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A Fourth Way Enneagram
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The enneagram (sometimes Fourth Way Enneagram or enneagon) is a pseudo-psychological personality profile system. It was created by George Gurdjieff, an Armenian mystic who lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as part of his self-help system called the "Fourth Way." Fourth Way was a form of Christian mysticism. That is, while it formally recognized the Christian god, it also incorporated a bunch of Gurdjieff's original woo. It emphasized a process of "awakening" that basically ripped off Buddhism. Gurdjieff considered the shape of the enneagram to be sacred because it could explain all things in the Universe. Thus, the original use of the enneagram extended far beyond just being a way to categorize personality.

During the 20th century, the enneagram became popular in personality profiling and Gurdjieff's Fourth Way woo surrounding it was dropped. The enneagram as it has been popularized today was developed based on Gurdjieff's original idea by a couple of figures from the Human Potential Movement, Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo.[1] Sometimes it is presented as a straight, "serious, scientific" personality test and at others it comes attached with whatever brand of mysticism the woo-meister is peddling. It often appears on New Age sites or those vaguely spiritual self-help texts. Occasionally, it will be used as an actual personality test by ignorant employers.

According to the enneagram of personality, every personality type has a different basic desire, basic fear, temptation, vice, and virtue. Because of the pseudoscientific nature of the test, different words or attributes will sometimes be used for the more minor categories, but the basic desires and fears are constant in most instances of the test. These nine types are (listed as type name: basic desire, basic fear):

  • Reformer: integrity, evil
  • Helper: unconditional love, unworthiness of love
  • Achiever: value to others, worthlessness
  • Individualist: uniqueness, commonality
  • Investigator: competence, uselessness
  • Loyalist: safety, isolation
  • Enthusiast: experience, boredom
  • Challenger: autonomy, loss of control
  • Peacemaker: stability, annihilation

It's easy to see that the divisions are rather arbitrary, with a large dash of vagueness and overlap between the categories. Like any personality test, the more vague it is, the more susceptible to the Forer effect it is. The enneagram is not generally considered to be of any value by mainstream psychologists.

External links[edit]


  1. Oscar Ichazo was the founder of Arica, and Claudio Naranjo provided much of the material added to the Hoffman Quadrinity Process on top of Bob Hoffman's early Spiritualist version.