The enneagram is a personality typology that seeks to help a person grow spiritually and psychologically by expressing a person's primary motivation. Although the thoughts behind the enneagram and the symbol that represents it extend back to ancient times, the current psychological theories behind the enneagram have only been developed over the last thirty years.

The enneagram has nine basic personality types, each with its own motivation and coping mechanism. Each type has different relationships represented in the enneagram symbol as shown below. Note that the names for each type are my own creation; other authors use different names.



Each type is represented by point on the circle and has a number from one to nine. Each point is connected to four other points through the connecting lines:

  • The two points that are adjacent on the circle are called the wings for the particular personality type. For example, the wings for a three are two and four.
  • The two paths through the middle of the circle (path of integration and disintegration according to Riso and Hudson) connect to the security and your stress point . These paths describe how your personality shifts when you feel healthy compared to when your stressed. For example, a one becomes more like a seven when they are healthy, while they become more like a four under stress.

Most current enneagram theorists associate each personality type with a particular passion or vice. The vice is our personality's coping mechanism to interact with reality. We need the coping mechanism because we have become dissociated with our true nature, which is our essence. The loss creates an enormous amount of hurt, guilt, and grief. Our personalities uses our vices as a shield against this pain. The vices for the nine types consist of the seven deadly sins plus fear and anger.

The following table displays a short description for each type and its correlating vice:

Type Type Description Vice
1. Perfectionist I do everything the right way Anger
2. Care Giver I must help others Pride
3. Go-Getter I must succeed. Deceit
4. Tragic Romantic I am unique Envy
5. Detective I need to understand the world Greed
6. Loyal Skeptic I am affectionate and skeptical Fear
7. Hedonist I am happy and open to new things. Gluttony
8. Controller I must be strong. Lust
9. Pacifist I am at peace. Sloth

Some of the leading enneagram theorists are Don Riso, Russ Hudson, and Helen Palmer.

I particular enjoy Don Riso and Russ Hudson's book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram : The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types. In this book, they extrapolate on their idea of the levels of development within each of the types.

The following symbol is from Riso and Hudson's site, the Enneagram Institute. It contains additional information about type descriptions and includes a free test to find your type.


Free enneagram test from Riso Hudson

Copyright, 2001, The Enneagram Institute All Rights Reserved

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