The Enneagram is a personality typing system based on ancient knowledge, spiritual traditions, and modern psychology. Ennea is a Greek word meaning nine; gram is translated as types or diagram. Its origins are rooted in Ancient Greek, Arabic, Sufi, and Judeo-Christian philosophical traditions. It has been handed down through the Jesuit orders, by numerous psychotherapists and spiritual teachers. Each person has added to the body of knowledge bringing us a modern working model that is used in psychotherapy, relationship counseling, spiritual direction, personal development classes, life coaching, business relationships and team building.
The nine types provide insights into the personality. The personality is not the essence of a human being but is composed of coping strategies, defense mechanisms, habitual patterns, and unconscious behaviors. Its the masks we wear – or think we have to wear -to survive. As a survival mechanism, our personality is threatened by the mystery of existence. This is manifested in fear, and each personality type has a specific fear and traits that developed in response.
The Enneagram includes ideas and information from modern psychology, taking the various viewpoints of Freud, Jung, Karen Horney, and others. The 9 types are similar to psych states described by these classic pioneers in the field. A quote from Don Riso and Russ Hudson in Personality Types describes it well: “The Enneagram is a universal psychological symbol, one which can accommodate many different interpretations while retaining its own unique character”.