Sunday, March 2, 2008

Understanding The Enneagram

I have been interested in personality types since I learned about them as a young child prodigy. I first remember learning about the basic type A and B personalities. I liked the ancient Greek method of identifying personalities by the body humors, Melancholy, Choleric, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic. Science has since proven your personality is not determined by the balance of body fluids, but rather by the weight of your bones. Then there are the animal and color versions which are a slight twist of this same concept. I also enjoy the DISC model, but I'd like to heap praises on the greatest system of them all, the enneagram.

The enneagram concept is over 2,000 years old and comes from the word enneas which is Greek for nine. According to this system there are 9 different personality types. It is much more complex than the others and there is a lot more substance to it. The enneagram does not make vague generalities like horoscopes, and the Chinese calendar which lumps everyone born in a particular month or year into the same group. It addresses the weaknesses, strengths, compulsions, and avoidance's of each personality. It shows if one functions by relying on their brain, gut, or heart. Each personality also has wings and there are more combinations so it is much more accurate than lumping the entire population into 4 categories. Trust me, from a person who loves to categorize, number, rank, and make sense of stuff, this is the most complete system on personalities. Even though I like it, I'll be the first to admit it's not perfect.

There are many books about the enneagram. Once while looking in a bookstore I noticed they were listed in the new age/occult section. Maybe an employee stocking the books thought the diagram on the cover was a pentagram or something. The only book I really endorse is the one written with a Christian perspective called The enneegram, A journey of self discovery by Beesing, Nogosek, and O'Leary.

The biggest benefit of learning this system is that it gives you an understanding of why people act the way they do and helps you be more tolerant and understanding of those who might usually drive you crazy. Once you have a knowledge of others it helps you with "seeking first to understand". I have listed a brief summary of each personality type and have listed famous people as examples who fit in these categories. You will notice that each group can have good and bad examples that have the same personality. No personality is better than the others. they all have strengths and weeknesses. I encourage you to read the book for more details.

1-The Perfectionist-They are reformers and critics. Every issue is black and white with no gray area. They are critical of self and others. (Ralph Nadar, Jerry Falwell, George Washington, Aristotle, Gandhi, Martin Luther, Charles Dickens, Al Gore, Charleton Heston, Martha Stewart)
2-The Helper-They give and serve. They want to be needed and can sometimes be clingy as strings can be attached to their service. (Mr. Rogers, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Richard Simmons, Florence Nightengale, Jerry Lewis, Bill Cosby)
3-The Achiever-They are motivators and performers. They are image oriented and enjoy recognition and admiration. Most are quite successful. (Arnold Schwarzennegar, Katie Couric, Tom Cruise, Oprah, Walt Disney, Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Vince Lombardi)
4-The Romantic-Unique and special, don't like to be categorized. Individualists, Often very dramatic. Many thespian and artists fit in this category. (Michael Jackson, Dennis Rodman, Van Gogh, Prince, Orson Welles, Igmar Bergman, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Johnny Depp)
5-The Observer-They are thinkers and keep to themselves and like to learn and study. Detail oriented and investigators. Don't mind isolation. (Stephen Hawking, Sigmund Freud, John Lennon, Tim Burton, The Buddha, Thomas Edison, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Bill Gates)
6-The Trooper-They are loyalalists and very into rules and causes. Some of them become phobic and worry alot. They are looking for stability. (Adolph Hitler, Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Mel Gibson, Michael Moore, Bob Newhart, Pat Robertson)
7-The Enthusiast-Also known as the Epicure. They are fun extraverts and the life of the party. Many times they jump from one thing to another. (Conan O'Brian, John Kennedy, Howard Stern, Mozart, Jim Carrey, Groucho Marx, Carol Burnett, David Lee Roth, Robin Williams)
8-The Challenger-Concerned with justice. Often come across as bossy or pushy. They are protectors, leaders, and intimidators and want to be in control. (Joseph Stalin, Muhammad Ali, Rosie O'Donnell, John Wayne, Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Phil, Sean Penn, Russell Crowe, John McEnroe, Charles Barkley, and Bruce Lee)
9-The Mediator-They are peacemakers and preservationists. They are kicked back and very easy to get along with and non confrontational. They don't want to rock the boat. (Albert Einstein, Dave Barry, Gerald Ford, Ringo Starr, George Lucas, Abraham Lincoln, Grace Kelly, Sandra Bullock)


Mary said...

I read that book that you recommended a while back, but I don't remember if I am more of a 2 or a 9. 5 and 6 sure sound like Jared? What number(s) are you?

Angie said...

Thanks for the post. It was fun to read and very educational. I must say, part of me has always resisted the idea of being lumped into a category. Maybe that means I'm a 4. I guess I'm also a 9...(I know what you're thinking... "Oh really...ya think??")