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Enneagram Theory: Soul Child; Maybe Not; Disowned Childlike Self; Perhaps



In response to a guest blog written by Peter O’Hanrahan several months ago (Enneagram Typing: a guest blog by Peter O’Hanrahan), we received a comment that delighted me. I love the dialogue created, the blog-poster was very Enneagram-savvy, and I really like thinking about different perspectives on the same Enneagram topics. The writer refers to Sandra Maitri’s The Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram, one of my favorite Enneagram books, and I highly recommend it if you like her spiraling way of writing, which I do, but some have a hard time processing.

These are the issues raised from the initial blog, as I understand them:

1.    Is there such a thing as a “Soul Child” for each type, the type that we call the Heart Point (for 1s, it’s type 7; for 2s, it’s type 4; for 3s, its type 6 and so forth, going around the diagram in the counter-direction of the arrows)?

2.    If there is such a “Soul Child” at our Heart Point, – an unresolved, lower functioning part of a person’s essence that screams at us in the lower reaches of our psyche – then “integration” at the Heart Point (relationship point) isn’t about integrating the higher aspects of that type; it’s about integrating a deeply embedded, disowned, shadow part of ourselves.

3.    If both of the above are true, how do we do it?

The posted comment was in response to Peter writing this: “While I appreciate Sandra Maitri’s notion that our true “soul child” is found at our heart point, and our personality type is some kind of compensatory structure, I have to disagree. I was born an Eight; I have the soul of an Eight; I come from a long line of Eights tracking back through Irish history to the Vikings.”

The poster wrote this: “I’d like to give credit where it’s due – Heart Point is a term Naranjo used with the original SAT group, but he didn’t say much about it.  Maitri is the only one who has written about it, but the understanding about the soul child originates with Almaas.

The traits of the heart point may or may not have been obvious as a child – it’s not the expression of them that is important but the feeling that it’s not OK to be that.  My father was an Eight and would probably say the same things you [Peter] said about yourself – born an eight, always was tough, etc.  But it’s striking when I look at his childhood pictures.  Up to about 2 years old, he is a cherub, soft looking, curly blond locks, sweet open face.  At about 6-7, he looks like he’s ready to kill someone.   I’ve seen this kind of thing over and over in people’s baby pictures.” 


Last summer in Germany, Claudio referred to the screaming angry Four-child that lurks behind every Two. He stopped there, but my thinking did not, which is probably part of his intention. I remembered Matiri’s “Soul Child” concept, but paid too little attention to it because I didn’t relate at all to “Soul Child.” Upon reflection, the issue was that – for me, at least – soul has a specific meaning that is aligned with dictionary definitions:the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life; the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe.” Then I realized that the “Soul Child” name comes from a little-used definition of soul: someone’s emotional nature or essence.


From my perspective, the word “Soul Child” does a disservice to both the word soul and the concept that Claudio articulates, with no offense to either Maitri or Almaas. I really think the label ”Disowned Childlike Self” or something like it far more reflects the concept involved and helps us figure out what to do with this information. That said, I will try to give a brief-enough explanation of what might lurk behind each of us, depending on our Enneatype, followed by actions we can take. What to do with it will be the next blog!

Enneagram Ones: the Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 7

Beneath every self-controlled, self-contained One is a pleasure-seeking, unrestrained, and uncontrollable Seven who wants to grab everything he or she wants and has few, if any real boundaries. 

Enneagram Twos: the Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 4

Beneath every kind, generous, and other-directed Two is a screaming, angry, self-focused Four who tries every way possible to express his or her needs and desires.

Enneagram Threes: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 6

Beneath every confident, self-assured, and forward moving Three is an anxious, doubtful, and insecure Six who doesn’t believe in him- or herself and doesn’t know what action to take.

Enneagram Fours: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 1

Beneath every unconventional, unrestrained, and original Four is a conventional, self-controlled, and highly judgmental One who wants to control everything around him or her but can’t seem to get it right.

Enneagram Fives: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 8

Beneath every self-contained, unassuming, and non-assertive Five is an unstoppable, highly territorial, and aggressive Eight who takes or possesses whatever he or she wants.

Enneagram Sixes: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 9

Beneath every hyped-up, vigilant, and insightful Six is a relaxed, easy-going, unflappable Nine who is fundamentally “lazy” about paying clear and complete attention to what is occurring.

Enneagram Sevens: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 5

Beneath every charming, engaged and engaging, and freedom-seeking Seven is a reticent, withdrawn, and restrained Five who doesn’t know how to break out of the box of limitations.

Enneagram Eights: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 2

Beneath every big, bold, and powerful Eight is a sweet, needy, and vulnerable Two who cares too much about what others think and lacks an intrinsic sense of self-worth.

Enneagram Nines: Disowned Childlike Self of Enneagram 3

Beneath every humble, unassertive, and collaborative Nine is an ambitious, competitive, and confident Three who wants to both lead rather than follow and get recognition for his or her accomplishments.

All the above is reasoned speculation, but my experience with myself and others says there is definitely merit to this idea. I’m interested in what you think!

Stay tuned for the next blog on how to integrate our Disowned Childlike Self?

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[…] Two who cares too much about what others think and lacks an intrinsic sense of self-worth.Enneagram Theory: Soul Child; Maybe Not; Disowned Childlike Self; Perhaps – The Enneagram in Busines… Reply With Quote […]

3 years ago

I realize this article is 10 years old, but I am interested in the follow up blog post – if there was one. Thank you.