The Enneagram of Personality

Nine Types of Mind

There are nine types of human psychologies.

Actually, there are many other ways of analyzing people, such as the Myers-Briggs inventory, but for our purposes, we are interested in this particular model.

You can think of the nine types as a clock face with nine numbers on it instead of
twelve, as shown above.

Everyone falls somewhere on the circle, between two types. The number you are closest to is your basic type, but it is modified to a greater or lesser degree by the influence of the other nearby number.

Some people are right on the midpoint between two types, in which case it may be hard to determine which fundamental type they are. If you can observe them when they are under a lot of stress, when their weaknesses and fears may come to the fore, it may be easier to determine their true type.

Some people are right “on top” of one number, and it may be hard to detect any other influence at all. Most people fall somewhere in between.

The figure above shows the shorthand for a particular location. The first number is the main influence and the second is the lesser influence. Accordingly, the top “location” is closer to 1 than 9, so the person with that ratio of influences would be said to be a Type 1 with Type 9 influences, or a “One - Nine”. The next location is between 1 and 2, but closer to 1, so that position is for a “One -Two”. See how it works?

The next position is closer to 2 than 3, so that’s “Two - Three”, but just a little distance further is a position closer to Type 3, which is a “Three - Two”. These two types - 2/3 and 3/2 - have a great deal in common, but they also have important differences, as we’ll see.

It’s important to understand the basic nine types first. The eighteen subtypes can come later. In some cases the subtypes are so different from each other that a comprehensive understanding of all the types is the only way to master the fine distinctions.

Relative Frequency

The types are not distributed equally - at least not in US culture. The breakdown seems to be close to these figures, though to my knowledge none of the experts have come forward with their estimates:

  • Ones: 10%
  • Twos: 15% (Heavily skewed: [women >20%, men <5%)
  • Threes: 9%
  • Fours: 10%
  • Fives: 10%
  • Sixes: 18%
  • Sevens: 10%
  • Eights: 5% (Men make up >7%, but women only <3%)
  • Nines: 12%

Grouping the Types

There are commonalities between types. Three of the types take an active approach to life, three take a passive approach, and three avoid situations. They break down like this:

  • Active types: 3, 7, 8
  • Passive types: 1, 2, 6
  • Avoidant types: 4, 5, 9

Some researchers claim that the origins of a person’s type lie expressly in family dynamics. Specifically, they suggest that as children each type has a strong positive, negative, or ambivalent relation with one or both parents, according to this mapping:

  • Strong positive relation with Mother: 3
  • Strong positive relation with Father: 6
  • Strong positive relation with both parents: 9
  • Strong negative relation with Mother: 7
  • Strong negative relation with Father: 1
  • Strong negative relation with both parents: 4
  • Ambivalent relation with Mother: 8
  • Ambivalent relation with Father: 2
  • Ambivalent relation with both parents: 5

By now you must be ready to shout, “But what about the individual types?” They are next. I just wanted to show you that people are trying to come up with theories that cover the whole spectrum of experience, but this is still in its infancy.

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