Brand New Topic: The Enneagram
Background and History
One of the great things about belonging to a blogging community is that you find some really interesting sites. Lately, I’ve been enjoying another wonderful bout of insomnia, which has led to my blog perusing into the very wee hours of the morning. I came across a really beautiful site called “View Pacific” (viewpacific.wordpress.com/), which is now included in my Interesting Sites category on the left hand of the page. While I was exploring this site, I read a very informative entry about Enneagrams, something about which I was totally uninformed. So, I left a thank you to the author for the great info, and after leaving the site, I did what I always do in such situations: I went exploring.
Enneagrams have been around for quite a while, just how long depends upon which source you read. Their usage and their meaning are also dependent upon which sources you consult. As best as I can summarize, one researcher, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar Ph.D, traces the origins of the Enneagram to the 13th Century Islamic Sufi traditions of Central Asia based on the belief in the oneness of God. Bakhtiar claims that the nine-pointed symbol represents “the presence of God” (http://www.sufienneagram.com/overview.html).
Other researchers claim that the Enneagram is a personality typing system used in psychology that was first developed in the 1950s by Oscar Ichazo of Brazil. Common knowledge is that one of Ichazo’s student’s, Claudio Naranjo further developed and refined the system in the 1970’s.
Purportedly, the most recent refinements to the Enneagram psychological personality system have come from D.R. Riso and R. Hudson, who have developed and entire industry on the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, or RHETI, which is a modern synthesis of the nine personality types based on a number of ancient wisdom traditions. If you do a search on the Internet, Riso-Hudson will be your first hit. You can purchase tests, follow-up tests, test guides, interpretations of test results, books, seminars, etc. Apparently, assessing the personalities of your employees is a rather large, rather profitable business.
Then there is an entirely separate branch of Enneagram history that supposedly dates back to the Fourth Way, or can be tied to Kabbalah. G. I. Gurdjieff, writing in Russia in WWI, claimed that the nine-pointed Enneagram is:
“a symbol that represents the ‘law of seven’ and the ‘law of three’ (the two fundamental universal laws) and, therefore, the figure can be used to describe any natural whole phenomenon, cosmos, process in life or any other piece of knowledge. The basic use of the enneagram is to explain why nothing in nature and in life constantly occurs in a straight line, that is to say that there are always ups and downs in life which occur lawfully.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way_Enneagram)
And if I had had another few days, I probably would have found another few theories on the Enneagram, its nine points, its ties to the Catholics, mysticism, and probably coral calcium.
And This Has What To Do With Lola, Pepsi, and Dogs, You Might Ask?
So after all of this background reading, which, quite frankly, started to piss me off more than anything, I decided to just look at it in the way that View Pacific had intended: as an interesting insight into personality types. I mean, all of these different people claiming that it came from all of these different places, and then these two people in particular branding it and turning it into a form of screening potential employees, all the while hedging everything they said with sentences such as (I’m making these up): keep in mind that all personality types are blends of pieces of this and that, a 1 could also have pieces of a 4, and a 7 isn’t necessarily a serial killer (I’M MAKING THIS UP—REMEMBER? I don’t know if these people have a sense of humor or if they’re like Tom Cruise and the Scientologists . . .it’s the lack of sleep, it’s making me particularly snarky tonight).
So anyway, the first read that I did squarely placed me in the Number 4 category, which says (and again, I’ll summarize): I’m a dreamer (really?). I tend to keep things inside or to pour them out in a creative outlet (hmmm . . .). I can be reclusive and I can get depressed (what? you’re kidding me, right?). I grieve longer than most people (did someone put a camera in my bedroom?). Number 4 Enneagrams have old souls (I swear I didn’t write these descriptions). Just to prove it, I’ll actually quote from a #4 description taken from Enneagram Explorations by Katherine Chernick Fauvre and David W. Fauvre :
You want to be gifted, intuitive, original and unique. More importantly, you want to be passionate, true to your feelings and uniquely authentic. You see yourself as sensitive, expressive and spiritual. You would like others to see you as idealistic, emotionally deep and compassionate. Your idealized image is that you are accomplished and special.
Motivated by the need to understand and to be understood, you desire experiences that are rich with feeling and meaning. You may find it easier to deal with painful emotions than to deal with the tedium of daily routine. You have the temperament of an artist and 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.
Nostalgic by nature, you often focus on past experiences. This can lead you to deeper insights or to downward spirals of melancholy and/or painful unresolved feelings. Craving ideal circumstances or love, you often ruminate on what is missing and perceived to be important. Your tendency towards self-absorption is both an asset and liability. It can lead you to deep personal insights that can benefit everyone while feeding your self-deprecating sense of humor; but it can also make you appear to be self centered and disinterested in others. Feeling your own inner world so powerfully, it is good to remember that others’ experiences are just as real for them as yours are for you.
When you step out of the river of your emotions, you can bring forth your many talents into the world and express them in a way that is extraordinary and original. You are like the lotus flower growing in the mud that is able to transform emotionally painful experiences into fertilizer for personal growth. Attuned to feelings, you have an uncommon sensitivity when it comes to dealing with suffering. You are not afraid to hear about someone else’s troubles, and you can be a great friend to anyone in emotional pain. (emphasis added mine)
Francis Bacon, John Barrymore, Ingmar Bergman, Peter Bogdanovich, Marlon Brando, Jackson Browne, Raymond Burr, Kate Bush, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Prince Charles, Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, Judy Collins, James Dean, Johnny Depp, Neil Diamond, Isak Dinesen, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Martha Graham, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Julio Iglesias, Jeremy Irons, Michael Jackson, Jewel, Angelina Jolie, Janis Joplin, Harvey Keitel, Charles Laughton, T. E. Lawrence, Vivien Leigh, Rod McKuen, Thomas Merton, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Morrissey, Edvard Munch, Liam Neeson, Stevie Nicks, Anais Nin, Nick Nolte, Laurence Olivier, Paris, Edith Piaf, Pink Floyd, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Prince, Anne Rice, Percy Shelley, Simone Signoret, Paul Simon, Meryl Streep, James Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Vincent Van Gogh, Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Kate Winslet, Virginia Woolf. (I can’t believe how many of these people I admire and adore, and ooh ooh, Annie Lennox is a 4 as well.)
I Know I am But What Are You
So now that we all know what I am . . . I think that I’ve figured out what everyone in my family is, but I haven’t told them. Here are a couple of links to sites that I thought were the most straight-forward in figuring out what number Enneagram you are without a whole lot of test-taking: http://www.enneagrambook.com/, which also offers links to other sites, or http://www.enneagram.net/types.html, which is where I found the description with the long list of 4’s to whom I can so closely relate.
I’m certain that I made the whole thing harder than it needed to be, but I have to do my research first. I like the idea of the the Enneagram being 2500 years old. That adds an air of mysticism to it, which, of course, appeals to me. What I don’t like is how it has become so commercialized. Isn’t that always what happens, though? One of these days, they’ll put a portable Enneagram in Happy Meals with a secret Ronald McDonald decoder ring. I can’t stand it.
Enough already. More later. Peace.