Working with the enneagram begins with finding one's type and understanding its basic characteristics.
Although we can find our own behavioural qualities in all nine types, our most defining characteristics have their roots in one of these types.
For the moment, please read the names and brief descriptions of each type. Please also bear in mind that the characteristics given here are just a few main points and do not represent the full range of each personality type.
Type One: The ReformerRational methodical reformer
The principled, idealist, type Ones are ethical and conscientious, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers and advocates, constantly trying to improve things, but are afraid of making mistakes. Well organized, systematic and demanding, they try to maintain high standards, but may become critical and overly demanding. They usually have trouble with suppressed anger and impatience. At their best, healthy type One's are wise, perceptive, realistic, high-minded and morally heroic.
Type Two: The HelperAttentive generous possessive - manipulative
Caring and interpersonal, type Twos are empathetic, sincere and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous and self-sacrificing, but can also become sentimental, sycophantic and ingratiating. They tend to be close to others, but sometimes do things to make themselves necessary. They usually have trouble caring for themselves and recognizing their own needs. At their best, healthy type Twos are unselfish and altruistic, with unconditional love for themselves and others.
Type Three: The AchieverAdaptive ambitious aggressive
The adaptable, success-oriented type, type Threes are confident, charming and endearing. Ambitious, capable and energetic, they can also be overly interested in their social prestige and personal progress. Type Threes are usually concerned about their image and what others think of them. They are often workaholics and have competitiveness problems. At their best, healthy type Threes are self-accepting, sincere and inspire others as role models.
Type Four: The IndividualistArtist intuitive individualist - depressive
Romantic and introspective, type Fours are self-aware, sensitive, reticent and quiet. They reveal themselves, are emotionally honest and personal, but can also become moody and timid. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They are often prone to self-indulgence and self-pity. At their best, healthy type Fours are inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and leverage their experience.
Type Five: The InvestigatorInsightful provocative - eccentric
Lively and intellectual, type Fives are alert, perceptive and inquisitive. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent and innovative, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity and nihilism. At their best, healthy type Fives are visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.
Type Six: The LoyalistLoyal responsible defensive - anxious
Committed and security-oriented, type Sixes are reliable, responsible and hard-working, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious - running on stress while complaining about it. They are often cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their best, healthy type Sixes are internally stable and confident, building on their strengths and courageously defending the weak and powerless.
Type Seven: The EnthusiastMultitalented capable excessive - maniacal
Versatile and productive, type Sevens are resourceful, optimistic and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also lose self-control, becoming scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with flippancy and impulsiveness. At their best, type Sevens focus their talents on worthwhile goals; they are joyful, socially graceful, and appreciative.
Type Eight: The ChallengerA leader decisive dominating self-confident
Strong and dominating, type Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful and decisive, they can also be arrogant and tyrannical. Type Eights feel they must control their environment, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Type Eights typically have difficulty allowing themselves to be close to others. At their best, healthy type Eights are masters of themselves - using their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic and magnanimous, sometimes becoming important historical figures.
Type Nine: The PeacemakerReceptive optimistic complacent - liberated
Easygoing and self-effacing, type Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are kind, courteous, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict and thereby tend to be complacent and minimize anything upsetting. They typically have problems with passivity and stubbornness. At their best, healthy type Nines are indomitable and all embracing, they are able to bring people together and resolve conflicts.