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Discussion Starter #1
I picked up Don Richard Riso & Ross Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram last night.


  • The "traditional Enneagram" was first taught by Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s, drawing on mystical Judaism (Kabbalism), Christianity, Islam (Sufism), Taoism, Buddhism, & ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Socrates, Plato & the Neo-Platonists)
  • Ichazo had founded the Arica School, "a vast, interwoven & complex body of teachings on psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, spirituality, & so forth, combined with various practices to bring about transformations of human consciousness" *Gosh!*
  • Passions, Virtues, Fixations, Holy Ideas. Nine Divine Forms. The Higher Essence. Personality only being an illusion.
This is the sort of thing that sends serious alarm bells ringing.

Then there's mention of someone called George Gurdjieff (founder of a branch of Christian mysticism called the Fourth Way) who said that the Enneagram was "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language", and taught the symbol primarily through a series of sacred dances. ("At our school, we teach the secrets of the universe by mystical disco dancing. The universe is only a reflection in the strobe light of eternity.")

Frankly, this all sounds like New Age mumbo-jumbo.

And yet a lot of people - and intelligent people at that - seem to be convinced of the system's merits. So what I'd like to know is: why?
 

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MOTM November 2013
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Socrates is New Age?
 

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I am far from understanding it, but if you are reading books about it maybe you are far from understanding it also? I don't believe in much, but I do believe that there have always been personalities and people trying to understand them, why would it be any different now than it was then?
I have had a huge realization of who I am from the enneagram, the passions and fixations mentioned above really hit home with my type, and I have never been described more accurately. I had some trouble finding my enneagram, but once I researched it a little further and asked around here on PerC, it makes perfect sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The personality system itself may be valid. I don't know. It's the mysticism that I object to. I find it difficult to believe that a system that is so deeply rooted in mysticism / spirituality can be valid.
 

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If you're looking for hard science, then you're in the wrong place. Enneagram and mbti are both pop psychology tools, not cutting edge psychology. If you're interested in that i'd suggest learning about neuroscience and behavioralism.

As far as i understand it, the enneagram is more of an anecdote-based system which has developed nine different types based on what you want out of life. Its definitely very logical, it just delves into certain territory which doesnt lend itself to empirical study.

Personally, i am a fan because it is a powerful, active system. In order to "work" it relies on you actively observing your tendencies and desires, and doing something about it. If you put the effort in, you will get something out of it. To be perfectly fair it is a bit new agey, but that doesnt mean there isnt something valuable here.
 

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The personality system itself may be valid. I don't know. It's the mysticism that I object to. I find it difficult to believe that a system that is so deeply rooted in mysticism / spirituality can be valid.

Well why didn't you say that? I usually disregard the religion that is attached to most things, just use the philosophical side. If I think there is a valid point, I will figure out a way to utilize it without bothering with all of the Mumbo-Jumbo... I think you should get rid of that book, and read the hell out of this site and any others you can, explanation from many points of view is better than the possible one sided view in a book.
(There is a chance also that I know nothing about it and you should not take my word for it) :wink:
 

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I picked up Don Richard Riso & Ross Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram last night.


  • The "traditional Enneagram" was first taught by Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s, drawing on mystical Judaism (Kabbalism), Christianity, Islam (Sufism), Taoism, Buddhism, & ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Socrates, Plato & the Neo-Platonists)
  • Ichazo had founded the Arica School, "a vast, interwoven & complex body of teachings on psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, spirituality, & so forth, combined with various practices to bring about transformations of human consciousness" *Gosh!*
  • Passions, Virtues, Fixations, Holy Ideas. Nine Divine Forms. The Higher Essence. Personality only being an illusion.
This is the sort of thing that sends serious alarm bells ringing.

Then there's mention of someone called George Gurdjieff (founder of a branch of Christian mysticism called the Fourth Way) who said that the Enneagram was "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language", and taught the symbol primarily through a series of sacred dances. ("At our school, we teach the secrets of the universe by mystical disco dancing. The universe is only a reflection in the strobe light of eternity.")

Frankly, this all sounds like New Age mumbo-jumbo.

And yet a lot of people - and intelligent people at that - seem to be convinced of the system's merits. So what I'd like to know is: why?
as long as it works (fostering self awareness, personal growth and an understand of others) who cares if it's New Age?
 

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MOTM February 2014
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Few people here actually pick up the spiritual side of the Enneagram. It doesn't have to be spiritual to work, you can decide to use it in a more straight-forward / materialistic fashion. Really, I find the history of the Enneagram somewhat useless and boring, so I tend to skip over those parts when I read the books. I find the way some authors phrase the "Holy Ideas" and "Sins of type" and such to be distasteful, so I skim over those, too; they're good to know but not a hugely important part. If you have a good understanding of the types and how the system works materialistically, then the spiritual side doesn't really matter.
 

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I picked up Don Richard Riso & Ross Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram last night.


  • The "traditional Enneagram" was first taught by Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s, drawing on mystical Judaism (Kabbalism), Christianity, Islam (Sufism), Taoism, Buddhism, & ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Socrates, Plato & the Neo-Platonists)
  • Ichazo had founded the Arica School, "a vast, interwoven & complex body of teachings on psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, spirituality, & so forth, combined with various practices to bring about transformations of human consciousness" *Gosh!*
  • Passions, Virtues, Fixations, Holy Ideas. Nine Divine Forms. The Higher Essence. Personality only being an illusion.
This is the sort of thing that sends serious alarm bells ringing.

Then there's mention of someone called George Gurdjieff (founder of a branch of Christian mysticism called the Fourth Way) who said that the Enneagram was "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language", and taught the symbol primarily through a series of sacred dances. ("At our school, we teach the secrets of the universe by mystical disco dancing. The universe is only a reflection in the strobe light of eternity.")

Frankly, this all sounds like New Age mumbo-jumbo.

And yet a lot of people - and intelligent people at that - seem to be convinced of the system's merits. So what I'd like to know is: why?
Mysticism can very easily be seen as an exploration of the psyche. If you study Mysticism at all, you end up finding that schools even in conflicting traditions (Sufi vs Kaballah) end up getting to a place where they acknowledge each other. It's because they're actually exploring objective ground, the same ground.

Note, I'm not really defending enneagram here, just pointing out how short sighted it is to discard something that comes from a Mystic tradition, just because you don't like New Age flavor in your cornflakes. It may help you to understand the Scientific pedigree:

Mysticism -> Philosophy -> Science
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The general opinion seems to be: It's useful; ignore the weird stuff, and use it as a tool. Soit! I shall look into it further, then, and put aside my prejudices. I may yet have to order a slice of humble pie...
 

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The general opinion seems to be: It's useful; ignore the weird stuff, and use it as a tool. Soit! I shall look into it further, then, and put aside my prejudices. I may yet have to order a slice of humble pie...

Humble pie is not so bad, I eat it quite often XD
 

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  • The "traditional Enneagram" was first taught by Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s, drawing on mystical Judaism (Kabbalism), Christianity, Islam (Sufism), Taoism, Buddhism, & ancient Greek philosophy (particularly Socrates, Plato & the Neo-Platonists)
  • Ichazo had founded the Arica School, "a vast, interwoven & complex body of teachings on psychology, cosmology, metaphysics, spirituality, & so forth, combined with various practices to bring about transformations of human consciousness" *Gosh!*
  • Passions, Virtues, Fixations, Holy Ideas. Nine Divine Forms. The Higher Essence. Personality only being an illusion.
This is the sort of thing that sends serious alarm bells ringing.

Then there's mention of someone called George Gurdjieff (founder of a branch of Christian mysticism called the Fourth Way) who said that the Enneagram was "the fundamental hieroglyph of a universal language", and taught the symbol primarily through a series of sacred dances. ("At our school, we teach the secrets of the universe by mystical disco dancing. The universe is only a reflection in the strobe light of eternity.")

Frankly, this all sounds like New Age mumbo-jumbo.
all of that does sound like mumbo-jumbo, i agree.

however, i have never heard that Ichazo drew on judaism, or christianity or any of those. in fact, he has denied a connection to that 4th way thing, whatever that is:


wikipedia said:
Although some modern Enneagram of Personality writers have claimed that Ichazo's teaching are derived, in part, from those of Gurdjieff's Fourth Way work, Ichazo has denied this claim in his "Letter to the Transpersonal Community". In 1992 intellectual copyright for the Enneagram of Personality was denied to Ichazo on the basis that Ichazo had published claims that his theories were factual and factual ideas cannot be copyrighted.
i like it how he claims the system is a factual idea. i don't think he is too far off with that.

this is how i understand it went down:

wikipedia said:
According to Ichazo, he identified the nine ways in which a person's ego becomes fixated within the psyche at an early stage of life. For each person one of these 'ego fixations' then becomes the core of a self-image around which their psychological personality develops. Each fixation is also supported at the emotional level by a particular 'passion' or 'vice'.
i understand he just worked it out like a scientist works out his theory. by observation and building on already known facts, which in this case would be in human behavior and psychology. i don't know that the enneagram had any roots in any religion. this is an interpretation that is purported by people who are more religious/spiritual themselves and just view the system in that light.

i don't see it that way at all. i just see it reflects the reality of human behavior pretty well. and when you think about it yourself, even without the enneagram, you can clearly see that people can be divided into a number of certain distinct personality profiles. the enneagram does exactly that and i think it has hit quite close to home.

And yet a lot of people - and intelligent people at that - seem to be convinced of the system's merits. So what I'd like to know is: why?
i discovered the thing and i've seen it applies in my case to a huge degree. it also appears to apply in case of a number of people i've met. that's how i see there is some truth to this. i don't follow the enneagram religiously. i understand it might not apply in everyone's case, there might be people who don't readily fall under any type under the system. and there might be some things the system hasn't worked out yet or has not worked out too well.
 

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As far as i understand it, the enneagram is more of an anecdote-based system which has developed nine different types based on what you want out of life.
Yeah, that's usually the point it designates itself as not a "comprehensive" system, as there is no reason there would not be more or less types, it simply starts with these nine constructions as somehow representative of people across culture. But inside of it, it provides some useful features to explore, especially in the area of self-growth. I tend to not look at it as a case of "is the theory accurate and comprehensive?" but "Can it provide me with some useful ideas in my life by which to actualize?"
 

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If you're interested in that i'd suggest learning about neuroscience and behavioralism.

As far as i understand it, the enneagram is more of an anecdote-based system which has developed nine different types based on what you want out of life. Its definitely very logical, it just delves into certain territory which doesnt lend itself to empirical study.
i don't see that it contradicts empirical studies or even neuroscience. the enneagram concerns itself with human behavior and motivations, and human behavior and (to a lesser degree) motivations are clearly observable and applicable to empirical studies. human behavior also derives directly from neuroscience, so eventually the enneagram has to have corresponding scientific explanations. whether the system is complete and fully accurate right now, is what is debatable. but its inherent logic does not clash with science, the way i see it.
 

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The general opinion seems to be: It's useful; ignore the weird stuff, and use it as a tool. Soit! I shall look into it further, then, and put aside my prejudices. I may yet have to order a slice of humble pie...
Ive never heard the origin story you mentioned in that book, I had always heard it was an older system than that. But either way, I am an agnostic person and have still found the enneagram incredibly helpful in identifying my weaknesses and personal growth areas. My counselor actually recommended I look at it, he never mentioned any spiritual side, he just finds it useful from a strictly psychological point of view. So yes, if you disregard the mystic spin some people try to put on it there is a ton of useful information there.
 

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i don't see that it contradicts empirical studies or even neuroscience. the enneagram concerns itself with human behavior and motivations, and human behavior and (to a lesser degree) motivations are clearly observable and applicable to empirical studies. human behavior also derives directly from neuroscience, so eventually the enneagram has to have corresponding scientific explanations. whether the system is complete and fully accurate right now, is what is debatable. but its inherent logic does not clash with science, the way i see it.
I agree, i didnt mean that is antithetical to empirical science, there are certainly many aspects which could be explored and could benefit from study and documentation. Its just that it seems to me that it suffers some of the same problems that freud's theories did: they are difficult or impossible to prove or disprove. For instance, i dont know how you might begin to prove core motivations with any certainty. I suppose mass interviews might be an option, but even then i think it would be considered "soft" science.

Im not a psychologist so im not saying i know how modern psychology functions as a science, its more of an instinct from what i know about other areas of science. It just seems so much harder to verify than neural activity or classical conditioning.
 

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I like the spiritual side of it because it can appeal to my religious family but it's not really RELIGIOUS. It has aspects that are correlated with religion, (the 7 deadly sins) but it's not purely religious imo. For instance, the deadly sins are just unhealthy behaviors/habits that people can get caught up in. Calling them the deadly sins alludes to it being religious which is why a lot of people prefer to call them Vices.
 

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Its just that it seems to me that it suffers some of the same problems that freud's theories did: they are difficult or impossible to prove or disprove. For instance, i dont know how you might begin to prove core motivations with any certainty. I suppose mass interviews might be an option, but even then i think it would be considered "soft" science.

Im not a psychologist so im not saying i know how modern psychology functions as a science, its more of an instinct from what i know about other areas of science. It just seems so much harder to verify than neural activity or classical conditioning.
that is true. it is difficult because it involves complex neural networks and activity all working in unity to produce what we recognize as one single manifestation in behavior/motivation/personality. on a neural basis it's a lot more complicated, involving several if not a multitude of groups of neurons, different activity patterns, etc. it's not as simple as studying just one single neuron, which in itself already is a pretty complex thing, involving inputs from hundreds of other neurons. one single neuron receives and integrates information from hundreds of other neurons. that's insane when you start thinking about it. human brain is more complex and powerful than the most powerful computer mankind has been able to build. so, it's no wonder we don't fully understand the human brain and behavior yet.

modern psychology doesn't yet function as a science. but we do have a neurological understanding of some of human behavior through research and studies on mental illnesses and basic structure and functions of the brain, for example. one of the greatest scientific discoveries in this area, in my opinion, has been that sex hormones differentially affect the development of the brain. on average, men and women clearly have different psychological profiles and on average they show different patterns of behavior and differing motivations. there is a clear divide between men and women in this area, and sex hormones are currently thought to be responsible for this at least partially.

so, yeah, it is a difficult area to study on a neurological basis. but i think all of human behavior and personality is finally explicable through neuroscience and has it's basis in the brain. it's not some weird phenomenon arising out of nothingness at all. it exists, ergo it must have an explanation in the physical world, as ultimately, everything does.
 
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