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The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types

by Don Richard Riso, Russ Hudson


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The first definitive guide to using the wisdom of the enneagram for spiritual and psychological growth

The ancient symbol of the Enneagram has become one of today's most popular systems for self-understanding, based on nine distinct personality types. Now, two of the world's foremost Enneagram authorities introduce a powerful new way to use the Enneagram as a tool for personal transformation and development. Whatever your spiritual background, the Enneagram shows how you can overcome your inner barriers, realize your unique gifts and strengths, and discover your deepest direction in life.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram includes:

Two highly accurate questionnaires for determining your type
Vivid individual profiles focused on maximizing each type's potential and minimizing predictable pitfalls
Spiritual Jump Starts, Wake-Up Calls, and Red Flags for each type
Dozens of individualized exercises and practical strategies for letting go of troublesome habits, improving relationships, and increasing inner freedom
Revealing insights into the deepest motivations, fears, and desires of each type

Highly accessible, yet filled with sophisticated concepts and techniques found nowhere else, The Wisdom of the Enneagram is a strikingly new fusion of psychology and spirituality. It offers an exciting vision of human possibility and a clear map of the nine paths to our highest self-expression.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553378207
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/15/1999
Series: Enneagram Resources Series
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 24,981
Product dimensions: 7.26(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Don Richard Riso, M.A., is one of the foremost writers and developers of the Enneagram in the world today. The most-published and bestselling author in the field, he is president of Enneagram personality Types, Inc., and co-founder of The Enneagram Institute. He has been teaching the Enneagram for over twenty years and is a founding director of the International Enneagram Association. His four bestselling books are available in British, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish editions. He was a Jesuit for thirteen years, holds degrees in English and philosophy, was elected to the Jesuit honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Stanford in communication (social psychology).

Russ Hudson is one of the principal scholars and innovative thinkers in the Enneagram world today. He is executive director of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc., and co-founder of The Enneagram Institute. He has been co-teaching the Enneagram Professional Training Programs since 1991 and is a founding director and former vice-president of the International Enneagram Association. He assisted Don Riso in writing Discovering Your Personality Type and Enneagram Transformations. He is also the co-author of Personality Types (Revised Edition), The Power of the Enneagram, and of their forthcoming book, Personality Types at Work. He holds a degree in East Asian studies from Columbia University in New York, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Identifying Your Personality Type

The Enneagram (pronounced "ANY-a-gram") is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. It is a development of modern psychology that has roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. The word Enneagram comes from the Greek for "nine"—ennea—and "figure"—grammos; thus, it is a "nine-pointed figure."

The modern Enneagram of personality type has been synthesized from many different spiritual and religious traditions. Much of it is a condensation of universal wisdom, the perennial philosophy accumulated by Christians, Buddhists, Muslims (especially the Sufis), and Jews (in the Kabbalah) for thousands of years. The heart of the Enneagram is the universal insight that human beings are spiritual presences incarnated in the material world and yet mysteriously embodying the same life and Spirit as the Creator. Beneath surface differences and appearances, behind the veils of illusion, the light of Divinity shines in every individual. Various forces obscure that light, however, and each spiritual tradition has myths and doctrines to explain how mankind has lost its connection with the Divine.

One of the great strengths of the Enneagram is that it steps aside from all doctrinal differences. It has helped individuals from virtually every major religious faith to rediscover their fundamental unity as spiritual beings. The Enneagram can therefore be enormously valuable in today's world to show white and black, male and female, Catholic and Protestant, Arab and Jew, straight and gay, rich and poor that if they search beneath the surface differences that separate them, they will find an entirely new level of common humanity. With the help of the Enneagram, we will discover that Sixes are like all other Sixes—and that they share the same values as others of their type. Ones who are black are much more like Ones who are white than they could have imagined, and so forth. A new level of community and compassion emerges that obliterates old ignorance and fear.

"The great metaphors from all spiritual traditions—grace, liberation, being born again, awakening from illusion—testify that it is possible to transcend the conditioning of my past and do a new thing."
—Sam Keen

The Enneagram is not a religion, however; nor does it interfere with a person's religious orientation. It does not pretend to be a complete spiritual path. Nevertheless, it concerns itself with one element that is fundamental to all spiritual paths: self-knowledge.

Without self-knowledge, we will not get very far on our spiritual journey, nor will we be able to sustain whatever progress we have made. One of the great dangers of transformational work is that the ego attempts to sidestep deep psychological work by leaping into the transcendent too soon. This is because the ego always fancies itself much more "advanced" than it actually is. How many first-year novices have persuaded themselves that they are just about ready for sainthood? How many meditation students have been certain that they attained enlightenment in record-breaking time?

Real self-knowledge is an invaluable guardian against such self-deception. The Enneagram takes us places (and makes real progress possible) because it starts working from where we actually are. As much as it reveals the spiritual heights that we are capable of attaining, it also sheds light clearly and nonjudgmentally on the aspects of our lives that are dark and unfree. If we are going to live as spiritual beings in the material world, then these are the areas we most need to explore.

Presence (awareness, mindfulness), the practice of self-observation (gained from self-knowledge), and understanding what one's experiences mean (an accurate interpretation provided by a larger context such as a community or spiritual system) are the three basic elements needed for transformational work. Being supplies the first, you supply the second, and the Enneagram supplies the third. When these three come together, things can happen quickly.

"Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand."

Introducing the Nine Types

Work with the Enneagram starts when you identify your type and begin to understand its dominant issues.

While we will recognize in ourselves behaviors of all nine types, our most defining characteristics are rooted in one of these types. On page 13 you will find a questionnaire, the Riso-Hudson QUEST, that can help you narrow down your basic type, and at the beginning of each type chapter there is a second independent test, the Riso-Hudson TAS or Type Attitude Sorter, to help you check your findings. Between these two tests and the descriptions and exercises in the type chapters, you should be able to discover your type with a high degree of certainty.

For now, read the following type names and brief descriptions to see which two or three strike you as being most typical of yourself. Keep in mind that the characteristics listed here are merely a few highlights and do not represent the full spectrum of each personality type.

"What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves?"
—Thomas Merton

Type One: The Reformer. The principled, idealistic type. Ones are ethical and conscientious, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers and crusaders, always striving to improve things but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with repressed anger and impatience. At their best, healthy Ones are wise, discerning, realistic, and noble, as well as morally heroic.

Type Two: The Helper. The caring, interpersonal type. Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but they can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are driven to be close to others, and they often do things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems taking care of themselves and acknowledging their own needs. At their best, healthy Twos are unselfish and altruistic and have unconditional love for themselves and others.

Type Three: The Achiever. The adaptable, success-oriented type. Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for personal advancement. Threes are often concerned about their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their best, healthy Threes are self-accepting, authentic, and everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.

Type Four: The Individualist. The romantic, introspective type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, reserved, and quiet. They are self-revealing, emotionally honest, and personal, but they can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity. At their best, healthy Fours are inspired and highly creative, able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

Type Five: The Investigator. The intense, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent and innovative, they can become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with isolation, eccentricity, and nihilism. At their best, healthy Fives are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

Type Six: The Loyalist. The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hardworking, and responsible, but they can also be defensive, evasive, and highly anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They are often cautious and indecisive but can also be reactive, defiant, and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their best, healthy Sixes are internally stable, self-confident, and self-reliant, courageously supporting the weak and powerless.

Type Seven: The Enthusiast. The busy, productive type. Sevens are versatile, optimistic, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also be overextended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but they can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with superficiality and impulsiveness. At their best, healthy Sevens focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming joyous, highly accomplished, and full of gratitude.

Type Eight: The Challenger. The powerful, dominating type. Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, and decisive, they can also be proud and domineering. Eights feel that they must control their environment, often becoming confrontational and intimidating. They typically have problems with allowing themselves to be close to others. At their best, healthy Eights are self-mastering—they use their strength to improve others' lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and sometimes historically great.

Type Nine: The Peacemaker. The easygoing, self-effacing type. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are good-natured, kind-hearted, easygoing, and supportive but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to be without conflict but can tend to be complacent and minimize anything upsetting. They typically have problems with passivity and stubbornness. At their best, healthy Nines are indomitable and all-embracing; they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

"If men knew themselves, God would heal and pardon them."

The Questionnaires

The first questionnaire, which follows on pages 14-15, is the Riso-Hudson QUEST, the QUick Enneagram Sorting Test. This test will help you narrow down the possibilities for your type in less than five minutes with about 70 percent accuracy. At the least you will be able to identify the top two or three possibilities for your type.

The second set of questionnaires is the Riso-Hudson TAS, or Type Attitude Sorter. At the beginning of each of the nine type chapters is a set of fifteen statements that are highly characteristic of the type under consideration. If you are interested in taking a self-scoring, computerized Enneagram Test, you can do so at our website, www.EnneagramInstitute.com. This test, the RHETI (Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, Version 2.5), involves choosing between 144 paired statements and is about 80 percent accurate. Beyond indicating the main type, it also produces a profile showing the relative strengths of each of the nine types in your personality. The RHETI usually takes about forty-five minutes to complete.

If you are new to the Enneagram, take the QUEST and then the TAS to see if there is a match. For instance, the QUEST might indicate that you are a Type Six. You could then go immediately to the fifteen statements of the TAS for Type Six (in Chapter 12) to see if you score high on those statements as well. If so, you are probably on the right track.

We urge you, however, to continue to keep an open mind and to read the full chapter of Type Six (to continue the example) until more pieces fall into place. If the description and exercises have a strong impact on you, then you are almost certainly a Six.

We are qualifying these statements slightly because it is always possible to be wrong in one's self-diagnosis—just as, unfortunately, it is easy to be wrongly diagnosed by an "Enneagram expert" of some sort. Therefore, take your time identifying your type. Read this book carefully, and more important, live with the information for a while and talk about it with those who know you well. Remember that self-discovery is a process, and that the process does not end with discovering your type—in fact, that is only the beginning.

When you do discover your type, you will know it. Waves of relief and embarrassment, of elation and chagrin, are likely to sweep over you. Things that you have always known unconsciously about yourself will suddenly become clear, and life patterns will emerge. You can be certain that when this happens, you have identified your personality type correctly.

The Riso-Hudson QUESTSM

The Quick Enneagram Sorting Test


For the QUEST to yield a correct result, it is important that you read and follow these few simple instructions.

Select one paragraph in each of the following two groups of statements that best reflects your general attitudes and behaviors, as you have been most of your life.

You do not have to agree completely with every word or statement in the paragraph you select! You may agree with only 80 to 90 percent of a particular paragraph and still select that paragraph over the other two in the group. However, you should agree with the general tone and overall "philosophy" of the paragraph you select. You will probably disagree with some part of each of the paragraphs. Do not reject a paragraph because of a single word or phrase! Again, look at the overall picture.

Do not overanalyze your choices. Select the paragraph that your "gut feeling" says is the right one for you, even though you may not agree with 100 percent of it. The general thrust and feeling of the paragraph as a whole is more important than individual elements of it. Go with your intuition.

If you cannot decide which paragraph best fits you in one of the groups, you may make two choices, but only in one group; for example, C in group I, and X and Y in group II.

Enter the letter you have selected for that group in the appropriate box.

Group I

A. I have tended to be fairly independent and assertive: I've felt that life works best when you meet it head-on. I set my own goals, get involved, and want to make things happen. I don't like sitting around—I want to achieve something big and have an impact. I don't necessarily seek confrontations, but I don't let people push me around, either. Most of the time I know what I want, and I go for it. I tend to work hard and to play hard.

B. I have tended to be quiet and am used to being on my own. I usually don't draw much attention to myself socially, and it's generally unusual for me to assert myself all that forcefully. I don't feel comfortable taking the lead or being as competitive as others. Many would probably say that I'm something of a dreamer—a lot of my excitement goes on in my imagination. I can be quite content without feeling I have to be active all the time.

C. I have tended to be extremely responsible and dedicated. I feel terrible if I don't keep my commitments and do what's expected of me. I want people to know that I'm there for them and that I'll do what I believe is best for them. I've often made great personal sacrifices for the sake of others, whether they know it or not. I often don't take adequate care of myself—I do the work that needs to be done and relax (and do what I really want) if there's time left.

Group II

X. I am a person who usually maintains a positive outlook and feels that things will work out for the best. I can usually find something to be enthusiastic about and different ways to occupy myself. I like being around people and helping others to be happy—I enjoy sharing my own well-being with them. (I don't always feel great, but I try not to show it to anyone!) However, staying positive has sometimes meant that I've put off dealing with my own problems for too long.

Y. I am a person who has strong feelings about things—most people can tell when I'm unhappy about something. I can be guarded with people, but I'm more sensitive than I let on. I want to know where I stand with others and who and what I can count on—it's pretty clear to most people where they stand with me. When I'm upset about something, I want others to respond and to get as worked up as I am. I know the rules, but I don't want people telling me what to do. I want to decide for myself.

Z. I tend to be self-controlled and logical—I am uncomfortable dealing with feelings. I am efficient—even perfectionistic—and prefer working on my own. When there are problems or personal conflicts, I try not to bring my feelings into the situation. Some say I'm too cool and detached, but I don't want my emotional reactions to distract me from what's really important to me. I usually don't show my reactions when others "get to me."

To interpret your answer, see below.

Things to Keep in Mind about Type

While everyone has a certain mix of types in their overall personality, one particular pattern or style is our "home base," and we return to it over and over. Our basic type stays the same throughout life. While people change and develop in numerous ways, they do not change from one basic personality type to another.

The descriptions of the personality types are universal and apply equally to males and females. Of course, males and females will express the same attitudes, traits, and tendencies somewhat differently, but the basic issues of the type remain the same.

Not everything in the description of your basic type will apply to you all the time. This is because we fluctuate constantly among the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits that make up our personality type, as we will see in our discussion of the Levels of Development (Chapter 6). We will also see that increasing maturation or increasing stress have a significant influence on how we are expressing our type.

Although we have given each type a descriptive title (such as the Reformer, the Helper, and so forth), in practice we prefer to use its Enneagram number. Numbers are value neutral—they provide an unbiased, shorthand way of referring to the type. Furthermore, the numerical ranking of the types is not significant: being a type with a higher number is not better than being a type with a lower number. (For example, it is not better to be a Nine than a One.)

None of the personality types is better or worse than any other—all types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Some types can be more valued than others in a given culture or group, however. As you learn more about all of the types, you will see that just as each has unique capacities, each has different limitations.

No matter what type you are, you have all nine types in you, to some degree. To explore them all and see them all operating in you is to see the full spectrum of human nature. This awareness will give you far more understanding of and compassion for others, because you will recognize many aspects of their particular habits and reactions in yourself. It is much more difficult to condemn the aggressiveness of Eights or the disguised neediness of Twos, for instance, if we are aware of aggressiveness and neediness in ourselves. If you investigate all nine types in yourself, you will see how interdependent they are—just as the Enneagram symbol represents them.

Interpreting the QUEST  (from above)

Together the two letters you have selected form a two-letter code. For example, choosing paragraph C in group I, and paragraph Y in group II, produces the two-letter code CY.

To find out which basic personality type the QUEST indicates you are, see the QUEST codes to the right:

2-Digit Code  Type  Type Name and Key Characteristics
AX  7  The Enthusiast: Upbeat, accomplished, impulsive
AY  8  The Challenger: Self-confident, decisive, domineering
AZ  3  The Achiever: Adaptable, ambitious, image-conscious
BX  9  The Peacemaker: Receptive, reassuring, complacent
BY  4  The Individualist: Intuitive, aesthetic, self-absorbed
BZ  5  The Investigator:  Perceptive, innovative, detached
CX  2  The Helper:  Caring, generous, possessive
CY  6  The Loyalist:  Engaging, responsible, defensive
CZ  1  The Reformer:  Rational, principled, self-controlled

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