Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Book Review by Jack Falt

Baron, Renee & Wagele, Elizabeth, The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People, New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, ISBN 0-06-251026-6, 161 pp, lots of cartoons

Renee Baron wrote a similar style of book on the Jung/Myers personality type (What Type Am I?) with lots of cartoons and it is an excellent introduction to Jung/Myers personality type. This book was written by Baron and Wagele, with Wagele doing the drawings. (Wagele has written on her own a well-illustrated book on the Enneagram and parenting, The Enneagram of Parenting). They also have co-authored a similar style of book on using the Enneagram in relationships (Are You My Type? Am I Yours?).

The Enneagram also calls its categories of behaviours ‘personality types’( which is a bit confusing for Jung/Myers personality type people so I’ll put in brackets which personality type I am referring to). Enneagram is a word derived from the Greek. Ennea is the word for nine, and gram is the word for drawing; thus a circle with nine points connected by lines. The main difference between Jung/Myers personality type and the Enneagram is that the former describes your mental processes and how they translate into behaviour, mostly in a very positive way. The Enneagram looks at your anger, fear and image, and the main defence mechanisms you use. Pat Wyman in her book The Three Keys to Self-Understanding (see book review on my web site), uses the MBTI® instrument and the Enneagram very effectively: the Jung/Myers personality type tells what you can be and the Enneagram shows the coping mechanisms you use when you feel under attack.

The Enneagram Made Easy looks at the various personality types (Enneagram) in an engaging and entertaining way. According to Enneagram theory you are not just one type but also have four other types that influence you: the wings — the two types on either side of you; and the arrows — two types that are connected by the arrows in the diagram. E.g. Type 1 is also influenced by 9 & 2 (wings) as well as 7 & 4 (arrows). The authors explain this in general terms and then in more detail in each personality type (Enneagram) chapter.

Each chapter begins with an inventory so you have some idea how much like this type you are. The Enneagram originated from an ancient oral tradition so individuals discover their type by listening to a presentation on the Enneagram. The Enneagram does not rely on a definitive inventory, but it does help clarify one’s type.  The Jung/Myers community has relied on the inventory first and then verified it by explaining the concepts. A more recent development is to explain the concepts and have people see what they relate to (Si, Te, etc.) and then see if it fits the results of the inventory (Haas and Berens).

The chapters then continue with main characterises of the type at its best and at its worst. It describes how to get along with the type, how they are in relationship and what it’s like to be that type. It looks at what they are like as children and as parents, what kind of careers they tend to choose and how they spend their free time. Detailed information is given about the wings and arrows. Then it concludes with suggestions on how to cope with life in a more positive way.

Because the author (I am not sure if this is true of only Baron or if Wagele is also Jung/Myers personality type trained) is skilled in the use of both the Enneagram and Jungian types, the final section compares the two systems. Each type (Enneagram) looks at how each of the eight preferences (Jung/Myers) are manifested. E.g. “Extraverted Ones (the Perfectionists) are often leaders and tend to impose their standards of perfection on others.” There is a chart that indicates the various levels of correlation between the personality types of the two systems.

Because of the style and the cartoons, the book is fun to read and a very painless way of learning another system. I personally feel that the Enneagram can be very helpful in explaining a lot of behaviour that Jung/Myers theory does not, particularly counterproductive (negative) behaviour.

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