(05-04-2016, 04:05 PM)sarcasm Wrote: Yeah I am interested in how the mind works. Where to even begin?
is a great place to start. Humans are very complex, and most systems that attempt to answer that question fall way short because they are simply too reductionist to be able to really capture the dynamic quality of personality. The Enneagram is the only one I have ever found that is truly right on.
The problem is that because it is so accurate, it necessarily must be complex just like the human mind, and most people are not willing to go deep enough into it to really see the whole picture. I've been studying it for more than 10 years and have analyzed countless people. I can assure you that the Enneagram (as taught by Riso and Hudson, at least) is incredibly accurate in its description of the dynamism of personality. It is a tool that enables you to understand where others are coming from when their behavior is difficult to accept. Even more importantly, it is a tool for personal growth and self-understanding, provided that you type yourself correctly. Many people get caught up in wishful thinking and identify themselves as the wrong type, which in many cases is a way of guarding against looking at the real issues
The Enneagram symbol (my avatar) is a beautiful symbol, and it is essentially a map that shows what happens to the different personalities when they are under stress (disintegrating) or in the process of personal growth (integrating). The most basic way to look at personalities is to differentiate between the 9 basic types (3 that are thinking-based, 3 that are feeling-based, and 3 instinctive-based). Each type has 2 "wings" that are distinct from one another, which yield 18 subtypes. Really, there are countless variations because some people have a very strong wing while others have almost no discernable wing, and others still are somewhere in between. The Enneagram symbol captures the infinite variety of human personality as there are infinite points on a circle, and likewise there are infinite variations on the basic types and subtypes. And if you want to go deeper still, every person has 3 basic instincts (social, sexual, self-preservation), but in each person one of these instincts will dominate the others, and one will be the least developed. Combining the instinctual "variant" with the Enneagram subtype yields a tremendous number of "sub"-subtypes, so to speak. Like I said, it's very complex, and if it weren't, it wouldn't really be useful.
So, for example, I am a type Four with a strong Five-wing, and my dominant instinct is Sexual (which is not nearly as sexy as it sounds, lol!). My least developed instinct is Social, which means it is essentially my last priority. Where things get really complicated is when it comes to level of psychological health. Every type has 9 distinct levels of health (1 being the healthiest or most integrated, 9 being the least healthy or most disintegrated), and a given person's level of health is very fluid and can fluctuate up and down from day to day and even moment to moment depending on the circumstances. Two people of the same type but on opposite ends of the health spectrum will appear dramatically different to the outside observer, and most people probably would never guess that they were even the same type! Also, the less healthy the person, the easier they are to type. That's because as people become less healthy, their behavior becomes less free, more restricted and stereotypical. In contrast, when a person is integrating their behavior becomes more free, grounded, present, and emotionally available. In my experience, most people tend to believe that they are very healthy, but in reality, almost nobody is. Most people are average, which makes sense, right? It is the people who cling to their desire to see themselves as healthy who gain the least from the Enneagram. It is only through compassionate, objective observation of ourselves that personal growth is possible.
As if that weren't complex enough, when a person is under stress they tend to move in their type's "Direction of Disintegration", and when making personal growth they will move the other way, in the "Direction of Integration", symbolized by the straight lines connecting the types to each other within the circle. This doesn't mean that they "become" that other type; they are still their same basic type, but begin to incorporate aspects of the type in that direction. So, for example, when I'm under stress I begin to behave more like an average-to-unhealthy type Two, and when I'm becoming healthier I will incorporate the healthier aspects of type One. I find that when I'm having trouble determining a person's basic type, it's most helpful to consider how they act under stress.
I realize this is a very long answer to your question. Probably more detail than most people are interested in. But I'll assume that many of those reading this thread have an interest in psychology, and may find the additional detail valuable. At any rate, it's nearly impossible to simplify the Enneagram any more than this - no more possible than it would be to simplify the human mind itself.