram is a paradigm of human personality and inner development. It is far more than a theoretical system, however. It is a practical model of knowledge to help us to know ourselves and to improve our relationships. It is a road map, which can be very useful in helping us to identify our basic fears, as well as core desires, that motivate our behaviors. One of the key benefits in using The Enneagram is in identifying these underlying fears and desires that keep us from growing in certain areas where we would like to. By exploring these underlying individual core fears, desires and motivations fully, we can be freed from them, resulting in greater peace of mind and success, as well as the discovery of our authentic Self freed from the fetters of personality. In spirituality, the Enneagram is has been considered as a path to higher states consciousness, true nature and pure awareness.
Below is a brief explanation of each Enneagram Type taken from The Wisdom of The Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson (Bantam Books 1999). Please refer to the descriptions only as an entry point to learning about the Nine Types. These are not in any way offered as a tool for determining one’s own Type, nor are they representative of the complex interrelationships and nuances of the Types.
Type One: The Reformer~The principled, idealistic 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.
Type Two: The Helper~The caring, interpersonal 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.
Type Three: The Achiever~The adaptable, success-oriented 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.
Type Four: The Individualist~The romantic, introspective 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.
Type Five: The Investigator~The intense, cerebral 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.
Type Six: The Loyalist~The committed, security-oriented 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.
Type Seven: The Enthusiast~The busy, productive 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.
Type Eight: The Challenger~The powerful, dominating 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.
Type Nine: The Peacemaker~The easygoing, self-effacing 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.