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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Enneagram can be a useful tool for self-discovery and learning about others, yet within any system information is aligned in such a way that frames our understanding in a certain way. The enneagram, for example, poses a rather static view of one's personality. The belief in the system is that our personality stays relatively the same over time, only varying slightly, but remaining the same at it's core.

Of course your enneagram type is not equal to your personality. It's merely a certain view on your potential characteristics and motivations. The problem might be, though, that one starts interpreting a lot in light of the Enneagram; possibly variations in personality that might not be able to be explained by the theory. I personally see this happening a lot in descriptions, so much behavior get's interpreted in light of a certain type, while the same kind of behavior might be displayed by another type, since people's motivations can get expressed in many forms of behavior and it also depends on what ways of expressing themselves were effective for them in their lives. Which is why I think Enneagram descriptions seem to miss the mark as long as they are too behavior-centric.

When one identifies with a certain image a lot gets interpreted in that light, so here are a few questions: In what ways does the Enneagram show up in your daily life? Is that always justified? Are we trying to explain too many things with the Enneagram? Has the Enneagram made your view of personality more static? Are there ways in which you think the Enneagram can be harmful for people?
 

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In what ways does the Enneagram show up in your daily life? Is that always justified? Are we trying to explain too many things with the Enneagram? Has the Enneagram made your view of personality more static? Are there ways in which you think the Enneagram can be harmful for people?
I agree that Enneagram type does not equal personality. IMO, too many people try to explain type by describing personality. I see it as helping you understand where personality might be coming from as opposed to describing what personality is supposed to look like for a given type. Enneagram type is only one of many influences upon personality and what Enneagram type actually is hasn't been well defined by the authors yet.

I don't even like to call them personality types because people take the label too literally. I imagine it might be one reason Jung called his types psychological types instead of personality types. Although I wonder how many people are clear on that distinction.
 

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Why do you see the enneagram as static? As far as personality systems go, it's actually the most dynamic of them all. Wings, lings of integration and disintegration, plus the fact that the types are a spectrum that bleed into each other rather than discrete entities.

I think the key is to always stay with what you actually observe in yourself, rather than trying to fit the theory onto yourself. Enneagram theory has been helpful to me, but I've always been careful to check it against what I really do in reality. Over the years, I've developed a pretty detailed picture of how I tend to behave, and only some parts of it coincide with my Enneagram type.

Also, I've come to see my own personality -- as far as my Enneatype is concerned-- as a certain unique recipe of the various influences on the Enneagram wheel. For example, my core type is 9, but my wing is 1, and that gives me certain influences of both those times, though not always the same nature and degree as it would for other 9w1s. type 9 is also "suspended" between the influences of 3 and 6, and those poles influence me to different degrees, in different ways, again not necessarily in the same way as it would for other 9w1s.

But, in the long run... who knows? Maybe the Enneagram is totally false.... we'll never really know for certain, probably (unless someone pulls off some kind of massive empirical study...) But, it's so dynamic and complex that it's served as a stepping stone to help me understand myself. And I'm pretty confident that I have come to understand myself in a way that truly reflects what I have observed about myself and not just plunking the Enneagram theory on and saying "I'm a 9w1 end of story".

The Enneagram is also so centered on personal growth, and has served as a major inspiration for me in terms of personal growth, even if the specific framework is not 100% accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@charlie.elliot
While I agree that we all have certain influences from the nine types and we're not merely one type's influence. We still stay at one type forever, integration and disintegration happen, but you at core still stay a six or a three, or an eight, etc. Integration and disintegration are only temporary, though, at one point, following the theory, you will come to rely on your familiar strategies one way or another. I'm not saying (dis)integration is not useful -- I am saying it doesn't change your personality in the end. You change how you deal with things, but at the core you keep the same fears, you still have the same tendencies. Thus the parts of 'personality' the Enneagram describes are more static than they are dynamic (IMO). Once you are one thing you can never really change into the other thing within the system, your growth is, in other words, bounded and I wonder whether it really has to be that bounded. There are nuances one might miss because of an identification with being a certain way, or like a certain enneatype.

Though, like I said before, I don't think an Enneagram type is equal to someone's personality, because their personality would also include their general behavior and many other nuances that would be very hard to explain.

I too like the Enneagram, it is has been a source of great help, yet, I have also found that there are times where I really just need to let go and drop my identification with a certain type, even though it might be accurate, because it reinforces a certain image of myself and sometime it's important to just realize that you are not that image.
 
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@Vive -- Yeah, I suppose in general you do stay the same time. I mean, some people would probably say that when you integrate, it's a pretty permanent thing, and you don't exactly change types, but you do become an integrated version of your type, which is inherently different from just being the core type. But you do change significantly, if you work at it enough... but its very difficult and probably only a few people ever really achieve it.
But, I do think it's worth noting that the Enneagram is distinctly more dynamic than any other personality system out there.

I 100% agree that your are not your type, your Enneatype isn't even close to being all of who you are. A lot of misunderstandings happen when people think that the Enneagram is implying that the core type is ALL of your personality .

Also, like you say, identification with type is a definitely a huge issue. I'm never really fallen prey to that, for some reason... I suppose I always just figured, I am who I really am first and foremost-- I am what nature made me-- and if the theory doesn't describe that, too bad. My type is only the closest fit anyway. I've never tried to make myself MORE like my type, or discount parts of myself that don't fit with my type, I suppose because I like the idea of being my core type but at same time not being typical of that type. I like emphasizing the ways in which I diverge from both my Enneatype and MBTI type. But, I suppose that in itself is a form of identification.
 

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Very broadly, I use the enneagram to:
  • Identify times when my personal health is declining because of the type's Trap (rather than fixate even further)
  • Prevent getting into traps I can avoid by reconsidering my mindset
  • Identify what circumstantial or environmental triggers are making me over-fixate
  • Try and re-frame, to different assumptions (from other types)
  • Explain times when someone else acts oddly or in a way I don't understand, to prevent getting impatient

I completely concur with you, Vive, when you say the Enneagram behavioral descriptions miss the mark - though maybe with a different angle than most other people.

We blame type descriptions a lot on this forum. They're honestly kind of fun to pile onto - this author sucks, I don't relate with this at ALL and I'm a __, that book is horrible, so and so hates 3's and is biased, and so on. But it's the use of the descriptions, as I see it, that is equally if not more to blame. The central idea missing is the Inquiry. Very few people have the patience to read a type description and survey other people they know well to ask if they do it and I think that would help many.

What I would like to see with the enneagram is not a Type Questionnaire, but a questionnaire that forces people to not only identify their traits, but also get into the specifics - why, how often, under what circumstances, for how long, to what ends, and does it actually improve anything to be ____ as you describe yourself to be. Something to shave off the fatty self-imaging that people seem to unconsciously tack onto how they describe themselves the instant typing shifts to online fora.
 

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Right now in my life, I'm seeing how my understanding of my Ennea-type is leading me 'back home' - getting back in touch with my innocence, my inner child. I've seen my type show itself in every single encounter in my life, past and present. It's unreal. It's breathtaking. It's overwhelming and awe-inspiring.

It's left me completely vulnerable and exposed, it shaved off the calloused skin, the old and over-used cover-ups. Now it feels like a fresh start, a breath of fresh air that blows over something pure, beaming in the light of the dawn again, after so long being cast in the darkness of the night, having only the moon to keep it company. My heart blossoms.

New skin will grow, new skin will harden, but this time with an understanding and, hopefully, a forgiveness of the sins I have committed against myself.

Meanwhile, my understanding of the Enneagram itself is growing, and I'm understanding more and more how little knowledge I have seen yet. I've started reading, really reading, the books of the big shots of the Enneagram, and the experience is eye-opening. Next step: hands-on experience. It's an intimidating step, but a necessary one if I must progress further in this arcane world.

Online, I have noticed, too few actually read the books. I've been guilty of this for too long myself. Sticking to internet descriptions is knowing -less- than the basics. Read up on the sources. And preferably, get to talk to people. Gain experience. Dive in and allow yourself to be flooded by this beautiful and devastating tsunami of understanding.

The harm is in making judgments based on less than a decent basis for one's understanding of the E. Books, hands-on experiences, guided training, etc. Do what you can to expand your horizons. And stay humble along the way.

One of the lessons of the Enneagram is that there is no justification necessary for your type. It just is, just like you are. The excuses themselves are the veils we pull before our eyes, clouding our vision and our compassion.

Another is that while getting to know yourself and your type, you will find yourself feeling less static in your actions and patterns of thought and feeling. You will find it in your heart to forgive and to embrace all that is you, and with that, all that is the other. The aim of the Enneagram is to decrease the hold one's type has on you, and to increase the potential for a life lived with love, as cliche as it sounds.
 

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The enneagram, for example, poses a rather static view of one's personality. The belief in the system is that our personality stays relatively the same over time, only varying slightly, but remaining the same at it's core.
I strongly disagree: the range in personality represented by the levels of health and the idea that a person can change enough to navigate them seems dynamic to me.

In what ways does the Enneagram show up in your daily life?

It doesn't "show up," I choose to use it for interpretation (although sometimes related ideas simply pop into my head). I don't think it plays much of a role in my daily life unless you count participating on this forum.

Is that always justified?
I'm not sure why justification is relevant. I suppose my justification for using it is that I find it useful.

Are we trying to explain too many things with the Enneagram?
I don't; I obviously can't speak for anyone else.

Has the Enneagram made your view of personality more static?
No; the exact opposite.

Are there ways in which you think the Enneagram can be harmful for people?
No. It is essentially a collection of ideas, and I don't consider ideas dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I suppose I must admit that it is in fact a dynamic system. It does allow for a lot of variation in people. What I was also trying to point at though, was that any system gives us a specific frame that we use to look at ourselves. Any new perspective we choose also provides us with news ways we can be biased and I was wondering whether you thought that would be all good or whether there would also be negative sides to it. In other words, I was wondering about the possible influence of confirmation bias, whether Enneagram could limit our understanding of what we can be and what we are.



Right now in my life, I'm seeing how my understanding of my Ennea-type is leading me 'back home' - getting back in touch with my innocence, my inner child. I've seen my type show itself in every single encounter in my life, past and present. It's unreal. It's breathtaking. It's overwhelming and awe-inspiring.

It's left me completely vulnerable and exposed, it shaved off the calloused skin, the old and over-used cover-ups. Now it feels like a fresh start, a breath of fresh air that blows over something pure, beaming in the light of the dawn again, after so long being cast in the darkness of the night, having only the moon to keep it company. My heart blossoms.

New skin will grow, new skin will harden, but this time with an understanding and, hopefully, a forgiveness of the sins I have committed against myself.
That sounds like a great experience and it sounds poetic, yet I've not had any such experience with the Enneagram. What usually happens to me is that I have an experience and manage to relate it to the Enneagram in some way, try to explain my behavior and that works, but then what? It does little to feel me better and often enough it also distracts me from my direct experience by theorizing about it. That theorizing usually leads to some kind of analysis paralysis. It's of course not right to blame the theory for getting stuck and I'm not, getting stuck in certain thought patterns is something I do. Recently I've learned to just experience things and deal with them without trying to explain or give everything a place. So in a sense I did start trusting my instincts more, so it's something that can also be explained by the Enneagram, but I would say my specific focus on the Enneagram was really not helping me.
Meanwhile, my understanding of the Enneagram itself is growing, and I'm understanding more and more how little knowledge I have seen yet. I've started reading, really reading, the books of the big shots of the Enneagram, and the experience is eye-opening. Next step: hands-on experience. It's an intimidating step, but a necessary one if I must progress further in this arcane world.

Online, I have noticed, too few actually read the books. I've been guilty of this for too long myself. Sticking to internet descriptions is knowing -less- than the basics. Read up on the sources. And preferably, get to talk to people. Gain experience. Dive in and allow yourself to be flooded by this beautiful and devastating tsunami of understanding.
I've read Chesnut, Almaas, Maitri and Riso-Hudson, but I wouldn't say I feel specifically enlightened by any one of them. I'm not sure how I would distinguish, between reading a book and really reading the book. A concept may feel like it clicks one day and it may stop an hour or a couple days after. I feel like the Enneagram especially is a system I just lose my grasp of every so often. Of course if I lose my grasp of it so often then my understanding could also potentially be not that great. I would say it's mediocre at best. I find Almaas to be especially frustrating, it gives us these holy ideas which I can grasp in theory, but how would our sense that we are connected to the universe make us more happy? Everything seems to be about connection and how things are nuances and we are all connected and how there are there is no clear distinction between black/white and I get that the point those holy idea's convey, but I fail to see how they are so essential.

I like Maitri's The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, but I dislike a lot of the connections see keeps making between classical Freudian childhood 'trauma' and the Enneatypes. If you actually have experienced trauma than that's completely worth taking a look at and learning about, yet I haven't experienced any such trauma. I have experienced bullying at multiple points, but I displayed anxious characteristics way before that happened. Why do the parental figures have to be dysfunctional per sé? Then Maitri goes on and connects everything to these holy ideas, that's great, but how are these vague spiritually related descriptions going to help me figure things out? Then what also happens is that people talk about what author actually has good descriptions and then again there seems to be disagreement? So I wonder, what exactly is the truth of the Enneagram? What is the Enneagram? Has it been described by this Author or is his description inadequate. It's like the more I read about it the less I understand. Sorry if this arrogant, I merely can't follow the reasoning, that's basically what's happening.

The part where I actually discuss things with other people tends to be bit difficult for me, I tend to be more on the side of observation than participation. I often am not sure what to say, or how to formulate what I want so I either end up struggling with formulating something for a while and eventually post or I lurk, or I have a good day and just participate. I tend to get stuck at the analysis part. I've tried to force myself to do things, to just accept and relax. I've tried to keep the momentum going, but I end up spending most of my time in analysis, regardless of what strategy I seem to choose or undertake.

The harm is in making judgments based on less than a decent basis for one's understanding of the E. Books, hands-on experiences, guided training, etc. Do what you can to expand your horizons. And stay humble along the way.
We always make judgments, whether we'd like to or not. I will read those Enneagram books again, I will try multiple methods to help myself cope with things and dig deeper into myself.
One of the lessons of the Enneagram is that there is no justification necessary for your type. It just is, just like you are. The excuses themselves are the veils we pull before our eyes, clouding our vision and our compassion.
If I don't have a justification for believing I am a certain type, I'm probably not going to believe I'm that type. I feel like I am who I am and I feel that even the supposedly big enneagram authors seem to not give me any sort of revelatory feeling.

Another is that while getting to know yourself and your type, you will find yourself feeling less static in your actions and patterns of thought and feeling. You will find it in your heart to forgive and to embrace all that is you, and with that, all that is the other. The aim of the Enneagram is to decrease the hold one's type has on you, and to increase the potential for a life lived with love, as cliche as it sounds.
Hmm, it has me helped recognize my patterns, but it actually has made me feel more static. Whenever anxiety plays up again I can choose to engage it, put it on the back-burner or think about it. At the moment I want that support form others and myself the most is the moment. Courage doesn't stop you from feeling shit at such a moment, neither does thinking about it and neither does support form others. The solution is not even accepting it, because being frustrated and anxious is in itself a sign of a lack of acceptance of my situation. The only thing that seems to work for me is just to deal with it, any discussion or fight against it is basically just useless. This is the only coping mechanism so far that has allowed me to retain my momentum and not get stuck in spiraling thoughts when I am really frustrated or anxious.

So far as the Enneagram has been a useful system for interpreting other's behaviors and explaining my own it, to my knowledge hasn't helped me to move forward, to lessen my patterns, to weaken my fixations grip. Often enough I'm better off not focusing too much on the system, because actually pondering this system makes me move towards a higher level of frustration. So in the end I think of it as a useful system and it can have and does have very beneficial effects, but it so far hasn't seemed to be what I need, perhaps I'm too young to inexperienced, but I will continue looking and trying.
 

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As some of the others have mentioned, I don't exactly see enneagram as "static"--it accounts for unhealthy and pathological behaviors, as well as growth and evolution, meanwhile describing a psychological pattern that's universal to others of your type...yet may manifest in myriad ways depending on one's actual life experiences. The only thing it says is that our innermost structures and values stay the same over time. But if anything, it gives us the freedom NOT to stay entrenched in old patterns. Just my thoughts.

I agree, though, that it behooves us not to be too behavior-centric in our understandings of the types. Also, not to interpret too much behind what lies behaviors with people you don't know (something I sometimes see happening around the forums: "You said you don't like being judgmental...therefore that means you're suppressing your judgmental tendencies...therefore you're a 1. Don't even deny it!!")

But to answer your questions

When one identifies with a certain image a lot gets interpreted in that light, so here are a few questions: In what ways does the Enneagram show up in your daily life?
I think I don't look like my type at all, but then admittedly I am blind to the effect of my interactions upon others. So I might think I'm fairly answering my therapist's question in a measured way, for instance, and she'll act as though I said something provocative... And I realize so much of what I say isn't what anyone else would say--I'm far too bitter, cynical, direct, and harsh. And to me, I think I'm just being normal.

And I'd say, Yes, in ways I'm not even thinking of--eg, 8 isn't all about aggression and brutality. There are also issues of vulnerability aversion (this can be basic and non-obvious, like avoiding eye contact lest someone use that as an excuse to solicit); feeling "wronged" in my daily interactions and being irascible for it; seeing my self as a wild human on the margins of society and interacting from that vantage point; being eternally frustrated with slow people; being so business like in interactions that I end up going through life alone...etc.

It just percolates up from my depths and infuses every fiber of my being. Every way I interface with the world somehow hearkens back to it.

Also interesting, when I'm not interfacing with the world, I am very aware of my wings. They pretty much rule my life, not always in the most productive of ways. They're a lot closer to the "baseline" voice in my head, which I often use on these forums.

Is that always justified?
My thoughts on this are that it's about 50-50. Each type has a valid perspective on life. I feel like a major component of enneagram is learning when the reactions of your type are legit intel that can bring insight to a situation, versus when they're unfounded and acting upon them will only make a situation worse.

Are we trying to explain too many things with the Enneagram?
You know, it's not all that bad on PerC. But I've spoken with people before who...I mean, EVERYTHING they do has to have an enneagram- or MBTI-related origin. "I like reading about astrology, and that's because I'm Ni-dom; she's mad at me because she's an 8; I'd stand up for myself but I have a 9-fix..." Etc.

I've seen the explanations become much more elaborate than just this. It's like some people get so hooked they can't conceive of anything happening in life without some sort of personality paradigm underpinning it.

And to be honest, enneagram can shape your values and focus and assumptions and reactions, but our lives aren't 100% dictated by it. If they were, we'd have discovered the types along with fire and stone/metal-working. Instead, we came up with astrology, psychoanalysis, the Four Temperaments, and myriad other ways of understanding ourselves and each other. There are common human universals that transcend your psychological background.

Enneagram explains a lot, but it's not the be-all end-all of the human experience.

Has the Enneagram made your view of personality more static?
I don't know if "static" is the word. It has certainly given me a paradigm for understanding myself and others that I find it hard NOT to rely upon. It's helped me to understand that some things about someone's core nature cannot--and should not--be changed. It's also made me realize how much we CAN change.

But I guess I don't see enneagram as "personality" per se. I see it as someone's inner structure--but it doesn't say much about character or more superficial aspects of personality. My father and I are very different types, but we're also remarkably similar in personality and temperament. I feel nothing in common with some other people of my type. There are several 4s in my family, and they are all very different people. Etc. There's something else going on here besides type.

Are there ways in which you think the Enneagram can be harmful for people?
Yes, and I think I mentioned them to you once before. I told you about how it ended with a depressive episode for me, and I wound up with "dry drunk" syndrome, where I've unpegged all my defense mechanisms and am far too aware of what they are to ever use them again...and yet am left with all this pain they protected me from. No one talks about how to work through the pain, they just leave you without defenses against it. NOICE.

But, I wrote up a list of about 10 ways enneagram has been harmful to me personally. If I can look back through my journals and find it, I may post it here, but basically I said that
- types can be used as a form of abuse online
- mistyping and trying to see yourself in that paradigm can mess up your sense of self
- people in vulnerable positions can easily be hurt by 1 and 2
- and I don't remember what else

But yes, yes it can. I can confirm your suspicions through my own experience.
 
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