Introduction to the Enneagram System

The system of personality typing is not stereotyping. When one uses the term “pregnant woman” we recognize that it is not specific to an individual, since there can be many other characteristics to this description, including age and parity. You are encouraged not to use the type number to close off possibilities of knowing someone as they really are. Within every type, each individual is unique, although their underlying break from, or loss of, an essential quality is shared. The system is not designed to allow or encourage you to manipulate others with this information. It is not about power over people. It is about understanding other people’s world view; how it might differ from your own and the difficulties that are experienced or avoided because of that view.

It is possible to find characteristics of all the types which fit you. The characteristics of all types are, after all, universal. Even the Seven has a judging, critical self; and the Eight can be sentimental. How do we really know ourselves? First, question whether there are features of your own perceived self-image that others do not agree with. Then begin to examine yourself through the special process of self-observation. The Inner Observer is an aspect of each person that is able to just witness our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without judgment, either positive or negative.  We usually find new dimensions in ourselves. Such self-study can often create confusion for us when we compare our ideal or false-self image with the observed “facts”. Then consider what happens under stress and the movement or change of characteristics of type and this only creates more confusion initially. Thus the Enneagram system does not necessarily lend itself to easy self-identification. In fact, it is the depth OF EACH INDIVIDUAL and richness of the system that demands that each individual do their own inner work. This is not a system for casual use. In fact if we could easily identify our type, there would be little need for such a system.

We look to see which lens of perception the individual uses when looking out at his/her world.  We then develop descriptors of each of the types which direct ones attention toward how we support our own idealized (false) self-image. The use of these descriptors serve as guides to help develop the Inner Observer. The development of the Inner Observer is much like building a muscle for strength and bulk. It requires inner introspection of the inner motivations and attitudes we have and the habitual, unconscious behaviors and reactions that we exhibit daily.  It also requires compassion for self and others, and a developed sense of humor.  Being human is humorous.

There are many levels of possible development in this work that depend only on a persons willingness to do the work in the setting of a group of like-minded people of many types.

Kent Rossman,M.D. and Mira Barbara Rossman

Click Enneagram Studies for current classes for all levels.



© Kent Rossman 2013