The Enneagram of Personality is a personality typing system which divides human personality into nine distinct yet interrelated types. The types are numbered from 1 through 9. Each type is defined by a major concern or mindset which forms the basis of a person’s larger personality, behavior, and actions. It is believed that a person’s type is formed in childhood and stays with them for the rest of their life, unchanging.
The Enneagram system derives from ancient teachings which were re-introduced to wider society by psychiatrists and spiritual teachers in the 19oos. It is used by people, schools, and employers to better understand personality in order to understand how it influences interpersonal dynamics. However, some still use it as it was originally presented: as a path to self-understanding and spiritual awareness.
The Three Centers
The nine types are divided into three centers, with each center containing three types. These centers are known as the Heart, Head, and Gut. Knowing which center your personality falls in will help you in determining your type and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
- Heart Center: This center is also known as the Feeling Center and contains types Two,Three, and Four. The Heart Center is emotion-based and types in this center focus on relationships — with themselves or others. They are constantly aware of their relationship to the world. They are either being affected or are affecting others.
- Head Center: The Head Center is s0metimes called the Thinking Center. The primary concern of types Five, Six, and Seven which make up the Head Center is thinking and reflecting on the world and their experiences. These types can be anxious or withdrawn due to their inward focus on understanding. In contrast to the Heart Center, those of the Head Center approach themselves and others with the mind first.
- Gut Center: Those belonging to the Gut or Instinctive Center react first, reflect later. The three types of this center are Eight, Nine, and One and each shows a way of reacting to stimuli from the outside world. Those of the Gut Center can be direct and confrontational, or withdrawn and compliant depending on their orientation.
The nine types or Enneatypes are as follows. The numbers are insignificant; no type is better than the other but represent a certain personality drive:
One — The Perfectionist and Reformer: Ones are realistic, self-controlled, and purposeful. They strive to live up the standards they set for themselves. On the negative side, they can be self-righteous and morally rigid.
Two — The Helper and Giver: Twos are nurturing and concerned with the needs of others. They desire to give love and receive love from others, and on the downside can unknowingly manipulate others.
Three — The Performer and Motivator: Threes are motivated to succeed and shine — they are concerned with their image and how they come across to other people. Threes excel in whatever arena they are driven. On the negative side they can be overly focused on their persona to the detriment of their inner selves.
Four — The Individualist and Romantic: Fours are intuitive and sensitive. They tend to be warm and receptive to the emotions of others. Their downfall is being temperamental and falling prey to negative moods.
Six — The Skeptic and Loyalist: Sixes are responsible and committed, but can be suspicious and anxious. Their personalities range from introverted to the most extroverted. Sixes’ negative side is worry and fear.
Seven — The Adventurer/Enthusiast: Sevens are versatile and energetic. They are generally optimistic about life and dive headfirst into experience. On the downside they can be scattered and fail to finish what they start.
Eight — The Leader/Boss: Eights are confident, decisive, and direct. They are self-reliant and stand on their own two feet. However, Eights can become overly aggressive and are sometimes perceiving as dominating and bullying.
Nine — The Peacemaker: Nines are easygoing and tolerant; they accept life as it is. They seek to be in union and good terms with the people around them. On the downside, Nines can be overly complacent, passive, and indecisive.
In addition to the basic type, most people have a wing — a number on either side of their type which colors their essential type. For example, a Seven with a Six wing (7w6) will be less outgoing and more cautious than a Seven with an Eight wing.
The Instinctual Subtypes or Variants
Each type has a subtype or variant which corresponds to the basic instincts of mankind. The instinct shows where the most energy and attention is spent.
The self-preservation instinct (sp) is focused on survival and essential needs such as security and comfort. Those of this subtype respond to perceived threats in their environment.
The social subtype (so) is concerned with their place in the world and social structure. This subtype sees the group as necessary to the individual’s survival.
The sexual or one-to-one subtype (sx) is centered on close, intimate relationships. These can be of a sexual kind, but sexual subtypes are concerned with forming intimate relationships of any nature. The sexual subtype sees relationships and coupling as necessary to their survival and happiness.
Do you know your basic personality? What is your Enneatype?
- Enneagram Test — find out your type with a portion from a short, fully validated personality test
- Test with Variants — find out your type, complete with instinctual subtype