Personality Types

The Enneagram

For more information, see our list of Books related to the Enneagram or read through some Frequently Asked Questions.


Understanding The Symbol

The Enneagram symbol is said to represent every process that maintains itself by self renewal. Including life itself.

The symbol also is said to have its origins in the discovery of the significance of the zero and the repeating decimal.

The symbol consists of a circle and nine lines and thus is called the Enneagram.

The following is a list of key terms and definitions in understanding the Enneagram symbol.


Elements of the Symbol

  • Circle
  • Lines
  • Points
  • Movement
  • Points
  • Heart Point
  • Stress Point
  • Wings

Circle

The circle represents the zero.

Lines

The lines represent the repeating decimals which result from dividing 1, 2 and 3 by 3; and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 by 7.

Three of the lines (3, 6 and 9) are derived as follows:

1/3 = .333333333333
2/3 = .666666666666
3/3 = .999999999999

The remaining six lines (1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8) are derived as follows:

1/7 = .142857142857
2/7 = .285714285714
3/7 = .428571428571
4/7 = .571428571428
5/7 = .714285714285
6/7 = .857142857142

And the 7th part of 7 and the sequence disappears and is replaced by recurring nines once more:

7/7 = .99999999999


Points

The places along the circle touched by the lines are numbered one through nine and called “Points”.

The word “Point” is used to mean a certain Enneagram personality type such as “Point One”, or, “Point Five”.

A type’s number is often used to refer to a type rather than a name such as “Epicure” or “Generalist” (Point Seven) since there is not common agreement between various authors and teachers as to what name most accurately represents a type.


Movement

There is said to be movement around the circle and along the lines.

By “movement” it is meant that we react to changing circumstances in our lives by exhibiting or manifesting characteristics of a type other than our primary or core point. We experience this movement as a shift, or, as a change in thoughts, mood, feelings, countenance or physical sensations.

Movement can be around the circle, or, along the lines. When along the lines, movement can be in either direction.

Arrows often are used in the symbol to indicate movement. Generally they point toward the direction of action (stress) and away from security (nonstress).

Movement toward action follows the sequence produced by 1/7, or, 142857. Thus, a Point One in stess exhibits the characteristics of a Point Four, and a Point Four in stress exhibits the characteristics of a Point Two.

Likewise, a Point Three in stress will exhibit the characteristics of a Point Nine, and a Point Nine in stress will exhibit the characteristics of a Point Six, and a Point Six in stress will exhibit the characteristics of a Point Three.


Point

Each of us is a composite of all aspects and characteristics of all of the Enneagram personality types. But one set of patterns is more dominant and this set of patterns is said to be our core point, our personality type.

Heart Point

When we experience well-being, safety and security, we tend to exhibit paterns of thought, feelings and emotion characteristic of our “Heart Point” and our personaltiy shifts and presents as that type.

Stress Point

When we experience stress, pressure and insecurity, we tend to exhibit patterns of thought, feelings and emotion characteristic of our “Stress Point” and our personality shifts and presents as that type.

Wings

The word “Wings” refers to the personality types on the circle that are on either side of our core point.