What is the enneagram of personality? Enneagram is a word that comes from the Greek ennea, meaning nine, and gramma, which means something that is written or traced. It is a typology that aims to explain 9 universal personality types based on our individual “birth-wound.” It serves as a map to better understand yourself and the people around you by comprehending the motivations behind our actions and personality traits.
The Dark Side of the 3 Triads
The enneagram is broken down into 3 triads. The mind, which encompasses numbers 5, 6, and 7, is characterized by rationality. Their conflict is centralized in the intellect. These types lack self-confidence, often experiencing feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, overthinking, and a fear of pain.
The heart encompasses numbers 2, 3, and 4, characterized by being emotional. The central conflict of these types is a lack of self-esteem, revolving around a struggle to love themselves, therefore, adopting stances and traits motivated by finding acceptance and love in others. They can be over preoccupied with what people think of them. These types operate from the heart; they tend to be empathetic and socially intelligent.
The visceral triad includes types 8, 9, and 1, characterized by intuition-driven decision-making. The central conflict of this type is a lack of serenity; they struggle with feelings of anger. On the other hand, these types tend to be direct, energetic, and skilled at building relationships.
Type 1: The Perfectionist
The reformer; finds flaws in everything, nothing is ever good enough, and they always focus on what can be improved. Unconsciously, their wound is a feeling of insufficiency, causing them to idealize how they should be. Since they feel imperfect, they see everything around them as such. They tend to accumulate a lot of anger and frustration, which they rarely let out because that would be a flaw. All of this stems from a childhood where they interiorized making mistakes is not okay.
Since their need for perfection is unsustainable, at their breaking point, they decentralize to type 4.
Type 2: The Helper
The giver; likes to help everyone, is always giving to others while denying their own needs. They hate to be alone and feel like the world needs their help. They go around helping others because they want to be loved and accepted. These people can be pretty dependable; their need to help is a reflection of their own needs. Their wound is feeling like they don’t deserve love, so they look for it in other people by becoming their “savior.” This wound stems from internalizing that it is not okay to take care of themselves.
When their need to help doesn’t yield their expected results, they decentralize to type 8.
Type 3: The Achiever
The performer; feels like they have no worth as a human being; their worth comes from what they have “achieved.” They are obsessed with work, are competitive, and can be quite vain. They look for social status and present themselves with a perfection that is often fake. They are social chameleons and will adjust as needed to be liked by others. Their wound is feeling like they have no value, so they need to get that promotion or that degree to be appreciated and valued. This wound stems from the idea that they need to have a certain social status to be respected, appreciated, and loved.
When things don’t go their way, and they get fired from that job they would boast about or rejected from their dream university, they decentralize to type 9.
Type 4: The Individualist
The romantic; wants to be special, afraid of being like everybody else. Hopeless tragic-romantics, the artistic friend that writes poetry and listens to music “nobody knows.” They like to feel like nobody truly understands them because they are unique and enigmatic. The wound is feeling like they are less, so they need to be the center of attention by talking about their suffering, things they have done, and how unique they are. The wound stems from the belief that it is not practical to be happy.
At a breaking point, they decentralize to type 2.
Type 5: The Investigator
The observer; needs knowledge because they always feel unprepared. They are characterized by being hyper-rational and getting too caught up with concepts and facts because they are too afraid to experience and feel life. This type struggles with expressing emotion and emotional compromise. Their wound is feeling like they can’t be open emotionally, so they must isolate. This comes from the idea that they need to detach to feel secure.
At a breaking point, they decentralized to type 7.
Type 6: The Loyalist
The skeptic is moved by fear; they don’t trust themselves and have difficulty making decisions. They are often overwhelmed by too many options and seek support and guidance from others. They experience a lot of anxiety from anticipating what could happen and are usually pessimistic. Their wound is a lack of self-confidence; they don’t trust themselves, so they look for security in people around. This wound stems from the idea that you shouldn’t trust yourself.
This type decentralizes to type 3.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
The epicure; wants to try all the food, visit every country, and have all the experiences they possible can. This type looks happy outside, always making jokes, hyperactive, and gets bored quickly. However, this “happiness” and constant planning in searching for new experiences is merely a mask because they feel empty and unfulfilled. They avoid silence because they are afraid of connecting with this emptiness and experiencing pain. This wound stems from the idea that it is not okay to feel pain or be sad.
When looking for fulfillment outside of themselves, they tend to decentralize to type 1.
Type 8: The Challenger
The protector; challenges everyone, appears to be fearless, protects those they consider weak, and hates being told what to do. They see the world as unfair and feel the need to fight; these types like to be in leadership positions because they feel the need to control the people around them. Deep inside their wound is feeling vulnerable and defenseless, hence the need to be reactive and defensive; they want to avoid getting hurt. Their wound stems from the idea that it is not okay to be vulnerable.
At their breaking point, they decentralize to type 5.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
The mediator; is the sloth of the enneagram, always looking to avoid conflict and be at peace with everyone. Their wound is not feeling important or welcome; unconsciously, they fear being separated from the people around them. They want to always feel at peace no matter what, accumulating anger that suddenly explodes. The trauma stems from interiorizing that it is not okay to assert yourself.
At their breaking point, they decentralize to type 6.
Disclaimer: There is a limited psychometric analysis of the enneagram and scarce peer-reviewed research.