Studying the Enneagram has been a turning point in my life. From the first book I read and later my first course given by Tom Condon, I became fascinated with the possibility of understanding the nature of the forces that make us who we are, and began to avidly study the Enneagram. After the Stanford conference, I studied with Helen Palmer and David Daniels, whose Professional Training and panels masterfully taught me to have empathy and compassion for all of the types. Don Riso's and Russ Hudson's Professional Training gave an organized psychic structure for each type, which explain why two people of the same type can appear to be so different. Each lesson was distinctive and a testament to the seemingly inexhaustible way of evaluating human nature, and all filled a different section of the broad mosaic that is the Enneagram. For the wisdom of Gurdjieff, Ichazo, Naranjo, and my teachers, and those before them who have been the custodians of this knowledge, I am respectfully grateful.
When I was asked to write this article, I felt there was much I could share about this extraordinary workshop. However, writing about the experience proved to be another matter, for Claudio's and my speaking and writing styles are so different, as I tend to string adjectives together for emphasis, and he chooses concise words or phrases that say it all. Therefore, this article is, in effect, my "translation" of Claudio's teachings, and so any awkward phraseology should be attributed to me. Similarly, although this is my impression of what Claudio was saying, the information was so rich that it may well have resonated differently with others. Stated concisely, I walked away from the experience with a more expanded, integrated view of type. Now for the string of adjectives. ;)
In April of this year, Claudio Naranjo held a week-long workshop in Boulder, Colorado, his first in-depth teaching of the Enneagram in this country in more than 20 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend, and found that Claudio's unique style of teaching contributed as much to the learning experience as did the content. With wisdom, kindness, skill, and patience, Claudio freely gave of himself, indulging us and politely answering questions in a responsive yet neutral manner, creating an environment in which I thrived.
Claudio placed little emphasis on the structure of the workshop, instead placing more significance on the transmission of information toward a greater goal that emerged day by day. Interspersing nuances and descriptors with theories, the week unfolded. Rather than having an agenda and covering the types in an A-to-Z manner, Claudio's approach was distinctive and focused on relativity. Instead of a methodical approach, he employed an intriguing conversational style, similar to the way we actually speak, spontaneously and with free association. Just as you might begin to predict what he would talk about next, he would suddenly journey into another deeper realm of the Enneagram before ultimately returning to his original path. On any subject, he would weave in nuances, theories, information, comparisons, character sketches, and a touch of humor. Thread by thread, random thoughts were strung together, and the tapestry of type began to take form. Often serious, sometimes thoughtful, clearly curious, and always knowledgeable, he elaborated on type. As a teacher, storyteller, and sage, he interwove more obvious, overt pathology with the hidden simplistic view of the wounded child. I found myself paying rapt attention to each pearl of wisdom, stringing them together one by one.
Beginning with a history of the Enneagram, Claudio acknowledged the works of Gurdjieff, Ichazo, Freud, Jung, Sheldon, Pearls, Horney, and others, combining their theories with Eastern philosophies and spiritual practices. Claudio explored many schools of thought, uniting Western psychology with Eastern traditions, resulting in a highly integrated view of type. First he discussed the different passions, and then examined the types, ultimately breaking the types down by the three instinctual subtypes. This was remarkably effective, in that we got the essence of the fixation prior to assigning it a number. The benefit of this approach was that when we were examining the actual passion, it was unfiltered by our previous conceptions of what that type was supposedly like. It contributed to an overall "layered" effect that I think opened up the organized mind.
Claudio started with interesting general observations of the passions, and then proceeded to discuss each passion in depth, making memorable statements along the way. For example, he defined the sloth of the 9 as a "lack of voltage," no motivation, and out of energy, stating that you cannot repress anger without repressing everything. He referred to it as a laziness of awareness, which he called being "functionally dumb," not a dumb person, but choosing to function with dispassion; and the laziness was of awareness or consciousness, because awareness is too painful, and distraction is preferred (e.g., "don't rock the boat; let's not create a problem by seeing how it really is"). He described it as a defense of "not knowing." In contrast, the passion of the 2 is pride and "ego flattery" or "egocentric generosity," and represents a "love trauma." The 2 has "false abundance" and is in full denial of emptiness, filled instead with false love, often "promising more than they deliver, and delivering more than they promise." As Claudio noted, there is not much room for the self when filled with pride.
In describing the passions, Claudio did not try to make them appear equal, yet suggested that all the passions equally keep us from our essence. Possibly, the mood in a society or a historic moment may determine whether or not a particular passion is considered good or bad. If so, this might explain his theory that many 3s believe they are 8s, for in business, some 8-like traits are valued and esteemed. Thus, some 3s, recognizing that this is how they need to be seen in order to be successful, have identified themselves as 8s; but their underlying motive is that of a 3, which is to fulfill the role.
Claudio teaches that the wings are ever-present, and that the point is the convergence of the wings. He introduced theories that the passion is the "yearning" and visible by age five and is a response to the situation, an emotional pattern, whereas the fixation is the "way of being," a life philosophy and an abstraction that is in place by age seven. He also teaches that the instinctual type is one of three sub-personalities that is the "auxiliary passion." He suggests that outwardly the instinctual subtype can look positive, like a talent, or something of which one should be overly proud, but inwardly is a reflection of unhappiness with a price to be paid, e.g., "the oyster is not too interested in the price of the pearls."
With regard to the instinctual subtypes, one intriguing insight to type 4 was the introduction of a rare type of sexual 4 that can be "counter-envious" with 8-like tendencies, which Claudio described as often appearing "more 8 than an 8." This sexual 4 is in denial of envy, is self-confident, claims position, and knows his or her own worth ("I deserve it"). Moreover, this 4 can be cannibalistic, overstep boundaries, and diminish others to make the self bigger and to prove one right. Examples given were Hitler and Pacino in Scent of a Woman. This raises the question of "counter types" for each of the Enneagram points.
Claudio's words were carefully measured, extremely concise, and effective. There was nothing forced or artificially balanced, with no sense of "apology" with respect to any particular type, thus permitting one to view the types clearly. For example, when discussing the passion of fear, he described it as a lack of courage or as too much fear, in effect a fear of fear, adding that perhaps all of us can be cowards, but not all of us are afraid of fear. He submitted that the passion arises from the attempt to avoid experiencing fear or projecting fear, and trying to ignore having fear, resulting in suspicion and no faith in self. So a defiant, counter-phobic attitude arises from the need to defend and be guarded, to be inhibited. This suggests how the counter-phobic 6 differs from the 8, the 6 is inhibited, whereas the 8 is not inhibited. For example, the counter-phobic 6 can be bold and do heroic things ("military man") but still have phantoms or phobias.
He further stated that 6s feel "swallowed by others." This choice of words creates a clear visual picture that rings with validity. Being "swallowed by others" might be interpreted as a fundamental fear of what could happen to them, a terrible fantasy, imagined exaggerated danger. There is a tendency to submit, and the counter-phobic fights that tendency, while the phobic runs away. Anything new would be threatening, terrible. Therefore, the 6 is slow and "holds back and does not display" and instead becomes a "proof" junky.
Choosing words that create pictures is another impression of Claudio's teaching style. Furthermore, he does not seem to use the same approach for each type, and instead uses the words that serve the type. As an illustration, Claudio sees the 7 as passive-aggressive with humor, diplomacy, and conscious manipulation, believing that "having my way is love." When he talked about the aspect of rationalization of the 7s, he referred to them as having a lubricated or "slippery" quality. As "utopians," the 7 likes and offers gentleness. With a philosophy of life to "live and let live," the 7 has a lighthearted way of getting around the super ego. Yet, "behind every good boy there is a spiteful brat" (Fritz Perls), and what is not observable is the 7's non-connection and hidden paranoia.
Claudio views the chief feature as the "core of character," a "distorting of reality, an illusion, a trap, a cognitive defect, a ruling passion, the crazy idea about things," and sees the passions as the basic motivations. He described that all the passions are various deficiency motivations, a wanting, a form of light passing through different filters creating different colors. The capital sins, as well, are thought to be deviations in psychic energy, creating destructive effects in life and spiritual obstacles.
He portrayed the fixations as ways of being hung up on our own assumptions of reality, the fixation is the particular assumption of reality we have, and it crystallizes in our consciousness, "lack of appreciation of life as it is," and is slightly different for each of us. My understanding is that he believes that we contend with all nine fixations, and that it is just a matter of which one we overuse.
Claudio sees the 5 as feeling a sense of impoverishment, having very limited resources and energy, and with non-expression of feeling (dry, desert-like depression). They tend to amputate reality, repressing whatever they feel is bad about themselves, and because of such repression, their unexpressed anger goes inward. Thus, they are easily depleted and look inward so keenly that solicitations from the outer world are experienced as interference, i.e., "you are in the way of my listening to myself."
Both the 5 and 1 seem to repress anger. However, by comparison, the passion for the 1 is anger and is motivated by the need for "perfect values," perfectionism, and more importantly a lack of acceptance for imperfection. So unlike the 5, the 1 has inverted anger "reaction formation," a moral superiority, kindly intentions that cover anger, a rejection of one's own experience in favor of what should be (a willed positive regard not supported by true loving feelings), therefore at odds with reality.
Working with further distinctions, he explained that the reason the 1 and 3 have a surface resemblance is that the 3 has the "right image" (e.g., the perfect person), whereas the 1 has the "perfect values." He cited Dick Tracy, Barbie, and Star Trek's Mr. Spock as examples of the 3. He sees the 3 as having no feelings, like HAL the computer in the movie 2001. The 3 modulates expression of feeling; they look like they feel "nice" when they do not feel "nice" at all. The deception is the logical and clear simulation of feeling. Think of HAL, who in an effort to be efficient killed off his own people and then kept the information from himself and searched for the killer.
Claudio teaches transmission through relativity, which he accomplishes by comparing opposites by juxtaposition rather than by cataloguing. Everything is compared and contrasted and has a point of reference, i.e., the Sexual 4 is arrogant and demanding, whereas the Self-Preservation 4 is oneish and tenacious; or the 8 is spending energy, whereas the 5 is saving energy.
Another aspect of comparison is the relationship of opposition in the Enneagram. For example, the 1 and 5 are on the "anal axis," the 2 and 7 are on the "oral receptive axis," and the 4 and 8 are on the "oral aggressive axis." Some of the similarities between type included those that shared common issues. In addition, the 1 and 5 have issues with control, the 2 and 7 share issues with connection, and the 4 and 8 share intensity.
Claudio introduced a multitude of theories and intriguing ways of slicing the "Enneagram pie." Of the triads, he said the 8-9-1 was the triad dealing with ignorance or unconsciousness, the 2-3-4 with craving or desire, and the 5-6-7 with issues of hate or aversion. In addition, the 8-9-1 was the neutral aspect of the Enneagram, the 2-3-4 was the extroverted perspective of the Enneagram, and the 5-6-7 was the introverted. He saw the right side of the Enneagram as primarily feminine and social, and the left side as primarily masculine and antisocial, and so on. He gave us many, many different Enneagrams, so to speak. These perspectives suggest different internal views he has synthesized, resulting in how he sees type.
With regard to the polarity of temperament, he viewed the 7 and 4, as well as the 5 and 2, in sharp contrast to one another. The 7 is seen as the happy character, whereas the 4 is seen as the sad character; and the 5 is seen as having cool aloofness, whereas the 2 is seen as having warmth and intimacy.
Another aspect of temperament was mood. He talked about mood (elation versus depression), and that the 2-3-4's are quick and gregarious, and the 5-6-7's indecisive and timid. He discerned that within the triad, there is a contrast in mood. For example, the 2 and 7 have the high moods, and the 4 and 5 have the low moods, in their respective triads. An example of the high mood in the "extroverted triad" is the 2, which we know to be up, quick, gregarious, and outgoing. Similarly, an example of the low mood in the "introverted triad" is the 5, which we know can be depressed, slow, withholding, and withdrawn, and so on.
As mentioned, the 4 and 5, at the pit of the Enneagram, are hypersensitive and see the abyss, and are difficult and fussy versions of the low moods from the two different triads. In contrast, 8-9-1, the third triad at the top of the Enneagram, is described as ignorant, neutral, insensitive, and unconscious, and as "defensive extroversion with an avoidance of inwardness." This insensitivity is perhaps a reflection of self-forgetting. As an example, the 8 has "solution mastery," tends to be a cynic, exploitive, and focuses on the simple nuts and bolts of life, and is viewed as tough, rebellious, vindictive, insensitive, and thick. Most important, the 8 is insensitive to subtlety, and needs strong stimuli, e.g., "loud music, heavy spices, and intensity to feel alive."
Having submitted our childhood histories to Claudio prior to the workshop, we were also able to delve into a variety of self-diagnostic psychological exercises and broke into groups by type, where impressive similarities and patterns emerged when the data was shared. We put our results to graphs, clearly demonstrating a similar pattern of attention, which was even more visible when we shared the results on panels.
Through observing the demeanor of a person, something can be perceived that is deep and profound. The trick is to be able to recognize it when it manifests. This brings to mind a Holographic picture or kaleidoscope, which when shifted reveal images not previously seen. Similarly, you need to know what you are looking for when determining type. As to knowing what to look for, perhaps it is in reality everything synthesized that with subtlety reveals a crystallized sense of type, like the varying perceptions realized from the Holographic picture or the kaleidoscope. Therefore, when an individual displays an "eagle eye," upright posture, with a carriage that is very proper and held tight, and with a finger that tends to point out all the "shoulds" and "should nots," we might all agree that this is a 1. Admittedly, this approach may not always work, for there is invariably the element of individuality. However, this concept clearly represents a way of seeing that, if understood, can be extremely powerful.
Of course, there remains an ongoing question, which subtleties do you decide are defining and, thus, indicative of type? It is unlikely that one answer will apply to everyone, and so an approach for one type will not necessarily work for another. What was most noteworthy about this workshop, its style and approach, was how it emphasized the subtle nuances about all the types, the messages that surface on their own and that you can recognize if you are receptive to them. Claudio pays attention to what he calls his "nose" or "seeing through the game of the other."
Claudio's focus was on recognizing the pathology and the hidden passion of the types. He reinforced that the study of typing must go beyond written descriptions, and that of much more importance is the ability to recognize type intuitively. He emphasized creating more of an environment for seeing the subtleties, trusting the gut, and letting the subtlety be the dominant factor.
I found the week to be evocative. I came away with a more expanded sense of type and yet a narrower set of criteria, "ennea-types," Claudio's assessment of personality type according to the Enneagram. The nuances have continued to surface for me. I have discovered that there is an underlying subtlety that cannot be conveyed through using one particular word or descriptor. Perhaps we rely too much on descriptors, since it is tempting to want to classify. More important, I believe there is something inherently revealing in a person's posture, something detectable in our speech, our manner, our carriage, and the distinctive way we respond to situations.
In conclusion, Claudio explained that the logic of the system suggests that whereas truth is liberating, a felt insight must also come into play; and by working on the virtues with attention to practice, transformation can occur. Finally he suggests that working with a trusted group that will call you on your fixation is one of the most effective ways to challenge your compulsive behavior and will support the growth process.