The Enneagram of 9 Personalities. Types and Centers

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Francielle Nunes
Entrepreneur, Brazil

The Enneagram of 9 Personalities. Types and Centers

The Enneagram is a very old symbol which has been introduced to the Western society by Gurdjief (1866 1949) and graduately developed to a coaching tool. In full it is called: Enneagram of Personalities. It is based on the psychology of Freud, Rogers and Maslov and has been improved by many auteurs like Naranjo, Almaas, Riso and Hudson.
Questionnaires like the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) help to understand what enneagram personality type describes you best.

The Enneagram distinguishes types of personalities. Some aspects of each personality type can be found inside each of us; however there is one dominant type each of us has since birth. If you have a particular dominant type and stretch it, you will show aspects of 2 other types. For example: If a Helper is in stress, he or she will show negative aspects of the Challenger. And when the Helper is relaxed, he will show positive aspects of the Individualist.

Let's understand each of the 9 personality types:

  1. The REFORMER: purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.
  2. The HELPER: generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, and possessive.
  3. The ACHIEVER: adaptable, excelling, driven, and image-conscious.
  4. The INDIVIDUALIST: expressive, dramatic, sagacious, and self-absorbed.
  5. The INVESTIGATOR: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated.
  6. The LOYALIST: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
  7. The ENTHUSIAST: spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, and scattered.
  8. The CHALLENGER: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational.
  9. The PEACEMAKER: receptive, reassuring, complacent, and resigned.
The Enneagram is also divided by three Centers: the Instinctive, Feeling and Thinking center. Each center highlights a type of emotion, which characterizes a loss of the contact with the core of the self.

The Instinctive Center is characterized by anger or rage, and covers type 1,9 and 8:
1. Types one (reformers) try repressing or controlling their anger and instinctual energies. They have a highly developed inner critic.
9. Types nine (peacemakers) deny their anger and instinctual energies. They idealize their world and relationships as an escape of their dark sides.
8. Types eight (challengers) have no problem to express their anger and instinctual energies. Often they do this in a physical way, like raising their voices or moving more forcefully.

The Feeling Center is characterized by shame and covers type 2,3 and 4:
2. Types two (helpers) try to be liked by others to control their feelings of shame. They pursue themselves that they are loving people and repress their negative feelings.
3. Types three (achievers) avoid feelings of shame and fears of failure. They try to be accepted by performing well and becoming successful.
4. Types four (individualists) use their shame by focusing on their personal interests, unique talents and feelings and by fantasying a great romantic life.

The Thinking Center is characterized by fear and covers type 5,6 and 7:
5. Types five (investigators) are afraid of the outer world and their capability to deal with it. They become isolated loners trying to understand the world by gathering knowledge and trusting their own minds.
6. Types six (loyalists) experience the most fear among the Personalities of this Center by showing anxious and doubtful behavior. They do not trust their own minds, so to make them feel sure they constantly seek comfort outside themselves in relations, jobs, beliefs, authorities.
7. Types seven (enthusiasts) try to deny their feelings of pain or loss by distracting themselves with many activities and entertainments. They keep their mind filled up with possibilities and options in order to escape from their fears.

Source: The 9 types of Personalities, The Enneagram Institute.


Marl van der Toorn
Manager, Netherlands

Why the Enneagram is such a Great Coaching Tool

Thank you for your contribution. For over 20 years I am using the Enneagram as one of my favorite to... Sign up

Marl van der Toorn
Manager, Netherlands

Mini-Summaries of the 9 Enneagram Types

Here are 9 extremely short summaries of the 9 types of the Enneagram. Although they don't give full ... Sign up


The Enneagram is Very Useful for Coaching

This is brilliant, first time reading about it too. It provides further insight into the mind and I ... Sign up

Hans Joergen Pedersen
Analyst, Denmark

Enneagram is too Negative for my Taste

I have never heard of the Enneagram before, but I won't be using it. It's too negative for my taste.... Sign up

foster dela gatsi, Ghana

Enneagram of 9 Personality Types is Very Helpful

This is the first time I'm reading about this insight. I think the Enneagram is very helpful to rela... Sign up

Jozef Van Giel
Strategy Consultant, Belgium

Enneagram is not Scientific

Like Freud and Maslow which you already mentioned and many other models from social science, the Enn... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Scientific Rigor AND Practical Relevance

@Jozef Van Giel: the reality of organizations, management, and in particular the human component in ... Sign up

Jozef Van Giel
Strategy Consultant, Belgium

Scientific Rigor AND Practical Relevance, Indeed

Dear Jaap, complexity doesn't mean that it is impossible to study it, and it also doesn't mean that ... Sign up

Borje Vickberg, Sweden

Enneagram - the Thirst for Structure!

I believe you can use Enneagram as a model. You can just as well use the seven dwarfs (sorry, little... Sign up

Nelson Hernandez M
Management Consultant, Spain

Scientific Rigor and Human Beliefs

Some people think that witches are around them, others that they are unique and no method can measur... Sign up

Judith Santizo
Consultant, Guatemala


To be honest, I didn't know about the Enneagram, I find it interesting as a personality classificati... Sign up 1-6-2023


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