How does the Enneagram relate to other personality models?
There are certain archetypes of people who are driven by the same things and show similar mannerisms. We see these archetypes in well-written books when we feel like we know a fully-developed character. We relate to them in movies when actors and scripts combine to create a person who feels like a friend from our own lives. We can also tell—to our annoyance—when fictional characters act in ways that are inconsistent with their personalities. Our sense of archetypes is strong; we can sense when a character or a person in our lives is behaving authentically and consistently, or not.
The personality theory of psychology has existed since at least 400 B.C., beginning with the Greek philosopher Hippocrates, and many systems have arisen since to try to organize people into useful, accurate groups. From Freud to Jung, from DISC to MBTI, these systems all try to accomplish the same fundamental task: to categorize people—including ourselves—in order to better understand them, predict their behavior, communicate efficiently, and help them evolve into their best selves. But no matter how these different approaches end up organizing different people, broad trends emerge.
The Enneagram uses nine archetypes to group people by unique fears, desires, and perceptions. Although all personality models can be helpful tools for exploring what makes us “us,” many have found the Enneagram to be the most useful because of its blend of simplicity and detail. The nine types are sufficiently different and fleshed-out to describe the scope of human personality, yet learning and understanding only nine types is not overwhelming to accomplish. And many Enneagram users report that the experience of reading about their type and wing combination (their subtype) for the first time is shocking in how accurate, deep, and personalized it feels. Although it can be easy to convince yourself that any personality test results could sound like you, the Enneagram tends to have the effect of staring you straight in the face with the reality of your own personality, both the good and the bad; you realize that you couldn’t be any other type. The Enneagram also points out blind spots and growth areas for self-improvement and strengthening your relationships with others. You may find that combining the Enneagram with other personality models is useful, too.