What is the Enneagram used for?

Each of us has a distinct personality, but there are some basic personality traits that we share with others. An Enneagram test is the best way to find out and understand your personality type. In this test you are required to answer simple questions about yourself and this will indicate which of 9 personality types of an Enneagram you belong to. According to the Enneagram there are 9 main personality types of human beings. As mentioned above answering simple questions will point out the different personality traits you have. While you definitely will find some similarity among all the other personality types, you will identify with one more than the others. Cloverleaf offers an online assessment where you can take the Enneagram test and find your personality type instantly.

What is the Enneagram used for?

Basic personality types

Everyone comes out of childhood with one of the nine personality types dominating their personality. There is an in born temperament and other factors which determine your personality type. As a matter of fact this inborn tendency dictates how you react to and adapt with early childhood environment. The inborn orientation also seems to cause you to an unconscious orientation towards your parents and other parental figures and studies have not been able to fathom the reasons for that. By the time you reach the age of four or five years your consciousness develops enough to have a separate sense of your self. The identity of such small children is fluid, this is the age when human beings start establishing themselves and finding ways to fit in the world at large.

Hence your overall personality is the total influence of all childhood factors including genetic ones. There are some points you need to keep in mind regarding the basic personality types. Let us look at them:

  • One particular personality type person does not change to any other
  • The personality types description is universal and applies both to men and women
  • You may often feel that not everything in the description of your personality type applies to you every time, because people have a tendency to shift between healthy, average and unhealthy traits of your basic personality type
  • An Enneagram uses numbers to describe personality types because numbers are value neutral. Each number stands for the entire range of behaviors and attitudes of each type. Usually in psychiatry labels are put upon certain personalities, but this is not the case with Enneagram because they do not point out any personality type as positive or negative.
  • There is no importance attached to numerical order It is not better to be a number 9 because these numbers are not ranking in any way. They simply define a personality type without saying that higher numerical denotes better type.

You need to bear in mind that no particular personality type is better or worse than the other although some personality type may be more desirable in certain cultures of groups of people. At the same time, you may not be happy with your personality type, but you need to understand that each type has its unique abilities and limitations as well. Hence you should try to look at your capabilities rather than your limitations.

Everyone is a unique mixture

It is important to understand that no one is a unique personality type, because each person is a unique blend of the basic personality type and any one or two other types. Your basic type determines the main aspects of your personality while the one that is blending with your type adds important and sometimes contradictory facets to your complete personality.

It is necessary to understand this blending of personalities to understand yourself or any other person that you are assessing. These secondary traits that blend with your basic personality type are called wings in an Enneagram which is a 9 pointed star.

There is contradiction regarding these wings of an Enneagram. Some people say that only one other wing affects your personality, but in reality usually two wings are blended with the basic personality of an individual. Of course, it is also true that each person possesses the potential of all the nine types together.

Observation of people shows that the two wing theory can apply to some people, but most individuals have a dominant wing. While the other wing remains active in a person the dominant wing is the most important one to consider. Hence the basic personality type blends with other types and creates the personality which is unique for a person.

The levels of development

Each personality type has within him or her, an internal structure. The structure is a continuation of behavior, attitude, defense and motivations which are formed by nine levels of development which form the personality type itself.

This was discovered by Don Riso in 1977 and he further developed it with Russ Hudson in the 1990s. These two are the only Enneagram teachers who included this essential factor in treating the Enneagram. The levels of development are important for the Enneagram and also Ego Psychology. In fact, the personality types of the Enneagram cannot be explained properly without them.

The levels are responsible for differences between people of the same basic personality type as well as in understanding how people change with time for better or worst. This fact can also help counselor and therapists to determine what exactly is going on with a client and they can suggest solutions for the problems that they are having.

These levels also provide a framework which helps to see how all the different quality traits that make up each type fit into a complete whole. In a way they can be considered to be conceptualization of the underlying skeletal structure of each personality type.

Let us look at what these 9 levels of development are – liberation, psychological capacity, and social value. These are the healthy levels and the second group of 3 levels is considered to be average – imbalance/social role, interpersonal control and overcompensation. The last three are the unhealthy levels and they are – violation, obsession and compulsion pathological destructiveness.

A study of these levels can be of great help to deal with many psychological issues that have become rampant nowadays. Hence Enneagram is not just a tool to understand your personality type but proper understanding of this tool can help you better your personality and quality of life.

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