About the model and symbol
The word Enneagram comes from Greek. Ennea means 9, and gram is a suffix, an ending, and means something recorded, written down.
On the surface, the Enneagram is a personality type system with nine interconnected personalities, archetypes or types. Each of these nine types is connected to four others, arranged around a symbolic diagram. The Enneagram symbol has ancient and mystical origins; it represents an elegant model of some of the basic concepts that reflect patterns that can be seen in the natural world, including in the human ego or personality. As an ancient and universal model of human development and transformation, the Enneagram provides an accurate and objective overview of the archetypal patterns that structure the human personality. It provides a much-needed map for those of us seeking to understand ourselves on a deeper level.
The Enneagram describes three centres of intelligence, nine personality types and 27 subtypes that provide an incredibly accurate picture of personality in terms of the patterns associated with the way we function. The main idea is that your personality - everything you think, feel and do - consists of patterns.
As soon as you find yourself in one of these types, by matching what you observe yourself doing to one of the personalities in the enneagram, you gain access to a large amount of information that can help you recognize and emphasize the patterns in your thoughts, feelings and actions.
The Enneagram is a model consisting of 9 points in a circle, one point for each personality type. The model symbolizes movement and connection, and is not static. Everything is always changing.
Our personality is the result of programming or habits we learned in childhood to avoid emotional discomfort in unpleasant situations. We bring these survival strategies with us into adulthood, as unconscious programming or patterns, and we use them daily. The Enneagram uncovers these hidden patterns, unconscious and automatic thoughts, triggers and emotions. These are old patterns that are no longer useful, and may create obstacles, stagnation, tensions and conflicts in you and around you, and can prevent you from being fully and completely yourself, as the completely unique individual you are.
According to the wisdom tradition associated with the model, personality is seen as a false self, the ego, which is necessary up to a certain point to interact safely in the world. But it is also the reason why we lose touch with our true self - which gets buried in the background because our false self comes to the fore to cope with life.
There are endless variations of personality types within these 9 main types, which influence each other in many different ways. Together with an experienced and serious supervisor you can discover and unravel your own patterns. We like to say that development is untangling myself from something I have spent a lifetime entangling myself into. The Enneagram can be an important contributor in this work.
Origin and history
The origin of the Enneagram is unknown, but we know it is based on an ancient wisdom that has its roots several thousand years ago. The Enneagram contains elements from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism and ancient Greek philosophy. The symbol probably originates from old Sufi traditions, and was used by the esoteric teacher George Gurdjieff (1866-1949). The Enneagram as a personality model was first developed in the 1970s by the Bolivian Oscar Ichazo. His student, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Claudio Naranjo, helped to further develop the model. Naranjo was one of three successors named by Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy). In recent decades, thinkers, educators, theorists and clinicians, writers and therapists have incorporated modern psychological theory into the system.
The Enneagram in self-development and therapeutic work
Today, the Enneagram is used in therapeutic work and in self-development, and also by great storytellers and filmmakers to develop characters with authentic, complex personalities. The Enneagram is used as a guide that surprisingly accurately and in detail shows us both our gifts and strengths, but also our unconscious shadow sides and blind spots that make us like to get stuck or repeat our own unconscious actions and ways of thinking that cause us to get into conflict with ourselves or the outside world.
One of the Enneagram's great practitioners has stated that if you understand the Enneagram symbol, dynamics and movement, books and libraries are no longer needed. The Enneagram shows us deeper motivations, needs and driving forces that we don't know about. Through the Enneagram we can learn a lot about ourselves, but also about other people, why we act and react the way we do. These insights provide a completely different starting point for freedom, choices and change.
Change is not about becoming something else, but letting go of what you are not, and becoming more and more
who you really are.
If you want to find out more about your personality using the Enneagram, you are welcome to get in touch.
- a model that can be used to illustrate conscious and subconscious aspects of our thinking and ourselves
Known to oneself
Not known to oneself
Known to others
Not known to others
The 9 personality patterns, roughly illustrated: