The Enneagram of 9 Personalities. Types and Centers.

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The Enneagram of 9 Personalities. Types and Centers.
Francielle Nunes, Member
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.

Why the Enneagram is such a Great Coaching Tool
Marl van der Toorn, Moderator
Thank you for your contribution. For over 20 years I am using the Enneagram as one of my favorite tools to coach individuals and teams on all levels. It is important to understand that every one has aspects of all personality types.
Having said this, the first, huge breakthrough for people is that they start to realize that there is a 8 out of 9 chance that their colleagues and friends have other dominant Enneagram types than they have themselves. And that many irritations, bad communication and frustrations can be reduced to behavior, norms and values of themselves and not to those other persons. This gives people the opportunity to find within themselves the solution for better communication, while feeling more empathy for the behavior of the “other”. With this important understanding, the door to improve relationships, teamwork and organizational performance is wide open.

Mini-Summaries of the 9 Enneagram Types
Marl van der Toorn, Moderator
Here are 9 extremely short summaries of the 9 types of the Enneagram. Although they don't give full insight, they may come useful as a first starter:
1. The Performer: I am right, and I want to do everything perfectly.
2. The Helper: I help, and I want people to like me.
3. The Achiever: I am succesful, and I have to perform.
4. The Individualist: I am different, and I like authenticity.
5. The Investigator: I understand, and I protect my privacy.
6. The Loyalist: I do my duty, and I like things to be clear.
7. The Enthusiast: I am happy, and I cherish my freedom.
8. The Challenger: I am strong, and no one controls me.
9. The Peacemaker: I am satisfied, and I don't like conflicts.

The Enneagram is Very Useful for Coaching
lanre, Member
This is brilliant, first time reading about it too. It provides further insight into the mind and I also see how it applies to coaching. I would welcome additional information around this topic!
Thank you for this contribution.

Enneagram is too Negative for my Taste
Hans Joergen Pedersen, Member
I have never heard of the Enneagram before, but I won't be using it. It's too negative for my taste. For example the claim that all of us are either driven by fear, rage, or shame.

Enneagram of 9 Personality Types is Very Helpful
foster dela gatsi, Member
This is the first time I'm reading about this insight. I think the Enneagram is very helpful to relationship and team building as well as family coexistence. It will help managers respond appropriately to their coaching duties.

Enneagram is Not Scientific
Jozef Van Giel, Member
Like Freud and Maslow which you already mentioned and many other models from social science, the Enneagram is not based on solid evidence. See
There is another model which is solid: HEXACO or the six factor model (evolved from the big five model. Recent research added the sixth factor: Honesty). See

Scientific Rigor AND Practical Relevance
Jaap de Jonge, Editor
@Jozef Van Giel: the reality of organizations, management, and in particular the human component in it, is that they are very complex.
This results in a paradox: on one hand we need models to deal with this reality in a sensible and pragmatic way. On the other hand, the reality is always more complex than our models can 'catch' and scientifically "proving" the validity of our models and ideas is hard. Especially models trying to describe traits of human beings, like the Enneagram.

Fortunately ☺, 12manage allows practitioners and scientists to discuss the validity of models, methods and approaches, both in theory and practice. Let's try to use as much arguments and proof as we can, while moving on with practice and respecting opinions from others. Let's try to combine scientific rigor with practical relevance.

Scientific Rigor AND Practical Relevance, Indeed
Jozef Van Giel, Member
Dear Jaap, complexity doesn't mean that it is impossible to study it, and it also doesn't mean that everybody can throw in any theory he just made up into the world. In fact by using simplistic models like eneagram or MBTI, you are making the situation only worse.
A model like the five factor model (or now Six factor: HEXACO) have been well researched and are supported by pragmatic tests like the NEO-PI-R. But if you check the Mindset theory by Carol Dweck, you will find out that doing a personality trait test (no matter if it is scientifically sound or not), is most of the time counterproductive for the reason that you induce a static mindset.
A better help for leaders to progress, is by testing their leadership behaviour by means of the leadership circumplex (CLS360) and then use that for coaching them into better behaviour. Giving insight in motivational psychology like Selfdetermination Theory or Mindset is more productive than doing a personality test.

Enneagram - the Thirst for Structure!
Borje Vickberg, Member
I believe you can use Enneagram as a model. You can just as well use the seven dwarfs (sorry, little people) in the story of Snowwhite.

Scientific Rigor and Human Beliefs
Nelson Hernandez M, Member
Some people think that witches are around them, others that they are unique and no method can measure them... And so forth. I never used the Enneagram, but I like to use following archetypes: King/Queen, Warrior, Erudite and Craft. Many people enjoy the explanation and like to be identified with the first 3, or a mix.
Be open minded is the best approach to HR management and this means read, fast check, talk with colleagues... And take the big benefits of sharing information with smart people.


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