Definition and Meaning
The Enneagram is a system of personality which describes people in terms of nine types, each with their own motivations, fears, and internal dynamics.
The Enneagram is an emotionally focused system of understanding people — honing in on one’s core emotional motivations and fears. Each of the nine personality types has its own driving force, which is centered around a particular emotion.
Some Enneagram types experience strong emotions, while other types aim to avoid emotions in one form or another. However, whether running from emotions or diving into them, each type describes some aspect of emotional experience.
The nine types of the Enneagram are divided among Heart Types, Head Types, and Body Types.
- Heart types depend on their emotional intelligence to understand their own reactions and connect with others.
- Head types depend on their intellectual intelligence to make sense of things and navigate the world around them.
- Body types depend on their instinctual intelligence to follow their "gut" and respond to threats and opportunities.
The Heart Types of the Enneagram
Heart types react with emotions first. They connect with other people on an empathetic level, and make sense of the world by understanding their feelings about it. These types are guided by the feelings connected to their emotional relationships with other people. They value things such as emotional support, recognition, and inclusion. Types Two, Three and Four are the heart, or feeling, centered Enneagram types.
Twos want to be liked and find ways that they can be helpful to others so that they belong. This type fears being unlovable. Read more about Twos.
Threes want to be successful and admired by other people, and are very conscious of their public image. Type Threes fear failure and not being seen as valuable by other people. Read more about Threes.
Fours want to be unique and to experience deep, authentic emotions. Type Fours fear they are flawed and are overly focused on how they are different from other people. Read more about Fours.
The Head Types of the Enneagram
Head types react with analysis first. They connect with other people on an intellectual level, and make sense of the world by understanding the systems and theories that underlie what they observe. These types are primarily focused on control, which they gain by maintaining stability, security, and competence. Types Five, Six, and Seven are the head-centered Enneagram types.
Fives seek understanding and knowledge, and are more comfortable with data than other people. The biggest fear of the Type Five is being overwhelmed by their own needs or the needs of other people. Read more about Fives.
Sixes are preoccupied with security, seek safety, and like to be prepared for problems. For the Type Six, the greatest fear is being unprepared and unable to defend themselves from danger. Read more about Sixes.
Sevens want to have as much fun and adventure as possible and are easily bored. Type Sevens fear experiencing emotional pain, especially sadness, and actively seek to avoid it by staying busy. Read more about Sevens.
The Body Types of the Enneagram
Body types react with an instinctive, gut feeling. They connect with other people based on their physical sense of comfort, and make sense of the world by sensing their body's reaction to what is happening. The primary drive for this triad is to maintain their independence and limit control from outside influences. They respond by being either overly controlling, overly passive, or overly perfectionistic. Types Eight, Nine, and One are the body, or gut, centered Enneagram types.
Eights see themselves as strong and powerful and seek to stand up for what they believe in. The greatest fear of the Type Eight is to be powerless, so they focus on controlling their environment. Read more about Eights.
Nines like to go with the flow and let the people around them set the agenda. Type Nines fear pushing people away by prioritizing their own needs, and they tend to be passive. Read more about Nines.
Ones place a lot of emphasis on following the rules and doing things correctly. Type Ones fear being imperfect and can be extremely strict with themselves and others. Read more about Ones.