Karen Horney and the Enneagram

Karen Horney is believed to be one of the most innovative psychoanalysts since Sigmund Freud. Her original contributions include the concepts of alienation, self-realization and the idealized image, and a new understanding of the importance of culture and environment. Her approach has proven to be both useful and pragmatic.

 Dr. Horney was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1885. She attended the University of Berlin, receiving her degree in 1913. She studied psychiatry at Berlin-Lankwitz and later taught at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. In addition, she was a participant in the International Congresses including the discussion of lay analysis chaired by Freud.

In 1932, Horney came to the United States. She is known to have been an Associate Director of the Psychoanalytic Institute in Chicago, a teacher at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, and ultimately one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis and the American Institute of Psychoanalysis.

One of Horney's primary interests was the impact of cultural and social issues in addition to childhood conflicts when evaluating the constitution of personality. She ultimately conceived one of the most used personality typologies in the therapy field1. Her descriptions of the observable features in both the normal character and the pathological character are a common typology shared with the Enneagram typology. In particular the Hornevian models, Enneagrammatically known as theHornevian Triads, potentially directly correspond and extend the insights into the more subtle aspects of the Enneagram.

Inspired by the platonic thoughts about will, emotion and reason, Horney described three personality types in response to inner conflict: the Expansive Solutions, the Self-Effacing Solutions, and Resignation. These types were determined, depending on whether a person is opposed to others, and moves against (aggressive), moves toward others (compliant or dependent), or stands apart and moves away (withdrawn).

The Expansive Solutions require an aggressive stance with an attempt to control, dominate and exploit others, and with a strong need for their will to prevail. More outwardly focused the orientation is towards projects and results.

The Self-Effacing Solutions require a dependent or compliant stance, with an adjustment to the opinions and desires of others, and with a strong need for acceptance. How others feel about them is first and foremost.

Resignation requires a withdrawn stance, with an attempt to detach, retreat, and move away from others, and with a strong need for independence, privacy, and self-protection. Inwardly focused, insecurity is concealed by the appearance of aloofness or superiority.

The comparison between the Hornevian models and the Enneagram types can be viewed from many perspectives. As is generally the case when comparing any different typologies, there does not seem to be an exact match. There do, however, appear to be intriguing possibilities when viewing the Horney models in conjunction with the Enneagram types individually as well as in relationship to the types' respective centers.

This suggested correlation was documented and superbly explained by Fabien and Patricia Chabreuil2. Their work combines the work of Horney, Don Richard Riso, and KathyHurley and TedDobson.

For example, the Enneagram centers have been described in similar terms as defined by Horney's types.

The instinctual or gut center (8-9-1) is body-based and can be seen as having a desire to take action in the world, which can be related to the aggressive type.

The emotional or heart center (2-3-4) is feeling-based and can be seen as having a desire to focus on others' needs and to positively affect others in the world, which can be related to the compliant type.

The mental or thinking center (5-6-7) is thought-based and can be seen as having a desire to give greater importance to the interior world of ideas, which can be related to the withdrawn type.

In the Enneagram community, we have heard different theories regarding the inner dynamics within centers. One view originally expressed by Riso3 and expanded upon by Hurley and Dobson 4 is that of the unused or repressed center respectively.

In conjunction with the Horney types, Riso describes the (3-7-8) as aggressive types, due to issues with the nurturing figure, the (1-2-6) as compliant types due to issues with the authority figure or rule giver, and the (4-5-9) as withdrawn due to issues with both figures. This concept clearly identifies an aggressive, compliant, and withdrawn type within each center.

 In addition, Hurley and Dobson elaborate that the aggressive types (3-7-8) have repressed their emotional center and are little focused on others, and thus can be defined as seeking expansive solutions and being Horney's aggressive type. The dependent types (1-2-6) have repressed their mental center and given up thinking, and can thus be defined as seeking temperate solutions and being Horney's dependent type. The withdrawing types (4-5-9) have repressed their instinctive center with a tendency towards self-protection, inaction, and isolation, and can thus be defined as seeking enlightened solutions and being Horney's withdrawing type.

To further season the correlation, I would add the works of Kathleen Speeth, G.I. Gurdjieff, and Helen Palmer. As noted by Speeth, it is believed that Gurdjieff5 approached the centers and the individual types within their respective centers in a similar approach. The centers represent our three brains and correspond like stories in a building. The lower story (8-9-1) is defined as the moving center, the middle story (2-3-4) is defined as the emotional center, and the upper story (5-6-7) is defined as the intellectual center.

Following this line of study, Palmer delineates the three centers in a similar fashion naming them the three centers of intelligence, belly (8-9-1), heart (2-3-4) and head (5-6-7)6.

 Similarly, Riso describes these same centers as triads, the Relating (8-9-1), the Feeling (2-3-4), and the Doing (5-6-7). In addition, his descriptions explain that within each triad one type over-expresses the characteristic faculty of the triad, another under-expresses the faculty, and the third (the primary type 3-6-9) is most out of touch with the faculty.7

Gurdjieff and the Enneagram authors appear to agree that it is the predominant use of the preferred center that creates the imbalance or over-use. Recognizing and developing the benefits of the additional two types of intelligence is the first step towards a more balanced, succinct whole.

If in fact the Enneagram is truly elegant in its symmetry and not random or arbitrary, would not all the approaches to the centers seem equally valid and pertinent? And if the insights of Horney are equally respected for their time-tested typology, why not overlay these valuable insights and examine and synthesize the confluence within the diverse findings.

To begin, if the centers represent Horney's three models, the relating center (8-9-1) gut/moving would be aggressive, the feeling center (2-3-4) heart/emoting would be compliant, and the doing center (5-6-7) head/thinking would be withdrawn.

To continue as previously suggested , if the three Enneagram centers correlate with the three Hornevian types, the Expansive Solutions aggressive, moving against type would suggest the Belly Center, 8-9-1, moving, relating, and anger. The Self-Effacing Solutions compliant, dependent moving towards type would suggest the Heart Center (2-3-4) emoting, feeling, and image. The Resignation withdrawing, moving away would suggest the Head Center (5-6-7) thinking, doing, and fear.

Now if we overlay the Hornevian types as they correspond to the Enneagram suggested by Riso and Hurley and Dobson, we have the aggressive types as 3-7-8, the compliant or dependent types as 2-3-4, and the withdrawing types as 5-6-7, giving us the following insightful combinations as stated by the Chabreuil work:

                                                            8          aggressive-aggressive

                                                            9          withdrawn-aggressive

                                                            1          compliant-aggressive

                                                            2          compliant-compliant

                                                            3          aggressive-compliant

                                                            4          withdrawn-compliant

                                                            5          withdrawn-withdrawn

                                                            6          compliant-withdrawn

                                                            7          aggressive-withdrawn

In addition, if we flavor this overlay with the contributions of The Gurdjieff Work (by Speeth) and Palmer, we have an intriguing perhaps powerful picture of possible similarities and distinctions that may further explain the subtlety of each Enneagram type.

For example, if we synthesize Horney's work with the works of Gurdjieff and the Enneagram according to Palmer, Riso, and Hurley and Dobson, we might have the following interpretation:

8

Boss/Leader

Aggressive-Aggressive

Blocked Feeling with Aggressive Action and Thought

Generally, the 8 is described as the Boss and the Leader and is defined as the most aggressive type of the Enneagram. The fixated traits include anger, domination, vengeance, arrogant justice, insensitivity, with the need to be strong and powerful to avoid vulnerability. The 8 is in the gut center, which is also aggressive, supporting this theory. In addition, the repressed center would be feeling. Therefore, these factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked feeling with aggressive action and thought (the tyrant or the protector).

9

Mediator/Peacemaker

Withdrawing-Aggressive

Blocked Action with Resigned Thought and Aggressive Emotion

Generally, the 9 is described as the Mediator and the Peacemaker. The fixated traits include over-accommodation, sloth, indolence, nonaggression and merging, passive-aggressive tendencies, with the need to be agreeable and easy going to avoid conflict. The 9 is in the gut center, which is aggressive. In addition, the repressed center would be the gut center (this could result in inaction). These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked action with resigned thought and aggressive emotion (the sloth or the mediator).

1

Perfectionist/Reformer

Compliant-Aggressive

Blocked Thinking with Compliant Action and Aggressive Emotion

Generally, the 1 is described as the Perfectionist and the Reformer. The fixated traits include critical hidden anger and resentment, with the need for rules and standards to be appropriate and above criticism and to avoid impropriety. The 1 is in the gut center, which is aggressive. In addition, the repressed center would be the thinking center. These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked thinking with compliant action and aggressive emotion (the critic or the reformer).

2

Giver/Helper

Compliant-Compliant

Blocked Thinking with Compliant Emotion and Action

Generally, the 2 is described as the Giver and the Helper and is defined as the most other-oriented, compliant type of the Enneagram . The fixated traits include pride, repression, helpfulness with manipulation, and hostility, with the need to be appealing to avoid being ignored. The 2 is in the heart center, which is also compliant, supporting this theory. In addition, the repressed center would be the thinking center. These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked thinking with compliant emotion and action (the needy one or the nurturer).

3

Performer/Motivator

Aggressive-Compliant

Blocked Feeling with Aggressive Action and Compliant Thought

Generally, the 3 is described as the Performer and the Motivator. The fixated traits include deceit, vanity, positive identification, pretension, and superficiality, with the need to be successful to avoid failure and being second best. The 3 is in the heart center, which is compliant. In addition, the repressed center would be the feeling center (this could result in emotional indifference). These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked feeling with aggressive action and compliant thought (the deceiver or the performer).

4

Tragic Romantic/Artist

Withdrawn-Compliant

Blocked Action with Resigned Emotion and Compliant Thought

 Generally, the 4 is described as the Tragic Romantic and the Artist. The fixated traits include envy, artistic sublimation, melancholy, moodiness, and drama, with the need to be special and unique to avoid being defective. The 4 is in the heart center, which is compliant. In addition, the repressed center would be the gut center. These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked action with resigned emotion and compliant thought (the tragic figure or the sensitive individualist).

5

Observer/Thinker

Withdrawn-Withdrawn

Blocked Action with Resigned Thought and Emotion

Generally, the 5 is described as the Observer and the Thinker and is defined as the most withdrawn type of the Enneagram. The fixated traits include avarice, compartmentalization, greed, and isolation, with the need to be perceptive and knowledgeable to avoid emptiness and not knowing. The 5 is in the head center, which is also withdrawn, supporting this theory. In addition, the repressed center would be the gut center. These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked action with resigned thought and emotion (the withholding observer or the researcher).

6

Devil's Advocate/Loyalist

Compliant-Withdrawn

Blocked Thinking with Compliant Emotion and Resignation

Generally, the 6 is described as the Devil's Advocate and the Loyalist. The fixated traits include fear, doubt, projection, and cowardice, with the need to be dutiful and loyal to avoid uncertainty and deviance. The 6 is in the head center, which is withdrawn. In addition, the repressed center would be the head center (this could result in the doubting mind). These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked thinking with compliant emotion and resignation (the reactive loyalist or the guardian).

7

Epicure/Generalist

Aggressive-Withdrawn

Blocked Feeling with Aggressive Thought and Resignation

Generally, the 7 is described as the Epicure and the Generalist. The fixated traits include gluttony, intellectual sublimation, options, and optimism, with the need to be fun and happy to avoid pain and sadness. The 7 is in the head center, which is withdrawn. In addition, the repressed center would be the heart center. These factors combined would suggest a personality type with blocked feeling with aggressive thought and resignation (the indiscriminate escape artist or the visionary).

Does not Horney's typology, in conjunction with the Enneagram, further explain what at first glance appear to be Enneagram look-alikes? Thus, the inverted types would suggest surface similarities, but they would have core differences. For example, the 1 is the compliant-aggressive, whereas the 3 is the aggressive-compliant, which is often difficult to distinguish. Similarly, the 4 is the withdrawn-compliant, whereas the 6 is the compliant-withdrawn, and the 7 is the aggressive-withdrawn, whereas the 9 is the withdrawn-aggressive, likewise making them difficult to distinguish without further inquiry.

Furthermore, as noted by the Chabreuils, the perspective of the repressed center and Horney's typology tends to focus on the Enneagram point's behavior, whereas the preferred center is more indicative of the defense mechanism and interior world.

Moreover, does this not suggest that there are three ways of being aggressive, being compliant, and being withdrawing? For example, the 8 is double aggressive (definitely goes after desires and hangs in for the long term), whereas the 3 is aggressive-compliant (goes after desires but complies to social standards of success), and the 7 is aggressive-withdrawing (goes after desires but gives up if the going gets tough).

Just imagine if we were to overlay the Harmonic Triads and subtypes as well . . . _ . . . but that's another essay.

 In conclusion, correlating the Enneagram with the Horney models in regard to the centers, as well as the Riso triads and the Hurley and Dobson repressed center, as documented by the Chabreuils, is rich in data that can be interpreted on many levels. The addition of The Gurdjieff Work, in tandem with Palmer's work, gives body and breath to a personality typology that indeed is neither random nor arbitrary, but rather maintains a quality and elegance in its inherent symmetry.

 

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 1      Horney, Karen, Our Inner Conflicts; New York (New York), W.W. Norton, 1945; and Neurosis and Human Growth; New York (New York), W.W. Norton, 1945.

2          Enneagram and the Horney Typology; Enneagram Monthly, Volume 1, Number 10.

3          Riso, Don Richard, Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery; Boston (Massachusetts),  Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

4          Hurley, Kathleen V. and Dobson, Theodore E.; (Theodorre Donson) My Best Self: Using the Enneagram to Free the Soul; San Francisco ( California), Harper San Francisco, 1993.

5          Speeth, Kathleen Riordan; The Gurdjieff Work; New York (New York), G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989.

6          Palmer, Helen; The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life; San Francisco (California), Harper San Francisco, 1991.       

7          Riso, Don Richard, Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types; Boston (Massachusetts), Houghton Mifflin, 1990.