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Quick Guide to the Enneagram Personality Types: A System Overview

Enneagram with Arrows

The Enneagram commonly refers to a system of nine personality types. The Enneagram itself is a symbol or diagram that has nine numbers around a circle with lines, and sometimes arrows, connecting the numbers. Each number is used to represent a different type.

The nine types are just the starting point for understanding the system. There are also a number of concepts that describe dozens of subtle variations within each type along with how the types relate to one another.

There is not only a lot of misinformation about the Enneagram types on the Internet, but the information is often piecemeal and incomplete. This Quick Guide tries to offer a brief yet thorough and practical overview of the Enneagram personality types and the system as a whole all in one place.

Topics cover descriptions of the types, the many variations of type, how the symbol / diagram is used, and the history / origins of the Enneagram types. Just click on a topic below to learn more.


Enneagram types
Although generally referred to as personality types, the Enneagram types actually point to something underneath personality.

  • Enneagram type 1
    I must monitor and improve myself in order to be acceptable and remain above criticism.
  • Enneagram type 2
    I must find appreciation from and connection to people by responding to their needs and desires.
  • Enneagram type 3
    I must become accomplished and prove myself to gain value and regard in the eyes of others.
  • Enneagram type 4
    I must find and cultivate what's authentic and uniquely special about myself to stand out from the ordinary.
  • Enneagram type 5
    I must gather as much information about the world as I can and then reduce it down to what's essential.
  • Enneagram type 6
    I must search for someone or something that I can depend on that gives me the assurance to move forward.
  • Enneagram type 7
    I must avoid limitations and stay open to exciting possibilities that may become available in life.
  • Enneagram type 8
    I must be assertive in going after what I want and stand strong against being controlled.
  • Enneagram type 9
    I must accommodate others agenda and opinions in order to feel at ease when with them.

 


Enneagram type variations
Although you have a basic or primary Enneagram type there are many subtle variations within that type.

  • Enneagram wings
    The wings produce two variations of type based on the influence of the types on either side (e.g., 9w1, 9w8).
  • Enneagram instincts
    The instincts are generally considered to be three different survival strategies that we use to varying degrees (i.e., sp, sx, so).
    • Enneagram subtypes
      The instinctual subtypes divide each of the nine personality types into three subtypes (e.g., sp 1, sx 1, so 1). 
    • Instinctual variants
      Instinctual variants or instinctual stacking describes an individual's preference for the three Enneagram instincts (e.g., sp/sx).
  • Enneagram tritype
    Enneagram tritype uses the dominant type from each center instead of just the usual one type (e.g., 1-3-5).
  • Enneagram levels
    The Enneagram levels of development describe nine levels of health to unhealth within each type.

 


Enneagram symbol / diagram
The Enneagram symbol was introduced to the world by Gurdjieff but the personality types use it differently.

  • Enneagram numbers
    Is there any meaning to the numbers beyond just labels for the personality types?
  • Enneagram circle
    Relationships and influences between the types can be explored by their relative position on the circle.
  • Enneagram arrows and lines
    How are the lines and arrows used with the personality types compared to their original use?
  • Enneagram triads
    A primary way that relationships between Enneagram types are explored is through the use of triads.
    • Enneagram centers
      The three centers of intelligence are often referred to as the head (567), heart (234), and gut (891) centers.
    • Enneagram stances or Hornevian groups
      The three stances are derived from Karen Horney's neurotic trends of moving toward, against, and away from people.

 


Enneagram history
The Enneagram symbol or diagram and the personality types have separate origins.

  • Gurdjieff - Fourth Way
    Although G.I. Gurdjieff introduced the Enneagram symbol to the world he used it very differently than the Enneagram personality types.
  • Oscar Ichazo - Ego-Types
    The Enneagram personality types find their roots in Oscar Ichazo's five enneagrams which together described nine ego-types.
    • Enneagram fixations
      Our habits of mind constrict and limit how we interpret and interact with the world around us.
    • Enneagram traps
      The trap is the false remedy for our fixation, perpetuating the fixation instead of resolving it.
    • Enneagram holy ideas
      The holy idea is the true remedy for our fixation by allowing us to see through the fixation.
    • Enneagram passions
      The passion represents the emotional energy that supports the corresponding ego fixation.
      • Enneagram sins
        The seven deadly or capital sins of Christianity are sometimes correlated to the Enneagram passions.
    • Enneagram virtues
      Developing the virtue allows us to see beyond the passion supporting our ego fixation.
  • Claudio Naranjo - Enneatypes
    Today's Enneagram personality types come directly from Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes which evolved from Ichazo's ego-types.