Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Enneagram and the Zodiac

Sometimes I feel like Carrie Bradshaw! But I don't have a Mac.

Consider this poignant question I am typing: "Even though the Enneagram and Astrology are silly and bunk (or, as Wayne Campbell would say, "both bogus and sad"), can we learn anything about ourselves from them? Are our fates written in the stars?"

I just threw in that last bit for flair (and fidelity).

I actually think the Enneagram is pretty great. I like that you can easily identify which type you are without taking a stupid test (though they exist if you are stupid, hate spontaneous introversion, or enjoy tests). And because it was invented by humans trying to convince us that their system works, it pretty much works. For newcomers, here are the nine personality types of the Enneagram (adapted from Wikipedia and Enneagram.net):

Type 1 - Perfectionists, Reformers, Judges, Crusaders, Critics
Life for you is about adhering to your strong internal set of standards. Sometimes, you wish that you could let go and have more fun. This can be hard for you to do because of your strong work ethic. Privately, you may criticize yourself for your shortcomings far more than you ever criticize anyone else. Because you can be so hard on yourself, you long for positive feedback, serenity and happiness.
Virtues: Visionary talents, integrity, high standards, drive
Vices: Resentment, self-righteousness, rigidity, anger
Spiritual goal: Serenity

Famous Ones: Ralph Nader, Ernest Hemingway, Eleanor Roosevelt

Type 2 - Helpers, Givers, Caretakers
Relationship orientated, you reach out to others and are often the first one to lend a hand. A good listener, you focus on the needs and concerns of others. You usually know what people need and feel, and enjoy taking on the kind of role where you can show your giving and generous nature. You have developed the gift of flattery to the level of an art form because you see how this skill can be a currency for creating intimate rapport.
Virtues: Emotional intelligence, kindness, intuition
Vices: Pride, patronizing, bossy, manipulative
Spiritual goal: Humility

Famous Twos: Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Carter, Mia Farrow (I think Twos are probably underrepresented among the famous.)

Type 3 - Achievers, Performers, Status Seekers
You want to be competent, productive, accomplished and dynamic. More importantly, you want to be good at what you do and to look good doing it. Continuously seeking attention and admiration, you aren’t afraid to showcase or promote your talents and ambitions. Because there is no second best for you, you keep trying until you reach your goal. You strive for and often develop finesse. Your high level of self-confidence, enthusiasm and energy tends to rub off on everyone around you. Your positive attitude is often motivating to others. Always on the go and energized by starting new projects, you can achieve a great deal but are also at risk of burning out.
Virtues: Energetic, Positive, Enthusiastic, Industrious, Confident
Vices: Vanity, Confusion, Exhaustion
Spiritual goal: Honesty

Famous Threes: Paul McCartney, Jay Gatsby, David Bowie, Madonna, Barack Obama

Type 4- Romantics, Individualists, Mystics

Motivated by the need to understand and to be understood, you desire experiences that are rich with feeling and meaning. You long to freely express yourself. You feel your emotions deeply and are not afraid to go emotionally where others fear to tread. This includes having an exquisite, intuitive ability to distinguish between subtle emotions that others often miss. Painfully self-conscious, you are often overly focused on how different you are from others. A true humanitarian, you have a natural passion for protest. At times intense and contrary, you are not afraid to think for yourself and voice your point of view.
Virtues: Intuition, Creativity, Transformative abilities
Vices: Envious, Moody, Self-Absorbed
Spiritual goal: Equanimity

Famous Fours: Johnny Depp, Bob Dylan, Angelina Jolie

Type 5 - Experts, Observers, Thinkers, Investigators, Sages

Studious and scholarly, you develop expertise in any area that is of interest to you, often in more than one field. You believe that knowledge is power and feel it is imperative that you be as a means of survival. Often scientific, you have unparalleled powers of mental perception due in part to your ability to remain detached and unaffected by your emotions.You have an inquisitive and observant nature with an insatiable appetite for information. You think things through before offering your perceptive insights regarding systems, people or how the world works.
Virtues: Insightful, Astute, Good Instincts, Loyalty, Kindness
Vices: Greed, Arrogance, Aloofness
Spiritual goal: Transcendence

Famous Fives: Samuel Beckett, Annie Leibowitz, Franz Kafka, Alfred Hitchcock

Type 6 - Skeptics, Heroes/Rebels, Loyalists, Guardians, Defenders

You often exhibit unwavering loyalty and responsibility, but once betrayed, they are slow to trust again. You can be wary and cautious one minute and/or rebellious and courageous the next. You possess an endearing childlike reactivity and often take the position of the devil’s advocate. Depending on the situation, you can be friendly and outgoing or reserved and skeptical. A ‘good soldier’, you prefer the role of buddy, loyal family member or trusted employee. You are attracted to people who are strong, protective or have prestige.
Virtues: Loyalty, Dedication, Courage
Vices: Fear, Paranoia, Persecution Complex, Contrarian
Spiritual goal: Faith

Famous Sixes: Woody Allen, Christopher Hitchens, Spike Lee, Michael Moore, David Letterman

Type 7 - Epicures, Enthusiasts, Adventurers, Sensationalists
You embrace life for its varied joys and wonders, and live for and in the moment. You seek excitement, new experiences, people and travel. Uneasiness is kept at bay by keeping busy with interesting and diverse experiences. Seeking a positive future with unlimited possibilities, you believe that the sky is the limit. You enjoy new ideas and live in the world of your imagination where you can manifest your dreams. You have a talent for squeezing the boredom and monotony out of routine tasks, turning the mundane into the magical.
Virtues: Loving, Creative, Joyful, Visionary Abilities, Kindness, Innovation
Vices: Greedy, Indulgent, Selfish, Flaky
Spiritual goal: Concentration

Famous Sevens: Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Branagh, Mick Jagger, Babe Ruth, Liz Taylor

Type 8 - Leaders, Problem-Solvers, Mavericks
You are charismatic and exude confidence. You have great pride in your ability to face, endure and overcome adversity, believing that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Your assertive stance and imposing presence make you a ‘force of nature’. You like challenges and usually overcome the kinds of obstacles that limit or deter others. You seek control over your life and and fear being controlled by others.
Virtues: Sense of Justice, Honesty, Leadership, Responsibility
Vices: Pushiness, Excess, Myopia, Intensity
Spiritual goal: Innocence

Famous Eights: Martin Luther King Jr., Johnny Cash, Sean Penn, Fidel Castro, Mike Ditka

Type 9 - Mediators, Peacemakers, Preservationists
Considerate and gentle, you have an innate ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease. You are very accepting and readily empathize with others. Focused on the well being of others, you may at times lose sight of your own agenda. More intellectual than you let on, you have a natural gift for seeing many different points of view. Often the strong silent type, you have the power of patience, persistence and resistance. You see yourself as having stamina and take pride in your ability to endure. You tend to procrastinate and take longer than others to make up your mind. When you do make a decision, you are like an unstoppable elephant pursuing its goals. Not one to self-promote, you would rather be discovered than announce yourself.
Virtues: Acceptance, Peacefulness, Openness, Patience, Easy-going
Vices: Inaction, Sloth, Passive-Aggression
Spritual goal: Action

Famous Nines: Bill Clinton, John Goodman, Abraham Lincoln, Ringo Starr

Woo! That's a lot. But I think it's pretty easy to figure out which type you are. And probably which type most of your friends and family members are. And the Enneagram presents itself as a total system, so the types are connected to each other in interesting and plausible ways.

Let me know what you think of all this. Maybe you think it's bullshit. I find it helpful and interesting, in a simple way.

The famous people examples are more obvious caricatures/exaggerations of the types than anything else.

Fun fact! The Enneagram of Personality first reached a mass audience in 1984 when a Jesuit priest named Patrick O'Leary published a book titled "The Enneagram: A Journey of Self-Discovery".


ardentmoth said...

I'm a big fan of the Enneagram, but like any personality theory, it's full of holes.

I'm also a big fan of Myers-Briggs typology.

Right now, just for grins and giggles, I'm actually working on a project that connects alchemical symbolism to the Enneagram and it's workings. I don't necessarilly buy it, but if by doing it I come across a few fascinating facts about myself or others, why not? :)


Anonymous said...

I actually find that the Enneagram has surprising few apparent 'holes' for a system which isn't 'scientifically' proven and seemingly man made. Although its oigins are vague, it has such accuracy (at least for my own type, which is the main reason I'm compelled to defend and advocate it) that I think that even if it is a mere invention of a few highly inspired psychologists, it is one of great genius. A lot of people don't realise that it is a tool to improve oneself, not just a means of categorisation. To be honest, I totally buy it.

I myself am not a big fan of the Myers-Briggs, because there no type I can really identify with. It doesn't seem to have the depth of the Enneagram and concentrates mainly on positive characteristics.

4w5 Social/Self-Preservation :)