Sound Like Anyone You Know?
When it comes to creating a label that identifies each type, the scholars, teachers, and authors of the Enneagram have struggled to provide a name that succinctly captures the primary personality. First of all, if the label is somewhat generic, it could also easily apply to other types. The problem with labels — with words in general — is that they can unnecessarily restrict a definition, and they often mean different things to different people. No matter how hard each author has struggled, positive and negative connotations, as well as overlaps, are almost unavoidable. Identifying labels from some of the most respected authors are referenced below, but subsequent chapters will offer suggestions for catchy words or phrases that will assist in helping you identify and retain knowledge about each type's distinctive personality.
Don't be surprised if none of the type descriptions seem to fit. It's human nature to be somewhat oblivious to your own faults. Also, if you find that some of the things in the description of the type with which you identify don't fit you like a glove, it's important to remember that characteristic behaviors within each type fluctuate widely depending upon many factors, such as the degree of stress in your life or how well your life is going.
Just as a few select words cannot fully describe each personality, it's important to reiterate that no one is a pure personality type. Your enneatype or core personality type is enriched, deprived, supplemented, and nuanced according to your individual circumstances. All people are born with unique characteristics, into unique circumstances, and they all progress in unique ways. To help you get a clearer snapshot of each type, in each summary to follow, examples drawn from movies and literature are offered here, primarily derived from lists provided by Enneagram authors Thomas Condon and Judith Searle in their books (listed in Appendix A). Keep in mind that famous personalities mentioned throughout the book are also nuanced and are only being named to represent a primary, recognizable attribute.
It is important to reiterate that Enneagram scholars believe that everyone also possesses a wing, the energy and focus of the number to either side of their type, that adds dimension to their core personality. They also believe that people are capable of functioning different ways at different times — according to their degree of stress or sense of security — which allows for a surprising fluctuation in personality characteristics within each type. The latter influences arise from each enneatype connecting security and stress points on the Enneagram circle.
FIGURE 3-1 The Nine Types of the Enneagram and their Interconnecting Points