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Enneagram Wings Part 3: What do people think?

We had great interactions and responses to my last two blogs on Enneagram wings (“Do they exist?” and “Wings as metaphor”) that came from a variety of Facebook pages and I wanted to share them here. Not all comments on the blogs are listed here, some are excerpts only, and we included names of those who commented because their names were in the public zone on Facebook.

I’m starting with Michael Dolan because my understanding is that he studied quite intensively with Claudio Naranjo in the years preceding Claudio’s death.

Michael Dolan

I remember hearing Claudio mention several times that the idea of wings was something he once explored in an exercise with early students, where he just invited them to explore the idea of the influences of neighboring types on the main type. He laughed and said that years later the idea of wings took off, but that he never “taught” them per se.

He also mentioned a point of view that others’ interpretation of wings seemed to be trying to articulate the differences between different sorts of people of one type – which his instinctual subtypes really were meant to do.

Mario Sikora also commented on my blog, affirming the importance of raising questions on the topic of wings and also linking to an article he wrote in 2021 that explains his thinking about wings and mirroring Michael Dolan’s comments above about Claudio’s thinking.

Mario Sikora

Great topic, Ginger, and I’d love to see more discussion on the topic. As someone who abandoned the wings years ago, here is my take…

Article: What Did You Do with the Wings? (or, Why Does Getting Rid of the Wings Make the Enneagram More Accurate AND Easier to Use?)

Here you can read how three different people are “playing” with and considering the idea the idea of “wings.”

Rick Moede

As to the idea that each point is the tension between the wings, I’m reminded how green is the tension between blue and yellow, yet bluish green and yellowish green exist. That is, balance should not be assumed, and the theory does nothing to suggest dominant wings don’t exist.


I think both ideas have merit that they do exist and not exist. I can definitely see a w7 lean here but can also see like what does 7 really have to do with me? Not much. So I can see both perspectives.

Samantha Taroni

I found good things in both of the two ideas in the OP [blogs]. I’m a six. If five is the shadow of my past and /seven the shadow of my future, then a useful gleaning for me today is that it shows me I need to learn self-containment and honour knowledge, in order to embody truth and witness it fearlessly and adventurously in the world. I like that orientation very much!

If I take the second theory on board that, point Six may indeed not exist, other than in my capacity to hold those energies each side, it actually offers me a spaciousness, that is a beautiful antidote to my alternate capacity for anxious overthinking attempts at fixated problem-solving. The holding of this dynamic tension takes courage and faith though – sixes will tell you how intense life feels to us-, so maybe the virtue still needs come in again sideways??!!

And here are three slightly more conceptual approaches.

Diane Cooley

I don’t think any of these things — wings, types, centers, etc. — really exist but rather are attempts to describe readily observable patterns in human beings through an overarching and brilliant system called the Enneagram. I’ve found something useful in nearly every point of view (lens) including the two views, past-future and resolution, written about in this post. Since these are all intelligent attempts to describe and guide, I don’t think it’s necessary to settle on any view as being the correct or “real” one.

Cicci Lyckow Backman

To me, wings will be a matter of grades and individual variation. Most people in my experience have one, which might be anything from quite strongly influential to barely noticeable. Some people experience both, although maybe more as “types I can also find within” (which can be true for any type and for many reasons; we do have splashes of most types, after all), but then they are usually not looking at the deeper motivations and structures, just tendencies and behaviours (which, to my mind, aren’t enough to be called a wing but for obvious reasons often is, if the type is adjacent). And some people find themselves starting to explore or lean on a not-so-exercised wing the other half of life (although again, I doubt that this is usually about the deeper structures, so it might be a bit of a misnomer).

Rich Strife

I see the wings somewhat like the resolution idea she presents here. Similar in that 3 is situated as experiencing a (attentional/identity dynamic) dialectic between 2 and 4 (Affection mediating Support and Emotion), but with the difference that the person who uses type 3 strategies is *the reason for* the dialectic, they personally create the dynamic, they are not being ‘created by’ it. They cannot exist (live, move, breath, grow, change) without it, so they are dependent on creating, and enacting, this duality -if they want to be an ‘active player’ in the world.

And two more comments that add to the historical context.

Pamela Hartman

MHO I believe Ginger is correct. I learned the same from Michael J. Goldberg and from my experience as a 7 it feels like that is how it works. Michael will tell you he heard this directly from one of the early teachers. I think as time has gone by people want to set themselves apart as experts and put their own twists on things.

Note from Ginger: I believe Michael heard this from Oscar Ichazo and added some ideas of his own to Oscar’s thinking, but I could be wrong!

Stuart Sovatsky

I cocreated that first Egram Teachers Cert Course circa 1987 in Palo Alto w David and Helen and helpers . . . . and Claudio intro it to me in 1977 with the Hartmann Test and was my PhD member for a time . . .After Helen’s book came out, I got bored with the stultifying way the system unfolded and retired. Wings? Real? Unreal? Hmm . . The points are explicitly called Illusions of Fixity in the quantum-sense of constant temporal fluctuation for brief moments here, there, wings decomp comp belly heart head shifts existential and aging moment to moment shifts…


Thank you to everyone who engaged in this conversation that was stimulated by the blogs!

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of nine Enneagram books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications. TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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