Enneagram ? What this ?
Introduction on what Enneagram is
Popularized in the 1970s in the current of humanistic psychology, the enneagram is a method of personal development and management. This method does not only address the interpersonal dimension, but puts motivation at the forefront of the relationship. While it is excluded from the ordinary factorial interpretation of the personality (the most common psychometric tests), motivation is here the sine qua non of a vision that embraces both individual reality and social reality. This gives a dynamic and not static typology. Its benchmark is simplicity and symmetry, so easily affordable and applicable, but internal differentiation is complex and powerful for those who want to dig.
The enneagram describes nine different ways of approaching the world, and as a result nine very different ways of interacting with it. Ennea means 9 in Greek. Each of the 9 enneatypes has its strengths, its weaknesses. Each of us privileges certain information and leaves others aside, in an unconscious way, limited to a version of reality. Don’t we say in NLP that the map is not the territory. The enneagram brings to light these more or less unconscious irrational fears and a « compulsion« , a fierce desire to avoid at all costs what we are afraid of. This compulsion will structure 9 personality patterns and relationships with others: how to behave, how to communicate, expectations, motivations. This personal development tool makes it possible to know oneself better and to free oneself from certain sometimes limiting automatisms, and thus to improve his interpersonal relationships and his well-being.
The Enneagram is now a teaching unit in the Standford MBA (1994), one of the most highly rated business degrees in the US, but also in other US (Chicago …) and Canadian universities, as well as in France in HEC. Its recognition is well established.
Its cognitive and emotional structure can be a useful and powerful guide.
What are Key words of enneagram
Defensive Mechanism & Motivations
Those are the threats – real or imagined – with regard to his « integrity » that will lead the child to gradually build this character (this Ego, this Self) that he will be tempted to take for his true personality. Fear is therefore the first generic factor of our personality. The creation of an identity, reinforced by the entourage (invited or forced) is the second generic factor. The « rewards » he receives are so gratifying to him that he reproduces and reproduces what is presented to him as behavior to adopt. Behavior that he will master and of which he will be proud. Here we find the genesis of the 9 personality types of the enneagram.
To Act or to React
As well expressed by Joshua Greene, the brain is like a camera equipped with 2 settings: an automatic and unconscious mode (face, landscape ..) or a manual and conscious mode. Automatic adjustments are very effective, but not very flexible. The opposite is true of the manual settings. The manual mode will be very effective in solving complex and unusual situations. Should we know when to we have to switch to manual mode. When to act or react.
The compulsions / I avoid
As soon as we are under light stress, we act under the influence of our compulsion. It is the engine of our Ego (social mask). It is the one who leads our lives. But It’s also a leak system. In opposition and consequence, we develop corresponding qualities that will form our pride (and excessively our owerweening pride) and our motivations.
Motivation & Pride / I like
Despite (or thanks) to our compulsion, we develop qualities that will be the basis of our motivations. To fight against our fears, we excel in a direction of which we will be proud. Pride that can become our sin of pride (see the 7 deadly sins below). « I am a worker, I am indispensable, you have seen my success, I am unique, I do know, I am loyal, I am so nice, I am the strongest, I am so cool and easy to live ».
The inner arrows
Under stress, we begin to manifest the negative behaviors related to the point that indicates the arrow. The system is therefore very dynamic. Be careful, if the behaviors are positive and adequate, it is rather an indicator that the person becomes able to get out of his own stereotypes related to his profile. The principle of the arrows proposes an implication, not an equivalence.
3 Centers / 3 Brains
The theory of the 3 centers is a first way of access to define the type of a person. Each human being is characterized by the way he favors one of the 3 centers (privileged center / repressed center). In other words, we prefer automatically and unconsciously one of our 3 brains (Mc Lean): reptilian brain (instinctive), emotional brain and rational brain (Neo Cortex). It can be seen that the energy of these centers can be turned towards oneself (interior) or towards others or the event (outside).
What enneagram types are ? At a glance
The 1 is oriented in the personal rigor and in high ideals.
The 1 may have difficulty starting an action, if this involves a choice or a decision. Indeed, his fear of making mistakes makes him look for the best decision, and he tends to think that there is only one. On the other hand, he has a huge capacity for action. Once launched, he works a lot, with seriousness and conscience. Pleasure is only possible if the work is done and well done. He seeks quality, including in the smallest details.
When the « 1 » lives emotions, he often represses its expression that he considers unsuitable. Thus, he can be seem cold even if he is often extremely sensitive.
The relations of 1
In his relationships, the 1 tries to be a good friend, a good spouse … He can make a lot of effort for that. He blames himself for not being sufficiently up to the mark and very often has a small inner voice that blames him for his imperfections. At the same time, it identifies what is imperfect in others and tends to give them good advice to improve (« It takes … », « We must … »). He is often perceived as rigid and critical, which surprises him because he is so much less demanding with the others than he is with himself. His honesty and integrity make him reliable and responsible.
The better he goes, the more he accepts to be fallible and the others to be fallible. While keeping his sense of morality and work.
What enneagram types are ? More deeply
The Enneagram MindMap ® or Cognitive Map ®
It was in the 1950s that Claudio Naranjo, Helen Palmer adapted the enneagram to modern psychology. The concepts of compulsion, fixation, defense mechanism …
For 70 years the enneagram has not evolved. Apart from modern psychology thanks to neurosciences has evolved a lot over the past 20 years. If the notion of centers of the enneagram (Mental, Emotional, Instinctive) is easily linked today to the notion of the 3 Brain of the human being (Rational – Cortex pF, Emotional and Reptilian), nevertheless little has evolved. .
We have developed, on the basis of cognitive maps which schematize the beliefs of an individual or a group, the mental maps of the Enneagram ® (Mind Map).
For each enneatype, we have formalized its unconditional beliefs and the automatic thoughts that flow from them. The links between beliefs, automatic thoughts and emotions are visualized and make it very easy to understand the logic of the fixations and passions of each enneatype.
These cards are simple and powerful. They can be used in a coaching context or simply in personal development.
Below you have the example of the Enneatype 9 mind map:
Enneagram and DSM (Mental disorders)
Out of the 10 mental disorders (DSM IV TR), only the schizotypic form is not relevant in the enneagram types. Personnaly I would associate the multiple personality (DID) with the type 3. For information the self-defeating is also called borderline (masochist …). For René de Lassus type2 includes dependency, type 3 includes mythomania, type 5 includes the Avoidant, type 9 includes passive aggressive, obsessive, ambivalent.
Passions and the 7 (8) deadly sins:
It is in 1215 that Thomas D’Aquin reduced the 8 vices to 7. But Evagre le Pontique wad considering 8 vices divided in 3 parts of the spirit. 3 parts which according to him were generating the Thinking and Passion (desires & frustrations) capacities.