The Enneagram and the Stereogram




A stereogram is a two-dimensional, computer-generated, graphic image that has a 3-D image hidden in it. The hidden image can only be seen when viewed from the proper perspective. A stereogram exists on two levels of reality. One is the obvious surface level of a repeating pattern of color, but there is also a deeper, hidden level.

The surface level of some stereograms appears chaotic and unstructured and may be a riot of color. For other stereograms, however, the surface can be a rigidly repeated pattern that is highly organized and seems to be complete in itself. No matter what the surface appearance of the stereogram, there is always a deeper level. The deeper level is the "real" reality of the stereogram. The surface is only a distraction from what is hidden. When the hidden image is found then the real meaning and experience of the stereogram occurs. If the deeper level is not seen then the essential experience of the stereogram is lost in superficiality.

The levels of reality of a stereogram can be seen as an analogy to the depths of human psychological functioning. Our personality has a surface manifestation which is seen by others. This surface level or persona is who we would like people to think we are. Sometimes, it may be who we think we are. It may be all that we think we are. As with the stereogram, however, there is a deeper and truer level to our psychic structure.

The deeper level of who we are is most often hidden from ourselves and others. The deeper level is our true and essential nature of which the surface manifestation of personality is only one aspect. We all become trapped in this surface level, and the achievement of our full potential as human beings is limited. To grow to full psychological and spiritual maturity, we must discover our deeper, true nature. In the process we take responsibility for the restricting impact our limited personality style has had on us. We then expand our personal horizons by breaking through the self-imposed barriers to greater level of growth.

This is difficult work. To understand our true nature and engage the process of growth, a tool of change is needed. Such a tool can be found in the Enneagram. The Enneagram is an ancient typology of personality that is being integrated into modern psychology. The Enneagram teaches that there are nine possibilities of personality. While all of these possibilities reside within us, we have chosen one as our primary style. It structures our life. The "choice" of personality was made early in our development, and we are now stuck in this style. If we are "normal" people then we do not even know that we have a personality style much less that it has us trapped. The goal of the Enneagram’s teaching is to bring us to an awareness of our personality pattern and enable us to move beyond it to the essence of who we really are. Along the way the Enneagram teaches us the "good and bad news" of our personality type. It also identifies our gift which is where our strength lies. The Enneagram has an inner dynamic of change and teaches us how we are likely to unconsciously fall into unhealthy states. It also tells how we can make the conscious effort to grow towards psychological and spiritual maturity.

Eventually, the Enneagram challenges us to bring the positive aspects of the other personality types into ours. Through this process we are able to broaden our personality to be more inclusive of all human potential. Our growth towards fullness is never complete and is always in process. The study of the Enneagram can liberate us from the limitations of a narrow point of view of life’s possibilities and move us towards wholeness. In this manner we are then empowered to move more into compassionate relationships with others.

The nine personality types are:

  • The Reformer who strives to make the world perfect.
  • The Helper who focuses on the needs of others.
  • The Motivator who is the success and achievement oriented person.
  • The Individualist who wants to be special and unique.
  • The Thinker who tries to figure out life.
  • The Loyalist who is committed to being faithful and dependable.
  • The Enthusiast who is always on the go seeking fun and excitement.
  • The Leader who is always strong and in control.
  • The Peacemaker who strives to bring harmony into the world.

*Copyright 1995, Don Richard Riso. Used by permission.

The Enneagram and the Stereogram 1996 Dagali Graphics, All rights reserved.
Dagali Graphics, Macon, Georgia 31202 

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