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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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About the Author
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 others, its own set of
perceptions and preoccupations, its own values and approaches to life. Each
relates to others in different but understandable 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
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 our
early environment as it is an adaptive reaction to it. The remaining eight
personality types (which we develop to greater or lesser degrees throughout
our lives) represent the other potentials of our psyche and are important parts
of who we are.
How the Enneagram Helps Us Grow
But how does a system of personality types help us liberate ourselves?
Aren"t we more than a simple type? The answer is yes we are. Human
beings are complex and mysterious, but in fact, our personalities are based
primarily on repetitive habits and patterns. Our personalities are not the whole
of our psyches, although they are enormously important in that they largely
affect the way we see the world and interact with it. Thus, the personality is a
kind of filter that potentially limits us and our freedom.
By indicating the chief features and barriers of our psychic
landscape, the Enneagram can help us prepare for a more profoundly direct
and spiritual relationship with reality. While many people are interested in
living more spirit-centered lives, many of us have not had the time or
opportunity to develop a reliable practice of meditation or self-observation. Nor
do most of us have access to an authentic spiritual school that could guide
us along our path.
The Enneagram can help us prepare ourselves for the inward
journey by showing us many of the obstacles as well as supports available
within our own psyches. It can help us see the reason for taking time from
daily routines to meditate or practice spiritual disciplines so that we can
acquire the resources necessary for our transformation and liberation.
In the process of teaching the Enneagram to thousands of people
for many years, we have seen over and over that the key to transformation
lies in our capacity to be present — to be deeply abiding in the here and
now, with our minds, hearts, and bodies fully engaged. While this seems an
obvious and simple thing, there is one huge barrier to our being more
conscious and attuned in the present moment. It is that our personality is not
at all interested in being here and now.
In fact, the personality is always drawing us somewhere else,
even if we think of ourselves as realistic, practical people. Our habitual
thoughts, emotional reactions, fantasies about the future, and old stories
about who we are and what others have done to us cloud our awareness and
limit our capacity to be fully awake and present to reality. But it is all the
more difficult to break out of our old patterns because we are almost totally
unaware of them. The mechanisms of our personality are invisible to us. We
therefore need to find a way to awaken to our true condition, and having
awakened, to remain mindful of the siren-calls of personality.
The amazing thing is that as we are able to bring a nonjudgmental
awareness to the reactivity of our personality, our perceptions become
sharper, and we begin to discover a vast part of ourselves that is not
conflicted, self-deluding, or fearful. As we become more conscious of the
mechanical aspects of our personality (that is, our automatic, reactive,
defensive patterns), we are less and less controlled by them. By using the
habits of our personality to remind us to be present, and then remaining
present while observing and feeling the reactions and habits of the
personality, we gradually open to real freedom and inner peace. Thus, the
paradox of the Enneagram is this: we study the Enneagram because it is
necessary to become conscious of how our personality operates so that we
can become free of it.
The Real Purpose of the Enneagram
While it is extremely valuable to discover our dominant type, it is best to not
get distracted by typing and to keep in mind the real purpose of the
Enneagram. First, remember that we have the whole Enneagram within us.
When we speak of our type it is useful to think of it as our dominant type —
our default setting and motivational core. This is an extremely valuable thing
to know, and it can greatly facilitate our growth by being aware of what is
most centrally driving our ego agendas. That being said, we will manifest
characteristics from all of the nine types from time to time. In short, we are
all nine types.
Second, remember that the reason we learn our Enneagram type
is to remind us to come back to the present moment when we see our
personality drawing our attention into its particular preoccupations and
reactions. When we use our knowledge of the types this way, they become
liberating rather than constricting us in old identities. As important as
discovering our type is, a much more significant achievement is to be willing
to observe it in action. Indeed, discovering our personality type only presents
us with this greater challenge of courageously observing ourselves as we
really are, no matter what we find. Without the willingness to see the
maneuvers of our personality from moment to moment, transformation cannot
take place. Unless we learn to observe ourselves, finding our type (with the
Enneagram or any other system) will give us little more than another label
with which we can hide from ourselves. If we only find our type but go no
further, the Enneagram itself can become an obstacle to our growth.
Third, it is in the act of seeing ourselves objectively that
something lets go in us: a new possibility is created when we allow the grace
available in the moment to touch us. We discover that at our deepest we are
not our personality. When we experience this truth, transformation becomes
possible. Without our trying to do anything to "fix" ourselves, the act of
bringing awareness to the moment causes our higher essential qualities to
become more available and our personality to lose its grip over us. As we
have more moments of freedom from our personality, our essence reveals its
many facets — acceptance, love, authenticity, forgiveness, compassion,
courage, joy, strength, and presence — as well as gratitude, vitality, and
boundlessness — and all of the other manifestations of the human spirit. By
moving beyond merely knowing our type to the ability to see ourselves as we
are, the shift from personality to essence takes place and we discover that
we can live differently. We discover that we can be free.
In the end, the Enneagram can be thought of as a treasure map
that indicates where the secret riches of the innermost self can be
discovered. Pointing out each type"s path to self-realization is thus one of the
Enneagram"s most profound gifts. But the Enneagram is only a map, and it is
up to us to make the journey: only we can accept the daily challenge and
adventure that is our life. The Enneagram takes us to the threshold of spirit
and freedom, love and liberation, self-surrender and self-actualization. Once
we have arrived at that uncharted land, we will begin to recognize our truest
self, the self beyond personality, the self of essence. That self, of course,
cannot be tested by a questionnaire, but only by life itself.
The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator
If we are going to use the Enneagram for self-understanding, for relationships,
or for practical applications, we must be able to accurately assess our
dominant personality type (as well as those of others). The questionnaire in
this book, the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI, version 2.5),
is a reliable tool for that purpose. Those who are already acquainted with the
Enneagram have intuitively sensed that this system works; the RHETI
attempts to complement intuition by verifying the personality types
empirically. If the Enneagram is to become more widely known, its intuitive
validity will have to be corroborated by hard evidence. This questionnaire is
offered as a step toward the scientific validation of the Enneagram as a whole.
Scientific Validation and Limitations with Psychological Tests
The intention behind developing the RHETI was not merely to give people a
shortcut for determining their personality type. If the Enneagram is to
continue to gain mainstream and academic acceptance, the empirical
validation of this system is necessary, and having a reliable questionnaire is
essential. That process was boosted by the first independent validation of
this test — a recognized standard in the field — and will be accelerated with
further validation studies and subsequent developments of the test.
But an Enneagram questionnaire — indeed, any questionnaire
that aims to help us discover our personality type — cannot provide real and
complete self-knowledge by itself. At best, all an Enneagram test can do is
to provide evidence about your dominant type. While we have done our best
to make the RHETI as valid and reliable an instrument as possible, it is good
to remember some of the limitations inherent in using a test to determine
your Enneagram type.
Some limitations are inherent in the nature of any test that relies
on self-reporting. No such test can be foolproof or 100 percent accurate. After
several years of experience with test construction, we have come to the
conclusion (supported by studies in psychometrics) that it is virtually
impossible to devise a questionnaire that is over 85–90 percent accurate, and
any claims to anyone"s having done so should be met with skepticism. In the
appendix of this book, we have included the results of an academic study of
the RHETI administered independently by Rebecca Newgent, Ph.D., as her
doctoral dissertation at the University of Akron. We intend to use this study
to make further refinements of the test, and hope that it will lead to further
validation studies of the RHETI. In any case, Dr. Newgent"s findings were
highly encouraging and placed the RHETI well within the range of a viable
But even with sufficient reliability in a test"s construction, other
challenges remain. One of the primary limitations with any personality test
based on self-reporting is that it takes some degree of self-knowledge to take
a type-test, yet this is often the very thing that is in short supply. Because
many people lack self-knowledge, they are at a loss about what is true about
them when a questionnaire asks them to report on their attitudes or
behaviors. At the heart of the problem is the fact that each of us has a certain
self-image that does not include everything about us. For example, we may
be far more aggressive than we realize, or we may not be as sensitive, loving,
dependable, or outgoing as our self-image leads us to believe. One of the
values of the Enneagram is to help us correct our distorted notions about
ourselves — but until we can acknowledge our "blind spots," we will not be
able to recognize them either in ourselves or in a test.
It is also in the very nature of certain personality types to have
difficulty identifying themselves. The three primary types — Threes, Sixes,
and Nines — probably have the most trouble because their identity depends
on their identifications with others. They live through others or else live
through the real or imagined reactions of others to them. Either way, because
they do not see themselves directly, testing for these types is more difficult.
Of course, all of the types present other problems caused by self-deception,
self-justification, and the desire to "look good." This can be particularly true
when the test is administered in the workplace. People are likely to respond
in ways that they believe are expected of them rather than as they truly feel.
Of course there are other pitfalls in any self-scored test: people
can skip questions or entire pages, or they can make mistakes in arithmetic
as they add their scores. Sometimes they do not understand the vocabulary,
do not read or follow the instructions, or get impatient and answer the
questions arbitrarily. Other errors are more subtle: while some respondents
do not have the self-knowledge to answer the questions appropriately, others
may know the Enneagram types so well that they are able to skew the
answers to make the test confirm the type that they want to be. Others may
overanalyze the questions and become confused by hair-splitting and
thinking of fantastic situations in which both of the statements might possibly
be true of them. When one considers all of the potential sources of error that
can be introduced in test-taking, it is a wonder that psychological tests,
including the RHETI, ever come out at all.
Despite these problems, the RHETI has proven to range from
about 56–82 percent accurate for determining the basic personality type
(depending on the type). While carefully reading Enneagram books and going
to workshops is probably the most reliable way to identify or confirm one"s
dominant type, many people like to get launched on this journey of self-
discovery by having an accurate personality type indicator available. At the
very least, tests can be useful in narrowing down the possibilities from nine to
two or three. In the last analysis, finding your dominant type ultimately
depends on honest self-observation over time.
Insights obtained from a test, workshop, book, or an Enneagram
teacher should be used only as corroborative pieces of evidence in the
process of self-discovery. It is unwise to expect any method to be the only
way to discover our dominant type. The responsibility for finding out who we
are always lies with us. Insights from any method should be considered
along with all the other available evidence before we come to any final
conclusions. Talking to friends, reading the descriptions of the types,
attending workshops, and above all, relying on your own self-observation over
a period of time are the best ways to discover your type with confidence.
Differences Between the Earlier Version of Discovering Your Personality Type
and This New Third Edition
While the earlier two versions of this book have proven to be favorites with
Enneagram readers, we realized that people were primarily purchasing them
for the test and not using much of the supportive text on interpretation. At the
same time, we were aware of the need for a simple, fresh introduction to the
nine Enneagram types for people newly acquainted with the system. Further,
we had made some additional changes and refinements to the version of the
test in the last edition of Discovering Your Personality Type (version 2.0),
resulting in the more accurate version 2.5 that is included here. It was also
version 2.5 that was studied and scientifically validated.
Thus, it made sense to release a new edition of this book with the
validated version of the test and with additional introductory material. Our
hope was that readers would find in this newest edition all they needed to
begin their exploration of the Enneagram without going into the greater
complexities and subtleties of the system that we have described in our other
As a result, we removed some of the extra interpretive material
and replaced it with fuller introductions to the nine types as well as to the
basics of the system. The two-paragraph descriptions of the nine types from
the last edition are here replaced with treatments of over 2,500 words each.
In this new edition, readers can take the test and immediately go to the type
chapters for an introduction to all the most important points they need to
know about their type. We have also included new material for more
advanced students so that those familiar with our other books will be well
rewarded by investigating the type chapters and other sections in this edition.
Copyright © 2003 by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson. Reprinted by
permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
Top customer reviews
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The info of your type is short but amazing. There are diamonds of information and I read it over and over again, each time finding something new.
You can, also, "try to type" the people in your life, although this is not really accurate.
My only negative would be that after finishing it I felt it could have contained more information on each of the types, and thus making this a more complete book. My advice would be: yes, buy this book if you are an Enneagram novice, but be prepared to want to buy a second more advanced book to learn more.