The Core Focus of Enneagram Type

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Although at first the Enneagram personality types can seem to simply be about nine personality types, there are many additional concepts that add to the complexity of the system. In this blog I share my experiences as I write what I hope to be a comprehensive yet easy to read book that specifically helps readers understand and apply these concepts.

The Core Focus of Enneagram Type

One problem I have with many descriptions of the Enneagram types is that they don't zero in on the core focus of each type. Instead, they often try to describe type in terms of personality characteristics and behavioral traits. With personality being unique for everyone in the world, each person expresses Enneagram type through their personality uniquely. An individual might identify with one characteristic from the description but not another. Two people identifying with the same Enneagram type may identify with different characteristics. An individual also may identify with characteristics from multiple Enneagram types. That's not describing Enneagram type. That's trying to extrapolate a description of personality using only one of many factors influencing personality (i.e., Enneagram type). In other words, these descriptions of personality go beyond what they can accurately describe. At best, they simply offer examples of how Enneagram type might possibly be expressed through personality. Unfortunately, the descriptions aren't presented by explicitly stating that caveat.

Very often, when a core focus of type is presented, it's too simple or vague. For example, saying "type 7 avoids pain" doesn't really say anything. Who doesn't avoid pain, masochists perhaps. If the word "pain" needs to be interpreted to fit type 7 then it would be better to use a different word or simply don't try to reduce it down to a single word. Often, the "passions" or other traditional labels are used to name the core focus of Enneagram type as well. For instance, the passion for type 7 is gluttony. The dictionary definition of gluttony is along the lines of habitual greed or excess in eating. Does this really describe Enneagram type 7? It does if we begin to redefine or twist the meaning and describe it as a gluttony of the mind. But again, if you're going to reinterpret the word then just use a different word or don't try to oversimplify it to just one word.

Now, it's one thing to be critical of the effort of others as I've just done. It's quite another to put forth the effort oneself. To distill the experience of each type into a core focus is quite difficult but I find it can be done. When it's done, the Enneagram type descriptions offering personality characteristics and behavioral traits share a common thread where personality can be understood by looking at where these characteristics and behaviors might be coming from - core focus. In other words, when Enneagram type is understood in terms of a core focus, Enneagram type doesn't describe how personality will look. Enneagram type helps understand why personality looks that way.

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