Enneagram: Enneatypes’ Passions and Virtues

• May 11, 2012 • Comments (0)

This article is part of a series. Read part 1 , part 2 and part 3
This article is also available in Italian.

To classify psychological types, the Enneagram refers to nine basic emotional traits, which are usually associated with the Seven Deadly Sins of  Christian doctrine, plus Deceit and Fear. Such an approach allows a first, concise definition of each Enneatype’s peculiarities. The pattern conventionally used as a point of reference is the following:

Enneatype 1 – The Perfectionist Anger
Enneatype 2 – The Giver Pride
Enneatype 3 – The Performer Deceit
Enneatype 4 – The Tragic Romantic Envy
Enneatype 5 – The Observer Avarice
Enneatype 6 – The Loyal Skeptic Fear
Enneatype 7 – The Epicure Gluttony
Enneatype 8 – The Protector Lust
Enneatype 9 – The Mediator Sloth

It’s generally agreed that the word “Passion” is the most suitable to refer to these emotions, which each individual is passively subject to. In this regard, it’s  very interesting to observe how major spiritual traditions give importance to the emancipation from Passions, a condition that one can reach only by means of insight and transcendence.

The above mentioned associations come in very useful for the definition of an initial frame of reference for the study of Enneatypes but, as we’ll see, they just represent the starting point to understand a wider and more complex system.

Besides the frame of reference based on the association of each Enneatype with a distinctive Passion, there is another system which has been elaborated from an opposite and at the same time complementary point of view, where each psychological type is paired with a distinctive Virtue:

Enneatype 1 – The Perfectionist Perfection
Enneatype 2 – The Giver Help
Enneatype 3 – The Performer Efficiency
Enneatype 4 – The Tragic Romantic Creativity
Enneatype 5 – The Observer Knowledge
Enneatype 6 – The Loyal Skeptic Courage
Enneatype 7 – The Epicure Joy
Enneatype 8 – The Protector Strenght
Enneatype 9 – The Mediator Peace

At this point it’s convenient to present a brief introduction to the single Enneatypes, in order to analyze the system more accurately afterwards. With reference to the Enneatypes definitions, we decided to refer to Dr.Helen Palmer’s pattern.

Enneatype 1 – The Perfectionist

Idealist, reliable, efficient. He yearns for perfection, his Primary Emotion is Anger, which is generally interiorized. That makes him extremely critical of himself and other people; he feels ethically superior and judges harshly.  The Enneatype 1 is often an individual who feels his childhood has been stolen; he had to grow up too quickly and he is convinced that he will be loved only if he manages to carry out his own tasks in a perfect way.  Obsessive search for perfection originates this Enneatype’s distinctive Deadly Sin: Anger.

Enneatype 2 – The Giver

Loving, generous and empathic.  His main concern is to get other people’s appreciation and meet their needs, often neglecting his own interests.  His Primary Emotion is the Need of Recognition by Others, in particular by those people he considers close to him.  His distinctive Deadly Sin is Pride.  The Giver decided to love and serve the others to receive appreciation and gratitude in return; He finds it difficult to receive criticism as he feels superior to the others by virtue of his extraordinary capacity to love.

Enneatype 3 – The Performer

Optimist, pragmatic, success-oriented.  He devotes himself to be competitive and efficient, and identifies himself with the results he gets.  His main faults are deceitfulness, narcissism and superficiality.  His Primary Emotion is the Need of Recognition by Others for his professional achievements.  His Deadly Sin is Deceit: when he is carrying out a plan he doesn’t hesitate to resort to manipulation and lies to reach his goal.

Enneatype 4 – Tragic Romantic

Individualist, creative, refined, very sensitive. He has an artistic temperament, avoids ordinariness and is emotionally intense.  He might seem moody, shy and vulnerable.  His Primary Emotion is the Need of Recognition by Others for his originality.  His Deadly Sin is Envy: the Tragic Romantic experiences a sense of deprivation and longs for what he feels he is lacking, he tends to pursue unachievable goals.  He rejects real life but at the same time he feels attracted to it as if he was “missing” it.

Enneatype 5 – The Observer

Intuitive, curious, self-controlled.  His Primary Emotion is the Fear of other people’s obtrusiveness.  He is attracted to knowledge and tends to isolate himself feqeuently.  He might seem cold and aloof but he is actually an hypersensitive person.  Often eccentric, he may be noted for his innovative ideas.  His Deadly Sin is Avarice in the broad sense of the word: the Observer is basically incapable to give himself.

Enneatype 6 – The Loyal Skeptic

Cordial, trustworthy, security-oriented. His Primary Emotion is the Fear of other people’s unreliability.  He is cautious and anxious, he can face up fear in two different ways: a phobic Enneatype 6 sees danger and traps everywhere, even when there is no reason to feel threatened, while a counter-phobic has a cheeky and sometimes imprudent attitude.  The Loyal Skeptic’s ambivalence can be seen also in his relationship with the authority: on the one hand he doesn’t put up with the authority, on the other hand he tries to find charismatic figures to delegate his decisions to.  At his best Enneatype 6 is reliable, cooperative and well integrated with his work group.  His Deadly Sin, Fear, reveals itself as a social phobia, a lack of confidence in other people, which induces the Loyal Skeptic to follow a relational strategy centered on estrangement and unobtrusiveness.

Enneatype 7 – The Epicure

Cheerful, playful, hedonist, he could be described as an eternal Peter Pan.  His Primary Emotion is the Fear of Boredom.  That’s the reason why he is perpetually looking for fun, new experiences and thrills.  Usually, he is narcissist, superficial, impulsive and undisciplined; he tends to avoid (and often deny) pain, and he can’t understand other people’s problems.  At his best the Enneatype 7 is charming, imaginative and a good entertainer; he fulfills himself within creative and stimulating environments.  His Deadly Sin is Gluttony, in the widest sense of the word: the Epicure is “hungry” of new sensations, pleasure, social prestige, although, due to hectic way he tries to satisfy his appetite, he doesn’t taste life in its fullness.

Enneatype 8 – The Protector

Dynamic, practical, self-confident.  He lives life as a struggle: his Primary Emotion is Anger, which is processed consciously and expressed through the constant search of conflicts with others as a demonstration of strength and to defend his territory.  He is aggressive, despotic and egocentric, but at his best the Enneatype 8 might prove to be protective and generous, and devote all his strength to serve the others.  The Protector’s distinctive Deadly Sin is Lust, not referring to the sexual connotation of the word, but referring to its etymon, “Lúxus”, whose meaning is “to be eager for  things”.  In the Enneatype 8 this tendency manifests itself as a desire to demonstrate to be always the strongest, to be always right even at the cost of smashing the others.

Enneatype 9 – The Mediator

Affable, tolerant, tactful.  He loves peace and devotes himself to avoid any kind of conflict.  His Primary Emotion is Anger, which is processed unconsciously and rarely expressed.  The Enneatype 9 tends not to take sides and prefer to let himself be guided by other people.  He is passive and complaisant.  At his best, as  Enneatype 9’s definition suggests, he is an excellent mediator, capable of bringing a conflict to an end and re-establish harmony among the people.  His Deadly Sin is Sloth.  The Mediator tends to stay at the margins, he renounces to express his opinions and adapts himself to the others rather than altercate and compromise the harmony of the environment he lives in.

In the articles for the following issues we will analyse more accurately each Enneatype and its traits, in order to provide a wider and more detailed description of Ennegram’s character types.



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Category: Articles, Consciousness, The Fool's Corner

Claudio Del Piano

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Claudio Del Piano is a writer, music producer and traveller. He graduated in Modern Literature and Foreign Languages with a thesis entitled “From Bukowski to Eminem: the other side of America”. He has great interest and researched extensively into Enneagram, Sufism and Tarology. He is currently working as a web content editor/curator, 'Story Hunter' and translator. For further info: cdelpiano@libero.it

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