Wednesday, November 06, 2019

A Different Look at the Enneagram

The Enneagram gained popularity as a personality typology tool in the 1980’s. The Enneagram is a nine-point star-like figure enclosed within a circle. Each point of the star represents a particular personality type. Those nine personality types are then influenced by the types adjacent to them (wings), as well as the types connected through the interior flow of the nine-point star. Teachers of the Enneagram fall into two basic camps; those who promote the “narrative model” and those who use a “quantitative assessment.” The narrative model relies on the person studying the Enneagram to choose self-selected descriptors of the nine personality types in order to determine their “Number.” The most popular online quantitative assessment is known as the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI). The RHETI, currently uses 144 questions to rank order the nine types with a numerical value.

One of the critiques of using any personality typology tool is stereotyping or simplifying the complexity of the human personality. Author Jerome Lubbe’s book, Whole Identity, is an attempt to remedy this concern. His model, he says, brings a wholistic approach to understanding the personality typology of the Enneagram.

Whole Identity, is by the author’s own description, a “white paper.” This small book is only volume one to which he anticipates additions. Therefore, any final conclusions about the validity of his model are not possible. Lubbe, however, has made four fundamental changes to the use and understanding of the Enneagram.

First, Lubbe presents his model as unique because he says he has based it on neuroscience. He has incorporated an elementary model of the two-hemisphere brain theory and fused it with the Enneagram’s personality typology. To do so, he makes his second fundamental change.

In order for his model to work, he has turned the Enneagram 180 degrees to the right. The Nine-type, which is normally at the top of the circle, is now at the bottom. He makes this change, because he says, in this position the Enneagram now mirrors the brain hemispheres.

Third, his method relies totally on a “qualitative assessment,” specifically the RHETI, which assigns a numerical value for each type. He uses these numbers to determine not only the primary type, but also the dominate wing, and the strength of either the mind, heart, body triad. By requiring a numerical value for each type, Lubbe thereby eliminates anyone using the “narrative typology” method from benefitting from his model. In the Enneagram, whether you use the narrative typology or the qualitative assessment could be a deal breaker.

And fourth, he has eliminated the interior connecting lines with the Enneagram; the determiners of the point of “stress” and “growth.” The lines that connect 3-6-9 and 1-4-2-8-5-7. It’s complicated, but again, for Enneagram traditionalists this may be too much for them to bear.

I have studied both the narrative and qualitative methods of the Enneagram. I find them both helpful in my understanding of my personality. Having taken the RHETI, I inserted my information into Labbe’s model. His system put to use the quantity assigned to all nine types of my personality. His technique established a numerical strength for each wing of the nine types; something I had not seen before. And his method quantified the strength of the heart, head, and body triads. Anyone who finds that numbers and percentages would benefit their use of the Enneagram might find Lubbe’s model worth a try.

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