Enneagram history and theory

Learn about the ancient and modern history and the abundant theory that makes the Enneagram a unique system.

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Enneagram History

The Enneagram’s ancient roots go back 2000-4000 years or more, and its modern usage is flourishing

The word enneagram comes from the Greek words ennea (“nine”) and gram (“something written or drawn”) and refers to the nine points on the Enneagram symbol. The nine different Enneagram types, identified as numbers One through Nine, reflect distinct habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving, with each type connected to a unique path of development. Each of us has only one place, or number, on the Enneagram; while our Enneagram type remains the same throughout our lifetime, the characteristics of our type may either soften or become more pronounced as we grow and develop. In addition to our core Enneagram type, there are four other types that provide additional qualities to our personalities; these are called wings and arrows.

The Enneagram’s exact ancient history is uncertain, although the system first appeared in both Asia and the Middle East several thousand years ago or longer. Because it evolved as an oral tradition, it is difficult to know its precise origins. Over time, the Enneagram has emerged in various parts of the world, and its modern usage has been heavily influenced by three individuals. Two philosophers began working with the Enneagram on different continents: G.I. Gurdjieff in the 1930s in Europe, and Oscar Ichazo from the 1950s to the present in South America. Claudio Naranjo, an American psychiatrist born in Chile, initially studied the Enneagram with Ichazo and brought it to the United States the 1970s.

The contemporary use of the Enneagram has grown from the work of these three individuals and has been advanced by other teachers, among them Helen Palmer, Don Riso, David Daniels, Russ Hudson, Theodorre Donson, Kathy Hurley, Tom Condon, and Jerry Wagner. Sadly, Don Riso and Theodorre Donson are no longer alive, but their dedication and work continues to touch many lives. Thousands of Enneagram books are now in print all over the world, including some translations of major Enneagram teachers and others written by an emerging group of new Enneagram authors and teachers.

Emotional Intelligence

EQ, comprised of intrapersonal and interpersonal competence, is the greatest predictor of success

Emotional Intelligence is a combination of two factors: intrapersonal intelligence, which is the ability to understand, accept, and manage oneself, and interpersonal intelligence, the capacity to work effectively with a wide variety of other people. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is fast becoming the single greatest predictor of success in every occupation and industry across the globe, outdistancing IQ and on-the job experience. The reason traditional IQ is not an effective predictor of success is twofold: in most occupations, a certain minimal level of IQ is needed, but IQs higher than that bear little relationship to professional success. In addition, there are many individuals who have high IQs but lack the social skills and ability to adapt to their circumstances that are required in every occupation.

On-the-job experience matters, but only to a certain degree. Again, most occupations require a certain level of experience – often determined by number of years in the profession – to be proficient or masterful, but after the minimum is met, there is little relationship between years on the job and professional success. For example, computer programmers may need a minimum of three years of experience while surgeons may need six years, but after that time period, professional effectiveness and success cannot be measured by years on the job. What matters more is what someone has learned from the experience he or she has had. Some individuals have thirty-five years of work experience but do the same thing day after day. Others in the same profession with five years of experience are continuously reflecting and learning from their successes and mistakes. These latter individuals usually have a far higher degree of EQ.

Some believe that EQ cannot be taught, that we either have it or we don’t. However, the Enneagram system can help people develop EQ, illuminating our patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving, helping us to become more aware and responsible for our own reactions, and showing us how the styles different from our own are equally valid. Most important, the Enneagram is a developmental system that gives us specific development activities that work best for our style that allow us to enhance our EQ and to also develop specific skills in areas such as communication, interpersonal relationships, feedback, conflict, teamwork, decision making, strategic thinking, and leadership.

3 Centers of Intelligence

The Head, Heart, and Body Centers and how these relate to your Enneagram type

Head Center Types | Three Enneagram types formed as a response to fear

The Head Center contains Enneagram types Five, Six, and Seven. These three mental types share a tendency to engage first in elaborate analysis as a reaction to their common emotion, fear. Fives respond to fear by withdrawing, retreating into their minds in order to understand. Sixes react by anticipating worst-case scenarios and devising plans to prevent what could go wrong. Counterphobic Sixes may not be aware of feeling fearful because they more often rush headlong into risky situations as a way of assuring themselves that they are not afraid. Sevens take a different route, quickly moving from fear into pleasurable possibilities. Although most Sevens do not appear to be fearful, they are actually running from fear and pain – an avoidance reaction. Enneagram type Six is the core type of the three Head Center types, with types Five and Seven being variations of Enneagram type Six.

Heart Center Types | Three Enneagram types formed as a response to sorrow

Your Enneagram type may be in the Heart Center – types Two, Three, and Four. Individuals with Heart (Emotional) Center types work hard to project a particular image as an unconscious substitution for who they really are – hence, the sadness or sorrow – and they use their emotions to perceive how others are responding to them. Twos try to create an image of being likable, and they look to others for affirmation of their self-worth. Threes work to project an image of success, and they seek the respect and admiration of others for what they accomplish. As the most inwardly focused of the three Heart Center types, Fours try to create an image of being unique or different, and they use their emotional sensitivity to defend against rejection. Enneagram type Three is the core type of the three Heart Center types, with styles Two and Four being variations of Enneagram Type Three.

Body Center Types | Three Enneagram types formed as a response to anger

Your Enneagram type may be in the Body Center, also called the Gut Center or the Instinctual Center – styles Eight, Nine, and One. There is anger in the emotional substructure of these three types. Eights tend to express their anger frequently and directly. Their anger, which begins in the gut and moves rapidly upward and outward, can be stimulated by an injustice done to someone, weakness in others, someone taking ineffective control of a situation, and someone lying. Nines tend to avoid direct anger and conflict, preferring a feeling of rapport and comfort with others. Their anger, which is so deeply buried that it has been called the “anger that went to sleep,” surfaces when they feel either ignored or forced to do something, in which case their anger may turn into passive-aggressive behavior. Ones’ anger is often manifested as frequent irritations followed by flares of resentment. Ones also tend toward self-criticism, which is anger turned inward. Enneagram Type Nine is the core type of the three Body Center types, with types Eight and One being variations of Enneagram type Nine.


The Enneagram types on both sides of your core Enneagram type can also influence your personality

Enneagram SymbolWings are the Enneagram types on each side of your core Enneagram type. These are secondary types of your core personality type, which means that you may also display some of the characteristics of these Enneagram types. Wings do not fundamentally change your Enneagram type; they merely add additional qualities to your core personality. As can be seen on the Enneagram symbol, Nine and Two are wings for Ones, One and Three are wings for Twos, Two and Four are wings for Threes, and so forth.

You may have one wing, two wings, or no wings at all. It is also common to have had one wing be more active when you were younger, and to have had another appear as you matured. People of the same Enneagram type and identical wings may use their wing qualities differently. However, the general wing descriptions for all nine Enneagram types given here may serve as guidelines to help you explore this aspect of the Enneagram and also help you to identify your wing or wings.

Wings for Ones
Nine Wing | Ones with a Nine wing have a greater ability to relax and unwind without having to go on vacation, are less reactive when they disagree with someone, and are more likely to solicit the opinions of others rather than relying primarily on their own judgments or those of others whom they respect.

Two Wing | Ones with a Two wing are more consistently generous and people-focused, in addition to being more gregarious and displaying more consistent warmth to others.

Wings for Twos
One Wing | When Twos have access to their One wing, they balance their focus on people with a dedication to task, are more discerning about situations and people, pay more attention to detail, and have an increased ability to be firm and to say no, with far less worry about how others will react to them when they assert themselves in this way.

Three Wing | Twos with a Three wing are far more comfortable being visible, such as holding a high-profile leadership position. In addition, these Twos feel more comfortable acknowledging their desire to be successful; in fact, they often pursue being respected as much as being liked.

Wings for Threes
Two Wing | Threes with Two wings are far more sensitive to the feelings of others and more generous with their time and resources, and they often focus on helping others in their professional and/or personal lives.

Four Wing | Threes who have a Four wing are far more in contact with their own feelings, are willing to engage in emotional conversations with others, have a deeper personal presence, and may engage in some form of artistic expression or refined level of artistic appreciation.

Wings for Fours
Three Wing | When Fours have a Three wing, they are more action oriented, have higher and more consistent energy levels, exhibit more poise and confidence, and are more comfortable with being highly visible rather than shying away from visibility or feeling ambivalent about it.

Five Wing | Fours with a Five wing are more objective and analytical, which provides a counterpoint to their more subjective emotional way of relating with others. In addition, they have an increased ability to perceive situations from a more considered and less reactive perspective and often demonstrate more self-restraint and self-containment.

Wings for Fives
Four Wing | Fives with a Four wing are more emotionally sensitive and expressive and also have an aesthetic perspective, perhaps engaging in the arts themselves – for example, writing poetry, novels, or screenplays and/or being photographers or artists.

Six Wing | Fives with a Six wing emphasize and engage more readily with teams, tend to place greater value on loyalty, and may have enhanced intuitive insight. Although many other Fives can also be quite insightful, their insights come more from putting facts together and engaging in extensive analysis. When Fives have a Six wing, the insights come more quickly as the product of instantaneous processing.

Wings for Sixes
Five Wing | When Sixes have a Five wing, they are more internally than externally focused and are also more self-contained and restrained, thus tempering their tendency to be reactive. In addition, they have an increased passion for knowledge and use the pursuit of knowledge not only to gather information in order to feel prepared, but also for the pure enjoyment of learning.

Seven Wing | It is sometimes said that Sixes see the glass as half empty and Sevens see it as half full. Thus, when Sixes have a Seven wing, they see the whole glass and therefore tend to be more cheerful, less worried, more optimistic, and higher-energy.

Wings for Sevens
Six Wing | Sevens with a Six wing add the capacity to understand situations as being both half-full and half-empty. Because these Sevens have an increased perceptiveness and an ability to anticipate potential problems, their actions become more deliberate and less based on their instantaneous reactions.

Eight Wing | Sevens with an Eight wing tend to be more direct, assertive, and powerful. They have a more grounded presence and an increased desire to put ideas into action.

Wings for Eights
Seven Wing | Eights with a Seven wing add a lightheartedness to the usually more serious Eight outlook, are more high-spirited and independent, and tend to be far more adventurous, willing to try new things in their personal and professional lives for the sake of experimentation and enjoyment.

Nine Wing | Eights with a Nine wing are interpersonally warmer, more calm, and less reactive, and they solicit and listen to others’ opinions because they are more consensually oriented.

Wings for Nines
Eight Wing | Nines with an Eight wing have a more take-charge orientation, exhibiting a solidity and forcefulness while still maintaining a desire to hear others’ opinions. With a very strong Eight wing, Nines assert their own points of view more readily and make fast and clear decisions, even in the face of strong opposition.

One Wing | When Nines have a One wing, they are more attentive – for example, they pay more attention to details and are more punctual and precise. Although Nines often diffuse their attention, a One wing increases their overall focus, acuity, clarity, and discernment.


Arrow Lines

The two types with arrows that point toward and away from your Enneagram type can also influence your personality

Enneagram SymbolArrow lines refer to the two types on the Enneagram symbol that have arrows pointing away from or toward your core Enneagram type, and you may show some characteristics of one or both of these two additional types. Access to your wings and arrow lines can be beneficial to you, adding complexity, nuance, and flexibility to your personality, but they do not change your fundamental style – that is, your patterns of thinking and feeling and motivational structure remain the same.

Arrow lines are best thought of as providing additional resources to our character structure because it is possible to access the best of both types; however, they are also referred to as stress and security points because under stress, a person may move toward the arrow pointing away from their core type, while when relaxed, the same individual may move in the direction of the arrow that points to their own core type.

Arrow Lines for Ones
Arrow Line to Four | Ones who have a strong connection to type Four pay more attention to their own inner experiences and are therefore more introspective and aware of their own feelings. In addition, a link to Four adds originality and creativity to the ways in which Ones approach work, life, and any aesthetic interests they may have.

Arrow Line from Seven | Ones who have a strong connection to Seven are far more flexible, spontaneous, innovative, and lighthearted, and they have more fun.

Arrow Lines for Twos
Arrow Line to Eight | Twos with a strong link to Eight have a far deeper sense of their own personal power, tend to be bolder and more candid, and are more in touch with their energy and the power of their anger.

Arrow Line from Four | Twos who are strongly connected to Enneagram type Four have increased emotional depth, because they focus on their own emotional reactions as much as on the feelings of others. They also tend to be more creative and original.

Arrow Lines for Threes
Arrow Line to Nine | When Threes have a strong connection to arrow line Nine, they use this to relax, slow down their pace, and engage in activities simply for the pleasure of doing them. Being able to access type Nine also helps Threes to be more mellow and easygoing.

Arrow Line from Six | Although many Threes are smart, accessing their arrow line Six augments their normal intelligence with an enhanced analytical capability and insightfulness. In addition, Threes with a link to style Six tend to be more aware of their own true reactions rather than engaging in work as a way to avoid their feelings.

Arrow Lines for Fours
Arrow Line to Two | Because Fours normally focus on their own internal responses and personal experiences, a strong link to their arrow line Two greatly enhances their attunement to other people. This increased attention to others helps these Fours be more responsive and more consistent in their interactions.

Arrow Line from One | When Fours have a strong connection to their arrow line One, they become more objective and discerning of people and events rather than making assessments based primarily on their emotional reactions. This provides them with greater balance, increased emotional and mental clarity, and enhanced attention to details.

Arrow Lines for Fives
Arrow Line to Seven | Fives with strong access to Seven can be playful and spontaneous, far more comfortable being in highly visible roles (as if they are actors playing a particular part) and more highly engaged during social interactions.

Arrow Line from Eight | Fives with strong access to arrow line Eight display more depth of personal power, are less hesitant and more risk-taking and courageous, and move to action far more quickly.

Arrow Lines for Sixes
Arrow Line to Three | Sixes with access to Three can bypass their uncertainty by focusing on concrete goals and approaching their work with palpable confidence.

Arrow Line from Nine | Sixes use their connection to Nine to relax, something very helpful to the normally tightly wired Six. For example, taking time to walk or enjoy nature fills Sixes with a feeling of safety and calmness. They are more appreciative of different viewpoints and perspectives, a quality that can be invaluable in times of duress when Sixes start projecting and imagining their perspective is the only viable one.

Arrow Lines for Sevens
Arrow Line to One | When Sevens have access to arrow line One, their sense of responsibility and ability to focus increases, as do their precision and attention to detail. Although some Sevens use these qualities on an ongoing basis, many display these most often as work deadlines approach.

Arrow Line from Five | Sevens expend vast amounts of energy, and they eventually become fatigued. Access to Five allows them to take time for themselves without engaging with others (although this may last only a few hours every few months). In addition, some Sevens who have an extremely strong link to Five enjoy quietude on a more regular basis, engage in self-reflection more often, and tend to be more self-contained.

Arrow Lines for Eights
Arrow Line to Five | Eights with a link to Five often use the solitary qualities of Five as a way to recharge themselves after particularly stressful or painful events or after expending their excessive mental, emotional, and physical energy to make big things happen. Eights with an extremely strong connection to Five are often more highly self-reflective than other Eights, and they may engage in intellectual pursuits solely for the pleasure of learning.

Arrow Line from Two | Eights with a strong connection to Two are very warm, generous, and openhearted. They are more gentle than Eights without this link, and they show a deeper level of empathy for others.

Arrow Lines for Nines
Arrow Line to Six | When Nines have a strong link to Six, their level of insight about self, others, and situations increases, and they tend to be more deliberative and verbally expressive.

Arrow Line from Three | Nines with a strong connection to Three have a stronger goal focus and results orientation, qualities that help them shift from the distractions of seeking comforting and comfortable activities to a more forward-moving, action-oriented approach to life and work.

27 Subtypes

There are 3 variations of each Enneagram type, which actually give us 27, not just 9, different character structures

Enneagram subtypes are an additional element that may affect your personality character structure. Subtypes are the way in which the particular emotional pattern for each Enneagram type most frequently manifests in that person’s behavior. There are three different subtypes for each Enneagram type: one subtype manifests the style through a particular behavior related to issues of self-preservation; another subtype focuses primarily on social relations, often behavior in response to social groups; the third subtype for each type is more oriented to one-to-one relationships.

Each of the nine Enneagram personality types comes in three distinct varieties, depending on which of the three subtypes is dominant. The repeating emotional pattern (referred to as the “passion”) of the Enneagram type combines with the dominant subtype to create a fundamental, driving need (mostly unconscious) that fuels the behavior, feelings, and thoughts of the personality, yielding 27 distinct character structures (or three versions of each type) that further elaborate on or present different flavors of the nine Enneagram types. For most people, two of the three instincts may be active, with the third less so or dormant.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Ones | the passion of anger
Although all Ones seek perfection and avoid mistakes and experience anger as chronic dissatisfaction and irritation with the many things in life and work that are not as they should be, there are three distinct ways in which Ones manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Ones focus on getting everything structured and organized correctly and experience anxiety, worry, and irritation when they think this may not occur. Wanting to make sure that everything is under control, they emphasize precision and extreme accuracy as a way to make certain that everything is done right.

Social Subtype Ones perceive themselves as role models who represent the right way of being and behaving. In their view, they set the standard for their particular reference groups. Teaching by example, social subtype Ones also focus their efforts on social institutions, often critiquing them as a way to perfect them.

One-to-One Subtype Ones have a driving need to perfect others, particularly those who matter to them, as well as to perfect society in general. They perceive reforming others as both their right and their responsibility, and they go about this with intensity and passion.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Twos | the passion of pride
All Twos have their sense of self-worth, personal pride, and importance integrally linked with how others respond to them and want to be viewed as appealing individuals who are valued for helping others and for being able to influence things in a positive direction. There are three distinct ways in which Twos manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Twos deny their own needs for protection while at the same time trying to attract others who will provide exactly that for them. Drawing others to them in the same way that children do – that is, by being appealing and appearing to be without guile – self-preservation Twos are also ambivalent about close relationships and less trusting than social subtype or one-on-one subtype Twos.

Social Subtype Twos focus on helping groups more than individuals and are more intellectually oriented and comfortable being in visibly powerful positions than individuals of the other two subtype variations. Social subtype Twos are less concerned with how specific individuals respond to them and more focused on group-level reactions, which is a result of their desire to stand above the crowd in some way.

One-to-One Subtype Twos are primarily oriented to individual relationships and meeting the needs of important people and partners. They try to attract specific individuals as a way of getting their needs met – that is, they feel they have value when chosen by someone important – but they are also highly motivated to meet the needs of these individuals as a way of developing and sustaining the relationship.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Threes | the passion of deceit
All Threes feel they must appear successful in order to gain the admiration and respect of others, and they avoid failure in any form by hiding parts of themselves that do not conform to their image of success, deceiving not only others, but also themselves as they come to believe that the image they create is actually who they are. There are three distinct ways in which Threes manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Threes try to be seen as self-reliant, autonomous, and hardworking, thus portraying an image of being a good or ideal person. The self-preservation Three may even create an image of having no image.

Social Subtype Threes want to be seen as successful and admirable in the context of specific reference groups – that is, the groups in which they want to be seen as successful. They like to be around other successful people, because this proximity reinforces both the Three’s image and status.

One-to-One Subtype Threes want to be viewed as successful by people who are very important to them, partly by appearing attractive to these people in some way but also by helping them to achieve success.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Fours | the passion of envy
All Fours desire a feeling of deep connection both with their own interior worlds and with other people as a way to avoid feeling deficient or not good enough. Because they believe there is something lacking within them – although they cannot define exactly what this is – Fours consciously and unconsciously compare themselves to others (referred to as envy) as a way to determine what is wrong, consequently feeling superior, deficient, or both. There are three distinct ways in which Fours manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Fours try to bear their suffering in silence as a way to prove that they are good enough by virtue of enduring inner anguish. In addition, they engage in nonstop activity and/or reckless behavior as a way to feel excited and energized and to avoid not feeling as good as others. Of all three subtypes, self-preservation Fours do not appear to be as envious or sensitive as the other two subtypes of Four.

Social Subtype Fours focus more on their deficiencies and also on earning the understanding and appreciation of the groups to which they belong. They want understanding and appreciation for their suffering and sorrows, and desire acknowledgment for their heartfelt contributions to groups, while at the same time they often feel marginal to or not fully part of groups.

One-to-One Subtype Fours feel compelled to express their needs and feelings outwardly and can be highly competitive with others to gain attention, to be heard, and to be acknowledged for their perspectives and accomplishments. Winning is perceived as another venue for being understood, and coming out on top is seen as a way to resolve their continuous comparisons with others.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Fives | the passion of avarice
All Fives have an intense need to acquire knowledge and wisdom and a similarly strong desire to avoid intrusion and loss of energy, and they guard and preserve everything that they think they will need – for example, information, physical space, emotional privacy, personal energy, and resources. There are three distinct ways in which Fives manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Fives are primarily concerned with being intruded upon and being overextended physically and energetically. In a sense, they hoard their involvement with others in the same way they hoard their scarce resources.

Social Subtype Fives want to find and develop strong connections with individuals who share their super-ideals, but they become disengaged when forced to live in way that is not aligned with these higher-order beliefs. They focus on the group in search of extraordinary individuals, then hoard these relationships and/or their shared ideas and, in the Five’s view, superior values.

One-to-One Subtype Fives search for a strong, deep connection with one other person whom they can trust and share confidences with, then hoard themselves, the other person, and these special relationships.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Sixes | the passion of fear
All Sixes seek meaning, certainty, and trust, hoping that the best is possible, yet simultaneously fearing that this will not happen, and they doubt that others are trustworthy and/or whether they themselves are capable of meeting the challenges involved. There are three distinct ways in which Six manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Sixes manifest fear as an intense need to feel protected from danger, often seeking the family or a surrogate family to provide this. Self-preservation Sixes also use warmth and friendliness as a way to attract and maintain these types of support groups for the purpose of making themselves feel safe.

Social Subtype Sixes deal with fear by focusing on the rules, regulations, and prescribed ways of behaving within their social environment and organization in an attempt to keep their own behavior in the acceptable range, trying to make sure they do nothing that will cause authority figures to chastise or punish them for going astray.

One-to-One Subtype Sixes are generally the most counterphobic. They express their fear primarily through the denial of their anxieties and vulnerabilities by pushing against the fear, appearing bold, confident, and sometimes fierce. They can also engage in physical or verbal behavior that makes them feel and appear highly courageous.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Sevens | the passion of gluttony
All Sevens have an insatiable thirst for new stimulation of all kinds and distract themselves with interesting people, ideas, and pleasurable experiences, which allows them to avoid their fear of painful emotions and difficult situations. There are three distinct ways in which Sevens manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Sevens try to create close networks of family, friends, and colleagues, not only to keep themselves feeling both stimulated and secure but also to generate new and interesting opportunities to pursue.

Social Subtype Sevens sacrifice some of their need for stimulation in the service of the group or of some ideal that is extremely important to them. At the same time, they are aware of wanting to pursue their desire for excitement, but they choose to postpone it.

One-to-One Subtype Sevens are dreamers, with a need to see the stark reality of the world through rose-colored glasses, and they are the most optimistic of the three subtypes of type Seven. Often, they become fascinated with one other person, become satiated with that person over time, then find someone new who intrigues and stimulates them.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Eights | the passion of lust
As a way to pursue control and justice and to avoid and deny their anxiety and sadness or feelings of vulnerability, Eights engage in a variety of self-satisfying behaviors and do these in an excessive way (for example, taking big and immediate action, working superhuman hours, eating too much food, exercising for three hours a day for a week and then not exercising for two months, and more). There are three distinct ways in which Eights manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Eights focus their excessiveness and energy on getting what they need for survival, and they become highly frustrated, intolerant, and angry when the fulfillment of these needs is thwarted. Of the three Eight subtypes, the self-preservation subtype Eights tend to speak the least and to approach situations – particularly those they deem important to their survival – in a highly strategic way that allows them to get the upper hand.

Social Subtype Eights vigorously protect others from unjust and unfair authorities and systems and challenge social norms. At the same time, they seek power, influence, and pleasure. Wanting loyalty from others and being highly loyal themselves, they derive a feeling of power from challenging others as well as from defending those under their protection, which makes them feel less vulnerable.

One-to-One Subtype Eights are the most intense, rebellious, and emotional of the three Eight subtypes. Provocative and passionate in a way that draws others toward them, these Eights derive their power and influence from being at the center of things, from the strong and energetic connections they develop, and from the fervent way in which they express their positions and values.

Three Subtypes for Enneagram Nines | the passion of laziness
In order to maintain harmony and comfort and to avoid conflict, Nines numb themselves to their own reactions by becoming lethargic or by not paying attention to their own deeper feelings, needs, and impulses, thus disabling them from knowing what they think and want and which action is the right one to take. There are three distinct ways in which Nines manifest these characteristics.

Self-Preservation Subtype Nines use the comfort of routine, rhythmic, and pleasant activities as a way of not paying attention to themselves. Using these repetitive activities to distract themselves from more important issues, many self-preservation Nines also acquire collections, and their desire for these objects increases the more they obtain.

Social Subtype Nines work extremely hard on behalf of a group, organization, or cause that they support or belong to as a way of not focusing on themselves. Social subtype Nines are usually very friendly, and their need to feel a part of things is rooted in their underlying feeling of not fitting in. Thus, Nines sacrifice themselves in the service of others, rarely showing the pain, stress, and overwork they experience as a result.

One-to-One Subtype Nines join or merge with others who are important to them as a way of not paying attention to their own thoughts, feelings, and needs. This fusion with others results in One-to-One subtype Nines becoming disconnected from their own deep desires and confusing their own intentions and fulfillment with those of these important others.

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