The ego and the Enneagram: Methods to grow spiritually and psychologically

If you have never heard of the Enneagram, I highly suggest that you check it out. It is a personality test initially developed by a man named Oscar Ichazo, who developed his theories from a variety of sources, mainly the jewish Kabbalah and “Neo-platonic philosophy”, according to the book Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson. Riso and Hudson are the contemporary researchers on the Enneagram. Most of the information for this article I gained from that book. The symbol for the Enneagram itself actually goes back to ancient times.

But more relevant than that information is the question of what practical use the Enneagram has. The answer is that it is very useful indeed. What is unique about this personality test, in my humble opinion, is that it provides valuable information to help individuals develop their spiritual and psychological health. The gift the Enneagram provides is increased self-awareness.

The Theory of the Enneagram.

The basic theory is that there are 9 basic types of egos. Each person has one of those types. Each of these 9 egos, the theory states are formed by a basic “trauma” in childhood, which in turn creates a basic fear. Understand, that when I say the word “trauma”, I’m using a much more broader term than the traditional definition. For some children, the trauma could indeed be something as horrible as abuse, or witnessing a death at an early age. For other children, however, that trauma can be something as simple as the child’s first run in with a bully. For whatever reason, the trauma is imprinted in the child’s mind, and that’s how their ego forms.

For more info on how the ego is formed, read Osho’s Ego, the false center. I may have linked to it before, but it is totally worth reading again.

Generally speaking, from my experience, the greater the trauma is, the stronger and more noticeable the ego is. The healthier the ego, the less noticeable. If you are having trouble pegging someone’s ego, then that’s a good sign. The important thing to know is, if you listen to the Buddhists, then they say this ego is not your true self.

Essentially, the value of studying the Enneagram is learning the nine basic ego traps and which one you are most vulnerable to. Doing this will increase your self awareness and ability to say “oops, I’m doing it again.”

The Types

I’m going to list each type, along with their basic fear and basic desire. If you want to learn more, check out the works of Riso and Hudson, which is where these stem from.

Type one, the reformer. – Desires to be good, have integrity, and be in balance with everything. Fears being corrupt, evil or defective.

Type two, the helper – Desires to be loved unconditionally. Fears being unwanted or unworthy of being loved.

Type three, the Motivator – Desires to feel worthwhile and valuable, or to disappoint others. Fears Being worthless.

Type four, the Individualist – Desires to find themselves and their significance, (to create and identity out of their experience. Fears that they have no identity or personal significance.

Type five, the Investigator – Desires to be capable and competent (to have something to contribute). Fears being helpless, useless or incapable.

Type six, the Loyalist – Desires to find security and support (to belong somewhere). Fears being unable to survive on their own, of having no support.

Type seven, the Enthusiast – Desires to be satisfied and content, to have their needs fulfilled. Fears pain and deprivation.

Type eight, the Leader – Desires to protect themselves by controlling their own life and destiny. Fears being harmed or controlled by others.

Type nine, the Peacemaker – Desires to have inner stability (peace of mind). Fears loss and separation (impermanence).

If you want to know which type you are, you can either take a test at this site, or you can look at that list of fears and see which most resonates with you.

The Process of Integration

The nine enneagram types at a dinner party. Nine begins at the top.

The basic idea with each personality type is to integrate to a complete person or self. The more you fall into the particular habits and pitfalls of your individual personality type, and the more you allow your basic fear to rule and control you, the further you move away from realizing your true self. What’s more, by sucumbing to fear and becoming more neurotic, a disintegrating personality begins to bring about as the truth the very thing they’ve feared all along. That’s right, the law of attraction applies to the Enneagram too.

For example, a disintegrating one begins to increasingly put himself in situations where he is tempted to do wrong as a way to test himself, or may go the vigilante route and actually try to hunt down and hurt “wrong doers”. In this way, by fearing that he’ll become corrupt, the one becomes corrupt. Similarly, a six, by fearing that others don’t have his back, begins to drive others away with accusations and distrust.

I will take an educated guess and say that the more integrated a person is, the harder it will be to tell which of the nine types that personality is. The reason I think this is because integration is about transcending the ego a becoming a complete person, so a well integrated personality doesn’t stand out as much. On the flip side, the more a personality disintegrates, the more that personality becomes a caricature of himself. It’s much easier to spot an unhealthy one or an unhealthy eight than a healthy one or a healthy eight.

How to integrate

Thought this was interesting. There may be some mystical math on the horizon to tie all this together.

Each personality has a direction of integration and a direction of disintegration. When we disintegrate, which seems to be our natural tendency if we don’t work on ourselves, we start to pick up some of the negative attributes of another personality type on the enneagram. We we integrate, we pick up the positive traits of another personality type. Our goal then, is to work on ourselves in such a way where we improve on the traits our personality is most likely to naturally resist. For example, fives grow by picking up the positive traits of the eight. This is because fives often feel they aren’t ready to lead, make important decisions, or act until they have enough information. (Fives rarely ever “have enough information). To break this pattern of info hoarding, fives have to stop and say “I have enough information now, I need to act on what I got, even if it’s not perfect.”

Eights on the other hand, have no problem leading. Where they need help is in learning to care for and do things for others. Since eights are constantly focused on their own survival and success, they actually need to integrate the positive qualities of the two. They need to learn to use their natural abilities to help other people out and not just see the world as dog-eat-dog.

Here is a second list for you showing the direction of integration and disintegration for each of the nine types:

Ones: Disintegrates to four. Integrates to seven.

Twos: Disintegrates to eight. Integrates to four.

Threes: Disintegrates to nine. Integrates to six.

Fours: Disintegrates to two. Integrates to one.

Fives: Disintegrates to seven. Integrates to eight.

Six: Disintegrates to three. Integrates to nine.

Seven: Disintegrates to one. Integrates to five.

Eight: Disintegrates to five. Integrates to two.

Nine: Disintegrates to six. Integrates to three.

Okay, now you have a map of where your soul stands and how to make it grow. The rest is up to you. Next time, I plan to see if I can find some mathematical connections between the Enneagram and “raising your vibration.” I won’t guarantee this though, because I haven’t researched it yet. For those who are wondering, I also am still researching for the team up article with Ryan. (Yes, I’m a five, in case you were wondering.

Until next time, choose your path wisely, and I hope to see you grow.

Livewithwonder can be contacted though email at, his blog at, or on twitter at @mrthejazz1.

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