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Introducing the Enneagram model: a personality system to help with self-growth and healing

Updated: May 20, 2023

This blog looks at the nine Enneagram types. The Enneagram model is a personality system that categorises individuals into nine distinct aspects, each characterised by a unique set of motivations, fears, desires, and behavioural patterns. By learning which type we are (and our partners, friends, family members etc), we can get to know our mutual patterns of relating in more depth.

Image copyright - CanStock by Peter Hermes Furian


The Enneagram model has been described as a psychological and spiritual system - it draws from ancient wisdom traditions and philosophies. Some believe that the Enneagram's roots can be traced back to ancient Babylon or Egypt. The modern popularity of the Enneagram can reportedly be attributed to George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher who introduced the concept to the Western world in the early 20th century. In the 1950s, Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian philosopher and spiritual teacher, further developed the Enneagram system. Within the field of psychotherapy, we have Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, who studied with Ichazo, to thank for his crucial role in popularising the Enneagram in the field of psychology, in the 1970s.


You can take an Enneagram free test online – these are two of my favourite providers, and you don’t need to supply your personal details. Because the questions are different, you may get differing results, but it’s likely your dominant ‘type’ will be the same in both tests –



Here's a description of each of the nine Enneagram types; we tend to have a ‘dominant’ type:


1.The Perfectionist (or Reformer) – Body type. Strength = principled, weakness = anger.

Perfectionists have a strong desire to do things correctly and to live up to their high standards. They tend to be principled, organised and self-disciplined, striving for perfection in all aspects of life.

The Perfectionist’s 'pathos' or suffering – the place we go to when under stress, for example - lies in their tendency to be overly-critical and self-critical. They can become fixated on perfection, and may struggle with accepting themselves and others as flawed human beings. Their desire for perfection can also lead to a rigid mindset and a constant sense of dissatisfaction.

The strength of the Perfectionist in the Enneagram model is a desire for integrity and improvement. They possess a strong sense of attention to detail, and bring order, structure, and fairness to their environments. They are often principled, with a strong work ethic.


2.The Helper – Heart type. Strength = nurture, weakness = pride.

Helpers are warm, caring, and nurturing individuals who thrive on connecting with and assisting others. They have an inherent desire to be needed and valued, often putting the needs of others before their own. Helpers fear being unworthy of love and can struggle with boundaries or overextending themselves to gain approval.

The pathos of the Helper in the Enneagram model is their tendency to neglect their own needs and become overly dependent on external validation and approval. They may feel compelled to please others at the expense of their own well-being, and struggle with setting healthy boundaries. Helpers may also experience resentment when their efforts go unnoticed or unreciprocated.

The strength of the Helper is a desire for connection and care. They possess exceptional empathy, compassion, and nurturing abilities. They are often warm, supportive, and have a genuine desire to alleviate the suffering of others.


3.The Achiever (or Performer) – Heart type. Strength = productivity, weakness = deceit.

Achievers are ambitious, goal-oriented, and driven by a desire for success and recognition. They strive to excel in their chosen field and often have a charismatic and adaptable demeanour. Achievers fear failure and not being seen as valuable, often basing their self-worth on external accomplishments.

The pathos of the Achiever lies in their constant pursuit of success and recognition. They can become overly focused on external achievements, and may lose touch with their true selves. Achievers may struggle with feelings of emptiness or inadequacy if they perceive their worth solely based on their accomplishments.

The strength of the Achiever in the Enneagram model is a desire for success and excellence. They possess strong ambition, drive, and determination; they are often confident, adaptable, and have a natural charisma.


4.The Individualist (or Romantic) – Heart type. Strength = uniqueness, weakness = shame.

Individualists are creative, sensitive, and introspective individuals who seek depth and meaning in life. They are often in touch with their emotions, and possess a unique and expressive personal style. Individualists fear being ordinary or mundane and have a desire to be understood and appreciated for their uniqueness.

The pathos of the Individualist in the Enneagram model is their tendency to get lost in their emotions and become overly self-absorbed. They may become preoccupied with their own suffering and long for a sense of specialness or uniqueness. Individualists may struggle with feelings of envy or longing, and find it challenging to maintain a sense of stability or contentment.

The strength of the Individualist is a desire for self-expression and authenticity. They possess a deep sense of creativity, sensitivity, and intuition. They often bring depth, emotional insight, and originality to their endeavours.


5.The Investigator (or Observer) – Head type. Strength = knowledge, weakness = greed.

Investigators are analytical, curious, and perceptive individuals who value knowledge and understanding. They seek to accumulate information and tend to be introverted and independent; investigators fear being overwhelmed or invaded, and often withdraw into their minds to protect their privacy.

The pathos of the Investigator lies in their tendency to detach from their emotions and withdraw into their minds; they may become overly protective of their privacy. Investigators may isolate themselves and resist engaging with the external world, leading to a sense of disconnection.

The strength of the Investigator in the Enneagram model is a desire for knowledge and understanding, analytical skills, intellectual curiosity, and independent thinking. They are often insightful and innovative, and bring valuable expertise to their areas of interest.


6.The Loyalist (or Skeptic) – Head type. Strength = preparedness, weakness = fear.

Loyalists are loyal, responsible, and security-oriented individuals who prioritise safety and stability. They tend to be prepared for worst-case scenarios and are adept at spotting potential risks; loyalists fear being abandoned or left without support, leading them to seek reassurance and guidance only from trusted sources.

The pathos of the Loyalist in the Enneagram model is their tendency to doubt and question themselves, others, and the world around them. They may be overly cautious and prone to anxiety, as they anticipate potential threats or betrayals. Loyalists may struggle with trust and become overly dependent on external sources of reassurance.

Strengths of the Loyalist include commitment, loyalty, and the ability to anticipate potential risks. They’re prepared for challenges, and bring responsibility and a sense of stability.


7.The Enthusiast (or Epicure) – Head type. Strength = joyfulness, weakness = gluttony.

Enthusiasts are spontaneous, adventurous, optimistic individuals who enjoy seeking new experiences and avoiding pain or limitations. They have a zest for life and can be highly imaginative and fun-loving. Enthusiasts fear being trapped or deprived, and tend to avoid negative emotions or commitments.

The pathos of the Enthusiast lies in their tendency to avoid pain and discomfort by constantly seeking new experiences and distractions. They may struggle with a fear of being trapped or deprived, and may have difficulty staying present or facing difficult emotions. Enthusiasts may struggle with a lack of groundedness.

Strengths of the Enthusiast in the Enneagram model are a desire for joy and freedom; a sense of adventure, spontaneity, and their ability to bring optimism and a sense of possibility to their experiences.


8. The Challenger (or Protector) – Body type. Strength = leadership, weakness = anger.

Challengers are assertive, confident, and protective individuals who value strength and control. They are natural leaders and tend to confront and challenge injustices or obstacles head-on. Challengers fear being controlled or manipulated, and strive to maintain their autonomy and power.

The pathos of the Challenger in the Enneagram model is their tendency to exert control and assert dominance to protect themselves and others. They may often experience anger, and have a fear of vulnerability or being controlled by others. Challengers may have difficulty recognising their own limitations, and may become confrontational or aggressive.

Strengths of the Challenger are leadership skills, the ability to stand up for themselves and others, assertiveness, courage and a strong sense of fairness.


9. The Peacekeeper (also known as peacemaker) – Body type.

Peacekeepers are easygoing, agreeable, and accepting individuals who prioritise harmony and inner peace. They value connection and avoid conflict, often merging with others' preferences to maintain tranquility. Peacekeepers fear conflict and disconnection, sometimes struggling with inertia or indecisiveness.

The pathos of the Peacekeeper lies in their tendency to avoid conflict and discomfort by numbing themselves or neglecting their own needs. They may struggle with inertia or indecisiveness, and resist engaging in conflicts or taking a stand for themselves. Peacekeepers, in the Enneagram model, may overlook their own desires and merge with others to maintain harmony.

The strength of the Peacekeeper is a desire for harmony; they have excellent mediation skills, diplomacy, patience, understanding, and a calming presence.


Remember that these descriptions provide a general overview of the Enneagram types, and individuals can exhibit a mix of traits from different types or variations within their core type.


Dominant centres of intelligence

You will have noticed that I have placed next to each type, either the words heart, head or body. This relates to a core emotion that tends to influence our thoughts, behaviours, and motivations. Here's a description of the core emotion for each of the three Enneagram categories:


Heart Types (2, 3, 4):

The core emotion of heart types can be shame. Shame arises from a deep-seated belief that there is something fundamentally wrong or flawed within themselves.


Heart types often seek to compensate for this underlying shame by focusing on their self-image, interpersonal relationships, and the need for validation and acceptance from others.


They may experience intense emotions and have a strong desire to be seen as special, significant, or appreciated.


Head Types (5, 6, 7):

The core emotion of head types is typically fear. Fear is a dominant emotion that shapes the thoughts, actions, and decision-making processes of head types.


They often experience anxiety or worry, and tend to focus on anticipating and managing potential threats or challenges. Head types are driven by a desire for security, control, and understanding. They may engage in mental analysis, seeking knowledge or information as a way to navigate and alleviate their fears.


Body Types (8, 9, 1):

The core emotion of body types is anger. Anger can manifest differently across the body types, ranging from assertiveness to suppression or passive-aggressiveness.


Body types often have a keen sense of injustice, and may struggle with anger towards themselves, others, or the world around them. They seek stability, control, and a sense of integrity. Body types are motivated by a desire to protect themselves and others and may have a strong sense of personal boundaries and principles.


It's important to note that while these core emotions provide a general framework, individuals within each type can experience a range of emotions beyond their core emotion.


Enneagram wings

In the Enneagram system, the concept of "wings" refers to the neighbouring Enneagram types that influence an individual's dominant type. Each Enneagram type is believed to have two adjacent types on the Enneagram circle, and individuals often display characteristics or traits from these neighbouring types as well. While an individual's core type remains their dominant type, the influence of the wings adds depth and nuance to their personality.

Here's an overview of the wings within the Enneagram model:


1.The Perfectionist (or Reformer):

The One can have a Nine wing (1w9), which brings a more easygoing and receptive nature, emphasizing peace and harmony. Alternatively, they can have a Two wing (1w2), which adds warmth, compassion, and a focus on helping others.


2.The Helper:

The Two can have a One wing (2w1), which adds a sense of ethics, responsibility, and a desire for perfection. Alternatively, they can have a Three wing (2w3), which enhances their ambition, adaptability, and emphasis on success and recognition.

3.The Achiever (or Performer):

The Three can have a Two wing (3w2), which emphasises their caring, nurturing side and a desire for connection. Alternatively, they can have a Four wing (3w4), which brings creativity, emotional depth, and a focus on individuality.


4.The Individualist (or Romantic):

The Four can have a Three wing (4w3), which enhances their drive for success, productivity, and a desire for recognition. Alternatively, they can have a Five wing (4w5), which adds a cerebral and introspective nature, emphasising knowledge and privacy.


5.The Investigator (or Observer):

The Five can have a Four wing (5w4), which brings creativity, emotional sensitivity, and an emphasis on individual expression. Alternatively, they can have a Six wing (5w6), which adds loyalty, responsibility, and a focus on security and preparedness.


6.The Loyalist (or Skeptic):

The Six can have a Five wing (6w5), which emphasises their intellectual curiosity, independence, and self-reliance. Alternatively, they can have a Seven wing (6w7), which brings a more optimistic, adventurous, and fun-loving nature.


7.The Enthusiast (or Epicure):

The Seven can have a Six wing (7w6), which adds loyalty, cautiousness, and a focus on security and preparedness. Alternatively, they can have an Eight wing (7w8), which enhances their assertiveness, strength, and desire for control.


8.The Challenger (or Protector):

The Eight can have a Seven wing (8w7), which brings a more lighthearted, adventurous, and spontaneous nature. Alternatively, they can have a Nine wing (8w9), which emphasises harmony, receptivity, and a desire for peace.


9.The Peacekeeper (or peacemaker):

The Nine can have an Eight wing (9w8), which adds assertiveness, strength, and a desire for control. Alternatively, they can have a One wing (9w1), which brings a sense of ethics, responsibility, and a desire for perfection.


It's important to note that while an individual may have a dominant wing, the influence of the other wing can still be present. The wings help shape and modify the expression of the core Enneagram type, offering additional layers to an individual's personality and behaviour.


Who am I?

I (Kathy Carter, proprietor of Arrive Therapy), am a 6, a Loyalist (or Skeptic). I agree that I am loyal, responsible, and security-oriented, prioritising safety and stability. I have a Five wing (6w5), which emphasises my intellectual curiosity, independence, and self-reliance.


What results do you get? I hope this has been useful in your own journey of self discovery.

In due course, I will create guided meditations and courses for each dominant centre of intelligence on my study page of this website, so you can blend the Enneagram model with Hypno-CBT practices.


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