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Claudio Naranjo’s Subtypes Program: Part 3 – My Personal Experience


When I decided to go to Germany to Claudio’s 27 Enneagram Subtypes program, I had thought about attending from many perspectives, but made the choice because my heart got very excited about the idea. And I had not felt so excited in a long time. From there, my mind kicked in to ask: So what do you want from the experience? I made a list in my mind, and interestingly, some of the items had nothing (or so I thought) to do with the Enneagram. In addition, I gained great insight about several areas (an implicit list) that had been in the back of my mind, but had not made the official mental list.

My Official List

  • To be with Claudio for 7 days
  • To learn more about the subtypes, including confirming what I did know, correcting what I had wrong, and expanding my perspective on this topic
  • To recover some of my Romanian ancestry
  • To learn why my son’s 20 year-old friend and longtime family friend had been recently killed under suspicious circumstances

My Experience: The Official List

To be with Claudio for 7 days

This was easy to satisfy since he was there every day, was extremely present to the many people there, and I had some personal interactions with him that meant a great deal to me. For example, I reintroduced myself to him early on, and he didn’t recognize me at first. The story I told myself was that this was the result of my hair being its natural gray instead of its dyed color from 2004, but the truth was he didn’t recognize me, and this was not only OK, it was good. When I told him my name, he apologized for not having responded to a few emails I had sent, which I told him (and meant) that this was also OK. I really loved the 7 days and relaxed about not really having any connections with anyone in particular, just blending into the crowd more or less.  Later in the week, we had some interactions in the large group – initiated by him – that were amusing and lovely. But a more important interaction occurred at the end of the program, which is described later in this blog.

To learn more about the subtypes, including confirming what I did know, correcting what I had wrong, and expanding my perspective on this topic

This was easy to satisfy. I had a lot of accurate information and understanding, some inaccuracy, and a whole lot new.

To recover some of my Romanian ancestry

My mother’s side was Romanian, but I knew nothing about Romania. From the pre-participant email, there were two Romanians listed. How would I find them from 180 people? They – Daniela and Radu – found me because Daniela saw my name on the list, checked out my website, and found me the first day. The three of us spent a great deal of precious time together talking about everything. In terms of my roots, they were able to tell me with some certainty that my ancestors were from Transylvania and had likely moved there from Germany. They even gave me a book in English with pictures of the various sub-entities that make up all of Romania. Daniela is a self-preservation subtype Four and Radu is a social subtype Three, both somewhat new to the Enneagram and very intricate, sensitive people. I was able to help them some with the nuances of the Enneagram; they were able to provide me with a wealth of knowledge and sense of the Romanian culture and history.

To learn why my son’s 20 year-old friend and longtime family friend (Jamie) had been recently killed under suspicious circumstances

So I am sitting on the lawn during the lunch hour and Carmen appears, sits, and we talk. An astrologer and acupuncturist from Berlin, she is also a psychic. I tell her Jamie’s story and his birth date (an Aries), she explains that there are really only 6 signs, that the zodiac is a medallion with 6 signs on one side and their opposites on the other side – in this case, Aries and Libra.  Pluto was transiting Aries/Libra during this period, creating great amounts of turmoil and upheaval externally. Any Aries or Libras who had large, unresolved inner turmoil were at risk during this period, and depending on other factors, POW! Carmen later mentioned that she chose to come to me some time in the morning, knowing the time would present itself. I am an Aries as is my son, so this really pierced my sense of being.

My Experience: The Unofficial List

Equally important were some answers to questions I had wondered about for a long time. The first was why, given the types and degrees of abuse I experienced during childhood, had I not become disturbed or even a multiple personality. Having seen a few documentaries on individuals who are multiples, I would always say, “Oh, that happened to me, too.”  The second question was why my deceased brother Stevie, also a social Two, seemed so arrogant in an engaging way  (the passion of Pride), but my version of Pride was far more muted, harder to see in many ways.

Given my family background, how did I escape becoming a multiple personality?

To make a long story short, the social subtype Twos were discussing our family backgrounds. Literally, one side of the table had social Twos who were treated liked special people for their entire lives (my brother!) with complete love from both parents and expectations they were able to meet. On the other side were social Twos who were born as special children, but then very painful things happened to them. I was last to talk, told my story, then said it was a wonder I had not become a multiple personality. The woman next to me, who had just joined the group after trying to find herself in several others said, “I have found my home.”

The next day she came up to me, told me she had a very similar background to mine, had been a multiple personality until 20 years earlier and had subsequently put herself back together, now serving as a therapist for individuals with the same diagnosis. By this time, another women had joined us (the first was German, the second Swiss) and I asked, “Why did you become a multiple and not me?” Their answer was clear: resilience. This is a psychological term for individuals who, in spite of severe hardship, come back from such things even stronger. It apparently comes from one of several factors; (1) having one person who believes in you and with whom you bond (I had a maid, Alice, who did this); (2) a religious belief that holds you together (not me at the time); and/or (3) something that anchors you, a symbol or object. There was a ring my mother had but never wore that was very beautiful and I used to put it on and pretend (thought it felt real at the time) that I was a real princess on a magic carpet in a beautiful land where everything was good.

So my question was answered. These women just appeared! Or did they?

How can two social subtype Twos from the same family appear to be so different?

As mentioned above, in a family where each of his siblings suffered, he did not. In fact, some of our suffering was because we were somehow “not as good” as he was, just by virtue of not being him. He would even refer to himself as “Stevie the Great.”

The other difference was secondary subtype. Although he was a social Two, his secondary subtype was self-preservation. These Twos act more like children, privileged and exacting the care of others; they are willing to sacrifice the rights of adulthood for the privileges of childhood. So he had this entitlement combined with a sense of bigness. I am a social Two with the sexual subtype as my secondary. I focus more on balancing doing or being something big with a desire to give – and be important – to my partners, friends, and specific family members.

My Final Experience with Claudio

The final activity of the week was a Gestalt Awareness continuum exercise in trios. As a trained Gestalt therapist, I love this activity and do it all the time. But this time, I was totally bored. It took me 4 minutes to “get” that this was the case, and after I said “Now, I feel totally bored,” I felt very alive. I realized I had been hiding the truth from myself. I didn’t want to know it. Not OK to be bored when I am supposed to be liking something or someone.

Claudio had said multiple times that progress occurs when you are in touch with your truest instincts and desires. I had a desire to give Claudio a hug, so I went up to him and said so. We hugged; I felt close to nothing. Instead of ignoring my reaction or wondering why it was not satisfying – was it me, him, blah, blah, blah – I thought, “Maybe it wasn’t a hug I really wanted!” Then it came to me. What I really wanted was to tell him how much he meant to me.  After the program ended, he was by himself, I walked toward him and said, “I realized it wasn’t a hug I wanted; it was to tell you how much you mean to me.” Wow, I felt full of feeling and totally satisfied. Claudio, being Claudio, said, “Ah, that is so much nicer.” And then he gave me a hug.

The 3rd of three blogs on the 27 Enneagram Subtypes with Claudio Naranjo

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