A Brief History of the Enneagram

The Enneagram (any-a-gram; ennea is Greek for nine, and gram means drawing) is a circle enclosing nine equidistant points connected by nine intersecting lines. This symbol has its roots in ancient spiritual traditions in the Middle East.

As we know it today, the Enneagram is a vital link between the psyche and the spirit. It is a conceptual system, a theory of personality types that is complex and sophisticated, and yet is a sensible and easily understood tool for self-discovery. The nine points represent the ways in which the nine different personality types perceive and defend their realities.

The types are distinguished by unconscious motivations and preoccupations which produce patterns of perception, feeling, and behavior which can be gifts or obstacles to the personality. 

The Wisdom, Power & Gifts of the Enneagram

The wisdom of the Enneagram is that it recognizes nine very different yet inherently valid views of reality. The power of the Enneagram is that it is a profound and comprehensive tool to harness and transform self-defeating behavior into life-enhancing personal empowerment. The gift of the Enneagram is that through self-discovery, one can create and sustain meaningful and lasting relationships.

Enneatypes At A Glance

Enneagram Type 1 

Type 1s want to be accurate, honest, fair and objective. Most importantly, they want to be respectable, to do what is right and what they feel is appropriate. Type 1s have high standards and are methodical, ethical and diligent. They believe that anything worth doing, is worth doing the right way. Under stress, they may become resentful, angry, nit-picky and overly critical. Their core fears are of being wrong, bad, evil corruptible, inappropriate, lazy, unethical,  and lied to. At their best, they are wise, noble, full of integrity and offer sage guidance to the world.

Enneagram Type 2 

Type 2s want to be appealing, giving, caring and heartfelt. Most importantly, they want to feel needed, considered important and appreciated for their efforts. They naturally pay attention to the needs and concerns of others and are ready to step in and lend a helping hand. Under stress, they may have problems with pride and find it difficult to ask for help—becoming manipulative to get attention or have their needs met. Their core fears are of being worthless, unneeded, unappreciated, unwanted, inconsequential, useless, discarded, lonely, and uncared for by chosen attachment figures. At their best, they are an empathetic, altruistic, people-person that is able to see and intuit the needs of others and then tend to their needs.

Enneagram Type 3

Type 3s want to be competent, efficient, accomplished and dynamic. Most importantly, they want to be good at what they do and to look good doing it. They are highly ambitious, driven, focused and self-motivated.  They are goal-oriented with the ability to focus. They need goals and projects to achieve, and have a strong desire to feel the reward of completion and success. Under stress, they may have problems with vanity and become self-promoting, self-deceptive or overly competitive. Their core fears are of being unsuccessful, failing, being inefficient, unmasked, found out, incapable, unable to do, unproductive, and/or second best. At their best, they are self-confident, positive, self-motivated and extremely productive.

Enneagram Type 4 

Type 4s want to be inspired, intuitive, original and unique. Most importantly, they want to be passionate, true to their feelings and authentic. They see themselves as a sensitive intellectual that is creative, expressive and spiritual. They are identified with their emotional states and their meaning. They see themselves as emotionally deep and seek beauty and meaning in every thing they do. They may have problems with envy. Under stress, they may be moody, haughty or overly emotional. Their core fears are of being painfully lacking, inadequate, flawed, defective, ordinary, not realizing their potential and being emotionally cut off. At their best, they are emotionally self-aware, self-revealing, creative and extremely compassionate and humane. 

Enneagram Type 5

Type 5s want to be informed, knowledgeable, concise and perceptive. Most importantly, they want to have a clear mind, be self-sufficient and not have the entanglements of obligation. They are deeply introspective and want to understand how systems work. They may have problems with avarice. Under stress, they may be arrogant, withholding, unemotional or distant. Their core fears are of being ignorant, without mastery, expertise or knowledge, mentally drained, obligated, without resources, disembodied, incompetent with psychic panic. At their best, they are objective, insightful, wise and clear minded experts in the area of their interests.

Enneagram Type 6 

Type 6s want to be safe, secure, fit in and belong. Most importantly, they want to have certainty, putting their faith in a reliable authority, a trusted friend or a known system or tradition. They are the true devil’s advocate and can always see both sides of every issue. They can struggle with feelings of fear, doubt and/or anxiety. Under stress, they can worry about being blamed and to protect themselves, undermine or blame others. Phobic Sixes will manage their fear by focusing on what could go wrong and become overly cautious. Counter-phobic Sixes may deny their fear and take risks to prove that they are not afraid. Secretly, they still heavily prepare. Their core fears are of being alone, blamed for something they didn’t do, afraid of being afraid, being unprepared, being without a protector, not having back up support people, especially with the right expertise. At their best, they are courageous, supportive, engaging, dedicated and loyal.

Enneagram Type 7 

Type 7s want to be fascinating, fascinated, optimistic and enthusiastic. Most importantly, they want to be stimulated, creative, positive and excited. They see themselves as fun-loving, diverse and playful. They are naturally upbeat and see possibilities that others miss. They may have problems with gluttony and always want more, and the bigger, better, deal. Under stress, they may be scattered, overly happy, jaded or greedy. Their core fears are of being trapped in emotional pain, missing out, being inferior, uncool, limited, and/or bored. At their best, they are inspirational, visionary, playful, loving and joyful.

Enneagram Type 8 

Type 8s want to be open, honest, direct and straightforward. Most importantly, they want to be independent, make their own decisions and direct their own course. They want to be master and commander of their own life. They are honest and take pride in calling a spade a spade. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They may have problems with being excessive and going to extremes. Too much is almost enough. Under stress, they may be intense, intimidating, overpowering or unwilling to self-limit. Their core fears are of being misrepresented, powerlessness, being manipulated, humiliated, harmed and/or controlled. At their best, they are a protective, compassionate and magnanimous leader that is both tough-minded and tenderhearted.

Enneagram Type 9 

Type 9s want to be peaceful, relaxed, comfortable and natural. Most importantly, they want to be agreeable and if at all possible to avoid conflict. They are a nice person and go along to get along. They want harmonious relationships. They are very receptive and good listeners. They are patient and like to take their time in whatever they do. They may have problems with inaction. Under stress, they may be passive-aggressive, neglectful and/or indifferent to the needs of others. They may be unresponsive and/or minimize differences to avoid conflict. Their core fears are of being loveless, uncomfortable, inharmonious, overlooked, discordant, unimportant, non-existent, lost in complications and/or shutout. At their best, they are steady, kind, accepting, and deeply connected to others and able to successfully mediate differences and restore harmony.