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  1. #1
    Senior Member IndyGhost's Avatar
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    Default Enneagram questions

    MBTI, I get.

    Enneagram, not so much.

    First of all, who and when and why were the enneagram theorized and created?

    Second, much of the description of the enneatype 4 describes feelings of abandonment in childhood and ultimately growing up searching for the self. Does this mean that, it takes time to fully develop an enneatype? A child couldn't possibly test what their enneagram is, correct? So, the focus is more on nurture versus nature? (Not to say, our ultimate nature doesn't play a role...) This means a lot could happen between the time we are born and the time we hit elementary age to the time we become teenagers and then ultimately adults? Depending upon our experiences, our enneagram could have been completely different? How long would it take for our enneagram to fully become established, then?



    I ask, because I feel as though 4w5 can't possibly fit who I was at age 5 nor age 15. But at 25, yes.
    My experiences of growing up were of feeling like an outcast (that abandonment feeling). However, I can't say I was very introspective (as in having high intrapersonal intelligence) even in my teenage years, though I was very much a loner and spent a great deal of time day dreaming, being emotional (but not trying to understand them so much), and pursuing art and drawing. It was after becoming more destructive in my late teens and early early twenties, that ultimately led me to a breakdown where I finally tried to really figure myself out. It makes me wonder if I were perhaps a 9 prior? Or, if I was a 4w5 in progress?



    There's also this:
    4Share

    I've recently come across a really interesting article that promotes a different hypothesis of how Enneagram types form during childhood and I thought I should present it briefly on the blog.

    It's commonly accepted that the Enneagram type has both a genetic component and an environmental component and it's their interaction that decides the final typology. This theory states that there are three major innate orientations of the personality and that we are all born with one of them prevalent over the other two. Furthermore, it suggests that each of the nine Enneagram types is a consequence of the way in which the child's preferred inborn orientation (the hereditary component) interacts with the one that their parent - or main caretaker - has towards them in the forming years (the environmental component).

    Three Basic Orientations

    The three orientations are an expression of the Law of Three, on which the entire Enneagram concept is based. This law states that there are three kinds of forces that act in the human nature - the Active force, the Responsive force and the Neutral force and that each person is born with a natural preference for one of them.

    These three forces are similar to the Hornevian Groups (Assertive, Compliant and Withdrawn respectively), but they are used here in a different context, to describe inborn traits and parental styles rather than established personality.

    Here are the associated traits for each basic orientation:

    Active: demanding, assertive, bossy, outspoken, intimidating, egocentric, expressive, willful.

    Responsive: supportive, responsive, engaging, affectionate, friendly, sympathetic, cooperative.

    Neutral: avoidant, withdrawn, indifferent, apathetic, absent, reserved, ignoring, neglectful.

    Apparently, each child comes into the world with one of these predefined attitudes toward their environment and each parent will address their children with a certain parenting style, which can be, but isn't necessarily determined by their Enneagram type.

    Any Enneagram type can use any of the three orientations to attend to their children. For example - an Enneatype 5 can be a Responsive parent, an Enneatype 8 might use a Neutral approach with their offspring, while an Enneatype 1 may lean towards an Active style. What determines the environmental component of a child's future type is not necessarily the main caretaker's type, but rather their particular approach to relating to the child.


    Nine Interaction Scenarios: Child vs. Parent

    Here are the 9 childhood scenarios that correspond to each of the 9 Enneagram types.

    Active child vs. Active parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 8.

    The child and parent experience open conflicts on a regular basis. They both have different agendas and oppose each other, thus giving rise to power struggles and explosive arguments. The Active parent is impatient and intolerant of the child's rebellious nature and tries to impose his will in an authoritarian fashion. The Active child, on the other hand, becomes aggressive, argumentative and persistent in getting his own way. The relationship becomes a sort of battlefield, which is how the child will later perceive the world around him (type 8).

    Such a childhood scenario encourages the child to develop a keen eye for spotting other people's weaknesses and a thirst for imposing their will in an overly aggressive fashion. They learn to be assertive, strong and deny their fears and feelings of intimidation. These are the traits they needed to have in order to stand up to their domineering parents and still keep their own Active inborn approach.

    Active child vs. Responsive parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 7

    The demands and concerns of the Active child are usually received with benevolence and a supportive, encouraging attitude. This creates a tolerant environment in which the child can express himself openly and receive attention without much effort from his part. The Active child becomes self-confident, carefree and expects his interactions to be positive and favorable to his needs. The Responsive parent is sympathetic and loving, thus stimulating the child's playful, self-expressive side and giving him a good deal of personal freedom.

    This childhood scenario promotes a cheerful, optimistic type who knows how to charm and manipulate others into easily getting his way. Entertaining and expressive, such a child may later expect instant gratification for all his needs and desires and avoid investing time and effort into long-term goals.

    Active child vs. Neutral parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 4

    In this relationship, the child usually tries to grab the attention of an indifferent or absent parent, by expressing himself with increasing intensity, until a response is achieved. The Active child may act in a dramatic, exaggerated manner, attempting to get his message across to the unconcerned caretaker. The Neutral caretaker will typically ignore the child's emotional needs, making the youngster feel frustrated, misunderstood and possibly abandoned. Sometimes the child turns these negative feelings inwardly, believing that they are unlovable and not special enough to deserve attention.

    This scenario teaches the Active children that they are different than other children that seem to be getting the support they lack. They want to make themselves heard so they amplify their feelings, resorting to dramatic expressions of their emotions. These children may later become overly sensitive, artistic and theatrical, but also melancholic, self-loathing and depressive.

    Responsive child vs. Active parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 1

    This interaction is generally centered around the parent's agenda, to which the child will subscribe in order to receive the desired approval. The Active parent will be demanding, dominating and will criticize any perceived "bad" behavior. The Responsive child, on the other hand, is unusually sensitive to criticism so he will try to adjust and adhere to the parent's values and perspectives, by being obedient, well-behaved and an altogether "good kid". This attitude will help him build the desired rapport with the fastidious main caretaker.

    With time, the child will learn to put aside his real needs and wishes in order to do the right thing, to be correct and morally ethical. These types will prefer to have a clear set of standards and rules to adhere to and will only feel worthy and lovable when they live a righteous life, in accordance with their upstanding principles. Their parents taught them that acceptance comes only through obedience and discipline.

    Responsive child vs. Responsive parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 6

    This child will usually establish a very close relationship with his caretaker and will tend to become dependent on the nurturing, affectionate figure that offers him support and understanding. A strong desire for harmonious relationships is created and the Responsive child will reject and feel threatened by conflicts and lack of stability. Such types will seek playmates and groups that share their values and interests and will take an 'us against the world' stance, typically towards unfamiliar people and circumstances.

    These Responsive children will prefer to play by the rules in order to keep themselves safe from any disharmony that will endanger their comforting, supportive relationships. They will be playful, endearing and loyal to their chosen groups and intimates, while at the same time remaining alert and vigilant to avoid any conflicts and hidden threats. Suspicion of other people's motives can arise as a protection from abandonment and rejection - they are in fact very afraid of losing their safe, nurturing grounds.

    Responsive child vs. Neutral parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 2

    In this case, the Responsive child will act in a pleasing, appealing matter but will most likely encounter an indifferent attitude on the part of the Neutral parent. Confronted with this apathy and lack of interest, the child can only resort to becoming even more pleasing and irresistible to the parent, until he manages to break through the shell of indifference and obtain the desired rapport. Such types will be helpful, empathetic, lovable and attractive and will have a knack for getting on the same wavelength with their parents - they know when and how to approach them in order to obtain their attention.

    Growing up, the Responsive children will learn to intuitively sense and assess other people's moods and will know exactly how to fulfill their needs in order to be appreciated and loved by them. They have a wide repertoire of seductive behaviors and know exactly which approach to use in order to successfully engage others into a close relationship.

    Neutral child vs. Active parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 9

    The Neutral child is often overwhelmed and frightened by the controlling, domineering Active parent. Lacking self-assertion skills, he prefers to withdraw and stay out of the way, minimizing his own needs and avoiding the parent as much as possible. On the few occasions the child reaches out to the caretaker, he ends up feeling rejected and bullied around for no apparent reason, which causes him to withdraw again. The loneliness, however, also feels like rejection and soon enough the youngster will be ambivalent towards both being alone and being with others.

    Most of the time, a compromise will be made. This type will seek out company but will not invest themselves in it, preferring to keep in the background and go with the flow, partly removed from their actual situation. When alone, they will avoid introspection, which will bring about old feelings of depression and rejection, instead they'd rather numb themselves out with food, TV or other unimportant routines to avoid emotional pain.

    Neutral child vs. Responsive parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 5

    In this relationship, the Responsive parent is inclined to give a lot of unrequested attention to the Neutral child, who perceives his parent's supportive and affectionate attitude as a form of smothering. The youngster will tend to withdraw from his environment, preferring solitary activities and contemplation, but as opposed to the previous scenario (of type 9), loneliness will not be accompanied by a feeling of rejection. At the contrary, being alone is a matter of choice and it gives a feeling of security and well-being, knowing that there is always someone to communicate with when they decide to seek out company.

    Such children are genuine loners, who prefer and enjoy their solitude. They are introspective, insightful and love learning and discovering things on their own, usually rejecting any help or intervention from the outside. They are afraid of being intruded upon because their parents used to make a fuss over them and suffocate them with attention and demands for closeness.

    Neutral child vs. Neutral parent
    This scenario is thought to produce Enneagram type 3

    This Neutral child's solitude is encouraged by his parent's own withdrawal and indifference, which doesn’t necessarily make the Neutral child feel openly rejected, but rather intrigues and challenges him. Serious, focused and rather unemotional, this youngster will most likely try to fulfill his occasional need for attention by impressing his parents with outstanding accomplishments and high aspirations, which make him feel worthy and valuable in their eyes.

    Later in life, these children become motivated achievers who put great emphasis on results, performance, efficiency and a successful image that will make others appreciate and admire them. Deep inside they dislike being ignored because it makes them doubt their own value, therefore they tend to hide their weaknesses and flaws and project a desirable, attractive, "I-have-it-all" persona.
    I would describe myself as having been a very neutral child with one active parent and one responsive/neutral parent. So, where does that fit in?
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

  2. #2
    Senior Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    I came across that theory too. Intuitively I feel like the core structure is correct (based on everything I've learned so far). As in we're born with a certain disposition and depending on environmental factors the combination of our dispostion + the environmental factors leads to our enneagram type. But as for the rest of that theory I don't know that it's correct.

    A fixation is a fixation. Fixations develop. We're not born with them. Enneagram fixations center around believing a lie (for instance believing one needs to be perfect to be happy) and sort of "getting stuck on it." In order to believe a lie we have to get it into our head somehow don't we? Some environmental influence has to make us believe that lie.

    I feel like before the age of 15 I was sort of enneagram neutral...I didn't really seem to have any sort of enneagram fixation but I most closely resembled some combination of enneagram 7 and 9 and then all of the sudden WHAM the enneagram 4 fixation appeared out of nowhere.

    Just my $.02

    ETA: Are you questioning your type? You've read through the 9 and 4 descriptions, right? I'm kind of leaning towards which ever one jumps out at you and fits your current self is your true enneagram and not the one(s) that fit your past self.

    Just my $.04
    Last edited by Sunshine; 01-11-2011 at 04:58 PM.
    "To find beauty in loss, hope in darkness."

  3. #3
    Senior Member IndyGhost's Avatar
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    I believe 4w5 to be much more fitting than 9, though I was considering it for a little while. My underlying motive is to understand myself, my emotions and to access these through the world of knowledge. I believe the reason I considered 9 is because through knowledge, I discovered the need for peace and balance. But I don't think it's in the same way as an actual 9. However, adolescent me was probably more 9-like. But I didn't know if this was typical (being enneagram neutral as you call it) or if I were some rare bizarre case.

    I like that you referred to the enneagram as fixations, because that's sort of the way I considered them, though they do equally determine our personality. However, considering them fixations basically backs up that enneatypes take time to progress and unfold. Enneagrams can't be figured out in adolescents then, nor can looking at who we were during much of life prior to being a full adult.
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

  4. #4
    brainheart
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    I don't know. I have always felt very four- always alone, left out, abandoned, etc. Even at the age of three I remember being very aware of a unique sense of self, a separation from others. I remember thinking (at the age of three) during a pleasurable moment that this was the highlight of my life, from here on out it would be primarily downhill and I would always long for three. (Pretty much true.) And let's not even get into the fact that I related more to martyr saints than I did to kids my age, was convinced God was going to ask the same of me, but I was too flawed, too weak. I didn't want to have to be good like that...

    Always been romantic in that very four-ish way. If anything, I've become less four-ish (in the negative way) as I've aged, more concerned about the feelings of others and more inclined to attempt to view things objectively.

    That said, I have a friend who seems very 4w3 to me but she insists she's 3w4 because as a child she was very 3.

  5. #5
    Senior Member IndyGhost's Avatar
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    i can't say that i can relate to that. i definitely felt separate and autonomous... but it wasn't revelatory. the world around me also scared the piss out of me. everything and everyone was scary. i was very easily embarrassed, as well. i was very separated mentally from the outside world around me. people would ask my mother if i was mute. however, i was inquisitive. i was constantly trying to learn and question the world i lived in. i recall those simple questions of, "why does it look as though the moon is following me?" "is the earth flat? and could i keep on walking and eventually reach the edge?" and i recall how excited/amazed i was to discover centripetal force by swinging a bucket of water. and in that respect, i suppose i could see the five wing as a child.

    actually, now that i think on this more... i can understand the identity crisis thing as a child, which is very 4.
    i recall a lot of my feelings of difference and oddness after moving here to the states. and how after my first sleep over with a white american friend, rearranging my bedroom when i got home to form in identity in it, as there was so much personality in hers.
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

  6. #6
    brainheart
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    Yeah, the five wing was totally there for me too. I read most of my childhood and was very inquisitive and observant; wanted to be both a writer and a wildlife biologist. One summer I read the encyclopedia straight through!

  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Interesting article.

    I guess I was a neutral child with a responsive parent which supportively results in a E5. I don't identify with the situation that results in a E4 at all though.

    I do wonder sometimes when I come across these sorts of problems, if the strange 4w3 vs 4w5 division (which doesn't seem to occur with the same level of effect in other types) has an affect on this and it isn't being considered. :confused:
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  8. #8
    Senior Member IndyGhost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainheart View Post
    Yeah, the five wing was totally there for me too. I read most of my childhood and was very inquisitive and observant; wanted to be both a writer and a wildlife biologist. One summer I read the encyclopedia straight through!
    whereas with me being a sensor, i was more hands on inquisitive. i didn't read very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Interesting article.

    I guess I was a neutral child with a responsive parent which supportively results in a E5. I don't identify with the situation that results in a E4 at all though.

    I do wonder sometimes when I come across these sorts of problems, if the strange 4w3 vs 4w5 division (which doesn't seem to occur with the same level of effect in other types) has an affect on this and it isn't being considered. :confused:
    yeah, i didn't relate to that either. but the two i should have been, supposedly are e9 and e5. so, perhaps it's the combination of an active parent and a responsive parent? but it doesn't really take into account that most children have two parenting types.
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

  9. #9
    brainheart
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    That definition for a four child makes little sense to me. Four is a withdrawn type. Fours want attention but expect others to intuitively understand their needs. I would say that the feelings are right on, that's pretty much how I felt in regards to my father, but I didn't act out like that- don't act out like that. I expect him to read my mind. I've only behaved in that fashion a couple of times in my life and that was when I was at the total breaking point. I'd say the type five relationship is what I had/have with my mother. And then when you put both of my parent's together, I'd say there was/is a hint of a three in there as well.

    That said, I behaved precisely like the description and felt exactly that way in one relationship I had as an adult. And it did feel like it triggered some sort of odd feelings about my father.

  10. #10
    Senior Member IndyGhost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainheart View Post
    That definition for a four child makes little sense to me. Four is a withdrawn type. Fours want attention but expect others to intuitively understand their needs. I would say that the feelings are right on, that's pretty much how I felt in regards to my father, but I didn't act out like that- don't act out like that. I expect him to read my mind. I've only behaved in that fashion a couple of times in my life and that was when I was at the total breaking point. I'd say the type five relationship is what I had/have with my mother. And then when you put both of my parent's together, I'd say there was/is a hint of a three in there as well.

    That said, I behaved precisely like the description and felt exactly that way in one relationship I had as an adult. And it did feel like it triggered some sort of odd feelings about my father.
    So you were an active child with your neutral father, and a neutral child with your responsive mother?

    Put this way, I may have to reflect if I were different with my parents... active with one, but neutral with the other. Interesting.
    "I don't know a perfect person.
    I only know flawed people who are still worth loving."
    -John Green

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