What are the nine personality needs in the Enneagram?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,219
    Relationship expert Chris Wright explains the nine personality needs in the Enneagram.

    Chris Wright

    Chris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist.  He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world.  He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada.   Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas.  He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs.     As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace.  He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.

    Host: What are the core needs of the nine personality types in the Enneagram?

    Chris Wright: Alright, now we are going to be looking to see what your core needs are, which Enneagram type are you and which of the wings and lines are for you and your partner. Two, threes and fours are emotional types of people. They all share a sense inside that I am nobody and that is like an ego death, that s, you can t go there. I need to be somebody in this relationship. Twos, they have this gift inside, a feeling worthwhile, a feeling caring about people. They develop a personality that is very nice, very sweet, very loving to people and they care deeply about other people s needs. To the extent that they lose touch with that quality, then there becomes an emptiness inside that I am not worthwhile, that I am nobody and that s really painful for two. So, the pressure of that creates a need, a drive that tends to throw them over the top, where they are overcaring, oversensitive, overhelpful to other people.

    So, if you are married to a two for example, you could say to her, Honey, where would you like to go to dinner tonight? and she would say, Wherever you want to go, because if you are happy, I am happy. So, there s a sense of twos losing touch with themselves, because what fills them, what fills that emptiness is when they are helpful to other people and other people respond, make them feel that I am important, that I am somebody in this relationship. Now, let s shift to the threes. Threes have this gift of excellence, of generating results that are excellent. Their whole thing is about creating results. Their personality is multifaceted, they are effective in everything they do, they are highly motivated, they are ambitious, it s all about getting results. To the extent that they lose touch with that quality, that generative quality of creating results, they feel the sense inside, that I am inadequate and that drives a personality to fill that void by being super-adequate.

    So now, they are really ambitious, now they are always working, they are always focused on their projects, they are always making sure that everything they do is excellent. The presentation is excellent, that it looks good, so that people have a sense that, Oh my gosh, you are somebody, you are impressive because deep inside having less touch with that quality, I feel like I am nobody and if I can only impress you, if I can only achieve so much, then I will be somebody. So, in a marriage with a three, they have a need to be successful, a need to be achieve a lot, a need to look good, a need for a strong presentation, so that people will feel like, Oh, you are somebody. Different for a four, fours have a sense also that I am nobody inside and it s very scary place for them. It comes from their gift of originality. Fours have this creative gift of originality. It s the essence of who they are and their personality to the extent they lose touch with that gift of originality that they then have to overcompensate. They manufacture that in their personality. So, they develop a personality that tends to be very creative, very artistic, but different from everybody else.

    They don t, to blend in with everyone else would feel like death to a four. So, they tend to dress differently, they tend to have tattoos and piercings and they wear clothes that are very creative that people would say, Wow, that s really different. So, for a four that s a badge of authenticity, a badge of honor that I am special, that I am different in my personality. Fives, fives now we are moving into a mental type of person. Fives are the most mental of all. Fives have this gift inside of knowledge. There has been too much of grasp of knowledge, profound knowledge makes immediate sense to a five. They also have a sense of, to the extent that they lose touch with that knowledge. They feel this insecurity about needing to know now and that drives a personality that s driven to understand, to know things.

    They tend to be very surreal, very mental people like scientist and researchers, maybe the nerd, the term nowadays for fives in the computer industry that grades software engineers, like nerds is what we would say or geeks, because they are so fascinated with information and knowledge and that s the focus of their attention. That s what fills the emptiness inside. Fives also have a sense of needing space. They tend to be mental people and too much emotional engulfment, too much contactfulness with people is overwhelming to them, it overwhelms them. So, they tend to have a sense of needing space in their relationship.

    Different for sixes, sixes are also mental types. Sixes have this gift of effectiveness in life, this gift of responsibility to make things happen to the extent that they lose touch with that inside themselves. It creates an emptiness inside, a fear, a lack of trust that things will happen which creates a pressure that drives them over the top and a need to make sure that everything is tied down, that everything is certain, that everything is working out of a fear that if it don t it s going to fall apart. So, they tend to be overly responsible, overly anxious, overly worried, overly need to prepare that to make sure everything all the time is tied down in their life, that everything is certain, everything is secure, you are well being taking care of, overly cautious, overly controlling maybe.

    A seven, completely different, sevens inside, their nature, their gift is bliss, is happiness. They are happy people to the extent that they lose touch with that happiness inside their soul, inside themselves. That gap creates a fear of unhappiness, of boredom, of lack of stimulation, of lack of happiness. So, they tend to manufacture their happiness by going over the top. Everything has to be happy all the time, Oh! Everything is going to work out. Oh! Good morning. Oh! Everything is great. They are the positive thinkers in the world, the optimists, the people who think in the ideals all the time, out of a fear of moving towards that emptiness, of feeling bored, of feeling pain, of feeling suffering. They can t go there. Eights, now we are moving into an aggressive personality, the eights. Eights have this gift of strength. They are warriors, power to the extent that they lose touch with that, that creates a fear of vulnerability and so they come on too strong. They are too powerful, too confrontational, too direct, too in people s face, too much of a sense of needing to show their dominance and you can t dominate an eight. It's a very strong personality. Direct, confrontational, honesty is important to them.

    So, they tell you the truth. So unlike, who could possibly an eight would be someone like Simon Cowell, on American idol, one of the judges. He tells you the truth. Doesn t mince his words, maybe Dr. Phil. Again, straight shooter, maybe Senator John McCain, straight shooter, tells you the truth, solid, a warrior. Arnold Schwarzenegger, powerful, you can t dominate these people. They dominate you. That s an eight. Now, we move into the nines. Nines are the opposite. Nines have this gift of blending with nature in a benevolent way, in a harmonious way, that s their nature. Go with the flow, go with harmony. Everybody likes eights, easiest people to get along with; nicest guys you ever want to meet, to the extent they lose touch with that flow inside that creates an emptiness around it, a fear of the lack of flow. So, that creates the sense of having to overcompensate and they create this kind of numbness, this kind of, not looking for anything that s going to disrupt their flow and keeping it off their plate, so they can stay in harmony.

    As a result, things tend to get loose with the nine. They are so laid back, so easygoing, that maybe they are not as responsible, not as focused on all the details around them, because that would interrupt with their flow. Nines also can t, they just can t handle conflict. When somebody is upset at them or critical of them, that disrupts their flow and so they avoid conflict by all means. Easygoing, likeable, friendly, everybody likes them, but tend to procrastinate, tend to not be focused on responsibilities and details and avoid conflict.

    Nine different types, as you look through these types, look and see which type you might be and what wings and lines, what needs that there might show up in your personality, that might explain, what you need to feel fulfilled and what you need, what would create conflict for you in this relationship.