Enneagram type descriptions, childhood environments, problem areas and sentences which characterize each type – an essay by Subhuti.
On this page for each number you will find the type descriptions; the childhood environments which have helped create the types; the most significant problem areas, where freedom is restricted and, finally, those sentences which reflect the way of thinking of that particular type.
1. The Perfectionist
Ones focus on doing the right thing and are fearful of being criticized by others. They take on the hopeless task of trying to create perfection in an imperfect world.
Child tries to do everything “the right way” in order to avoid criticism.
Ones have difficulty being natural and having fun spontaneously, without guilt.
It’s the right thing to do.
Let’s make sure first.
I don’t think that’s allowed here.
2. The Giver
Twos know they are special, because they understand you better than you understand yourself. They give to a few chosen people, but need to be appreciated for it.
Child learns that she first needs to give in order to receive love and attention.
Twos lose themselves in others, then wonder what happened to their freedom.
You need me.
I understand you.
I can help you.
3. The Performer
Threes like to be useful and want people to notice how efficient they are. They are ambitious, achieve their goals, but are cut off from their feelings.
Child learns that achievement and usefulness are appreciated, whereas feelings are not.
Threes are workaholics. They have difficulty relaxing and feeling good for no reason.
Let’s get on with the job.
It’s a great feeling to do things well and quickly.
I can do it better than anyone.
4. The Tragic Romantic
Fours admire individuality and authenticity. They believe that having fun is superficial, and that the deeper meaning of life is to be found in sadness and suffering.
Child feels deep sense of loss: absent parent, separation of parents, divorce, etc.
Fours tend to be addicted to melancholy and secretly envy people who are happy.
I hate people who aren’t authentic.
One day, I will find true love.
You have no idea what suffering is like.
5. The Observer
Fives like the feeling of being self-sufficient. They easily feel that being with a crowd of people is “too much” and withdraw in order to recharge their batteries.
Child learns to withdraw in order not to be overwhelmed by parents and family.
Fives are miserly with their energy. They could give themselves much more of everything.
I can be social, but sometimes it gets too much.
I never like to say goodbye – what’s the point?
It’s so nice to be by myself.
6. The Devil’s Advocate
Sixes go through life expecting trouble and questioning people’s motives. They have a hard time trusting others but are very loyal when partners admit mistakes.
Child has explosive, unpredictable parent and is continuously expecting trouble.
Sixes are unnecessarily cautious and suspicious and can sabotage relationships for no real reason.
You’re hiding something from me, admit it!
When everything is going well, that’s when the trouble starts.
I always sympathize with the under-dog.
7. The Epicure
Sevens are upbeat people who seek pleasure and avoid pain. They like to keep their options open and easily move from one thing to the next.
Child denies problems and starts to create positive experiences for himself.
Sevens lack depth. They don’t stay long enough in one place to find richness within themselves.
Let’s all have fun together.
Hi, what’s new and different today?
Fair shares for everyone, but me first!
8. The Boss
Eights like to be in charge and feel in control. They have strong opinions. They like to protect the weak, but have a hard time showing their own vulnerability.
Child learns that to be weak is dangerous and decides to be strong and tough.
Eights can’t easily open up to love, because they are scared of being weak and vulnerable.
I am the authority.
I do what I want.
I make the rules in my life.
9. The Mediator
Nines lack a definite sense of self. They are good mediators, love harmony and hate conflict. They can’t easily express what they want for themselves.
Child is overlooked and does not develop strong opinions, nor a clear sense of self.
Nines find themselves doing things they don’t like, because they are afraid to say ‘no’.
There’s no need to fight about it.
Easy is right.
I agree with you.
Editor’s note: The nine types have been given many names. Here, we use the names adopted by Helen Palmer, who has authored several books about the Enneagram.
Subhuti is a regular contributor
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