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

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Book Review by Jack Falt with Response by Linda Miller-Nesbitt

Richards, John, The Illustrated Enneagram: An Animated Look at the Nine Enneagram Personalities, Hunting Beach, CA: Horizon Nine Keys Publishing, 1994, ISBN 1-885802-00-5, 41 pp

For those of us who are mainly interested in Jung/Myers personality types, we may wonder what the Enneagram is all about. As I understand it, the MBTI® instrument is an attempt to measure the True Self, i.e. the natural pattern of the functions you were born with and which are stable for the rest of your life. While you may emphasise other patterns at different times during your life, the core four preferences are still there. On the other hand, the Enneagram is a measure of the defence mechanisms you developed to get along with your main caretakers. While these mechanisms have been added as you developed, they are very tenacious and it would seem you are also stuck with them for life. You can modify them so they are not as controlling of your life, but they are still a part of your behaviour. I think of them as barnacles on the bottom of a boat. You can scrape them off, but you never quite get rid of them.

Some research has been done to correlate the MBTI® results with the Enneagram (Correlation Between Enneagram and MBTI Types, Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 4 - Summer 99 - pg. 30). The two theories are looking at different aspects of the individual, although there does seem to be a tendency for certain Jung/Myers personality types to acquire certain Enneagram Types.

To begin to get a grasp of the nine Enneagram Types (they also use the term ‘Type’) this booklet is a good place to start. It gives a brief description of each Type followed by 14 cartoons that show examples of that Type. Just as Jung/Myers personality types are quite complex, so are Enneagram Types. Each of the 14 cartoons gives a concrete example of how that Type might be manifested.

As you read over the material in the book, you can directly correlate some of the ideas with certain Functions. E.g. “Enneagram Ones are orderly” would correlate with the Judging preference. “Sevens are continually on the lookout for fun and enjoyment” would correlate with the SP or Artisan Temperament. It makes it difficult to determine which is an inborn pattern and which is an acquired one.

If they haven’t done so already, they should have produced a set of overheads of the 14 x 9 cartoons as they would make excellent Enneagram presentation materials. Another learning tool would be to have the cartoons printed on cards that could be shuffled and have people guess which Enneagram Type it represents. I wish that someone would produce a set of cartoons for the MBTI. The closest that I have come across is: Baron, Renee, What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are, New York, NY: Penguin Book, 1998, ISBN 014 02.6941, 171 pp. Rene Baron has also coauthored with Elizabeth Wagele The Enneagram Made Easy, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1994). Baron and Wagele coauthored Are You My Type, Am I Yours, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995) on relationships; and Wagele wrote The Enneagram of Parenting, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997). These three books will also give you a good sense of the nine Enneagram Types.

As an MBTI® facilitator, you may be called upon to describe how the Jung/Myers personality types and the Enneagram are alike and different. This booklet would be a great one to hand to the curious to read.

As an Enneagrarn facilitator and enthusiast, I was pleased to see the above review. This booklet has been a useful tool for me and I agree with the reviewer that it would be a great starting point to understand some Enneagrarn basics. Perhaps some explanation is warranted about the notion that "you are also stuck with them (defence mechanisms) for life." The intent of embracing the wisdom of the Enneagram is to become more fully aware of both our conscious and unconscious patterns of dealing with life and to accept them compassionately. With rigorous self-observation we can choose, in the moment, to shift to healthier positions. Such choices usually prove to be better for ourselves and for those with whom we are in relationship. It is never suggested that we can rid ourselves of behaviours since the pull to "home base" type is, and always will be, present. A unique feature of the Enneagram is that it makes evident the range of motivations that underlie the behavioural traits we observe. This knowledge helps to more readily discriminate among types.

Another way in which Enneagram understanding differs from that of the Jung/Myers theory is in the whole area of "nature versus nurture." The reviewer believes that "the Enneagram is a measure of the defence mechanisms you developed to get along with your main caretakers" and that the MBTI measures "the natural pattern of the functions you were born with and which are stable for the rest of your life." Renowned leaders in Enneagram studies such as Riso / Hudson do ascribe importance to childhood patterns, citing nine of them. However, they also state that it is likely there is a prenatal and genetic basis for personality, what psychologists refer to as temperament, and that it is the primary determinant of our personality type. Thus, the childhood patterns do not cause our personality type. We do, however, tend to play out these early patterns over and over again, powerfully affecting all of our significant adult relationships. Credit for some of this thinking is given to Karen Homey's work on the notion of basic anxieties.

As well, researchers by the name of Tina Thomas and Eric Schuize are even investigating a possible biological basis of type. They are attempting to identify the chemical and genetic "elements" that form the basis of personality based on levels of three neurotransmitters in each type's system. Is it possible that there is a biological basis for specific psychological propensities?

These are just very brief glimpses at some of the positions and speculation in the ongoing studies of the Enneagram. It remains of great interest to all of us who work at enhancing people's selfunderstanding and optimizing their choices in life, to honour differences as well as similarities in approaches between the Jung/Myers theory and the Enneagrarn.

Respectfully submitted, Linda MillerNesbitt
Linda Miller-Nesbitt, M Ed., is qualified in both the Enneagram and MBTI®. She gives workshops on the Enneagram, and trained in the use of the MBTI® to become aware of what it had to offer. Linda is a member of Jack Falt`s Appreciating Differences group and attended the OAAPT 2000 Conference. Jack overheard her dispute the current thinking that Enneagrain Types are defence medianismns learned in childhood, so he requested that she write this rebuttal. Hopefully, other OAAPT members will contribute to this dialogue to help us all understand the similarities and difftrences of the two systems.

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