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

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Book Review by Jack Falt

Daniels, David & Virginia Price, The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide, New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0-06-25167-60, 109 pp.

Like psychological type, enneagram type can be illusive to discover. Even using the MBT® instrument does not guarantee an accurate determination of ones Jung/Myers personality type. You still have to do further reading, be more aware of your behaviour patterns, etc. The same is true for the enneagram. The traditional method to determine one’s enneagram type is to attend lectures and over a period of time become aware of one’s type.

There have been several attempts to determine enneagram type by using an inventory, in particular Don Riso and John Richards. However, you still need to look for a “best fit” enneagram type.

The Essential Enneagram attempts to put determining one’s type on a more scientific basis. It starts by giving nine paragraphs and asking you to choose the one or the ones that are most like you and then use the book to determine which is the one most likely to be your best fit.

The authors have worked with over 900 clients and so have a good data base to work from. For each type they indicate in percentage form your chance of choosing the one best for you. They also list the other likely types in percentage forms.

The enneagram consists of a circle with nine points connected by lines. Each type is connected to other types by adjacent points called wings and connecting lines called arrows. The wings and arrows for each type are listed. Then the basic proposition for each type is given, its principal characteristics, what causes stress and anger, and suggestions for personal development.

A useful section is the summery of type discriminators. When you have narrowed your choices down to two, it helps you to choose between them.

The last section of the book looks at what you can do now that you know what your type is. In the two pages devoted to each type the descriptions follow a similar format: practise awareness, practise taking action, and practice reflection. Each type tends to respond in a certain way and it is helpful to be more aware of your responses and evaluate whether they are helpful to you.

While the Jung/Myers personality typing looks at your potential of what you are and can become, the enneagram looks at the defence mechanisms you use to cope with the world. These would seem to be innate as MBTI preferences are, but become more exaggerated depending on how hostile you perceived your environment to be. Each type has both its positive and negative sides and this book gives suggestions on how to develop those positive sides.

This book is a worthwhile reference book for both enneagram facilitators and people discovering their enneagram type. It gives in a simple form the essentials of each type. Like the MBTI, the enneagram can become much more complex, but this is a good place to start.

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