Friday, November 03, 2006

What's Your Enneagram Type?


This week I attended a fascinating workshop led by Jack Blackburn called "Enneagram Applications for Bodyworkers."

An enneagram is a nine-pointed diagram, which depicts the nine major human personalities. These personality types (or archetypes) reveal our strengths/points of growth as well as our weaknesses/challenges. As you can see from the graphic above, I am a "4" or "The Individualist." What does this mean? Well, I'll get to that later.

While the enneagram symbol has been around a very long time, apparently a fellow named George Gurdjieff brought the enneagram symbol to the West around 1900. Oscar Ichazo, a Chilean man, was the first to create the symbol's personality types and his work was developed even further by psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo.

I am just beginning my process of learning this system, but I have already gleaned much from learning about my type as "The Individualist."

According to the Enneagram Institute website, at my best, I am...

"Profoundly creative, expressing the personal and the universal, possibly in a work of art. Inspired, self-renewing and regenerating: able to transform all [my] experiences into something valuable: self-creative. Self-aware, introspective, on the "search for self," aware of feelings and inner impulses. Sensitive and intuitive both to self and others: gentle, tactful, compassionate."

And at my not-so-best, I...

"Interiorize everything, taking everything personally, but become self-absorbed and introverted, moody and hypersensitive, shy and self-conscious, unable to be spontaneous or to "get out of themselves." Stay withdrawn to protect [my] self-image and to buy time to sort out feelings."

When I am stressed I may take on negative traits of "The Helper" and at my strongest I may take on the positive qualities of "The Reformer."

What type are you?

1. The Reformer (or Perfectionist)
2. The Helper (or Supporter)
3. The Achiever (or Motivator)
4. The Individualist (or Romantic Melancholic)
5. The Observer (or Investigator)
6. The Loyalist (or Devil's Advocate)
7. The Enthusiast (or Optimist)
8. The Challenger (or Leader)
9. The Mediator (or Peacemaker)

To take the free 36-question enneagram test from the Enneagram Institute, click here.

Scroll down just a bit and the questions will appear with multiple choice buttons to click.

Feel free to post your type here and your thoughts about it. Remember that knowing and understanding your type is not meant to box you in. I see aspects of myself in most of the types.

I look forward to hearing what you discover!


walaka said...

I'm a number 7, The Enthusiast. I like to make plans and do stuff and I'm positive.

wheylona said...

Yay, Enneagram, me loves it. I'm very much a 1 but with a strong 9 wing, which I think accounts for why I don't like being responsible for children--my stressed 1-self gets dictatorial, which greatly disturbs my 9-self, who wants peace and stability.

I'm curious to hear more about how you might apply the Enneagram to massage/healing; it sounds fascinating.

Maggie said...

Type 2 (The Helper) with Type 9 (The Peacemaker) coming in a close second. Can't we all just get along???

Origami Nightingale said...

Walaka: You are most certainly a "7." I venture to guess that your wing is "8," the leader/challenger. What do you think? Another aspect of a "7" is planning. Often Enthusiasts are constantly planning and coming up with many great ideas all at once. Because of this, 7's rarely feel great disappointment when one idea doesn't pan out because there are 10 other great ideas to try.

Wheylona: Your "1" with a "9" wing makes a great deal of sense to me. It's amazing how stress can initiate a whole other aspect of our personality. When I am stressed I become the dissatisfied and resentful "helper" (2), especially when I feel my generousity being taken advantage of.

Regarding using Enneagrams in bodywork...

There are a few ways to incorporate this system. First, knowing my own type allows me to understand the relationships with my clients much more clearly. And, conversely, knowing my clients' types allows me better adapt to their needs. In my seminar last week, Jack Blackburn gave a few examples of how he works with each client based on enneagram types. One of his clients, for example, is a very strong "8" (leader/challenger) who is often the director on the table with hypertonic muscles. This client often acts with much resistance and doesn't want to admit weakness in any form. With a type 8, Jack recommends rolfing, sports massage and Hellerwork--some modality that is very physical where the body moves a lot on the table. The movement may help shake up the client's sense of control a bit.

Jack offers enneagram consultations with clients before his sessions so that the clients can become more aware of how their personality types affect their body and their ability to relax and let go.

Jack described a "1" as often having tight (hypertonic) muscles. 1's can have a hard time relaxing and may be critical of themselves. Does this resonate with you at all?

Maggie: Ah, so you're a 2 or a 9. Do you resonate with one description more than another? When stressed, a 2 becomes more authoritative and challenging and when in a period of growth is very artistic and brings beauty to every situation. Does this resonate with you? Sometimes seeing the stress and growth types can help determine what type you are.

Anyone else care to share their discoveries?


Johnbai3030 said...

I was bothered taking the test, as I don't like those either/or questions (usually because I feel both are equally true) but I did it anyway, figuring it would all come out in the averaging. I scored as a tie between the Investigator and the Enthusiast. Interestingly, I scored lowest on the Challenger and the Individualist (although I think the Individualist described a big part of me pretty acurately.)

Origami Nightingale said...

Johnbai: I have the same response to multiple choice tests. I feel constrained by them and often resonate with many of the choices.

This 36-question sampler test is just a starting-off point for enneagram exploration. In no way is it meant to determine your type for you. Only you know this type. So, if you resonate strongly with the Individualist, you can investigate the intricacies of this type some more and see if you feel this type most represents you now as well as throughout your life.

When I took the sampler test, I tied with Individualist and Helper, with Mediator close behind. I examined the types and stress patterns and determined my type after much reflection.

So, feel free to explore all you wish without the constraints of an either/or test.

And, you can determine if exploring enneagrams is actually insightful or helpful for you.


Ned said...

I couldn't do it. For most of the questions I found that I could choose both answers fairly truthfully. This may mean I'm either a) schizo, b) well-rounded or c) completely out of touch with myself!

Perhaps I better carve out 40 minutes to do the long version.

Ned said...

Oh, you have to pay!

So I went ahead and did the short one. I got fours and fives on numbers 1-7: The Reformer, The Helper, The Achiever, The Individualist, The Investigator, The Loyalist, The Enthusiast.

Hmmmm! Well, we can safely say I'm neither a challenger (2) or a peacemaker (1). Still curious as to whether this means I'm well-rounded or all over the show!

Courtney Putnam said...


I venture to guess that you are b) well rounded. You have many strong attributes and talents and it also seems as though you are adaptable to many situations.

You might want to try the free QUEST test on the enneagram site. You choose the paragraphs that most describe you for most of your life.

Check it out here.