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Enneagram of Personality: Origin, Symbol and Types

The Enneagram of Personality is a psychological assessment that categorizes and interconnects human behavior into nine personality types. A nine-point geometrical shape symbolizes the Enneagram of Personality. Each point on the symbol represents an Enneagram personality. Additionally, each personality has distinctive but similar characteristics and beliefs that fall into either the Heart, Head, or Body Type.

Enneagram of Personality

The exact origins of the Enneagram of Personality are unclear, but its modern theories derive from the works of Oscar Ichzao and Claudio Naranjo. The Enneagram of Personality entered the U.S. mainstream in the 1970s largely thanks to Naranjo. The Enneagram is now widely used as a model of the human psyche and personality tests may be freely taken online.

What is the Enneagram of Personality?

The Enneagram of Personality is a psychological model that describes nine unique personality types. A nine-pointed geometrical model typically visualizes the Enneagram, with each personality type symbolizing a point on the model. The model defines each personality by a unique set of characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. According to the Enneagram, each type is also driven by a core ideology that shapes the individual’s worldviews, decisions, fears, and motivations.

The Enneagram groups similarities between the nine personality types into three additional categories. First, Heart Types. People with Heart Type personalities follow their emotions and have a keen sense of empathy. Second, Head Types. Individuals with Head Type personalities trust logic and facts over emotions and instincts. Third, Body Types. The Body Type personalities trust their gut and value their personal freedoms.

What is the origin of the Enneagram?

The origin of the Enneagram is unknown. Its core concepts and use of nine archetypes have spiritual and religious roots in 4th century Christian mysticism, Sufism, and the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras among other ancient sources. Russian philosopher George Gurdjieff popularized the spiritual aspects of the enneagram symbol in the 1930s.

Philosopher Oscar Ichazo is accredited with the origin of the modern Enneagram model and its nine personality types. In 1968, Ichazo utilized the enneagram’s nine-point symbol in his theory of protoanalysis. According to Ichazo’s theory, a person’s ego develops in one of nine ways during early childhood, forming the basis of their personality. After attending a retreat hosted by Ichazo in 1970, a Chilean psychiatrist named Claudio Naranjo adapted Ichazo’s principles and the enneagram symbol into his own teachings. Naranjo’s work popularized the enneagram and the nine personality types in the United States during the 1970s. Today, the Enneagram of Personality typically refers to the psychological model rather than its spiritual connotations.

What is the Enneagram symbol?

The Enneagram symbol is a nine-pointed geometric shape. In psychology, the enneagram symbol represents a human psyche model called the Enneagram of Personality. The Enneagram’s symbol depicts three concepts. Firstly, the outer circle and nine points, in which the encompassing circle represents the unity of the nine personality types. Secondly, the inner triangle, which represents how each of the personalities are different but equal. Thirdly, the interconnecting hexagonal lines, in which the hexagon represents the fluidity of the personality types and how their behaviors interconnect.

What are the types of Enneagram?

Below are the nine types of Enneagram

  • The Perfectionist (Type 1)
  • The Giver (Type 2)
  • The Achiever (Type 3)
  • The Individualist (Type 4)
  • The Investigator (Type 5)
  • The Skeptic (Type 6)
  • The Enthusiast (Type 7)
  • The Challenger (Type 8)
  • The Peacemaker (Type 9)

The nine enneatypes fall under either Head, Heart, or Body categories, which illustrate commonalities between the three groups. Additionally, each type connects to two other types on the Enneagram symbol: one line points towards healthy growth traits, while the other points towards traits which manifest during times of stress. Different Enneagram types all have evolving strengths and weaknesses, as discussed below.

Type 1: The Perfectionist (Body)

The Perfectionist is serious, practical, hardworking, and rigid. As one of the Body Enneagram Types, Perfectionists follow their morals rather than their head or heart. A strong code of ethics is Type 1’s greatest strength. Perfectionists are idealists who stand up in the face of injustice and advocate for change. One of the Perfectionist’s great weaknesses is self-righteousness and a need to be perfect. The Perfectionists’ moral code rarely allows for conflicting ideologies or personal failures. Type 1’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 7, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 4.

Type 2: The Giver (Heart)

The Giver personality type is caring, altruistic, sensitive, and self-sacrificing. As a Heart Type, people with a Giver personality trust their emotional intelligence and make decisions based on how they feel. Type 2’s best strengths are kindness and generosity. Givers like to help others, providing love and support whenever they can due to their innate altruism. Key weaknesses of Giver types are pridefulness and a deep fear of being unloved. Givers often prioritize their needs last and refuse to accept help from others because of their self-sacrificing nature. Type 2’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 4, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 8.

Type 3: The Achiever (Heart)

The Achiever is smart, ambitious, and driven but slightly insecure. Achievers are Heart Type personalities, making them highly empathetic and attuned to the emotions of others. The greatest strength of Type 3 is their dedication. Whether at work or in social situations, the Achiever always strives to be a valued member of a team. A core weakness of the Achiever is their insecurity. Achievers require external praise and recognition. This insecurity can manifest in many ways, making Achievers very jealous and all too eager to step on people to get the recognition they crave. Type 3’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 3, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 9.

Type 4: The Individualist (Heart)

The Individualist is creative, emotional, quirky, and passionate. Individualists are Heart personalities who are in touch with their emotions and the emotions of others. The greatest strength of Type 4 is their creativity. Individualists often explore their emotions through art, finding themselves in the process. The greatest weakness of the Individualist is a lack of self-belief. Extreme feelings of uncertainty sometimes manifest as depression or addiction in Individualists. Type 4’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 1, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 2.

Type 5: The Investigator (Head)

The Investigator is inquisitive, knowledgeable, secretive, and withdrawn. Investigators are also a Head personality type. Therefore, they’re ruled by logic and intrigue. Type 5’s strength lies in their insatiable sense of curiosity. People with an Investigator personality love learning and decoding complex puzzles. A key weakness of the Investigator is reclusiveness. Investigative types prioritize their interests over emotional connections and often isolate themselves. Type 5’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 8, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 7.

Type 6: The Skeptic (Head)

The Skeptic is alert, vigilant, organized, and prepared for anything. Skeptics are Head type personalities who prefer making logical and intellectual decisions. The greatest strength of Type 6 is their ability to plan ahead. Skeptics are very risk averse and take great measures to prepare for any eventuality. The core weakness of the Skeptic is their hypervigilance which can manifest as paranoia and crippling anxiety. Type 6’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 9, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 3.

Type 7: The Enthusiast (Head)

The Enthusiast is outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistic, and playful. Enthusiasts are Head personalities who use logic to avoid emotional pain. The greatest strength of Type 7 lies in their optimism. Enthusiasts always see the bright side and have an infectious attitude that brings joy to others. The main weakness of the Enthusiast is they can lose touch with reality in the pursuit of fun and adventure. This results in Enthusiasts retreating into a fantasy world and developing narcissistic tendencies. Type 7’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 5, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 1.

Type 8: The Challenger (Body)

The Challenger is confident, independent, and powerful. Challengers are a Body personality type who trust their gut and rely on their instincts to guide them. The greatest strength of Type 8 is their confidence. Challengers have a strong sense of justice and will stand up for what they believe to be right. A key weakness of the Challenger personality type is their stubbornness. If left uncontrolled, the Challenger’s stubbornness can result in arguments with others. Challengers are also fiercely passionate and love to feel in control which sometimes leads them to push people away. Type 8’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 2, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 5.

Type 9: The Peacemaker (Body)

The Peacemaker is calm, modest, adaptive, and passive. As a Body Type personality, Peacemakers follow their instincts, valuing independence and freedom above all else. Notable Peacemaker strengths include open-mindedness. Peacemakers wish to live calm, quiet lives and believe everyone should live by their own rules. The Peacemaker’s greatest weakness is complacency. People with a Peacemaker personality take life as it comes. As a result, they often simplify issues and avoid confrontations to keep the peace. Type 9’s growth is towards the healthy traits of Type 3, and under stress it tends towards the unhealthy traits of Type 6.

What are the uses of the Enneagram?

The uses of the Enneagram mainly focus on helping people self-identify with their natural personalities. The Enneagram not only gives individuals the opportunity to understand their strengths but also to proactively address the less dominant elements of their personality. The Enneagram is frequently used in the corporate world as part of team building exercises. Enneagram testing helps colleagues better understand one another and the different elements everybody brings to the team. The benefit of using the Enneagram is that it breaks down personality into easily identifiable facets, allowing for targeted self-improvement.

How accurate is the Enneagram test?

How accurate the Enneagram test is depends on the honesty of the answers given. As with any self-testing mechanism, there is a higher chance of accurate test results if test-takers answer with full honesty. Some researchers are critical of the Enneagram because answers may vary according to the context of the answer choices and the mindset of the individual taking the test. As a result, the test will not always give the same results each time an individual takes it.

What are the differences between Enneagram and MBTI?

There are three core differences between Enneagram and MBTI. Firstly, the Enneagram and MBTI feature different quantities of personality types. The Enneagram defines just nine personality types whereas the MBTI defines sixteen. Secondly, the Enneagram and MBTI are based on different psychological factors. The Enneagram personalities are based on an individual’s emotional motivations and response to trauma. Meanwhile, the MBTI is based on an individual’s psychological preferences. Thirdly, the Enneagram and MBTI have different beliefs on personality type development. The MBTI is built on the belief that personality type development links to nature. The Enneagram is built around the belief that nurture and childhood trauma impact the development of our personality into adulthood.

Is the Enneagram test reliable?

The Enneagram test is reliable if the test-taker answers honestly. Furthermore, the reliability of the Enneagram will vary depending on whether you believe nature, nurture, or both sides of the debate impact personality development.

Currently, no empirical evidence suggests the Enneagram provides a scientifically accurate measure of personality. Reliable test results depend on a high level of self-understanding and self-image. That said, those that take the Enneagram test and answer it honestly will likely find parallels with their personality.