Brief History of the Enneagram

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The search for  self- knowledge has always been a spiritual journey




Learn about the different types of people.



The Enneagram is a personality theory with ancient traditions that is finding its way into modern psychology. The word Enneagram comes from two Greek words and simply means, "nine pointed diagram." Knowledge of the Enneagram may go back several thousand years, and it comes out of a spiritual direction tradition. Before there was psychology or psychiatry the search for self-knowledge was a spiritual journey. It still is, but this emphasis has been lost. In earlier times you went to your priest or spiritual director for guidance on life’s journey.

For several centuries the Enneagram was primarily an oral teaching which was passed along from one person to another. Only in recent times the Enneagram has been put into written form and is now available in its entirety for study by all. The first popular book was published in 1984 but now many books (Click here for References) and teaching aids are available. The Enneagram has moved from a primary concern with spirituality to a broadened focus on human nature and how we can all grow towards our highest and best self.

As a theory of personality the Enneagram is a typology. It tells us about different types of people.

A typology is a system of classification of data in an effort to improve understanding. A typology takes a diversity of elements and looks for certain common, stable characteristics which can be grouped into a primary categories or types. Each type is given a name as a label for these groupings of stable features. In the process something is gained and something is lost. There is a gain in general understanding but a loss in subtle differentiating details. This can be seen in the typology of trees.

If you wanted to understand a forest then a typology of trees would help. You could group certain stable features together and label it as a pine tree while another grouped set of features would be an oak tree and still another an elm tree. When you went to the forest with this typology you could identify one tree from another. The level of understanding would improve. You could tell the trees from the forest. Subtle details would be missing but the overview would be helpful in facilitating general understanding.

Placing something in a typology does not diminish its individuality. One pine tree always differs from every other pine tree yet it has more in common with other pine trees than with an oak tree. Finding your personality "type" can explain you to yourself and to others but your uniqueness is not lost. You can understand yourself better and are enabled in taking a step towards freedom by assuming responsibility for yourself.

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