The Enneagram is a system of personality typing which is a synthesis of ancient traditions collated by Oscar Ichazo in the 1950s who was born in Bolivia, but now resides in the US.
It states that there are 9 fundamental personality types (nea = nine) which are represented as being around a circle. Each type is evenly represented in any population although there are cultural and societial overlays.
Whilst we are all a mixture of all of the Enneagram types, we have one primary adaptive strategy that is a mixture of genetics and our early environment and this became how we organised reality and was set before conscious memory was formed.
Whilst this mechanism may have served us in our very early years, it may also confine our development in our later life unless we can see it for what it is. All personality types carry ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ aspects, no one type is better or healthier than the other and you can have one primary adaptive type with elements of a secondary type as represented by the Enneagram.
From the list below, try to select which Enneagram type you most identify with. You need to be prepared to accept the negative aspects along with the positive attributes! The gift of the Enneagram is to recognise your habitual patterns and to be able to consciously choose to respond in a different way - either by letting something go or asking if there is a better or different way to respond.
Enneagram type 1: The Reformer
Positive aspects: Highly principled, idealistic and with a sense of mission, Reformers are purposeful, rational, organised, practical and self-controlled. Conscientious and ethical, they strive to make a positive difference in the world - often at some personal cost. At their best they can be heroic, wise, discerning, realistic, and noble.
Negative aspects: Reformers are perfectionists who can be critical of both themselves and others. They also want to be right and beyond criticism and may feel the need to justify themselves. They can live in fear of making a mistake or becoming corrupted or being condemned by others. In spite of fundamentally being driven by their instincts, they may spend a lot of time thinking about the consequences of their actions, as well as about how to keep from acting contrary to their convictions. They may have problems with repression, resistance, aggression, resentment and impatience and may be seen by others as highly self-controlled and rigid although this is not how they experience themselves.
Examples: Mahatma Gandhi, Hilary Clinton, Al Gore, Meryl Streep, George Harrison, Celene Dion and Margaret Thatcher.
Enneagram type 2: The Helper
Positive aspects: The Helper is caring, sincere, warm-hearted, sociable, generous, demonstrative and self-sacrificing. They greatly value love, closeness, family and friendship and want to be loved, needed and appreciated. They can love others uncritically and unselfishly.
Negative aspects: Helpers deepest fear is that they are unworthy, unwanted and unloved and so they may fail to acknowledge their own needs and may be motivated to be seen as helpful in order to feel needed. They can become flattering and people-pleasing and may be motivated to do things for others whilst having unacknowledged expectations of such actions. They may also have problems with possessiveness and sentimentality.
Examples: Mother Teresa, Barbara Bush, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Cosby, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, Luciano Pavarotti, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Enneagram type 3: The Achiever
Positive aspects: The Achiever is driven by a need to be valuable and worthwhile and to succeed in whatever way they define as meaningful – be that academic recognition, worldly success or fame. They are pragmatic, adaptable, self-assured, attractive, charming, competent, energetic and ambitious. They are often popular and can act as role models that others look up to. They also enjoy motivating others.
Negative aspects: The achiever can need the attention and admiration of others in order to feel valuable and worthwhile. They feel the need to distinguish themselves from others and can become overly concerned with image and status and what others think of them. They may have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. Their biggest fear is that they are worthless and empty - a 'nobody'. Achievers can often have learned to perform in ways that were valued by others as a child and may not have stopped to ask themselves if this is what they really want. Their true feelings may have been put aside in order to perform and thus they can fall prey to self-deception and deceit.
Examples: Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Stone, Madonna, Shirley MacLaine, Sting, Paul McCartney, Whitney Houston, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger and Barack Obama.
Enneagram type 4: The Individualist
Positive aspects: Individualists see themselves as fundamentally being different to others. They may feel that they have a unique talent and that no one else can understand them properly. They are emotionally honest – with both themselves and others – and can be sensitive, introspective, expressive, dramatic and creative. They are able to process negative experiences and to renew themselves and transform their experiences and may have a quiet strength. They are driven by the need to express themselves and to surround themselves with beauty and to maintain certain moods and feelings.
Negative aspects: Whilst Individualists see themselves as uniquely talented they may also see themselves as uniquely disadvantaged or flawed and may focus on their differences and deficiencies. They may feel that something is missing, that they don't really know who they are and may 'try on' different identities over a lifetime. They may set themselves apart from others in order to protect their feelings of vulnerability and because they may look down on others living 'ordinary' lives. However, they yearn for a meaningful connection with people or a special person who understands them and their feelings, whilst often being self-conscious and socially awkward. They may regard themselves as victims, become very attached to their 'story' and have difficulty letting go and forgiving. They may fantasise about being 'rescued' whilst failing to see the gifts of the present. They may be self-absorbed, moody, have a negative self-image, chronically low self-esteem and be prone to melancholy.
Examples: Alanis Morrisette, Paul Simon, Patrick Stewart, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Johnny Depp, Rudolph Nureyev, Maria Callas, Tennessee Williams, Annie Lennox, Prince and Michael Jackson.
Enneagram type 5: The Investigator
Positive aspects: Investigators are curious, perceptive and innovative and able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. They can be the visionaries, innovators, inventors and discoverers. They seek to be capable and competent and to understand the environment. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth for themselves. They value knowledge, understanding and insight and are capable of the intense focus required to master something that has captured their interest.
Negative aspects: Investigators can become detached from the real world as their preoccupation with their inner world grows. They can be highly-strung, intense and secretive. They may become unworldly having trouble looking after themselves and can become eccentric, nihilistic and isolated.
Examples: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Georgia O'Keefe, Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon, Lily Tomlin, Bjork, Agatha Christie, Jane Goodall, David Lynch, Stephen King and Jodie Foster.
Enneagram type 6: The Loyalist
Positive aspects: The Loyalist is motivated by the need to feel secure and to feel supported by others. They crave certainty and reassurance. They are committed, responsible, reliable, hard-working and trustworthy. They can often foresee problems ahead of time and can foster cooperation. They are stable, self-reliant and courageous and loyal to both friends and beliefs. However, they may not be conventional and can be rebellious and revolutionary, being prepared to fight for their ideals.
Negative aspects: The Loyalist fears abandonment and lack of support and may become anxious and insecure. They often try to build safety externally without resolving their own insecurities first. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion and may lack the self-confidence to believe that they can handle life's challenges alone. They may have trouble contacting their own inner guidance and, as a result, they think, worry a lot and are indecisive. Whilst they want to avoid being controlled, they are also afraid to take responsibility. Once they have adopted a belief they can be immovable and defensive. They may also become arrogant and competitive.
Examples: Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Princess Diana, George H. W. Bush, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Meg Ryan, Mel Gibson, Patrick Swayze, Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen and Richard Nixon.
Enneagram type 7: The Enthusiast
Positive aspects: Enthusiasts are motivated by a need for new and exciting experiences and seek to maintain their personal freedom and happiness. They are busy, playful, spontaneous, curious, versatile, extroverted and practical. They have a lot of vitality, a natural curiosity and are cheerful, optimistic, determined and do not take themselves too seriously. They may be involved in multiple projects at once, and are good at generating ideas and synthesising information. Fast learners and also often manually dextrous they pick up skills relatively easily.
Negative aspects: Precisely because Enthusiasts do acquire skills relatively easily, they may have difficulty focussing on one arena of activity. They fear being deprived and will seek to avoid pain. They often live in their heads and may be out of touch with their essential natures which may lead to a deep anxiety and difficulty deciding what they want to do with their lives. They may worry about missing out on worthwhile experiences. They avoid internal anxiety by keeping busy and occupied and thus can miss the enjoyment available on offer in the present moment. They may run themselves into the ground and end up ruining their health, their relationships and/or their finances in their search for happiness.
Examples: John F. Kennedy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Taylor, Mozart, Steven Spielberg, Robin Williams, Cameron Diaz, Bette Midler, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Sarah Ferguson.
Enneagram type 8: The Challenger
Positive aspects: Powerful, self-confident, decisive, strong, energetic and assertive, Challengers can be natural leaders. They are motivated by a need to control their environment in order to protect themselves. They can be resourceful, honourable, charismatic and straight-talking and can use their strengths to improve the lives of others becoming heroic, magnanimous and inspiring. They have enormous will power and vitality and want to be important and to dominate their environment. They enjoy challenges and challenging others and are persuasive and hard-working.
Negative aspects: Challengers can become domineering, egocentric, confrontational and intimidating and may have issues around controlling their temper. Beneath the tough facade they can feel hurt and rejected although this may be well concealed. They can become so involved in work that they lose emotional contact with many of the people in their lives. Also, because their greatest fear is rejection, they may in some way strike first - resigning before they perceive they might be fired, or dumping their partner before they perceive they might be dumped. These issues arise in relationships where they perceive another has power over them.
Examples: Martin Luther King, Jr., Mikhail Gorbachev, Pablo Picasso, Sean Connery, Susan Sarandon, John Wayne, Donald Trump, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, James Brown, Sigourney Weaver and Saddham Hussein.
Enneagram type 9: The Peacemaker
Positive apsects: Peacemakers want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict and tension as a result of which they are easygoing, self-effacing, receptive, reassuring and agreeable. They can be creative, optimistic, supportive, accepting, trusting and stable. They may bring others together and heal conflicts. They are the 'spiritual seekers' who yearn to connect with the cosmos and others and to create both internal and external peace. They can be the type most grounded in the physical world and their bodies and if engaged with their instincts can have tremendous personal magnetism.
Negative aspects: Peacemakers fear loss and separation and can simplify and mimimise problems to avoid upset. They may be complacent and have problems with inertia and stubbornness. They may turn away from the more upsetting, disturbing and paradoxical aspects of life and may seek inner peace by either attempting to transcend reality or by seeking solace in “numbing out”. They can be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace and if not engaged with their instincts may be disengaged, remote or lightweight.
Examples: Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace, George Lucas, John Kennedy, Jr., Sophia Loren, Geena Davis, Kevin Costner, Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Ringo Starr, Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson.
For more information on the Enneagram see: www.enneagraminstitute.com.