- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (April 12, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062506838
- ISBN-13: 978-0062506832
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others In Your Life Paperback – April 12, 1991
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From Library Journal
In this difficult but rewarding book, psychologist Palmer explicates a complex system of personality typology derived from an ancient Sufi tradition and later used by the occult teacher Gurdjieff. This system, the Enneagram of personality types, is further clarified by comments from students and psychiatric patients. Students of self-realization techniques should find the book intriguing, although it is evident that to make progress in self-understanding, assistance from a teacher such as the author would be necessary. For large self-help collections.Jeanne S. Bagby, Tucson P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Provides help in understanding the good qualities of a more evolved life. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Palmer’s historical and clinical accounting is solid and her reasoning insightful. The Enneagram system can help us understand people as they see themselves. (Training and Development Journal)
Explores the mysteries of personality and points the way to the cultivation of extraordinary abilities. (Yoga Journal)
A book for both the psychologically sophisticated and for ordinary people as well. (New Realities Magazine)
[Palmer’s] focus on the practical import of this unique personality system gives her book special power, the power to transform. (American Humanistic Psychology Review)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into two main parts. The first 70 or so pages are dedicated to an overview of the enneagram system, both from historical perspectives, as well as in terms of pratical application. The remainder (and majority) of the book's 400-odd pages provides a well organized wealth of information on each of the nine enneagram personality types. Because each of these nine chapters are laid out in a standard "template" format, expect some minor duplication from chapter to chapter.
UNlike most personality typing books, Helen Palmer's book does NOT include any kind of "quiz" to help readers determine their enneagram type. However, the descriptions of each type are so thorough that it isn't difficult to determine which one is the best fit.
The book is quite comprehensive, and goes well beyond merely examining the enneagram as a "personality type inventory," instead also covering the self-growth and life philosophy aspects of the system. Palmer goes into great depth in her decriptions of each of the Nine enneagram personality types-- starting with the childhood "programming" that influences current behavior patterns, then going on to outline the adult "preoccupations," including how they affect that type's behavior in both intimate and "authority" relationships. She relies extensively on the "oral tradition" of the enneagram; that is-- the practice of listening to, and learning from, groups of people of the same "type," talking about their lives and motivations. Many quotes and examples from Palmer's enneagram study groups are included in the book, and they add a nice "live" counterpoint to what is otherwise somewhat "academic" material. Each chapter also includes a brief description of "instinctual subtypes," and concludes with a list of actions/environments that might help each type grow and thrive.
If there is one (minor) complaint I have about this book, it is perhaps that Palmer has a tendency to dwell at length on the negative or "defective" traits of human nature while not really giving equal time to the positive-- or even how to work our way through the negative. In addition, she does not acknowledge the possibility that an "emotionally healthy" version of any type might exist-- which is one of the reasons I prefer the work of Riso and Hudson. In personal growth terms, it is certainly of great importance to identify the pitfalls of life (Our "preoccupations," as Palmer calls them), but it is almost of equal importance to be offered some guidance for self-devlopment-- and this book falls a bit short in that area. Which, in a way, is surprising, since Helen Palmer is a practicing psychotherapist. However, this is trivial issue that really doesn't detract a great deal from the book's overall usefulness.
Final thoughts: An excellent and worthwhile reference (9 out of a possible 10 bookmarks), especially for the more serious student of the enneagram. Provides a nice counterpoint to Riso & Hudson's writings. Perhaps not the best "first read" for someone just beginning to explore the enneagram-- if that's you, I'd recommend Baron & Wagele's "The Enneagram Made Easy" as an excellent introduction.
Thanks for reading!
1) The is the best introductory writing to Enneagram I've ever read;
2) Enneagram gives me a much more rational and systematic perspective to understand myself and other people. After three years of studying it, I personally suggest the Enneagram contains more scientific characteristics than the classic M-B system, which you have a different personality every time you test yourself.
The idea that must be remembered here is a person is not one personality type, but a core type fluctuating between two others, one in stress, the other in non-stress. So each person is continuously traveling between three points, one of them being the core, while at the same time, this person may or may not lean towards one of it's wing points. To repeat, it is a core point fluctuating between two other points, towards one in stress, towards the other in security, while some are heavily influenced by one of its wing points. A Five for instance, is secure in eight, but when stress hits it goes towards seven in order to secure its core of Five, like a rubber band effect. I am a fiveish four, or a four-Tragic Romantic, who acts as a withdrawing observer, from leaning in my wing point as a Five-Observer-Solitude. As a Four, I fall into the secure point of a One-Perfectionist. So under stress, I move towards a Two-Giver, in order to balance out my Four.
You have to accept the system with degrees of relativity. As helpful as this system is, it is not an exact science, and in this sense, there are no absolutes in any formulated structures.
The first four chapters of the book are small and explain the system itself and how it works. The remainder of the book describes in quite detail the nine personality types and is very helpful in observing both the self and others with scores of helpful hints and workable areas that one can work and benefit on by knowing the basic principles and framework of thinking that externally show in actions. By looking in this particular lens of personality types, you can gain greater perception of the person you are dealing with and how you yourself are dealing with the other and make the necessary adjustments. I found myself constantly envisioning many persons I know that really do fit many of the personality types with a large degree of accuracy, including that of myself.
I found what is important is to read the entire book, and try to get a handle on the types. Then go back to the first four chapters and re-read to get a full understanding on how each point is really a base of three points and how the wing points can be a major influence.