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Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram, Revised and Expanded Paperback – May 20, 2003


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Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram, Revised and Expanded + The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine  Personality Types + Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Rev Upd Su edition (May 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061821903X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618219032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Don Richard Riso, M.A. is the foremost writer and developer of the Enneagram in the world today. The most-published and best-selling author in the field, he is an internatioinally recognized authority on the subject. He is the president of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc., and founder of The Enneagram Institute. He has been teaching the Enneagram for more than twenty years, pioneering a revolutionary new approach to ego psychology through his 1977 discovery of the Levels of Development. His four best-selling books are available in British, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and French editions. Mr. Riso was a Jesuit for thirteen years, holds degrees in English and philosophy, was elected to the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Stanford University in communications (social psychology).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1. The Multi-Dimensional Enneagram

Understanding Ourselves and Others

The Enneagram is being used daily by millions of people around the world because it works. It is the clearest, most accurate method available for understanding ourselves and those who are important to us. It helps us understand why we do not easily get along with certain people while with others we instantly feel that we are old friends. Understanding the Enneagram is like having a pair of special glasses that allows us to see beneath the surface of people with special clarity: we may in fact see them more clearly than they see themselves.
The insights the Enneagram gives us can change our lives, and those who have gotten to know it cannot imagine how they once got along without it. It is as if they had been born color blind and were suddenly able to comprehend the world in all its subtle hues for the first time. They are thrilled to uncover what had been “right in front of their noses” all along but was obscure and hidden from view. The Enneagram opens up whole new vistas for us, new depths of comprehension, new levels of meaning. Knowledge such as this, however, is not obtained without paying a price: there can be no going back to our former blindness once we understand the Enneagram. The world, others, and we will be different forever.
People from diverse cultures all over the world are responding to the Enneagram because they see their experience accurately reflected in it. They are embracing it as one of the most important discoveries of their lives, something that has helped them make sense of what previously seemed impenetrably ambiguous, or worse, utterly chaotic. Once people grasp the essentials of this extraordinary system, they can participate in the noble work of deepening their understanding of themselves and their fellow humans. Who knows what benefits will accrue as new generations are able to draw on the wisdom of the Enneagram throughout their lives?
Moreover, there are as many uses for the Enneagram as there are individuals who use it. Those who are in therapy or in one of the twelve-step programs will find it an invaluable source of insight into their childhood and why they have become the people they are. Spiritual seekers will discover in it a trustworthy guide to the deeper dimensions of human experience. Those of us in intimate relationships will benefit from understanding more about ourselves and our partners. The Enneagram can help us understand what causes our partners to behave in ways that have previously baffled us and can indicate what is needed for more effective communication and conflict resolution. This understanding also helps us bring more acceptance and compassion to our relationships, as well as insight into where and when limits and boundaries need to be set. Learning to understand our partners is the best way to keep a relationship alive and growing. And compassionately understanding ourselves — what we need, want, fear, and are afraid of expressing — is the best way to keep our own psyches healthy.
While the Enneagram is primarily a profound psychological and spiritual tool, it is also highly practical for business applications because its insights are so on target. Many businesses and organizations are using the Enneagram in management to increase their employees’ productivity and, ultimately, their profitability. They have discovered that they can save a great deal of time and frustration for management and employees alike by applying the Enneagram as a communication tool. Corporations have been using the Enneagram for hiring the best possible person for a particular job, for teaching executives to manage their employees more effectively, for customer service, for clarifying a corporate image — a corporate “personality type,” so to speak — or for building a more profitable sales force. Team building, executive development, marketing, corporate communication, and conflict resolution — among its many applications — are more effective when insights from the Enneagram are applied in the business world. Major organizations that have been using the Enneagram include Adobe, Amoco, AT&T, Avon Products, Boeing Corporation, The DuPont Company, e-Bay, Prudential Insurance (Japan), General Mills Corporation, General Motors, Alitalia Airlines, KLM Airlines, The Coalition of 100 Black Women, Kodak, Hewlett Packard, Toyota, Procter & Gamble, International WeightWatchers, Reebok Health Clubs, Motorola, and SONY.

What Is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. Each of these nine types has its own way of relating to othhers, its own set of perceptions and preoccupations, its own values and approaches to life. Each relates to others in different but understtandable ways. The Enneagram helps everyone understand that there are nine different points of view, nine distinct sets of values, nine different communication styles, nine ways of solving problems — and so forth — that are all equally useful and valid. All of the types have something necessary to contribute to a thriving, balanced world.
As a typology, the Enneagram helps people recognize and understand overall patterns in human behavior. External behaviors, underlying attitudes, one’s characteristic sense of self, conscious and unconscious motivations, emotional reactions, defense mechanisms, object relations, what we pay attention to, our spiritual barriers and potentials — and much more — are all parts of the complex pattern that forms each personality type. While the Enneagram suggests that there are nine basic personality types of human nature, there are, of course, many subtypes and variations within the nine basic categories. Even with all of these subtle distinctions, however, the Enneagram cannot account for every aspect of human nature. Always remember that the Enneagram does not put you in a box — it shows you the box you are already in (but don’t know it) and the way out!
Further, while ideas about psychological type cannot tell us everything about people, they help us make meaningful distinctions that are extremely useful. For instance, people generally believe that others think the same way they do. They often believe that others have the same motivations, values, and priorities — although this is usually not the case. However, when personality type is properly understood, communication becomes exponentially more effective because people begin to recognize and make the most of human diversity. We learn to respect others who are not the same as we are and to treat them with tolerance and compassion.

How Was the Enneagram Developed?

The Enneagram as a symbol was first brought to the attention of the modern world by the Greek-Armenian spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff around the turn of the twentieth century. The typology now associated with the symbol was developed by Oscar Ichazo, the founder of the Arica school of self-realization, in the 1950s and 60s. In developing the basic principles of Enneagram theory, Ichazo drew on classic Greek philosophy and ancient spiritual ideas from mystical Judaism and early Christianity. Ichazo taught a number of students the basics of his theories of the Enneagram in Arica, Chile, in 1970, and some of them, notably gestalt psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, brought the Enneagram to the United States soon thereafter. Within a few years, awareness of this powerful typology had quickly spread around North America. In 1973, Don Riso began developing the Enneagram in the light of modern psychology, adding his own insights and discoveries to the original body of knowledge. He was joined by Russ Hudson in 1988, and both have been writing and teaching about the system ever since.
One central aspect of our work with the Enneagram has been the endeavor to bring our findings into alignment with modern psychological research. In Understanding the Enneagram, we saw that the Enneagram adds cohesion and significant insights to the theories of modern psychology with its specificity, comprehensiveness, and elegance (284–311). It organizes observations about human nature by consolidating what has already been discovered as well as by suggesting new avenues for investigation. By “cleaving the diamond” of the psyche along its proper internal lines, the Enneagram presents us with the categories that we actually find in everyday life. What is particularly intriguing is that this system, based on ancient philosophical ideas and empirical observations, anticipates many of the findings of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (the DSM-IV), of the American Psychiatric Association and other typologies.

What Creates Our Enneagram Type?

One of the primary things to understand about the Enneagram is that we find ourselves reflected in the whole of it. From one point of view, the personality types are metaphors for the various psychological functions operating in each of us. (See Chapter 7 for more on the Functions.)We develop into one of the nine personality types because our consciousness has developed in certain ways as a result of our heredity and childhood experiences. Nevertheless, our personality type is largely inborn and is the result of what psychologists call temperament. Any woman who has been a mother is aware that children are quite distinct from one another even when they are still in the womb. The child then uses the strengths of his or her temperament as a primary way to cope with stresses in his or her environment. But in the process of adapting, a variety of unconscious mechanisms and structures come into play that help the child feel safe but that also limit his or her sense of identity. In a sense, the development of the personality is as much a defense against...

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Customer Reviews

The book is a quick read and easy to understand.
Mark
I think it will really help me to understand myself better as well as the people I deal with on a regular basis.
virginia stern
This book also contains a short exposition of the Enneagram approach and types.
J. Winokur

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By J. Winokur on March 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Having read widely in the fascinating Enneagram literature, I find this test indispensable in accomplishing the actual typing of a person. People and their friends often wish for one Enneagram label or another to apply to them, and Enneagram typing from general reading is susceptible to this *major* distortion. Containing dozens of questions, this thought provoking, multiple choice test -- which forces a choice between the answers presented for each question, often including either *no* answers appealing to the examinee, or *too many* appealing answers -- gives the examinee less opportunity to answer by prior self-stereotyping, and less of a hint of what Enneagram types correspond to which answers. "Forced-choice" testing, widely respected in psychological testing circles, can be uncomfortable when no answers seem a happy fit, but they are a good testing format. Even in other excellent books by Riso and Hudson -- also my favorite Enneagram writers -- the shorter quizzes don't compare in clarity to this. Don't skip this in your efforts to type yourself or a friend.

This book also contains a short exposition of the Enneagram approach and types. This part is cursory, and reading one of Riso and Hudson's lengthier books will be far more satisfying for this information and analysis. Helen Palmer's work is also excellent, but she takes a darker, more pessimistic view of human beings. Hudson and Riso, while recognizing each type's darker sides, present a far more balanced analysis.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Uchenna C.O on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This interesting book featuring the updated Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator is useful and worth reading. I took time time to answer the 144 questions and what I discovered confirmed the test I have already carried out online with the simple personality test. To improve on your person and on your relationship with others, you must have to know your fundamental compression and the sub-compressions. These 144 questions are well selected, realistic, and sensible. If you can, just read the book and carry out the test and I assure you, you will never regret it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael George on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
As I learn more about the enneagram, I have gotten a little more adept at seeing some of the depth in that typology system. Of course, when someone (who had worked more extensively at understanding the enneagram than I have) told me that she was a 5 awhile back, I was able to focus immediately, and realize that what she said fit: It introduced an element of "reality" beyond the simple ego caricatures that we are ordinarily operating with, in our ego constructs of social behavior. On the other hand, there is a vast difference between someone "giving one a fish" and "being able to fish".
Each new book I read, and each time I am able to "catch a fish", I see my understanding inch forward. The merit of "Discovering Your Personality Type" is the personality inventory called the RHETI, which supplies one with a broad spectral portrait over the nine types, based on responses to 144 questions that are formulated very sharply to contrast one type with another, and the effectiveness of which is enhanced from that perspective by being a "forced response", i.e. one has only two options related to the specific two types. I find, coming as I do from the world of science, that such a test is quite interesting. Naturally, since there are 45 pairwise type comparisons possible, this works out to a little over 3 questions dedicated to each pair, which does not have a high degree of statistical significance, even when as cleverly formulated as this test clearly is. Improving on such a spectral decomposition would be quite difficult, as we know with the resources, expense and research that must go into the development of spectrometers in chemistry and physics to extend our senses.
I appreciated the very intelligent perspective that Riso and Hudson supplied in discussing the test and the enneagram.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nancy N on November 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Riso's introduction to the enneagram is a fascinating look into what makes us tick. The Enneagram is method of determining a person's basic personality type. Once you determine your type ( after answering questions and reflecting on core traits of each of nine types) the book explains ways in which to optimize your particularly useful tendencies and what to look out for concerning areas of your personality that make your life difficult. It's not a fortune cookie type of prediction; rather if you take the time to really consider the different types you can learn a lot about why you do things the way you do and how to change your behavior if you wish. I found that understanding the nature of my "type" helped me to get a clearer understanding of what it is that leads me to behave or think in certain ways. That awareness allows me the freedom to act differently if I want to change. Beside all the great insight, it's fun to read. (And you can come to understand your partner or friends better, too).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meijer Goldstein on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
When you buy this book, make sure you also get the companion text "Personality Types" from the same author. The companion text is worth its weight in gold as it contains the real depth of your personality analysis.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark on March 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book is a quick read and easy to understand. The insights are mostly good and the system an interesting one. Take the test and see how accurate you think it is. It does provide a tool for understanding your own and others behavior.
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