Enneagram synthesis

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Enneagram synthesis

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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.

9 ways:

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.

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

New !

It was in the 1950s that Claudio Naranjo, Helen Palmer adapted the enneagram to modern psychology. The concepts of avoidance, mental fixation, defense mechanism …

For 70 years the enneagram has not evolved. Thanks to neurosciences, modern psychology has evolved a lot over the past 20 years. If the notion of centers of the enneagram (Mental, Emotional, Instinctive) is easily correlated today to the notion of the 3 Brain of the human (Rational – Cortex pF, Emotional and Reptilian), nevertheless little things have evolved .

We have developed, on the basis of mind maps which schematize the beliefs of an individual or a group, the mind 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 represented and make it very easy to understand the logic of the mental 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. Following, you have an example of the mind map of the type 9:

To know more on the Mind Map of Enneagram, read our article

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.

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

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.

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

The compulsions / I avoid / I am proud

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.

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

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 ».

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

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.

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

The 3 Centers / The 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).

It’s all about Enneagram synthesis

Few words for each of the 9 types

Enneatype 1:

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.

Enneatype 2:

The 2 seeks to love and often to concretely help the people around him. He intuitively perceives the qualities, possibilities and needs of others.

In relation to others, the 2 is seductive. He knows how to listen to them and understand them. With him, we feel like the most important person in the world. He himself can discover little. The 2 lives deeply in the present and can move very easily from one relationship to another, just as loving. Very often, he helps  people, who could bring each other something, to meet.

The relationship of 2

The 2 affirms that his help is disinterested. However, deep down, he would like his role to be appreciated and especially recognized. Sometimes he manipulates others to get that recognition and gets angry if he does not get it. The concern for his image is that he wants his help to be accepted, useful and effective. Many people find it hard to say « No. « 

Often the 2 is struggling to remain inactive, if not to recover energy in order to return to help. He makes his decisions quickly and on the basis of human factors.

The more the 2 progresses, the more he is able to help others without waiting for a positive return in terms of image.

Enneatype 3:

The orientation of the 3 is a great ability to achieve and succeed. He always has a goal in mind and something to do. Ambitious, he wants his projects to succeed. He wants to be recognized for this and that success is attributed to him. First, the 3 can artificially inflate the scale of its success. But above all, he identifies with his projects to the detriment of his true being, which he does not know well.

The 3 is effective. He is a good organizer. He decides and acts quickly, even neglecting the details. For him, quantity is often more important than quality. Focused on the outcome of the task, it is very flexible. He can lead several projects together.

The relations of 3

Preferring the emotional center, he is very convincing and very relationalship (and not emotional); he adapts very easily to the people he meets. The 3 can say or do what he deems necessary to obtain the result he is aiming for. He seeks to please and to seduce. At the same time, it is very competitive and can be very hard if others hinder its success or do not contribute enough.

For the 3, the work is often much more important than its other activities or that its relations, intimate or not. He may tend to choose his friends or spouse for what they bring him socially. However, if he succeeds in getting involved, he is really helping.

When he is well, the 3 discovers who he is and what he desires deeply: he ceases to be opportunistic in order to be authentic, honest and loving.

The Enneatype 4:

He is sensitive and attached to live intense and authentic emotions. His orientation is the search for beauty. He likes to be different and wants to avoid banality.

The 4 tends to go from one emotion to another very quickly. The most frequent emotion is a kind of melancholy to which he finds an aesthetic value. He would like to understand what he feels, but he feels that it is an insurmountable task. He may have a hesitant, or symbolic, communication, or may repeat in his head what he means.

The relationship of 4

The 4 is perceived by others as having charm, but many find it a little affected or haughty. Yet he has excellent listening skills. He is a good confidant full of compassion. 4 places a lot of importance on intimate relationships. He waits, sometimes all his life, the soul mate. With his relatives, he tends to see what is wrong with them, and what is good with them when they are far away; thus, he can alternately attract and repel them.

The 4 has a very rich imagination. He finds it more important than the everyday, the banality of which he does not like. Often, he does not act much, unless the work to do uses his originality and his creativity.

When the 4 goes well, he becomes able to discover what is beautiful in everyday life and to share it with others.He 

The enneatype 5:

The orientation of 5 is the search for knowledge and precision. For this, it seeks to absorb as much information as possible and conversely to give as little as possible. The 5 lives detached from the outside world which he observes; he has a vital need for moments of withdrawal and a clear separation of the various contexts of his life (work, friendship …).

The 5 most often has very good analytical, synthesis and planning skills. He wants to understand things. He likes to have a subject of skill of which he is the expert and in which he is creative. The 5 makes decisions based on logic. He considers it important to be mentally autonomous.

The relationship of 5

With others, the 5 is most often in withdrawal and does not take too much to be noticed. He hates futile chatter. Most of the time, it expresses little and needs to be questioned precisely to obtain information. Sometimes, he embarks on long, very structured conferences that his interlocutors find a little boring. When the 5 lives emotions (it is easier for him when he is alone), he does not understand them and they make him a little afraid. He represses the expression. He values emotional control at home and among others. In intimate relationships, he expresses his tenderness non-verbally.

The 5 is not passionate about the action except sometimes when it allows him to satisfy his intellectual quest. He thinks for a long time before doing anything. He prefers that an activity be planned and structured.

When he is well, the 5 takes the exact measure of his knowledge. He can afford to disseminate and use his knowledge.

The Enneatype 6:

The orientation of 6 is loyalty. He likes to be integrated in a stable and well structured framework. Often it is a formal or informal group, but it can also be an idea, a concept, and so on. For many 6, it’s simply their family and / or business. With this group, the 6 is totally dedicated. With respect to external danger, the 6 has two strategies: flight or attack. So there are two ways of being a 6: one, said phobic, avoids danger and is rather fearful; the other, said counterphobic, braves the danger and is rather aggressive. It can be the same person, at different times or in different contexts of his life. He lacks self-confidence.

The 6 is someone who is often undecided and looking for advice. It accumulates information on all aspects of a situation, both positive and negative. In search of security, he imagines and plans solutions to all possible problems. Once this phase of reflection is completed, it can act quickly and efficiently. It follows the existing procedures.

The relationship of 6

With the members of his group, the 6 has an unfailing commitment; he is involved, available, responsible and helping. The 6 expects from them the same loyalty as that which it manifests towards it. He considers relations, especially intimate, only as durable. With others, the 6 can be indifferent, even aggressive.

The 6 has a special relationship to authority. He submits to it (6 phobic) or opposes it (6 counterphobic). In any case, it is important that an authority be loyal, if not even the phobic opposes it, possibly indirectly. If someone is the victim of unfair authority, the 6 is always ready to support him. He wants to be on the side of the weak and the oppressed, and is proud of it.

When he is well, the 6 becomes autonomous and confident in himself and in others.

The Enneatype 7:

The 7th prefers to plan his life in a pleasant way. Its orientation is the pursuit of joy and optimism. The 7th then seeks immediate pleasure and at any price. He manages to have always the most open choices possible. Thus, as soon as an option becomes a little unpleasant, it can abandon it for another way. Conversely, if he likes something, he tends to eat without moderation.

The 7 has a little trouble making decisions, because to decide is to choose and to choose is to give up. When 7 acts, it is fast and with a lot of energy, at least as long as the activity interests and amuses it. If he does not, he slows down and discovers more enjoyable activities elsewhere that he suddenly considers to be more important. The 7 has excellent abilities of synthesis, creativity and planning. But to realize his plans is not his main concern. He loves to lead many activities together.

The relationship of 7

The 7 goes to the front of the others and tries to please them by the gaiety, the humor and by his pleasant ideas and plans. It can look warm. However, he is much less emotionally involved in the relationship than he seems. Moreover, that negative emotions occur and the 7 has a tendency to escape. This difficulty in getting involved also plays out in his intimate relationships; if he overcomes it, he is a loyal partner.

The 7 does not support the constraints, the rules and the procedures, without oppose it openly.

When 7 is well, he no longer needs to flee from suffering and becomes able to accept it when it is useful and / or inevitable.

The enneatype 8:

The 8 has a considerable physical energy. His orientation is power and courage. He considers life to be a struggle and he fights for justice. His compulsion drives him to avoid any sign of weakness. He wants to control every detail of the world around him. As soon as something escapes him, he feels an unbearable frustration to which he reacts with anger.

The 8 decides quickly and acts the same. It’s a determined person who makes things happen whatever the obstacles. He believes in the need for strong power, and can and likes to exercise it. Type 8 recognizes the true holders of power; he respects them if they are strong and tries to replace them otherwise. He is the one who enacts the rules and transgresses them when they no longer serve him.

Quite often, the 8 plans and organizes well. But ideas only interest him if they are at the service of action. The 8 speaks frankly and knows easily say « No! Without trying to justify himself. He has a lot of strength of conviction. 8 is direct. He tends to think in binary terms (white or black, but not gray), especially in terms of relationships where he wants and gets people to position themselves with or against him. If you are with him, 8 protects him; otherwise, he attacks and / or takes revenge.

The relationship of 8

To engage in a relationship, the 8 often needs a long phase during which he tests the person to know if he can trust him. If he succeeds in being convinced of it, he drops his guard. He then becomes very possessive and protects the other as he defends himself.

When 8 goes well, he admits his vulnerability. He then puts his strength to the service of true causes and accepts others.

The enneatype 9:

The focus of 9 is acceptance and support. In particular he seeks peace and harmony. He is a clever conciliator. But the compulsion is to avoid conflict. The 9th avoids decisions and actions that could provoke the disagreement of those who would have preferred to do something else. He takes refuge in the routine and in secondary activities, or he puts the tasks to the next day. Nevertheless his laziness is a laziness of oneself. Not knowing oneself, not being aware of one’s needs, desires and qualities, this makes it possible not to impose oneself and not to provoke conflicts.

The 9 is struggling to take action without an external impulse. However, many of them act and work a lot to be socially integrated. The 9 does not want to face the conflicts that would imply the marginality. He is then competent and professional, with a difficulty in distinguishing what is important from what is not really important. He knows very well what he does not want to do or live. As his compulsion does not allow him to say « No! He manifests his opposition by a gigantic force of inertia, and there is nothing more difficult to move than a 9 who does not want it. Sometimes, however, the 9 reacts with a violent and brief anger that scares him almost as much as his surroundings.

The relationship of 9

The 9 is a pleasant companion who understands others and accepts them without judging them. He knows how to listen, is comfortable and soothing. He is a born mediator, as long as the conflicts are not too violent or do not drag on. In other words, he attaches a lot of importance to intimate relationships. He is then very fusional, undemanding and knows the other better than he knows himself. The desires of the other drive him to action.

9 thinks a long time before making a decision. He listens to all the opinions of the people concerned.

When he is well, the 9 is discovered himself. Always so tolerant, he takes the risk of using his strength and starts the activity.

Enneagram and Transactional Analysis

Each of us tends to give priority in his life to a certain self-image (I am optimistic, I am strong, I am different …). The enneagram has determined nine principal ones, which give a very precise description of the psyche. You will notice the similarity with the Transactional Analysis drivers: Be strong, be perfect, hurry up, give pleasure and make efforts. For each type, there are 1 or 2 drivers of the AT.

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.