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There's been a bit of talk over on the enneagram section of the board about figuring out one's enneagram type. I figured it would be helpful to give a detailed account of the triads in terms of how it relates to finding one's enneagram type. Often, understanding the triads can help to narrow down options or determine when torn between two or three different types.

The most basic groupings associated with the enneagram is the head, heart and gut triads. The association of type with triads is as follows:

Heart: 2,3,4
Head: 5,6,7
Gut: 8,9,1

Heart triad types have a lot of struggle with self-image issues. There tends to be a concern with the persona, and the real self can be subconsciously substituted with the persona that will get them the most approval. On the "On All Fours" mp3 that Katherine and David Fauvre put out, they state (quoting Thomas Condon, IIRC) "in order to be loved for who I am, I must pretend to be what I am not." This is the key struggle for image types. They experience love as conditional, and think that one's true self can't be loved, so they must "put on" a more acceptable persona. Imagine being a kid and getting the lead in the school play. While you're on stage, your parents are in the front row. You see them, watching you. If you do well, you hear them praise you and brag about you to their friends, but there's this sense that it's the performance that is being rewarded, not you as a person. This is most intense in three. In twos and fours it gets mutated. For two, the approval comes through being seen as loving, generous, etcetera. Maybe you aren't the lead, but maybe you're the one that helps out with the costumes and you're rewarded for being seen as sweet, caring, friendly, etcetera. For four, there's the sense that you can't ever be the one to get the lead, you're the understudy, you want the accolades of the lead but for some reason it doesn't seem available, so you come up with something unique and distinctive about you, to cover up for the fact that you feel perenially lacking. However the image issues manifest, in each case, the goal is to be adequately mirrored and validated in some way.

Head types deal with issues of anxiety, authority, planning. There's a lot of mental chatter that goes on. The main concern is with finding some sort of strategy to deal with life. There's a strong future orientation. The basic theme is of some sort of primordial Angst and a general sense that authority wasn't trustworthy or consistent. Imagine that you're working the graveyard shift in a building where the only source of food if you get hungry is a vending machine which only works half the time. You aren't supposed to leave the premises for your shift. This is the basic, underlying perspective of all the head types. For the six, the vending machine would be a source of profound anxiety. They won't want to risk leaving the building and getting in trouble, but they don't want to go hungry. This will be a constant preoccupation, and the focus will go on how to make sure they aren't without food. They may pack a lunch, they may make sure they have emergency money in case it takes two or three attempts to get their snack, but even after doing all of these, there will be persistent anxiety which far exceeds the consequences of not getting a snack at work. For the seven, the vending machine will be equally frustrating, but rather than consciously get anxious, the seven may plan out all of the different places in the area which would offer a much better lunch, and being able to sneak out of the building everyday for a tastier option than the vending machine provides will be seen as a challenge. After all, even if they get caught once, they can probably come up with an excuse and talk their way out of it, the boss will never know that they sneak out every day. The five will deal with the vending machine by trying to figure out exactly why it isn't working, perhaps getting so caught up in trying to tinker with it that the main tasks of the job they're supposed to be doing get overlooked. When all else fails, they may get so preoccupied with figuring out the problem that they forget about eating, or deny that the chocolate bar is all that important.

The gut triad deals with issues of anger and autonomy. The emotion of rage is most pronounced in this triad, though it is only directly expressed in 8. For ones, the anger gets manifest as righteous indignation, and for the nine it gets denied and repressed, only coming out when they're pushed too far. There was a sense in childhood of not being able to assert one's space, and so there's a sense of needing to carve out a space for oneself in the world. There's an acute awareness of one's body, and a key theme of being in opposition to the environment. There is a strong impression of "this is me, this is where I am" and "this is the other, this does not belong to me." Imagine being an outer space explorer on some strange, new planet (yes, I do watch a lot of sci-fi :wink:). For the eight, there's an awareness this is a strange, new land which one needs to conquer in order to be certain to have a place for oneself. The boundaries are asserted in the most aggressive manner possible. For the one, there are a lot of strange customs and equally strange natural impulses that come up. They don't want their internal boundary disrupted, so they scan the new place, hold back and compare it to where they were from, their own customs and sense of right and wrong, fearing if they ease up, they may lose control of themselves and have their inner boundaries permeated. Type nine will adapt to the new environment with seeming ease, while part of them remains disengaged from it.

For a lot of people, the confusion about type will go along triad lines. For example, between 3 and 7, 2 and 9, 4 and 1, etcetera. Knowing which triad one belongs to requires a good deal of self-exploration. Looking at how one has been throughout their life, really exploring not just what you've done but why, can help tremendously. In addition, Riso and Hudson have suggested two other sets of triads. While the heart/head/gut distinction is most helpful, the others can yield some useful information as well.

One of these is the hornevian triads. They go:

withdrawn: 4,5, 9
compliant: 1, 2,6
assertive:3,7,8

Withdrawn types is fairly self-explanatory: these are types that withdraw to get their needs met. The compliant types aren't necessarily compliant in general, but rather they're compliant to their super-ego. So, more than any other types, their super-ego exerts a strong influence. Assertive types face things head on, and take direct action to get their needs met.

The third type is the harmonic groups. These are:

Positive outlook: 2, 7, 9
Reactive: 4,6,8
Competency: 1, 3,5,

The positive outlook, as the name suggests, tend to try to put a positive spin on things. These are silver lining types. Their greatest difficulty comes from not wanting to see the negative side of a situation, so disappointment can actually be more devastating for these types, since it catches them by surprise. They also have difficulty asserting their own needs or letting others know when they're troubled, because they want to seem "okay" to others.

The reactive types tend to want to get a reaction from others. When a reactive type is upset, they don't want the other person to stay calm. They want to see their negative emotions mirrored by others. They are often referred to as the "truth tellers of the enneagram" for the simple reason that reactive types can pick up on the more troubled aspects of a situation before other types do. If the positive outlook types err by focusing too much on the positive, reactive types can err by focusing too much on the negative. What they're seeing may, in fact, be there, but what comes across as barely perceptible to other types comes across like a flashing neon sign to the reactive types, and it's very difficult for them to not address it.

The competency types tends to want to sort through things logically and strategically, seeing feelings as distractions that keep them from dealing with things in an efficient manner. Unlike the reactive types, they don't want others to see when something has upset them, but rather maintain emotional control and deal with things as effectively as possible. If the positive outlook errs by looking at the positive side, and reactive types err at being too tuned in to the negative, the competency types err by not dealing with their emotions and authentic responses.

It can be useful to consider all of the triads when figuring out your type. For example, if you can't decide whether you're a four or a seven, recognizing whether you're emotionally reactive, have self-image issues and tend to withdraw or whether you have issues with anxiety (often experienced as boredom by sevens), are assertive and tend to have a positive outlook can be a helpful method of discerning, or at least narrowing down, among the possible choices.
 

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Iron Fist
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Lovely Article!

Could easily be the most informative thing I read on enn that did not confuse me.

Positive outlook: 2, 7, 9
Reactive: 4,6,8
Competency: 1, 5,8
Which 8 is a 3?
 

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3 is Wild card. They can react any way on the list. It most likely has to do with supporting wings and the other fixes.
 
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Someone tell me what I am please. I'm too lazy. The reading.. o gah.. please.. so many words.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
3 is Wild card. They can react any way on the list. It most likely has to do with supporting wings and the other fixes.
Sort of...they can adopt the persona of any of the triads, and can appear to others like any of these, so in that sense, you're right, they can come across like any of these based on the image they're trying to project and/or have identified with, but it still comes from an image place. Since three is at the center of the image triad, the core issues of the image triad will be most pronounced here. However, the wing and instinctual variant can influence how clearly others see the image issues. For example, a sx 3w2 will always be easier for others to detect as three than a sp 3w4. If the person isn't fundamentally operating from an image place, and have the key image triad issues, though, then they probably aren't three, but rather are one of the types that can resemble three, such as seven or sx six.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Someone tell me what I am please. I'm too lazy. The reading.. o gah.. please.. so many words.
I'm thinking of a really bad enneagram joke, but I'm not going to make it. :wink:
But...uh...three pages of text is too many words for you? Seriously?

I'm not sure how to respond to that, except to say that learning one's enneagram type requires an effort: an effort to reflect upon yourself, and to seek out the available information, really think about it and understand it, and apply it to yourself in the most objective manner possible. If you aren't at the point in your life where you're interested in doing that, though, I would stay away from the enneagram. It's a very powerful system that can reveal some very deep-seated issues, which is also a powerful tool for both working on oneself and understanding others. When used superficially, though, it can lead to profound misunderstandings of oneself and others, and misuse of the system. So, being willing to take the time to read through a post is only the very tip of the iceberg. Although it takes a little bit of time to read, the reason I spent two hours writing it yesterday was that there are many who have a genuine curiosity about the system and have a lot of questions about their type. Compiling some of the information about the triads is something that could be very useful in their starting the process of exploring what their type may be. My approach is to provide the information so people can work through it on their own.

Ultimately, only you can figure out what type you are...when you're ready.
 

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D'oh, thanks for catching that. 8 is a reactive, 3 is competency. I was getting spacy from caffeine and hunger at that point :tongue:
I think "reactive" is a bit of a misnomer. 8s are typically inert. An 8 with a 9 wing is probably less likely to let something bother them than any other type. 8s in general are least likely to overreact to something small.

Like being stuck behind someone turning left that is too scared to cross traffic, and you know they could have gone 5 times by now. I'll get irritated, and breath a bit deeper... maybe close my eyes as the anger flares. That's about it. I've been in the car with some that pound the steering wheel, and yell or sprout explicitives. Sometimes the reaction involves the whole body as they flail.

Nothing impressive about seeing an adult throw a tantrum.
 
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your triad

I think the triad is very interesting.

I have also read that each one of of us has our own triad, in that we use our head, heart or gut in certain situations, and we use them in a way that corresponds to a number. So each person would have one number from each group that they identify with.

For example, I'm a 5 most of the time (head group), and from the gut group I identify with 1 and from the heart group I identify with 4. So I could write it as 5>4>1 or 5>1>4.

I think this explains why some people say they are a 9 with a 3 wing or a 7 with a 2 wing- they are really just identifying their own triad. I think it also explains some of the differences in all of who identify as INTJ.
 

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Yeah, that would be the tritype theory put forward by the Fauvres. I've heard some mixed things about it. They tend not to be very thorough with their research from what I've seen, and among people I talk to from EIDB (the Enneagram Institute's message board) I know some people who have been to the Fauvres talks and just been wowed by the idea, but others have seen it as really flawed. Unless they actually publish their work and explain their research methodology, I'm holding off on adopting the tritype theory personally.

Their idea was a modification of Ichazo's trifix theory. From what I understand, it was based on object relations theory, so your heart type would be a fixation based on father issues, the gut type would relate to your relationship to your mother whereas the head type would relate to your issue with siblings/peer groups, and one type would be dominant. (Mind you, there's not a lot of accessible info on Ichazo's teaching, so this is just info relayed to me by other people who have been into the E for a long time and are more familiar with Ichazo than I am.) This seems to make more sense to me, and I see it played out in people a bit more. For example, my husband is a 7, his mom is an 8 and his dad was a 3, and we both agree his trifix would be 7-8-3. For some people it doesn't parallel as neatly, but I can still see how the fixations are reactions to early childhood stuff.

In general, I think it's better to avoid trifix/tritype theories until one really learns the triads, and especially works with the dominant triad of their type, so for example, if you're a five then really working through what it means to be a five and a head type can yield a lot of information, then after those core issues are dealt with, it can be helpful to delve more deeply into the issues from the other two triads. There may be something to the trifix, though. My husband and I have noticed that for a lot of people, if their type is unclear, it tends to be along triad lines. For example, before I discussed the enneagram with my dad and had him identify his type, I was unclear whether he was a 3, 6 or 8 and a lot of people tend to be torn between types across triads (e.g. 4 or 6, 3 or 7, 1 or 2, etc.)
 

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Understanding the Optimistic, Reactive and Competent Triads was a big help in figuring out what Enneagram Type I was. I thought for a while that I might be a 1, because I am a perfectionist in my work, and I place great importance on what I consider to be good and true, frequently becoming indignated and upset when people don't agree with me. But my method of dealing with it is to ratchet up the intensity of the conversation and be bluntly honest. The 1 traits I described are what most INFPs have. Plus, 4 connects strongly to Type 1 so it makes more sense.
 
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5>1>3 is what mine came out as...
when I took the enneagram card test. What I read was pretty accurate, though I never did figure out the whole of it in meaning.
I'd like to understand it better.
 

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The most basic groupings associated with the enneagram is the head, heart and gut triads. The association of type with triads is as follows:

Heart: 2,3,4
Head: 5,6,7
Gut: 8,9,1

Head types deal with issues of anxiety, authority, planning.

There's a lot of mental chatter that goes on. The main concern is with finding some sort of strategy to deal with life. There's a strong future orientation. The basic theme is of some sort of primordial Angst and a general sense that authority wasn't trustworthy or consistent.

One of these is the hornevian triads. They go:

withdrawn: 4,5, 9
compliant: 1, 2,6
assertive: 3,7,8

Assertive types face things head on, and take direct action to get their needs met.

The third type is the harmonic groups. These are:

Positive outlook: 2, 7, 9
Reactive: 4,6,8
Competency: 1, 3,5,

The positive outlook, as the name suggests, tend to try to put a positive spin on things. These are silver lining types. Their greatest difficulty comes from not wanting to see the negative side of a situation, so disappointment can actually be more devastating for these types, since it catches them by surprise. They also have difficulty asserting their own needs or letting others know when they're troubled, because they want to seem "okay" to others.

:happy:!!!!! interesting............
 

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Looking at this from a mathematical/geometric viewpoint, something catches my eye. In theory, there should be a fourth set of triads.

1,4,7
2,5,8
3,6,9.
 
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Looking at this from a mathematical/geometric viewpoint, something catches my eye. In theory, there should be a fourth set of triads.

1,4,7
2,5,8
3,6,9.
And right you are. The "fourth set of triads" that you've found are what links the personality types to their lines of integration and disintegration:proud:
 
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