Know Your Personality Type
J. M. Faust
Weve all heard of a Type A
personality: a driven, possibly unhealthily so, overachiever. If you find it hard to
identify with such categories, you might want to look into a totally different system of
process of evolution that spanned most of the 20th century, and was helped along by a
number of proto new-age thinkers, the Enneagram symbol was linked to personality types.
The symbol, believed to have originated in Babylon in 2500 B.C., became the synthesis of
ancient wisdom traditions combined with modern psychology. It purports to reveal nine
archetypes of personalities into which humans fall. The types, labeled One through Nine,
reveal the gifts and strengths of each kind of person, and also their potential pitfalls.
Armed with this psychological insight, exponents believe you can leverage your strengths
while avoiding some of the traps common to your type.
really powerful about the Enneagram rather than just being a description of people
is that it goes deeper," says Russ Hudson, co-author of the "Wisdom of
the Enneagram." "The Enneagram, rightly understood, tells us a lot about our
primary motivations, the things were afraid of, what to avoid, what we want the most
deep down, and really reveals a lot about what underlies a lot of our behavior."
Hudson and his colleagues at the Ennegram Institute in New York prefer to use the numbers
to type people, the types can broadly be defined, from One to Nine, as the Reformer, the
Helper, the Achiever, the Individualist, the Investigator, the Loyalist, the Enthusiast,
the Challenger and the Peacemaker.
at random, (OK not at random, but because its my type) the Enthusiast is described
as busy, fun-loving, spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive and scattered. We are told that a
Sevens basic fear is of "being deprived and trapped in pain"; the basic
desire is "to be happy, satisfied, and to find fulfillment"; and that the
super-ego message (a Freudian reference) is "you are good or OK if you get what you
need." While those might seem like the fears, goals and messages of just about
anybody, contrast it to the profile of personality type One, the Reformer, who is
described as the rational, idealistic type; principled , purposeful, self-controlled and
perfectionistic. The Ones basic fear is described as "being bad, defective,
evil or corrupt." The basic desire of Ones is "to be good, virtuous, in balance
to have integrity." The superego message: "You are good or OK if you do
what is right.
then goes on to show a continuum of behaviors from Healthy/level one, which for the Seven
is "joyful and satisfied", to Unhealthy/ level nine, which is "overwhelmed
and paralyzed." Keeping oneself in the healthy range is the goal of Enneagram study,
and to do so, the book prescribes a number of practices and awareness techniques. What the
study doesnt try to do, says Hudson, is change a type.
our view, once a Seven always a Seven, but ... as you grow as a person, as you understand
the ways in which you tend to get tripped up by Seven-ness, you start to open more to the
positive capacities of all the types. We tell people when were teaching them that we
have all nine types in us. There is no type that is going to be completely alien to our
own experience; however one is home base, its our center.
their test is commonly used in the helping professions, such as in therapy settings, but
its also gaining popularity in the human resources departments of such companies as
DuPont, GM and Sony.
"I understand that the CIA has been briefed on
the Enneagram," says Hudson. "One of our colleagues did some workshops there. I
believe theyre using it to profile foreign leaders and people they want to pay
attention to, to help them predict likely behaviors in different settings."
roots in religion, Hudson says the symbols use today is independent of that.
"Its not a religion, its not a path. I think of it as a tool and I think
of it as a map. A lot of people talk about 'be here now' or 'wherever you are in life,
there you are' and thats true. And most people recognize that when theyre
present and more actively engaged with their immediate experience, theyre more
satisfied, happy and tend to do things better. It is both the study of the potential of
what can happen when we do live that way, and the barriers to why we dont live that
way more often. There are very logical and understandable reasons to why we
something to think about when you try the Enneagram. To do so, pop over to the Enneagram Institute
and give yourself 25 minutes to take their personality test. Youll be asked 145
provocative questions, such as: "Ive usually ... a) been shy about showing my
abilities or b) liked to let people know what I can do well." And "Ive
prided myself on my
a) perseverance and common sense or b) originality and
inventiveness." When youve finished the test, the results will automatically
tally, and you will be classified as one of nine personality types. Whether you buy into
the premise or not, youre likely to enjoy the process of asking yourself revealing