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Enneagram of Personality

In another thread we started discussing the Enneagram of Personality, but maybe in sort of a weird context.

Here are my comments about the enneagram:

#1) it is a map. A map is not the territory. multiple maps exist. a map is useful to the extent that it helps you navigate the territory.

#2) my life experience changed considerably after exposure to the enneagram for two reasons:

#1) i tested as  a type 4, and reading the description of type 4 almost knocked me over. it was like a giant AHA moment where somebody explained sort of what i was like, in a way that i never had even realized before, but that once explained, changed my entire conception of myself.

#2) additionally, i learned specifically from the ennegram that my "red flag" is when i use my imagination to stimulate my emotional center. in other words, when something happens that upsets me, i immediately start concocting a mental story about how right i am, how wrong they are, engage in fantasy conversations about it, etc. on and on.  it turns out i had done that my entire life w/o realizing it. learning to QUIT doing that one thing (by learning to 'catch myself in the act') while doing it, completely changed my life and specifically my ability to have healthy relationships with people. it is difficult maybe for me to summarize. i don't know how else to put it. learning that one thing changed my life.

I personally find the actual Enneagram teachings to be very substantive and useful.

Image result for enneagram directions

The symbol above is like the circle of fifths; there is an amazing amount of information present there.

Specifically, learning to identify when you are moving in the direction of disintegration instead of the direction of integration I believe is life changing, as I mentioned above.

(Note: the Enneagram uses the term essence to mean what the LP calls spiritual ego, and would probably call the LP's concept of a "bodily ego" an "ego fixation." Additionally, the Enneagram goes into considerable detail about the specific stereotypical types of bodily egos that exist, and how the various types are related.)

Based on everything I know about it, I personally would consider the enneagram of personality a (non LP) example of an authentic spiritual path that leads to considerable inner and outer change for people who engage with it. May the people of this world be free.

Refer to

I think the enneagram is useful,  but don't think it's an authentic spiritual path. It is far to simple to be classified as a path. It is more like a map to your personal psychic trauma and damage. It seems to point rather directly at ego pathologies. For example, each "type" has a "basic fear" which seems to me is not so much a fear but an area where one of the [spwiki]Seven Essential Needs[/spwiki] has gone unmet. We have a basic need to feel good about ourselves, to feel powerful, to have strong self-esteem (need six, esteem/power/freedom). Type fours have a fear of "no identity, and no significance." This fear is there because their number six need has been unmet, and so as adults, they struggle to meet this need by engaging in self-talk, and by doing things, that help prop up their damaged sense of identity and significance. I can certainly identify with this type/need since as a younger man I was constantly trying to prove to the people around me I was significant and worthy. I know I had this unmet need. A toxic mother and the Catholic Church which trains its children to feel unworthy, insignificant, and worthless.

Other "types" also seem to indicate an area where an essential need has been unmet, and where, as adults, we strive, in a pathological way, to meet the unmet need. Type two, being "unloved" is a clear reflection of an unmet childhood need for love (LP Essential Need there). Type three, "worthlessness," again, LP need five, self-esteem. Type five, "helplessness, incapability, incompetence," need five, power. Type seven, "being unfulfilled, trapped, deprived," need six, alignment.

In this context, the enneagram is a map to your psychic/ego trauma and damage.

As much as the map is useful, there are a couple of problems.

Number one, it is not that well specified. There's lots of confusing overlap. For example, enneagram type three, type four, type five all seem to about the fifth LP need, esteem/power/freedom.  Type two and type seven both seem to point to LP needs two an three.

Number two, it offers no therapeutic advice. There doesn't seem to be any awareness that the basic fears, basic desires, and temptations are pathologies, and that these pathologies will have a root.

Number three, It seems to normalize the pathology, the "types" being natural outcomes of who you are, essentially.  For me, when I look at the types, I immediately think about what trauma, what unmet need is the foundation for the type. What experiences might have contributed to the dissatisfaction of the need, how to get the individual to realize and explore the source of the trauma, and what therapy might be useful to overcome the trauma and meet the need.

Number four, I don't think we all classify as a single type. We all emerge from our toxic childhoods with several of our essential needs unmet, and so we've healing work in all areas. Suggesting that we are a single type oversimplifies the damage.

Number five, there is a sense of "instant fix." Just don't give in to the fear, don't give in to the temptation or fice, practice the virtue, and it will all be ok.  That's clearly unworkable. You can practice the "virtue" all you want but until you a) recognize the root of the trauma/unmet need and b) process and release that trauma, all you are doing is applying a bandage. You might stop the pathological expression in one area of behaviour, but it will pop up in another.

I'm not sure how much of the weakness is an actual weakness in the theory, or just the superficial way it is presented on the Wikipedia page. When I research it a bit I find that the enneagram is rooted in the work of Claudio Naranjo, and his work is clearly psychological and therapeutic. I just ordered the kindle book below (there is a paperback version). If anybody is interested, pick up the book and we can discuss the Enneagram in more detail as we research the original author.  If there is enough interest, after reading the book, we can do an online discussion. Here's the link.

Also review the article “Seven Essential Needs,” 2018. particular attention to point nine, "Failure to meet human needs leads to voids" which lead to pathological attempts to fill.

9. Failure to meet human needs leads to “voids,” i.e., feelings of dissatisfaction and emptiness. It is important to understand, unmet needs do not go away. As adults we might deny our need for belonging, love, etc., but they don’t go away. Our essential needs remain salient factors and, when unmet, become unconscious motivators, causing people to seek satisfaction of these needs in various, often toxic and unconscious ways. Kanye West is a good example. His toxic childhood left him with many unmet needs, in particular his need for the love and acceptance of a father figure. His temporary alignment with Donald Trump, whom he openly admitted was like a father to him, was an unconscious attempt to satisfy an unmet psychological need. Kanye attracted to Trump because Trump presents, to people like Kanye, as the archetypal father.

One question for Ben, if you're a type four, what unmet essential needs are you trying to fulfill when you engage in the "self-talk" which you mentioned in the thread you deleted. What experiences from your childhood led to this need being unmet? What other behaviours,  besides self-talk, do you engage in to meet the need. Finally, how can you meet the need and move from pathological attempts to meet the need, into a more "satisfied" emotional space?

LP Seven Essential Needs

  1. Physiological needs -- food, water, air, clothing, exercise, sex
  2. Safety and security needs -- safe home, safe spaces, secure finances. Safety includes the absence of assault of any kind, including physical assault (e.g., spanking), and emotional and psychological assault.
  3. Love needs -- unconditional support, acceptance, inclusion, being made to feel that we belong
  4. Truth/understanding needs  -- "Mommy, why is the sky blue?" "Daddy, why are you angry all the time?" We all have a biological drive to know and understand the world.
  5. Esteem/Power/Freedom[1] -- we all need to feel good about ourselves, and we all need to feel powerful and efficacious like  can create the world we want
  6. Need to Alignment with Highest Self - in Humanistic psychology, self-actualization[2]
  7. Need for Connection with Highest Self -- in Transpersonal Psychology, transcendence; in Christianity, Islamic, salvation; in Buddhism, enlightenment; etc.)
-- All you need is love...

Also, just as a note, it is fine to delete your posts. Don't delete somebody else's posts without permission.

-- All you need is love...

Michael - great post, great questions, and sorry about deleted posts! it won't happen again! (I think I might have a tendency to react defensively when I don't intend to)

Reading your post is very fascinating. From my understanding, the enneagram itself is a symbol, whose history goes back into ancient times where not too much is know about it. But Gurdjieff introduced it in modern times, but w/o really have any specific application for it, other than insisting that it was very important:

But the patterns he presented in there of how the points are connected is very interesting (i.e. 1/7 = .142857,) and was ultimately used by later teachers to overlay a personality typography over the symbol:

So the interesting thing is not just the personality typography, but how they relate. So for example, if I am a type 4, moving in the direction of integration takes me first to point 1, whereas if I am moving in the direction of disintegration (i.e. disassociation) I move towards point 2.

To each type has a certain 'red flag' that indicates when they are starting to move in the direction of disintegration, which as I mentioned for a type 4 is to "Holding on to and intensifying feelings through the imagination".

As I said before, I definitely learned how to "catch myself in the act" of doing that, and it made a big difference in my life. (I saved myself a lot of unnecessary unhappiness.)

I think it is neat that you are talking about how we can shed additional light on what the Enneagram seems to be about in light of the 7 LP essential needs.  The enenagram is definitely about things being part of a process, and honestly I think the whole thing can best be understood if you think of it as an intention from higher consciousness. (Maybe that sounds strange.)

But by that, I mean, in essence the enneagram is all about people sort of recognizing how we exist in some sort of "diminished state" (i.e. that we are wearing blindfolds) and that some higher, more natural type of awareness is possible. And looking back from our current vantage point, maybe what we are seeing 'behind us' is sort of all the steps that led up to where we are now.

(let me know your thoughts on that sentiment.)

Reading your comments about the LP 7 essential needs in relationship to the ennegram of personality types was very fascinating to me.

Definitely people who are interested in the Enneagram are people looking for answers, and who are interested in 'higher awareness' and inner-growth.

And it makes me want to try to write a short piece "The Lightning Path perspective on the Enneagram" or something like that. (I am not sure I am qualified to write it, my knowledge is far from perfect. I am just somebody who is interested in the subject.) But it sounds like it would be a way to understand the different "ego fixations" in terms of various needs not being met. (is that correct?)

And as a matter of fact, what i keep thinking about is that we really need a series of articles like that, for people coming to the LP from different spiritual traditions.

"Intro to the LP for people coming from a  Christian background"

"Intro to the LP for people coming from a Hindu background"

etc. what do you think about this idea?


You asked: "One question for Ben, if you're a type four, what unmet essential needs are you trying to fulfill when you engage in the "self-talk" which you mentioned in the thread you deleted. What experiences from your childhood led to this need being unmet? What other behaviours,  besides self-talk, do you engage in to meet the need. Finally, how can you meet the need and move from pathological attempts to meet the need, into a more "satisfied" emotional space?"

Well I am starting to think about this.  I think as a kid I was very fortunate to definitely have my need for physiological needs met. I feel gratitude for this especially in light of my awareness that many many people in our world do not have this.

But for sure I would have had problems with #2 and #3 which I imagine would make the needs above that largely unmet too because if I understand right the needs all build on each other.

I sort of always felt like my mom "didn't love" (was indifferent) towards me. (As an adult I don't think that was true so much as my mom just wasn't good at expressing her love towards me.) But I definitely didn't feel "supported" or "included" or "like I belonged". (And that pattern was definitely something I re-capitulated in my 1st marriage.)

So perhaps type-4 tendencies of trying to be so individualistic (i.e. not needing to belong, not needing anyone else's approval) sort of arise of of "love needs" not being met.

But in general I think trying to add more clarity to the Enneagram ideas in "light of the LP" is a fascinating idea.  It never ceases to amaze me just how much interesting things are around us to learn about May the people of this world be free.

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