Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Enneagram Part 2

Last week I wrote about my current interest in the Enneagram typology which I was introduced to in the Spiritual Direction Program I have just completed.  The Enneagram Typology is a personality type system similar to the Myers Briggs Typology which I am more familiar with.  Both systems identify people within a system of types.  I am an INFJ – an introverted – intuitive – feeling – judging type in the Myers Briggs.  Similarly I have self-identified as a nine which is sometimes classified as the Peacemaker type in the Enneagram typology. 
Today’s topic is the Enneagram system so for the sake of brevity I will restrict my comments to it.  The Enneagram system has nine types which each have characteristics as well as subcategories such as wings which are the types next to you in the system.  It is presented as a circle – or wheel with nine at the top.  Below is a diagram with the common classification of each type e.g. nine= peacemaker.
As I noted the classification system is often presented as shown above with a name such a peacemaker which is characteristic of the type.  Richard Rohr does not use this classification system but rather uses a system which identifies the overriding ‘need’ of a person in each type as shown below.
                1 The Need to be Perfect
                2. The Need to be Needed
                3. The Need to Succeed
                4. The Need to be Special
                5. The Need to Perceive
                6. The Need for Security
                7. The Need to Avoid Pain
                8. The Need to be Against
                9. The Need to Avoid
The typology systems can be helpful in understanding yourself and others.  You are able to better understand and accept yourself and others.  Much of what I read about the ‘nine’ type resonated with me and affirmed what I knew about myself.  For example a nine avoids conflict and have decided to keep their anger to themselves.  They also try to understand both sides of a situation.  As Rohr notes the pitfall of the nines is lethargy and comfort. 
It can be used as a type (no pun intended) of parlour game to figure out what type a personality in the news is.  For example my guess is that Rob Ford, the current absentee mayor of Toronto, is a three.  As Rohr notes unredeemed threes first and foremost deceive themselves.  They have no longing for depth – Ford is currently not engaging in treatment for his alcohol and drug problems while he is one leave of absent to be in treatment.  The immature threes can believe their own lies and the pitfall of threes is vanity which means that secondary things like packaging are more important than essential. 
However, the Enneagram goes beyond mere characteristics and helps people learn how the ‘sins’ of their types can be converted and they can mature into more complete and positive human beings who use their energy in ways that God intended rather than to maintain the ego based position in life.  The root sin of the nines is laziness which resonates with me as I have a tendency to veg out and have to work not to fall into that mode of being.
I will leave it there for this edition and I intend to explore the how Enneagrams can help people to attain conversion and maturity through the grace of God.  If you want to peruse this in more depth I would recommend Enneagram; a Christian Perspective by Rorh and Andreas Ebert or sign up for Rohr’s Daily Meditations in which he is currently exploring the Enneagram.  I can be found at

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