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Discussion Starter #1
The Enneagram types have been described as both a map and a theory. IMO, which you see it as makes a big difference as to how you approach and use it. Here's how I think about it.

A map is used to help navigate and explore the territory that you're becoming familiar with. There's nothing to be proven. It just offers a starting point for your journey. The more accurate the map, the more useful it is. It doesn't show all of reality, just what's been abstracted out and deemed most important by the map maker.

A theory is a hypothesis or approximation about how something works. It tries to explain or organize reality to fit some imagined conception of it. There are competing theories that offer different explanations for the same reality. People debate as to which conceptualization is a better fit. Theories are to be proven valid or invalid by supporting evidence.

I used the Enneagram as a map to explore what's underneath personality. After having spent a lot of time doing that, I've found the map isn't always accurate. I started out making adjustments to the map as needed, but as I became more and more familiar with the territory I just began creating my own map that incorporated the Enneagram map but went beyond its inaccuracies and limitations.

I don't see the Enneagram as a theory to debate. That feels like spinning around going nowhere. I'm more interested in the journey and exploration rather than some mental conceptualization that just keeps me going in circles.

How do you see it? Map or theory? And why?
 

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Queen of Hearts
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I mean...I don't think it's very interesting to sit around discussing if the Enneagram is true or not, it's fun in action...so map I guess

but it's not like you're going to get, like, lost using it if it turns out part is inaccurate

Not sure I understand the distinction you're drawing though
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not sure I understand the distinction you're drawing though
When I think of a map I think of someone who's actually explored the territory first-hand then draws a map of what they found so someone else can use it to navigate that same territory.

I think of a theory more as someone observing something they don't understand or haven't experienced first-hand then hypothesizing about what's really happening.

I remember someone saying to me something to the effect of "you haven't proven your theory to me" when I was talking about the Enneagram. My response was something like "just take a look for yourself". Sometimes this theory approach seems like people are stuck in their concepts when all they have to do is look at the experience being pointed to.

For me, I guess it comes down to the goal. A map is for finding the experience. A theory is for contemplating the observation.
 

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I see the Enneagram as roughly accurate, but the major caveat is that your main type is only a tiny part of who you are. That's why, obviously, there's not only 9 types of people. I see your main Enneatype as just one aspect of your personality make-up... like your eye color is just one aspect of your physical appearance. You "have" your main Enneatype, but then you also have your wing, influences of other types such as distintegration/ integration, your MBTI, your culture, your life history, your family, other random genetic influences... All these things combine to make the person. So no one is a perfect representation of their Enneatype. You should study the Enneagram because it offers information, but you should always critically analyze YOURSELF to figure out what is really going on.

It seems like arguments about whether or not the Enneagram is accurate or true usually involve over-stretching the system, thinking core type describes far more about someone than it actually does.
 

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I see the Enneagram as a map. It's more like a crudely drawn map; the essence and general outline is there, but there is a lot of tightly packed jungle existing out of intertwined mental constructs, definitions and descriptions. The map helps you give a general sense of where you are, but it's hard to use it well without a proper understanding of the actual terrain.

As for considering the Enneagram as a theory. I could, but I would say there would be so many constructs you'd have to test, so many nuanced and interlinked assumptions you would have to challenge, like the holy ideas, or the assumption that personality is stable in many ways over time, or whether people's possible motivations and behaviors can actually be summarized well within 9 types. Also, the Enneagram speaks of motivations, not behavior per sé, so another thing that would make it harder to research. That's why I rather just look at it as a map: it has it's flaws, it's not perfect, but it's useful and interesting to me and gives me an idea at least of things that are happening below surface level.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@charlie.elliot
Sounds like you're responding to whether the Enneagram is accurate or not. I'm not sure how that addresses the question I was asking about map or theory so I don't have any response.

@Vive
There's a couple of map analogies that come to mind about the Enneagram. One has to do with seeing the Enneagram like a road map of the United States which only has the major highways on it. If I want to go visit a friend in another city, the map will get me to the other city but then what? I need to get a more detailed city map to actually get me from the highway to the street where my friend lives.

The Enneagram is too vague in that way for me. It only gets me in the approximate area. It's not so good on the details. I've had to figure those out for myself through other means. It seems if someone truly understood the experiences of the types then they'd be able to better describe those details. The "experts" don't really seem to have that level of understanding. It's more of hit and miss with their type descriptions.
 
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