The Enneagram is a personality model that is focused on personal and spiritual development. The founder of the Enneagram is the Armenian philosopher / mystic Gurdjieff (1872-1949). In the second half of the twentieth century, the model is further evaluated by Ichazo, Naranjo, Riso and Hudson.

Figure 1: The enneagram

During childhood, each person has (unconsiously) developed a certain strategy to cope with difficult situations. For instance, some children tend to be very self-esteem at a very early age whereas others scream for attention. Although each personality is unique by itself, nine global personality types can be distinguished. See Figure 1 and Table 2.


Type Motto Behaviour Desire Key
1 Reformer I am right Ones have high values. They demand perfection of themselves and others. To be good. To accept imperfection.
2 Helper I help Twos help others as much as possible, often at the expense of themselves. This brings them their self esteem. To be loved. To know their own feelings and needs.
3 Achiever I have success Threes think they are loved by their performances and image. To feel valuable. To feel valuable for who they are
4 Individualist I am different Fours withdraw into their own fantasy world, are hypersensitive to criticism, and have a low self-esteem. To be themselves. To come out with creativity to share feelings with others.
5 Investigator I understand Fives isolate themselves to study and practice. With knowledge or skills they dare to go outside. To be competent. To go outside and feel worthy.
6 Loyalist I do my duty Sixes try to control everything to feel secure. To feel secure. To trust themselves.
7 Enthusiast I am happy Sevens are optimistic, enthusiast and entertaining. They typically have thousand and one ideas and plans. To be happy To be content with the present situation.
8 Challanger I am strong Eigths try to control others and the environment To protect themselves To show their weakness.
9 Peacemaker I am satisfied Nines avoid confrontations and hide problems. To feel peacefull. To be decisive and to feel valuable

Tabel 1: Properties of the nine enneagram types

The middle three columns of Tabel 1 (motto, behaviour, and desire) characterize the personality structure per enneagram type. A type’s behaviour is determined by the (false) belief that one’s desire can be reached by the motto. However, the desire is truly reached by the key.

Example: type 3 wants to be valuable, and believes to achieve this by being succesful. Successes and prestations are indeed rewarded, and therefore type 3 sticks to his motto to be succesful. However, others will not fully value type 3 by his or her successes and prestations. When type 3 understands that life is not all about presetations, and he or she learns to be valuable without prestations, others will value him or her for who he or she is really is.

The Enneagram system does not put you into a box;
it shows you the box you are in so you can get out.

– Don Riso –

The colors of the enneagram types in Figure 1 indicate their focussing zone. The red types (1, 8, and 9) have issues with their instinct, and can therefore excessively rely on their gut feelings. They are called gut types. The green types (2, 3, and 4) have problems with their identity and feelings and are therefore called heart types. The blue types (5, 6, and 7) have issues with their self esteem. They often escape to thinking, dreaming, reasoning, and planning. Therefore they are called the head types.

The connections in Figure 1 indicate how each type is connected with:

  • the wings, i.e. the neighboring enneagram types. A persons type is often partly mixed with one or two wing types.
  • the stress point, i.e. the type in the direction of the arrow. In stressful situations, a type will take negative properties from its stress point.
  • the security point, i.e. the type in the counter direction of the arrow. In comfortable situations, a type will take positive properties from its security point. A type can also take properties from its security point in order to feel secure. However, those properties may not always be positive.

Besides the three zones (gut, heart and head), the types can also be divided into three groups: the assertives, the compliants and the withdrawns. See the yellow triangles in Figure 2.

enneagram extended
Figure 2: The enneagram


Another tripartition is: the positive outlooks, the reactives and the competitives. See Figure 2.

To be continued…