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

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Book Review by Jack Falt

Goldberg, Michael J., The 9 Ways of Working: How to Use the Enneagram to Discover Your Natural Strengths and Work More Effectively, New York, NY: Marlowe & Co.,  1999, ISBN 1-56924-688-2, 345 pp

There seems to be a growing interest in the Enneagram on the part of a number of MBTI® practitioners. At the OAAPT 1997 Conference we had our own OAAPT member, Helen Peacock, lead a session on the Enneagram. The APT Bulletin has had several articles reporting on the research that Tom Flautt and John Richards are doing to find the correlations between MBTI® Type and Enneagram Type*.

Susan Scanlon in her Type Reporter newsletter (No. 74 - Sept. 1988) gives a very good explanation of how the two systems differ and complement one another, and a short summary of the nine Enneagram Types. Essentially, the Jung/Myers theory purports to measure our strengths and is very helpful in giving a very positive message that it is OK to be what we are and that we can develop our non-preferred dimensions. The Enneagram looks more at the negative side of our personality. It shows in clear detail our faults and what we need to change.

The two theories differ in the origins of their respective Types. The Jung/Myers theory assumes that preferences are inborn and that all are equally valid. You are encouraged to be true to your type and to develop your nonpreferred dimensions. On the other hand, the Enneagram identifies nine Types thought to originate from the defence strategies that you used as a child to cope with a hostile world. And while these strategies worked at the time, they now create other problems that interfere with your life. They are sort of like the side effects of a very potent drug. The aim of the Enneagram is to make people aware of their acquired limitations and to help them make the changes necessary to live more productive lives. Also, it is important to keep in mind that many of the traits of the various Enneagram Types are very valuable assets in the world of work and other areas of life. (Some Enneagram writers believe that there are genetic facts in one's enneagram type.)

With that as a background, let us look at the book itself. As MBTI® practitioners you will likely find the book much more negative than you are used to when compared to Jung?Myers theory related books. When you understand the different focus of the two theories, you will find it easier to understand where the author is coming from. The book is an update of the authorís previous book: Getting Your Bossís Number (HarperSanFrancisco - 1994). People new to the Enneagram might find Renee Baronís The Enneagram Made Easy (HarperSanFrancisco - 1994) a better place to start.

Mr. Goldberg is an excellent writer and includes examples from a wide range of experiences, mostly from the world of work. It is an interesting read with lots of real life anecdotes. He includes the Type of many famous real and fictional people that help you understand each Type.

The book begins with a quick outline of the Enneagram theory. This is probably too brief for someone new to the Enneagram. Then it has an extensive chapter for each of the nine Types. The final portion of the book suggests ways for each of the number combinations to work more effectively together. However, unlike most Jung/Myers theory books and many Enneagram books, there are no self-diagnostic quizzes to help you identify your Enneagram Type.

Each chapter beings with a table outlining the characteristics of each Type. Then there is a description of someone who is typical of that Type. It describes the origins of the Type in early childhood. For example, the Ones or Perfectionists usually had a very critical parent or significant adult in their early lives. They believed if they tried very hard to obey all the rules, they would win the approval of their parents. Usually, the strategy did not work as the parent kept making more and more demands. However, this critical parent became incorporated into the childís psyche, usually causing a strong sense of guilt. As adults, Ones have an inner voice that drives them to perfection and also to be very critical of others that do not meet their internal standards. As quality control analysts, this is ideal, but their constant harping on what is wrong can make interpersonal relations on the job rather unpleasant. The chapter closes with suggestions on how to work with Ones and also how Ones can improve their working relationships.

As you read the descriptions you will find many examples that seem to fit the Jung/Myers theory preferences. The One example above is much like the Judging preference perhaps in combination with Thinking. Maybe oneís Jung/Myers personality type predisposes a child to become a certain Enneagram type rather than another. Having an understanding of both theories can help you in your counselling role sort out more client problems.

I found the book gave insight into political events by describing how the Enneagram Type of various US presidents and other world leaders manifested in their policies. Knowing that Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic are both Eights or Top Dogs explains much of their behaviour (definitely not Eights at their best!).

I also saw how various therapies were developed because of the Enneagram Type of their originators. The Unconditional Positive Regard of Carl Rogers developed out of his being a Nine or Mediator. Sigmund Freud was a Six or Troubleshooter. He saw that truth was hidden and appearances are suspect. Dr. Laura Schlesinger is a One or Perfectionist who believes all can be solved by following a strict moral code. This may explain why some therapies work better with some people more than others.

This might not be your first book to read to understand the Enneagram, but it is well worth you time once you have mastered a few of the basics.

*Articles in the APT Bulletin on the correlation of the MBTI® and the Enneagram:
Preliminary Report: MBTI®-Enneagram Study, by Tom Flautt and John Richards (Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 1997, pg. 39).
Finding Meaning in MBTI® and Enneagram Type Correlations, by Tom Flautt and John Richards (Vol. 20, No.4, Autumn 1997, pg. 32).
MBTI®-Enneagram Type Correlation Study Results, by Tom Flautt (Vol. 21, No. 8, Year-End 1998, pg. 37).

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