Please read the previous blogs as this is a continuing series. Now that you have taken the Student Inventory (TPI) on www.janetlevine.com and discovered that you are an Attacher, Detacher or Defender your curiosity is piqued and you want to know more about the model. This blog answers some of the most common questions I am asked by young people when they first encounter the E-model.
In Greek ennea means nine and gram graph or model. The Enneagram is a dynamic flow model of consciousness. Each of us defaults into one of nine positions arranged equidistantly on a circle. At each of these positions (called a Point) clusters of characteristics cling like pins on a magnet and contain the motivations for our behavior. (You can see a diagram of the model on many web sites. Do a simple search on the Internet.) However, no two people who are the same Point are in any way identical, so the E-model describes the nine behavioral clusters to the nth degree thus accounting for each and every individual difference. The E-model does not place people in boxes.
On the circle each Point is joined to four others, the two on either side of your own, called wings that flavor your E-type, and two others on the lines that flow toward and away from you; these lines are depicted as arrows and they are arranged in a triangle and a hexagon. The direction of these lines describe shifts in consciousness such as when you are under stress or when you feel secure. Furthermore (this is a complex model) there are two hidden arrows that join four of the Points, so everyone has one part of their personality in each of the head, heart and body-based triads. (Hence my name for the TPI or Triads Personality Inventory). The TPI explanation on my web sites describes the Triads.
The origins of the E-model are still somewhat sketchy. For many years it was thought to have Sufi (esoteric Islamic) origins, then, research even further back revealed that it may have originated in the work of the post-Alexandrian Desert Fathers in Egypt, and more recently some claim Vedic origins for the model (myself included), and that is as far back as we can find any record of our ancestor’s thoughts.
Many philosophers and philosophical traditions have developed systems of nine forms and a tenth called unity (in the example of the E-model–a circle). Plato devised his model of the Divided Line and placed his nine Universal Forms at the top level of cognition. The mystical Jewish Kabbalah with its nine sefirot encompassed within the form of a human body is another dynamic system that explains consciousness. (It has alignments with the E-model.) In the 12th to 16th centuries, neo-Platonists and Christian Kabbalists added important understandings to these models.
The current iteration of the E-model has been sculpted since the 1960s by psychologists and others in the United States and elsewhere in professions and disciplines that explore the human mind and consciousness. As a baseline they used the Diagnostic Survey Manual (DSM) knowing as they did so that the DSM describes pathologies while the E-model descriptors draw a bell-curve of normal to high-functioning people.
Shorter answers to your questions–the nine E-types are evenly distributed among females and males worldwide. No E-type is better than another they are equally valid. There is no E-Type that is “better” for you as a partner. We all have to work hard at all our relationships
We are born with our E-type. We cannot change it, but the characteristics do ameliorate with age. For most people age 15-25 is when the E-type is most flagrant. Knowing your E-type brings you immediate compassion and understanding for yourself and others.
How will knowing your E-type help you? Stay tuned.