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The enneagram symbol

The Enneagram (from ancient Greek ἐννέα, ennea , "nine", and γράμμα , gramma , "the written") designates a nine-pointed esoteric symbol which, as a graphic structure model, is supposed to distinguish, arrange and relate nine fundamentally assumed qualities. This article deals with the model and its application as a type theory to describe different personality structures.


The roots of the enneagram are unknown. Some representatives of the doctrines that use the Enneagram assume an ancient origin, although there are various speculations about the cultural area. It is believed that the Enneagram was passed down from Sufism (Islamic mysticism). Some representatives see parallels to the approaches of the Enneagram , for example in the "main vices" ( deadly sins ) of the desert fathers or the stages of development of Evagrius Ponticus , a Christian mystic of the 4th century. Such parallels can be viewed as preliminary stages of the Enneagram; there is no evidence that it was used as a type system.

The current form of the Enneagram was developed by Georges I. Gurdjieff ; in 1916 he first introduced it to some students, particularly PD Ouspensky . It is also the year of the first recorded use of the word "Enneagram". Gurdjieff found or developed the system on his numerous journeys; more precise sources cannot be reconstructed. Within the framework of the doctrine of the fourth way presented by you, this system links the law of octaves (also known as the law of seven ) with the law of three , the triad . The Enneagram is also described as a process-oriented tool for self-development, but not as a symbolization of different personality types.

The use of the symbol as a personality neagram was first introduced by Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s . Three directions developed in the application of the Enneagram:

  1. Teaching Ichazos (designation of the Enneagram as "Enneagon"): Training at the Arica School .
  2. Spiritual and psychological direction: representatives are e.g. B. Claudio Naranjo , Helen Palmer and Don Richard Riso . The Enneagram is seen as a means to greater self-knowledge and personal growth.
  3. Christian interpretation (beyond the spiritual approach): representatives are z. B. Father Richard Rohr , Andreas Ebert (Protestant), Bob Ochs (Jesuit tradition). The strengths of all nine Enneagram types are ascribed to Jesus Christ , and each type has a particular path to God.

The symbol

Geometry and numerics

The Enneagram symbol is a nine- sided figure inscribed in a circle, which is composed of an equilateral triangle and a hexagonal figure :

The nine corners are numbered clockwise, starting with the top right corner of the hexagonal figure. The sequence of numbers resulting from the lines of the hexagonal figure has a mathematical reference: If you divide a natural number (which itself is not a multiple of 7) by 7, the decimal places always contain the periodic sequence of digits 142857 ( cyclic number of the generator number 7); starting with over or generally for every natural number not divisible by 7

Another connection exists with the product sequence of multiplying natural numbers from 1 to 9 by 9, with the two digits of the products being on the left and right side of the Enneagram, starting with 9 9 = 81 to 6 9 = 54 Then the digits are interchanged, leaving 5 · 9 = 45, up to 2 · 9 = 18 and finally 1 · 9 = 9 at the top.


The figurative structure of the Enneagram can be interpreted as follows: The circle stands for the one comprehensive divine nature, also for the essence of life and perfection. The triangle stands for the non- dual , the trinity , thesis / antithesis / synthesis, or creating / destroying / connecting or positive / negative / neutral. In contrast, the hexagon stands for the imperfect, chaotic. But it is also described as the materialization of an idea, an abstract principle ( arab. Wham ).

In addition, other figures can be derived from the Enneagram as sub-symbols, with their equivalents. So z. B. the pentagon that arises from the figure of the inner edge of the hexagonal figure, if the corners five and four are also connected. It can be associated with the five elements .

Between points four and five there is the greatest distance of two adjacent types, which is intended to express the distance between the (male) head and the (female) heart area that meet here.

History of the symbol

The symbol was introduced by Georges I. Gurdjieff in 1916 , but there are reasonable assumptions that Gurdjieff was influenced by Ramon Llull and Athanasius Kircher . Gurdjieff claimed to have discovered the irregular hexagon in the monastery of a Sufi brotherhood in connection with temple dances.

Gurdjieff's symbol was picked up by various authors and developed into the model of psychological-spiritual personality typification known today.

Basics of the personality neagram

Classification into types

In contrast to the four ancient temperaments of choleric , sanguine , melancholic and phlegmatic , the personality neagram is used to divide people into nine personality types.

Experienced Enneagram teachers can also misjudge the types of other people. According to critics, only a few aspects of a person are taken into account and only looked at behavior instead of looking at the overall picture, including their perceptual style and nature.

The focus of attention and the underlying passion (temperament, motivation) should be part of the overall picture. Furthermore:

  • a person's value system,
  • the resulting views and settings,
  • which lead to him setting certain priorities,
  • what about certain behaviors and
  • a certain form of communication and choice of words ("keywords") .

This should also be reflected externally in body structure and posture. However, conclusions about this require a more complex analysis (e.g. the subtypes etc.).

Spiritual-psychological or religious framework

The Enneagram is not to be understood as a religion and should not serve as a substitute religion or belief. But it can be used as a tool to become aware of your own weaknesses; so it can (in the Christian context) be used as a “ confession mirror ” (Dietrich Koller). The Enneagram is a symbol of repentance (and has nothing to do with the modern striving for "self-discovery").

The most important Enneagram authors of today differentiate between a “false” self or “ ego ” and a “true” (divine) self (Richard Rohr designation: false self / ego and true self; Don Richard Riso speaks of the personality as the “ entrenched ”ego pattern ( ego fixation ), which separates the person from the true being (“ essence ”). The way there is called "transformation".

Type tests

Riso and Hudson developed since the 1990s a series of more or less extensive tests to determine the Enneagram type; the full version is the Riso – Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI), the current version of which consists of 144 decision questions. The test is touted as saying that its reliability has been scientifically and independently proven. A large number of Enneagram type tests are circulating on the Internet.

Overview of the nine types

The modern doctrine of Enneagrams says that every person fits exactly one of these nine type descriptions, and that this basic tone of personality does not change in the course of a lifetime. However, the doctrine also states that the Enneagram can never capture the biographical uniqueness of a person, but only the Enneagram structure.

Most authors prefer to designate the types according to their number ("ones", "twos", etc.), since numbers are neutral. But there are also different and therefore inconsistent names for the types. The names used in the table go back to Helen Palmer.

Basically, all types are equivalent. However, each type can have different stages of development. At one end is the immature (unredeemed, sick) personality. At the other end is the mature (redeemed, healthy) personality, with the normal manifestations of a type in between. In the course of life, a maturation towards a redeemed (healthy) personality can be achieved (integration). Often it remains in the normal state (stagnation) or there is even a relapse into an immature stage (regression, disintegration). The development stages of a type are characterized by different properties (see table).

Type Surname Self-image immature (unredeemed, sick) normal ripe (redeemed, healthy)
1 perfectionist I am right opinionated, pharisee, corrosive perfectionist, hesitant, scrupulous critically alert, relaxed, ethically high-standing
2 giver I help manipulative, dominant, symbiotic motherly, giving, active caring, kind, original
3 Dynamic I am successful opportunistic, fraudulent, career addicted pragmatic, status-conscious, role-oriented competent, truthful, reliable
4th Tragic romantic I am different sorry, decadent, in
love with death
aesthetic, romantic, stylish creative, natural, disciplined
5 observer I look through isolated, nihilistic, eccentric analytical, distant, abstract inventive, wise, energetic
6th Advocate of
the devil
I am doing my duty dependent, aggressive, cowardly dutiful, careful, (anti) authoritarian loyal, courageous, trusting
7th Epicureans I am happy excessive, amateurish, opinionated overactive, indulgent, superficial happy, versatile, sober
8th boss I am strong tyrannical, power-obsessed, violent controlling, competitive, direct generous, strong leadership, protective
9 Intermediary I am happy fatalistic, disoriented, stubborn adapted, easy to care for, undecided accepting, peaceful, goal-oriented

Depth dimensions


The Enneagram and the Triads

According to the enneagrammatic personality typology, every person has three intelligence centers: head (mind / ratio), heart (emotions) and stomach (instinct).

One of the three intelligence centers should dominate every person. This leads to a division into three areas, each of which comprises three adjacent types in the Enneagram:

  • Belly types (instinct triad): 8, 9 and 1,
  • Heart types (feeling triad): 2, 3 and 4,
  • Head types (thinking triad): 5, 6 and 7.

The middle types of triads are connected by the equilateral triangle.

The triads describe how or on what level a type perceives the world to a particular degree and thus also how he feels and acts. At the same time, it shows the basic principle of the ego.

An overview of the triads and their dominant body areas as well as life themes:

Triad Fixation dominant body regions / functions organs central life issues character
8, 9, 1
instinctively Digestive tract, solar plexus (kinesthetic / haptic) Nose, ear Power, justice, aggression rigid or anti-intraceptive (this is the opposite of inwardness or interest in what is going on in the mind)
2, 3, 4
emotionally Cardiovascular system Sense of touch, taste Relationships, for-being, prestige / image hysteroid (seductive nature, great expressiveness, theatrical demeanor)
5, 6, 7
mentally Brain, central nervous system eyes Control, understanding, order schizoid (mentally divided)


A type usually also has properties of one of its two direct neighbors, for example the 4 could also have properties of the 3 or the 5. Usually the influence of one of the neighbors predominates; this is then (engl. as wings wing ), respectively. So there are z. B. a 4 with a 3-wing or a 4 with a 5-wing or a 5 with a 4-wing etc.

Instinct variants / subtypes

Each type is further differentiated into three instinct variants (sub-types), the social (or sociable) sub-type, the sexual sub-type, or the self-sustaining sub-type.

Lines of development (arrows)

In the Enneagram symbol, each number has two connecting lines. These are arrows, one of which indicates a "bad" development of the type (referred to as disintegration, devolution) and the other represents the positive development line of the type (referred to as integration, evolution).

Direction of disintegration: If the respective type moves in stressful situations with the arrow to the specified type of the Enneagram, which is also known as his stress point, then he only finds "false comfort" there, which is very harmful for him in the long term.

Direction of integration: If the respective type moves on the path of spiritual maturation with the arrow to the specified type of the Enneagram, which is also called his consolation point (relaxation point), then he finds "real consolation" in the positive qualities of his consolation point.

Stages of development

Each type comprises more or less mature areas (development stages) that can be divided into three parts:

  • unhealthy / unredeemed / dysfunctional area,
  • middle / normal / average range and
  • mature / redeemed / healthy area.

As a parallel, three stages of spiritual growth are also described in Christian mysticism , for example in Euagrios Pontikos . Don Richard Riso found nine levels of development, namely three each for the three areas.

Horney groups

Horney groups

According to the psychoanalyst Karen Horney (1885–1952), there are three ways in which one can react spontaneously to a situation: through aggressive action (turning), through docile adaptation (affection) or through withdrawing (turning away). Every type of Enneagram would now tend to one of these three attitudes; if you connect the same, three isosceles triangles are created:

  • Turning towards (aggressive action), red in the figure on the right:
    • Type 3: ensures that the goals are achieved
    • Type 7: makes sure to align with the plan (vision)
    • Type 8: takes care of the "tackling"
  • Contribution (docile adjustment), green in the figure on the right:
    • Type 1: works to ensure that it is done “right” and correctly
    • Type 2: works to encourage others or to provide help for others
    • Type 6: acts to meet general needs
  • Avoidance (withdrawing withdrawal), blue in the figure on the right:
    • Type 4: take a step back to creatively look for new opportunities
    • Type 5: take a step back to analyze the situation and alternatives
    • Type 9: takes a step back to mediate in favor of a common direction (consensus)


Claudio Naranjo was the first to distinguish the following polarities within the enneagram:

  • The types on the right side (types 1 to 4) are “more social and socialized” and have a tendency to “ hysterical behavior” (seduction; female pole), while the left side (types 5 to 8) is “more antisocial” and “ psychopathic ” Behavior “(rebellion; male pole) tend.
  • There is also a polarity between the upper and lower part of the Enneagram in relation to the “degree of intraception” between “ tough-mindedness ” (above) and “sensitivity (tender-mindedness) ” (below): in the lower part Partly you find the " poor in spirit " (four and five) who are aware of their lack and search most intensively, while the types at the upper opposite pole "have made themselves insensitive to their inner injuries" so that they feel satisfied.


The psychologist Colin Goldner does not attribute any cognitive value to the Enneagram typology; at best it could be used for party entertainment. The theologian Thomas Körbel calls the Enneagram an "example of pareligious spirituality".

The Catholic Church sees in the character analysis an example of Gnosticism , which "stands in decided or even declared contradiction to everything that belongs to the essence of Christianity". The use of character analysis leads to "an ambiguity in the doctrine and life of the Christian faith", as stated in a Vatican document on "New Age". Especially among religious, especially in the USA, the Enneagram is a controversial issue. The United States Bishops' Conference warns against teaching without actively implementing a prohibition. However, it is also used or taught by Christian ministers, often ecumenically.

Since 1989 there has been an ecumenical Enneagram working group in Germany, which holds conferences and trainings for Enneagram trainers and which now has over 500 members.

The Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauung issues was critical of the Enneagram in 2006, while an opinion from 2013 names problems and misinterpretations, but still gives the Enneagram a positive value in pastoral care.

The Enneagram is condemned as an “occult”, “unbiblical” doctrine of redemption by biblical fundamentalist and partly evangelical groups. Evangelicals like Peter Scazzero see it as a helpful tool for balanced personal development.



  • John G. Bennett : The Enneagram. Coombe Springs Press, Sherborne 1974, ISBN 0-900306-17-3 .
  • John G. Bennett: Enneagram Studies. Weiser, York Beach 1983, ISBN 0-87728-544-6 .
  • Maurice Nicholl: Psychological Commentaries on the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Vincent Stuart, London 1952.
  • PD Ouspensky : In Search of the Miraculous. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York 1949, pp. 278-98, 376-378.
  • William Patrick Patterson: Taking With the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze. Arete, Fairfax 1998, ISBN 1-879514-10-9 .
  • Irmis B. Popoff: The Enneagramma of the Man of Unity. Weiser, New York 1978, ISBN 0-87728-399-0 .
  • James Webb : The harmonious circle. The Lives and Work of GI Gurfjieff, PD Ouspensky, and Their Followers. Putnam, New York 1980, pp. 499-542.


  • Richard Rohr , Andreas Ebert : The Enneagram. The 9 faces of the soul. Claudius, Munich 1989; New edition 2009, ISBN 978-3-532-62395-4
  • Franz-Josef Hücker: The Enneagram - Self-knowledge on a fragile foundation. In: Paths to People. Vol. 65, No. 4, 2013 (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), pp. 346–353.
  • Johannes Bartels: Into the heart of the soul. The Enneagram in the Context of Religious Adult Education. Dissertation at the University of Münster 2003. Lit, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-7282-3 .
  • Anthony Blake: The Intelligent Enneagram. Gurdjieff's instrument of perception. Martin, Südergellersen 1993, ISBN 3-921786-77-0 .
  • Maria-Anne Gallen, Hans Neidhardt: The Enneagram of our Relationships. Entanglements, interactions, developments. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1994, ISBN 978-3-499-19616-4 .
  • Eli Jaxon-Bear: The Nine Numbers of Life. Knaur, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-426-26405-6 .
  • Eli Jaxon-Bear: The Spiritual Enneagram. Nine Paths of Liberation. Goldmann, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-442-21650-8 .
  • Pamela Michaelis, Ingrid Meyer-Klemm: I'm different - you too? Rediscover yourself and others. The enneagram in the oral tradition. BoD, Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8334-7492-7 .
  • Helen Palmer: The Enneagram. Learn to understand yourself and others. Knaur, Munich 1991. New edition 2000, ISBN 3-426-87094-0 .
  • Wilfried Reifarth: The Enneagram. Idea - dynamism - dimension. A textbook. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1997. 2nd edition: Lambertus, Freiburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7841-1907-6 .
  • Wilfried Reifarth: How different is the other? Enneagrammatic Insights. Lambertus, Freiburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-7841-1906-9 .
  • Anna-Maria Rumitz, Alexander Pfab: Who am I? What drives me The Enneagram in 99 questions and answers. J. Kamphausen, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-89901-796-0 .
  • Don Richard Riso : The Nine Types of Personality and the Enneagram. Knaur, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-426-04213-4 .
  • Jürgen Gündel: The Enneagram: Nine ways to see the world Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2008, ISBN 978-3-8370-4423-2 .
  • Ursula Walter: Lively Enneagram - the nine personality structures in 27 résumés. Drei Birken Verlag, Freiberg 2018, ISBN 978-3936980-48-6 .

Web links

Commons : Enneagrams  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Enneagram  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Richard Rohr , Andreas Ebert : The Enneagram. The 9 faces of the soul. Claudius, Munich 27th edition 1995, p. 22.
  2. ^ Ingrid and Kurt Bauer: Enneagram. Steps to Perfection Urania Verlags AG 1994.
  3. PD Ouspensky: In Search of the Wonderful , Scherz Verlag & OW Barth Verlag u. a., 1966 ff.
  4. ^ Richard Rohr: Enneagram II. Advancing Spiritual Discernment. Cross Road, First Edition 1995/ 2 1998th
  5. Ouspensky 1949: 278-298, 376-378.
  6. S. Karppe: Etudes sur les origines de la nature de Zohar. Paris 1901.
  7. ^ Ingrid and Kurt Bauer: Enneagram. Stages of perfection. Urania Verlag AG 1994.
  8. ^ Richard Rohr: Enneagram II. Advancing Spiritual Discernment. Crossroad, (First Edition 1995) 2 1998, pp. 155f.
  9. Webb 1980: 499-542, Bartels 2005: 60-71
  10. The film Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979), based on Gurdjieff's autobiography of the same name, suggests that it is the irregular hexagon and not the entire symbol. Jointly responsible for the content of the film was Jeanne de Salzmann , Gurdjieff's long-time student and co-choreographer of his movements (sacred dances) .
  11. cf. Bartels 2005: 6-99.
  12. Dietrich Koller: "The repentance that no one regrets". Epilogue in Rohr / Ebert: The Enneagram. The 9 faces of the soul.
  13. Enneagram Institute: RHETI ( Memento of the original from January 18, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.enneagraminstitute.com
  14. Enneagram Institute: The RHETI (Version 2.5) has been Scientifically Validated ( Memento of the original dated December 12, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.enneagraminstitute.com
  15. For example [1] , [2] .
  16. Richard Rohr , Andreas Ebert : The Enneagram - The 9 faces of the soul. Claudius, Munich 21st edition 1993
  17. Helen Palmer: The Enneagram - Learning to Understand Yourself and Others. Knaur, Munich 1991, new edition 2000, ISBN 3-426-87094-0
  18. a b c Rohr / Ebert: The Enneagram. 25th edition 1995, pp. 40-43 [Triads].
  19. ^ Claudio Naranjo : The Enneagram of Society. The evils of the world, the evils of the soul. Translated from the Spanish by Gerhard Strässer and Regula Dell'Anno-Doppler. Verlag Via Nova, Petersburg 1988. P. 28 [Symmetry and polarity in the Enneagram] and 142 [Appendix].
  20. Described in Riso / Hudson: The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
  21. ^ Claudio Naranjo : The Enneagram of Society. The evils of the world, the evils of the soul. Translated from the Spanish by Gerhard Strässer and Regula Dell'Anno-Doppler. Verlag Via Nova, Petersburg 1988. Chapter Symmetry and Polarity in the Enneagram. P. 28ff. For the distinction between male / female see ders., Know yourself in the Enneagram. The 9 types of personality. Kösel, Munich 1994, p. 43.
  22. Colin Goldner: Enneagram , excerpt from Die Psycho-Szene , Alibri Verlag, Aschaffenburg 2000, on vikas.de, July 6, 2011.
  23. Thomas Körbel: Hermeneutik der Esoterik: a phenomenology of the card game tarot as a contribution to the understanding of pareligiosity , LIT Verlag, Münster 2001, ISBN 978-3-8258-5378-5 , p. 160; Preview on Google Books .
  24. ^ Pontifical Council for Culture , Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue : Jesus Christ, the dispenser of living water. Reflections on New Age from a Christian perspective (2003). English version on vatican.va ; Unofficial German translation at http://www.kath.ch/infosekten/pdf/new_age.pdf ( Memento from December 9, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (Retrieved January 14, 2012 .; PDF; 334 kB).
  25. Holy Circle? - Enneagram in USA. Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / enneagramm.eu
  26. Anna Abbott: A Dangerous Practice. Catholic interest in the Enneagram persists. The Catholic World Report (January 31, 2012) online (lists representatives from both sides).
  27. Father Richard Rohr, OFM, is the most famous. Father Anselm Grün OSB is quoted in his standard work with a positive statement (see for example [3] ). Also Alois Glück , president of the Central Committee of German Catholics , has been positive, because he uses the Enneagram itself and uses [4] . The Diocese of Augsburg is officially promoting its own “Enneagram Working Group for Men (EAM)”: [5] , cf. at the diocese of Fulda .
  28. http://enneagramm.eu/
  29. http://www.christundwelt.de/themen/uebersicht/artikel/die-neummalklugen/ .
  30. Michael Utsch : On the variety of interpretations of the Enneagram . Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauung questions , Materialdienst , 9/2006, pp. 351–355.
  31. ^ Michael Utsch: The Enneagram , Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen, Materialdienst 5/2013.
  32. bibel-glaube.de = bible-only.org ; see. z. B. alexanderseibel.de
  33. Archive link ( Memento of the original from April 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / distomos.blogspot.ch