Enneagram is half right | INFJ Forum

Enneagram is half right

Discussion in 'Enneagram' started by VH, Jan 2, 2012.

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  1. VH

    VH Variable Hybrid

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    Enneagram has several issues with it that people should be aware of.

    1. It's even less scientific than MBTI/Cognitive functions. Enneagram was based on the observations of a few 'gurus', then has been expanded upon by enthusiasts of the system. It's effectively a system based on "common sense perception", which is an approach that is in no way scientific as the Foerer effect can create some very serious assumptions in perception by assuming that because something should be or work a certain way that it does.

    2. The system assumes that it is all inclusive. Enneagram assumes there are only 9 personality types, most likely because the people who created it established the system as such, then named it Enneagram (which is Latin for 9 sided object), thus locking it out of the possibility of other types. The reason this is significant is that there are no balances in this system. There are no scales and no contrast. Therefore, there may or may not be more personality types within it, more basic motivation sets.

    3. Because this system is based on assumption, there are a lot of interpretations of what exactly makes up any given type. Generally speaking, there is a fair amount of overlap, but the types are not especially clear. This is one of the reasons that the system has been successful. It can be molded to fit.

    4. Strangely enough, if you overlay all 8 of the cognitive functions and leave 1 as a catch all for any J type (as this system strongly seems like a P type's creation), it's not difficult to make the Enneagram types match the various cognitive function dominance model, especially when you start to consider how so many people also identify with other Enneagram type descriptions that would correlate to their secondary, tertiary, and inferior functions... or even their shadow functions if they're strong enough.

    1 = catch all for Js
    2 = Fe doms (easily confused for anyone with strong secondary Fe)
    3 = Se doms (easily confused for extroverted Si users or those with strong Se, especially T types)
    4 = Fi doms (easily confused for anyone who has felt like an outcast during development - which causes a lot of INFJs to assume they are 4s because they are unique, but the true Fi dom wants to be unique)
    5 = Ti doms (easily confused for introverted Te users or those with strong Ti)
    6 = Si doms (easily confused for anyone that worries or thinks too much)
    7 = Ne doms (easily confused for Se doms or anyone who is generally happy and likes to enjoy life)
    8 = Te doms (easily confused for extroverted Ti users or those with strong Te, especially if Fi is selfishly developed)
    9 = Ni doms (easily confused for anyone that has a kind or peaceful spirit)

    So why even bother with this system if it's essentially an unrefined and short sighted stab at Jungian Cognitive Function theory?

    Well, it does have one thing going for it, and that's the assumption of cause and effect in development of our core motivations. If you learn all of the cause and effect for each of the Enneagram types, it can help you overcome the deeper issues you have that are associated with them (regardless of type), as well as help others. And that could be a real blessing. For example, if someone has a very serious problem with being over assertive like an 8, they were likely abused in their childhood and learned that no one would protect them but themselves. If their over assertion is more like a 3, they were likely pushed too hard as a kid, held to high expectations or made to feel as if they only mattered when they succeed and excel. If they have issues with being a push over like a 9, they likely developed in a domineering environment. If they are reluctant and fearful like a 6, they were likely harmed by unexpected events beyond their control as a kid and learned that protection comes from others. Etc.

    But, keep in mind, this was stumbled upon as explanation and justification for a system that wasn't actually valid to begin with. Therefore, anyone could have any, all, or none of these mechanisms in their personality in any measure... much like how everyone has their own unique degree of development in each of the cognitive functions.

    The cognitive function dominance associated with each of these types is what will likely develop from childhood perceptions. For example, Te doms are prone to delegating and domineering, but their weak Fi is also prone to being hurt and feeling like no one will do for them what they need done, and therefore develop the traits associated with 8 (even without the abuse history - though most Te doms recount their childhoods as abusive, most likely because they were such pushy demanding kids and oversensitive to authority figures opposing them which eventually led to confrontations and conflicts). Even if they develop other traits (3 is common), every Te dom as a lot of the 8 description to them. Meanwhile, other types (non-Te doms) could have been forged into developing a lot of the 8-ish traits with enough abuse, though these "8's" tend not to have the classic Te dom traits associated with 8, thus proving that the motivations we develop are entirely based on our perceptions - whether real, imagined, or blown out of proportion. This is why there is such a strong correlation between MBTI and the Enneagram types.

    In other words, Enneagram is essentially a blind stab at understanding cognitive functions that has stumbled onto something a little deeper, but is in no way structured as Enneagram assumes.
     
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    #1 VH, Jan 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  2. OP
    VH

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    As myself as an example of what I'm talking about...

    I've always said that when I'm at my best, I am most like 9, 2, and 1. This is typical development of motivations for Ni, Fe, and J. Most of the INFJs on this forum and in real life that I know are very similar. ENFJs tend to be as well, but it's more like 2, 1, and 9 - which is Fe, J, and Ni and lines up perfectly with the way Enneagram is based on cognitive functions.

    When I am less healthy emotionally, I am like 6, 4, and even 8. These are based on my life experiences. The 4 part comes from always feeling like an outsider, like I never really belonged or fit in (INFJ), exacerbated by the fact that my family moved to a new state or country at least once a year. So, not only was I always an outsider due to my INFJ nature, I never really got any good footing of community bonds but always felt a need for them. This contributed to some of the traits I have associated with 6. I also had a very abusive and controlling parent which cemented the rest of the 6 traits as well as my 8 traits. In any case, these are always parts of myself that are an addition and reaction to circumstances. Left to my own devices, I'm pretty much a 9, 2, 1.

    However, I also have some traits associated with 3 (Se) and 5 (Ti) as these are fairly well developed in me. I even exhibit 7 traits when I'm in ENFP shadow mode.

    Think about it, and you'll likely see a similar pattern in yourself. Enneagram is based strongly on assumptions about cognitive functions, and mildly on our actual life experiences. The correlation of the degree to which you can identify with any given Enneagram type is likely in proportion to the development of the cognitive function associated with it unless an outside force affect it.
     
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  3. Nixie

    Nixie Resurrected

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    I haven't studed the Enneagram in great detail but my understanding is that it is an adaptation of an older system from Eastern thought. I find a problem in your logic to assume that the two systems are inter-related. The Enneagram seems much more one dimensional in what it is addressing in personality theory and more designed to show how one can achieve personal growth given a persistant pattern of behavior/thought in one's life. The idea of identifying with one Enneagram type is to focus one's energy on the predominant pattern which doesn't preclude that you will share traits with another one.
     
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  4. OP
    VH

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    It's not. It pretends to be. Enneagram was developed by Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo (both born in the 1930s), who made such claims to make it seem older, deeper, and more spiritual than it actually was.

    Cognitive function theory is older than Enneagram.

    I'm not saying they're inter-related. I'm saying they're both trying to describe essentially the same thing from different perspectives. Human perception, motivation, and personality. The cognitive function system does a better job if it, as it's more rooted in a scientific approach and has had more research and counter research surrounding it. Granted, it's not nearly as scientific as it could or should be to warrant being scientifically valid, but it has a strong advantage on the Enneagram system in this regard.

    Correct.

    Again, I'm not saying that Enneagram is entirely wrong. What I'm saying is that Enneagram and Cognitive function theory are both attempting to describe essentially the same thing, each with their own approaches, strengths, and weaknesses. In my opinion, cognitive function theory is the stronger of the two, and Enneagram appears to be supplementary.

    Of course, the Enneagram approach is more big picture (Te), and the cognitive function model is more micro scale analysis (Ti). This could be a factor in how both are accepted and perceived.
     
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  5. Nixie

    Nixie Resurrected

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    Well we seem to agree halfway. LOL
    I still think you are trying to inter-relate them though. The Ennegram speaks to a pattern of behavior. Granted one could argue that behavior is motivated by cognitive function in many ways. Ennegram speaks more toward life attitudes than any type of specific way of thinking. I say you are connecting them because you said things like Type I is a catch all for J types--which clearly seems like you are making a correlation.
     
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  6. anterior

    anterior Newbie

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    my opinion of how it lines up (I agree for 4s and 5s and semi-agree for some others)

    'gut' triple, instinctual centre = introverted perception
    'heart' triple, emotional centre = Feelings
    'head' triple, logical centre = Thinking

    not sure if those are how enneagram works though

    s6i2wp.jpg
     
    #6 anterior, Mar 24, 2012
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  7. anterior

    anterior Newbie

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    .

    how do i delete a post?
     
    #7 anterior, Mar 24, 2012
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  8. purplecrayons

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    Well, for me it is easier to peg someone's E type quickly, but I'm not sure how helpful the system is. Being a 4 the basic information that I run into is that we're prone to taking our own lives. The only positive I get from it is that we use our pain to create. Big freakin' whoop! It gives me no hope or positive attributes & makes me feel like shit. It describes me to a T, so I believe it has some merit, but I don't care to read about my type the way they present it. It is counter-productive to my mental health.
     
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  9. Snowman219

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    There are hundreds of types, not just 9 or even 18 for that matter. They go on percentage scales too just like MTBI. And each type is a unique "fingerprint" of that type. No 2 type 4's are the exact same. And the enneagram has no established beginning, it just was. Quoted from "Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso with Russ Hudson, pg. 31:

    One of the main problems with introducing the Enneagram is that its exact origins are lost to history. No one really knows precisely who discovered it or where it came from. Some writers maintain that the Enneagram first surfaced among certain orders of the Sufi, a mystical sect of Islam which began in the tenth and eleventh centuries; others speculate that it may have originated as long ago as 2500 B.C. in Babylon or elsewhere in the Middle East. But these are mere speculations.
     
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  10. allycat219

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  11. NK278

    NK278 Community Member

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    Oops. :p
     
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    #11 NK278, Jan 28, 2014
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  12. Alomoes

    Alomoes Community Member

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    So is the destruction of a theory.
     
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  13. AspiretobeYourself

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    I've tried getting into enneagram many times and it just doesn't make any sense to me because there is no logic or reasoning behind it, i quickly dismiss it.
     
  14. charlatan

    charlatan Permanent Fixture

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    I wouldn't call either the enneagram or cognitive functions scientific in nature, though. I think they are more or less philosophical constructs.
    They are constructed more to define, conceptualize, matters which are meaningful to the human mind, than they are to discover the empirical behavior of natural phenomena -- empirical meaning amenable to direct observation and controlled experimental verification.

    I'd agree that the huge flaw with how enneagram is utilized is that the gurus seem to think it an exhaustive coverage. The way to get away from this is to increasingly view it as an internally consistent philosophical system, a way of assigning coherent meaning to things, than a system of 9 empirical types.

    The most empirical personality theory I know of out there is the Big 5, which operates on the basis of discovering reliable, recurrent clustering patterns. The problem is that all this does is give you trends and raw material -- psychology fundamentally asks both for this kind of scientific raw material and a way of conceptualizing how it relates to the more introspective aspects of consciousness (like how we make meaning).

    Which is why it is useful to pursue the field in the spirit people like Jung did, aka a mix of philosophy and empiricism, not exclusively one or the other. The point is we want not just those relatively scientific factors which seem hardwired into people, but also how those factors influence how they make meaning of things. Philosophy, at least from some points of view, is more about the formation of concepts and clarification of their meaning --- including, as it happens, the concepts utilized by science to attain a sense of "validity". Validity, after all, is just a mental construct, a kind of coherency.

    I'd also view the 9 types as raw material, like the cognitive functions. In other words, they are 9 general orientations of consciousness, but which far from exclusively define any given individual.

    The problem with how enneagram is conducted is that people try to turn it into an exhaustive trait theory rather than a way of making meaning of existing, well-defined trait theories that pass empirical muster, and I'd say that problem is shared by the cognitive functions theorists, who assert model after model holds, arbitrarily, when there's several big time scholars who give competing theories, and where the reason one is correct and the other isn't tends to be left to hearsay or sloppy reasoning.
     
  15. OP
    VH

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    Yeah, I'd agree with that.

    Enneagram is a system of core level motivations, that by nature cannot be specific. They're simply orientations and adaptations on our survival mechanisms. For all intents, it's just a really deep level explanation for why we think what we think.

    Cognitive functions are nothing more than how our brains tend to interact with themselves. They don't even explain what people think, simply how we think.

    And yet, despite these systems being based on how and why we think, a lot of people try to define both systems by what people think about. It's no wonder these systems fail with that approach.
     
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  16. heartcore

    heartcore Regular Poster

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    In my opinion, enneagram has some other virtues that MBT doesn't have, such as the manifestation of your core motivation can fluctuate through life, which is useful for self improvement than the stagnation of cognitive functions A.K.A. "I was born this way, I can never change", which limits your mindset tremendously. Enneagram is more 'alive' as a system and it's better for assisting human's holistic growth.
     
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