The Enneagram

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Enneagram archetypes. From the definition of the Enneagram, the different types explained, who invented it and why it is useful.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a system of personality typing which is used to describe patterns in how people manage their emotions and interpret the world around them.

The name comes from the Greek, with ‘Ennea’ the Greek word for nine and ‘Gramma’ meaning something that’s drawn or written.

It is used to identify nine different personality types, then to map each of these onto a nine-pointed diagram which illustrates how they relate to each other.

The diagram and an explanation of it can be found in this YouTube video:

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system that has been used by many to help with their psychological issues and various other things.

Though it was developed in the Christian world, it does not necessarily associate itself with Christianity but rather represents a universal truth of man’s soul.

The numbers in the name come from Greek numerals (νέος=new; ἐννεα=nine) which together actually mean ‘a new beginning’.

List of Enneagram Types:

The Enneagram is a powerful personality profiling system based on the idea that there are nine distinct personalities.

While some of these personalities may seem very different, they actually have many similarities in how they see and interact with the world around them.

Checkout this list of Enneagram Types:

The 9 Enneagram Archetypes EXPLAINED

The nine personality types are below, along with some of their associated characteristics;

Enneagram Type 1

  • Type: 1
  • Characteristic: Reformer, Perfectionist
  • Ego Fixation: Resentment
  • Holy Idea: Perfection
  • Basic Fear: Corruptness, imbalance, being bad
  • Basic Desire: Goodness, integrity, balance
  • Temptation: Hypocrisy, hypercriticism
  • Vice/Passion: Anger
  • Virtue: Serenity

Enneagram Type 2

  • Type: 2
  • Characteristic: Helper, Giver
  • Ego Fixation: Flattery (Ingratiation)
  • Holy Idea: Freedom, Will
  • Basic Fear: Being unloved
  • Basic Desire: To feel love
  • Temptation: Deny own needs, manipulation
  • Vice/Passion: Pride
  • Virtue: Humility

Enneagram Type 3

  • Type: 3
  • Characteristic: Achiever, Performer
  • Ego Fixation: Vanity
  • Holy Idea: Hope, Law
  • Basic Fear: Worthlessness
  • Basic Desire: To feel valuable
  • Temptation: Pushing self to always be “the best”
  • Vice/Passion: Deceit
  • Virtue: Truthfulness, Authenticity

Enneagram Type 4

  • Type: 4
  • Characteristic: Individualist, Romantic
  • Ego Fixation: Melancholy, Fantasizing
  • Holy Idea: Origin
  • Basic Fear: Having no identity or significance
  • Basic Desire: To be uniquely themselves
  • Temptation: To overuse imagination in search of self
  • Vice/Passion: Envy
  • Virtue: Equanimity (Emotional Balance)

Enneagram Type 5

  • Type: 5
  • Characteristic: Investigator, Observer
  • Ego Fixation: Stinginess, Retention
  • Holy Idea: Omniscience, transparency
  • Basic Fear: Helplessness, incapability, incompetence
  • Basic Desire: Mastery, understanding
  • Temptation: Replacing direct experience with concepts
  • Vice/Passion: Avarice
  • Virtue: Non-Attachment

Enneagram Type 6

  • Type: 6
  • Characteristic: Loyalist, Loyal Skeptic
  • Ego Fixation: Cowardice (Worrying)
  • Holy Idea: Faith
  • Basic Fear: Being without support or guidance
  • Basic Desire: To have support and guidance
  • Temptation: Indecision, doubt, seeking reassurance
  • Vice/Passion: Fear
  • Virtue: Courage

Enneagram Type 7

  • Type: 7
  • Characteristic: Enthusiast, Epicure
  • Ego Fixation: Planning Anticipation
  • Holy Idea: Wisdom, Plan
  • Basic Fear: Being unfulfilled, trapped, deprived
  • Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content
  • Temptation: Thinking fulfilment is somewhere else
  • Vice/Passion: Gluttony
  • Virtue: Sobriety

Enneagram Type 8

  • Type: 8
  • Characteristic: Challenger, Protector
  • Ego Fixation: Vengeance (Objectification)
  • Holy Idea: Truth
  • Basic Fear: Being controlled, harmed, violated
  • Basic Desire: Self-protection
  • Temptation: Thinking they are completely self-sufficient
  • Vice/Passion: Lust (Forcefulness)
  • Virtue: Innocence

Enneagram Type 9

  • Type: 9
  • Characteristic: Peacemaker, Mediator
  • Ego Fixation: Indolence Daydreaming
  • Holy Idea: Love
  • Basic Fear: Loss, fragmentation, separation
  • Basic Desire: Wholeness, peace of mind
  • Temptation: Avoiding conflicts, avoiding self-assertion
  • Vice/Passion: Sloth (Disengagement)
  • Virtue: Action

Enneagram Personality Types Explained

Each of the nine personality types is defined by a specific core belief about how the world works which moulds an individual’s view of the world, how they see it and the people who inhabit it.

Proponents of the Enneagram state that, while our core beliefs are not necessarily wrong they can be limiting to us as we go through life and that an understanding of our Enneagram type, and the way it affects our perceptions, can help us to broaden our perspective on the world and approach things differently as a result.

Additionally, we can use an understanding of another person’s Enneagram type to help us understand their behaviour, motivations and decision-making, even where it seems contradictory and confusing at first glance.

It can help us understand how we and others react to pressures such as stress and tailor support accordingly.

It can also give us insight into opportunities which may be available for our personal development.

Enneagram Tritype

The Enneagram describes three centres of intelligence and perception:

  • The intellectual centre – located in the head. Uses the mind for language, rational thinking, images, strategies, ideas and plans.
  • The emotional centre – located in the chest and diaphragm. Uses the ‘heart’ for empathy and concern for others, positive and negative feelings, devotion and romance.
  • The instinctual centre – uses the whole body for movement, gut, instinct, sensory awareness, social belonging and personal security.

Each individual is stated to have all three of these centres, but their individual personality type will have a particular strength in one of these three.

The person’s character structure and way of viewing the world are said to be based on whichever of the three is their leading centre and so understanding it is important to developing their potential and overcoming any blind spots they have.

It should, however, be noted that there has been limited formal psychometric analysis of the Enneagram as a tool and that peer-reviewed research conducted in favour of it has not been widely accepted academically.

A number of vocal critics have labelled the enneagram as pseudoscience and religious leaders, including those in the Catholic Church, have also voiced concerns about its use.

Who Invented the Enneagram?

The origin and history of the Enneagram, including the ideas and theories behind it, are a matter of dispute. Some date it back to Babylon around 4500 years ago and other to Ancient Greece 2500 years ago.

It has also been linked to Sufism, Christian mysticism and Jewish Kabbalah.

However, contemporary Enneagram theories have mainly been derived from teachings by the Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo and Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo.

Ichazo worked on his concept of the Enneagram in the 1950s and Naranjo in the 1970s. Naranjo’s contributions were themselves influenced by earlier teaching on personality by Russian Philosopher Georg Ivanovich Gurdjieff and approach to self-development he created known as the Fourth Way.

Gurdjieff created the word ‘enneagram’ and introduced the model as a spiritual symbol.

What’s the point of the Enneagram?

Proponents of the enneagram state that it has three broad applications:

  • Personal and spiritual growth
  • Successful work and home relationships
  • Team building, leadership and communication skills development for businesses

The Enneagram is most useful as a tool for self-evaluation, self-improvement and personal development.

It enables individuals to identify the need to and go on to, develop skills such as conflict resolution and management, leadership, teamwork and team dynamics, leadership and self-confidence.

Its use in this regard has made it a popular tool in areas such as psychotherapy, counselling, education and social work.

The Enneagram has also become a popular business management tool through its applicability to professional development and in providing insight into aspects of workplace dynamics and conflict resolution.

It has also been used by people as a spiritual aid to help them achieve a higher state of being and enlightenment.

Discover Your Personality Type Today →