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[Other/Multiple Enneatypes] The Enneagram and the Triune Brain by Paul MacLean

mancino

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84
Hi everybody,

In my internet wanderings, I stumbled on the Triune Brain concept by neuroscientist Paul MacLean
The Concept of the "Triune Brain" | Interaction Design Foundation

MacLean's model suggests the human brain is organized into a hierarchy, which itself is based on an evolutionary view of brain development. The three regions are as follows:

Reptilian or Primal Brain (Basal Ganglia)
Paleomammalian or Emotional Brain (Limbic System)
Neomammalian or Rational Brain (Neocortex)

According to MacLean, the hierarchical organization of the human brain represents the gradual acquisition of the brain structures through evolution. The triune brain model suggests the basal ganglia was acquired first, which is thought to be in charge of our primal instincts, followed by the limbic system, which is in charge of our emotions or affective system, then the neocortex, which is thought to be responsible for rational or objective thought


It was obvious to relate this to the three instinctual centers of the Enneagram. It turns out that I'm not the only one to see this connection:
Triune Brain and the Enneagram article

This article links the Enneagram with Paul Maclean's Triune Brain theory, showing how the three centers and nine types of the Enneagram can be derived from three physical divisions of the brain. From the moment I found the Enneagram and found that it works, I knew that there must be a reason why. What is it that makes us all one of exactly nine different types? How does it work?

When I read about the Triune Brain theory-that the brain divides neatly into three sections corresponding to different levels of our evolution-I thought "can this be a coincidence?" The more I read about the Triune Brain Theory, the more it seems to fit in perfectly with the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is based around three centers: the instinctual center, the emotional center and the intellectual center. People are divided into nine types according to their usage of these centers. Now let us look at the physical structure of the brain. According to Maclean1 it can be divided into three parts: the striatal complex, the limbic system, and the neocortex. [...]

It doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to associate these three areas of the brain with the three centers of the Enneagram: instinctual, emotional and intellectual. Let's look more closely at the nine types with relation to this research.

It blew my mind! Neurological evidence supporting the Enneagram? Why didn't anybody tell us that before!

The article goes on deconstructing the Enneagram with just these three basic building blocks: the three centers, i.e. the three brains. (caveat: the author calls "wings" any of the 9 bases). Amazing: could the Enneagram fundamentally describe each person's balance and fixation on the three brains?

What do you think about it? It's fascinating to say the least.

- - - Updated - - -
[MENTION=32874]Vendrah[/MENTION], [MENTION=39780]noname3788[/MENTION]
 

Vendrah

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Hi everybody,

In my internet wanderings, I stumbled on the Triune Brain concept by neuroscientist Paul MacLean
The Concept of the "Triune Brain" | Interaction Design Foundation




It was obvious to relate this to the three instinctual centers of the Enneagram. It turns out that I'm not the only one to see this connection:
Triune Brain and the Enneagram article



It blew my mind! Neurological evidence supporting the Enneagram? Why didn't anybody tell us that before!

The article goes on deconstructing the Enneagram with just these three basic building blocks: the three centers, i.e. the three brains. (caveat: the author calls "wings" any of the 9 bases). Amazing: could the Enneagram fundamentally describe each person's balance and fixation on the three brains?

What do you think about it? It's fascinating to say the least.

- - - Updated - - -
[MENTION=32874]Vendrah[/MENTION], [MENTION=39780]noname3788[/MENTION]

Well, I love links and all that stuff.
You had passed on a PM alternative divisions of enneagrams, ones that had also 3 divisions but with different arrengement and arrows. One of them fits better than this one.

By the link I know from Jung, this categorization - 8,9,1 for instinctual, 2,3,4 for emotional, 5,6,7 for rational doesnt work consistently for the enneagram.

Because this division:
Reptilian or Primal Brain (Basal Ganglia)
Paleomammalian or Emotional Brain (Limbic System)
Neomammalian or Rational Brain (Neocortex)

Also relate to the Jung typology (cognitive functions) very well, where we can relate the Primal to Se, Si, Ne and Ni types, Fe and Fi types to the Emotional Brain, and Te and Ti types to the rational brain. Actually, this fits quite directly to Jung typology, I dont really need to force much (but a bit since emotion and feeling are different and only weakly connected). But when we get to Jung typology-->MBTI-->Enneagram, we get that type 7 is related to the Jung Se and Ne types, yet type 7 is a head type, the same for type 3 that is related to Te and is on the emotional department, type 8 is understandable since for me it has some invisible aspects to Jung typology (9 definitely does), and I dont remember anymore if there are more incompatibilities. But I know that one of alternative categorizations on one of the PMs fix this.

Sorry if I ruin the "magic", although in a better categorization this link can work properly.
 

mancino

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[MENTION=32874]Vendrah[/MENTION], maybe you refer to the Hornevian Groups?

The Compliant Group (sometimes referred to as the Dutiful Group) consists of enneagram types 1,2, and 6.
Each of these types are compliant/dutiful in their own ways but they all move toward people in hopes of earning what they desire (autonomy for 1’s, attention for 2’s, or security for 6’s)

The Withdrawn Group consists of enneagram types 4, 5, and 9.
Each of these types are withdrawn in their own ways but they all move away from people in hopes of earning what they desire (attention for 4’s, security for 5’s, or autonomy for 9’s)

The Assertive Group (sometimes referred to as the Aggressive Group) consists of enneagram types 3, 7, and 8.
Each of these types are aggressive in their own ways but they all move against people in hopes of earning what they desire (attention for 3’s, security for 7’s, or autonomy for 8’s)

(source: Enneagram Hornevian Groups - Enneagram Explained)

I won't argue the Enneagram to Cognitive Functions mapping, but my understanding is that Centers of Intelligence and Hornevian Groups are two different ways of looking at things. They are introduced both in the above link and the OP link about the Triune Brain and the Enneagram:

Hornevian Groups are based off of the Hornevian Model which are named after Karen Horney who first discovered that there were groupings based on how people interact with others in order to meet their own needs.

Karen Horney did not link her Hornevian Model to the enneagram, however when dealing with typologies, enneagram teachers quickly saw how the Hornevian Model fit the enneagram and thus Hornevian Groups were established.

Weak Centers
We are not just defined by our strengths but by our weaknesses. One could say that we are more defined by our weaknesses than our strengths. Hurley and Donson2 divide the nine types into aggressive, dependent and withdrawing types. These correspond to Karen Horney's division into those who take an expansive solution, those who take a self-effacing solution and those who take a resigning solution.

The aggressive types, Three, Seven and Eight, are those repressed in the emotional center. They are not held back from action by giving thought to others' feelings. They can be accused of being unsympathetic and not listening to people. The Three and Seven can also be seen as superficial and the Eight as simplistic.

The dependent types, One, Two and Six, are repressed in the intellectual center. Rather than devoting their intellectual centers to decision making, they prefer to use their instincts and emotions to take their cue from other people. They can come across as relying too much on others.

The withdrawing types, Four, Five and Nine, are repressed in the instinctual center. They prefer to hold themselves back from the world to avoid having to deal with it head-on. They can seem withdrawn and aloof. Also the Five and Nine especially can lack spontaneity.


So, even if from a Cog Func point of view you see a better grouping, say, among 3, 7 and 8, they are very different in their core motivations: "they all move against people in hopes of earning what they desire (attention for 3’s, security for 7’s, or autonomy for 8’s)".

I use this extensively in real life, and for EnneaTyping people, if you pick a Center of Intelligence and a Hornevian Group for a given person, you have his/her type. Very easy. Much easier, say, than deciding the dominant function, or E/I for that matter.

In other words, they don't arrange the Enneagram in 126-378-459 for a good reason: movement and affinity. 3 has much more to do with 4 and 2 rather than 7 and 8. The latter LOOK the same, but for different reasons. If you "measure" the way they "look" by, say, a Big5 test, you may get similar results between 3 and 8, but they are very, very apart in their worldview.

Misidentifying Threes and Eights

Threes and Eights are both assertive (PT, 433-36), although the confusion between them centers on the competition found in average Threes and a similar competitiveness in average Eights.

[...]By contrast, power is not the key motive of Threes; achieving success and prestige and basking in the admiring attention of others is. (By contrast, Eights do not care about popularity; they do not care about the goodwill of others, so long as they get their way.) If Eights are natural leaders, Threes are natural managers and technicians. If Eights do not fear failure as such, Threes fear failure deeply because they see it as a personal humiliation, a potential occasion for being rejected, their deepest fear. By contrast, Eights see failure as an opportunity to learn something and come back stronger. If Eights are too busy achieving their purposes to worry about public opinion, Threes live and die on the opinions of others and desperately want to be in demand socially. If average Eights are combative and intimidating and can "take the heat", despite a certain bravado, average Threes will back down or be driven to deviousness: they cannot take pressure for long or exposure for a moment. In short, even average Eights are the "genuine article," whereas average Threes are an imitation of it. Contrast Eights such as Telly Savalas and John Wayne with Threes such as Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds.

(bolding mine, source: Misidentifying 3 and 8 — The Enneagram Institute)
 

Vendrah

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[MENTION=32874]Vendrah[/MENTION], maybe you refer to the Hornevian Groups?



(source: Enneagram Hornevian Groups - Enneagram Explained)

I won't argue the Enneagram to Cognitive Functions mapping, but my understanding is that Centers of Intelligence and Hornevian Groups are two different ways of looking at things. They are introduced both in the above link and the OP link about the Triune Brain and the Enneagram:






So, even if from a Cog Func point of view you see a better grouping, say, among 3, 7 and 8, they are very different in their core motivations: "they all move against people in hopes of earning what they desire (attention for 3’s, security for 7’s, or autonomy for 8’s)".

I use this extensively in real life, and for EnneaTyping people, if you pick a Center of Intelligence and a Hornevian Group for a given person, you have his/her type. Very easy. Much easier, say, than deciding the dominant function, or E/I for that matter.

In other words, they don't arrange the Enneagram in 126-378-459 for a good reason: movement and affinity. 3 has much more to do with 4 and 2 rather than 7 and 8. The latter LOOK the same, but for different reasons. If you "measure" the way they "look" by, say, a Big5 test, you may get similar results between 3 and 8, but they are very, very apart in their worldview.



(bolding mine, source: Misidentifying 3 and 8 — The Enneagram Institute)

No, not the Hornevian Groups. This group relates to Introversion and Extraversion, where 378 are related to Extraversion, 459 to Introversion, 1 to properly ambiversion, 6 to ambiversion (6 phobic to I and 6 counter phobic to E?), and since they had to group types in 3, 2 was included to ambiversion and their extraversion group partially focused on leading and assertiveness, even if 7 doesnt have much to do with it. The best grouping for E/I is 4569 for I, 2378 for E and 1 for Ambiversion, but, you know, it is not a group of 3..

There is another division that has something related to Thinking and Feeling!

Also:

"3 has much more to do with 4 and 2 rather than 7 and 8."

In point of view of both big 5 and MBTI, that is not true.
And even inside the enneagram, there is this good huge article here:
Google Academico

From there, on page 191 there is the rank of all enneagrams results for those who see themselves as type 8 (same for the other types) and type 3 and type 1 are the strongest, whereas 9 is the lowest. In other words, 3 and 8 connects with each other and 8 and 9 forms semi-opposites of each others in several points of view - MBTI (3 & 8 ESTJ, 9 ISFP), Big Five (3 and 8 High E, High C, Low A; 9 Low E, Low C, High A) and inside enneagram tests (8 & 9 opposites, 3, 8 and 1 connected to each).

QGj9V6B.png


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mancino

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Then I don't know which group it was, sorry :(

About the tables you sent, they don't contradict my point in the OP. I will try to give the best explanation I can. I'm not an Enneagram expert, much less than you are about Cog Fun and cross-mapping among systems, but still, I'll try to argue my case.

The conundrum about the Enneagram are the center points: 3-6-9. Because it's quite evident the affinity between 1 and 9, 2 and 4, 5 and 7. But then, you say, why is 9, a peaceful, quiet, conflict-averse type, grouped together with two of the most J-ish, Te types?
Well, because they both are "Anger" fixed. It means, IMHO, in light of the Triune Brain of the OP, that they are ruled by their fight-or-flight automatic response (they are humans, you know, so they are rational and emotional too, they are just more strongly ruled by their instinctive neurology than other fellow humans, although much less than other animals of course!).
In many situations, the fight or flight gets triggered, above rationality or emotions. 8 chooses mostly fight, 9 mostly flight and 1 tightly controls the two with effort. So they are very different, being 1 somewhat in the middle between the two extremes of 9 and 8. But they are 1) grouped together because they have the same fixation; 2) ordered 8-9-1 because that's not according to their affinity, it's because of the movement to the wings!
Wings of a type are not some sister type, like ENTP and ENFP in MBTI for example; my wings are different coping strategies that are very accessible to me; different strategy means, in some cases, radically different. You can see that in animals, for example: an aggressive response quickly turning into submissive, for example.¡, or the other way around.

The whole Enneagram is ordered in this way. So, neighbors are neighbors not because they are similar, it's because one can easily access the strategy of the other.

Some examples: a 9 suddenly lashing out, exasperated, following their reasoning for once (8). Or putting a lot of effort into a tightly controlled, emotionally-driven rigid response (1). I've seen a lot of them in real life (I'm married to a clear-cut IxFP 9, you know :D)
I have a lot of experience with real life 6s as weel. They are correctly a thinking type, because they are fixed in they thinking, but they avoid it, or better said, don't trust it (it's thinking run amok), so they cope with a mix of instinct (focus on trust) and feeling (focus on belonging), hence the anxiety, skepticism and phobic-counter phobic swings.

The same with 9. They are withdrawing like 4 and 5, yes, but 4 is ruled by his/her emotions, 5 by his/her rationality, both lacking instinct. 9 is ruled by an avoidance instinct instead, all instinct, if you will. That's the reason why, although they look alike (similar MBTI-Big5 results) they are NOT CONNECTED on the Enneagram.

To put it in another way, you could rearrange the Enneagram in groups like Keirsey's Temperaments, with look-alikes together, but you would then lose the movement pahts, which are the beauty and usefulness that the Enneagram has that other systems don't. It tries to depict some common patterns of apparently "out-of-character" behavior, which are also paths towards growth.
 

Vendrah

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Then I don't know which group it was, sorry :(

About the tables you sent, they don't contradict my point in the OP. I will try to give the best explanation I can. I'm not an Enneagram expert, much less than you are about Cog Fun and cross-mapping among systems, but still, I'll try to argue my case.

The conundrum about the Enneagram are the center points: 3-6-9. Because it's quite evident the affinity between 1 and 9, 2 and 4, 5 and 7. But then, you say, why is 9, a peaceful, quiet, conflict-averse type, grouped together with two of the most J-ish, Te types?
Well, because they both are "Anger" fixed. It means, IMHO, in light of the Triune Brain of the OP, that they are ruled by their fight-or-flight automatic response (they are humans, you know, so they are rational and emotional too, they are just more strongly ruled by their instinctive neurology than other fellow humans, although much less than other animals of course!).
In many situations, the fight or flight gets triggered, above rationality or emotions. 8 chooses mostly fight, 9 mostly flight and 1 tightly controls the two with effort. So they are very different, being 1 somewhat in the middle between the two extremes of 9 and 8. But they are 1) grouped together because they have the same fixation; 2) ordered 8-9-1 because that's not according to their affinity, it's because of the movement to the wings!
Wings of a type are not some sister type, like ENTP and ENFP in MBTI for example; my wings are different coping strategies that are very accessible to me; different strategy means, in some cases, radically different. You can see that in animals, for example: an aggressive response quickly turning into submissive, for example.¡, or the other way around.

The whole Enneagram is ordered in this way. So, neighbors are neighbors not because they are similar, it's because one can easily access the strategy of the other.

Some examples: a 9 suddenly lashing out, exasperated, following their reasoning for once (8). Or putting a lot of effort into a tightly controlled, emotionally-driven rigid response (1). I've seen a lot of them in real life (I'm married to a clear-cut IxFP 9, you know :D)
I have a lot of experience with real life 6s as weel. They are correctly a thinking type, because they are fixed in they thinking, but they avoid it, or better said, don't trust it (it's thinking run amok), so they cope with a mix of instinct (focus on trust) and feeling (focus on belonging), hence the anxiety, skepticism and phobic-counter phobic swings.

The same with 9. They are withdrawing like 4 and 5, yes, but 4 is ruled by his/her emotions, 5 by his/her rationality, both lacking instinct. 9 is ruled by an avoidance instinct instead, all instinct, if you will. That's the reason why, although they look alike (similar MBTI-Big5 results) they are NOT CONNECTED on the Enneagram.

To put it in another way, you could rearrange the Enneagram in groups like Keirsey's Temperaments, with look-alikes together, but you would then lose the movement pahts, which are the beauty and usefulness that the Enneagram has that other systems don't. It tries to depict some common patterns of apparently "out-of-character" behavior, which are also paths towards growth.

Well, they do contradict because there is an initial claim that 8-9-1 are gut, 2-3-4 are heart, 5-6-7 are head (so a 9 doesnt use thinking by just jumping to another gut type). Its not really about you, its rather their claims that you seem to buy so easily ^^'. Saying that gut are gut because of anger, and head is head because of, I dont know, is it anxiety they claim? And etc... Doesnt really give any real reasoning for gut and neither solves the issues I had pointed out.

I didnt listed the whole inconsistencies, but as far as I remember, the issues are 3 being thinkers, having low agreeableness and being majority thinkers (and you cannot use the argument that they are heart type because they deny feeling, because 2 is related with Fe which for average and Jung implies a "negation" of Ti and yet they are not a head type), type 7 being related to being impulsive and irrational cognitive functions and yet are a head type (so 5 and 7 doesnt connect that easy in general), 6 being fitable in basically every category if you properly advocate for them, 1 could be connected to Thinking, there is 8 and Te but I do think there should be a non-N/S irrational function (sort of 8vs9, Type A vs Type B). Your flight versus fight example did actually had a type 8 answer for type 1 (because 8s are related to domineering which relates to control).

The best arrangement for gut-head-heart that is at least is not contradicted by MBTI and Big Five is 2-4 for heart, 3-5 for head, 7-8-9 for gut, and 6-1 are sort of really debatable but 1 fits well in head and 6 can fit reasonable well in heart to create groups of 3. I think you had pointed a division that is similar or equal to a 7-8-9 / 2-4-6 / 1-3-5. This division is the best one for Primal-Gut, Emotional-Heart and Head-Rational. But there is really a deep issue into saying that 8s and 9s are primitive, specially with 9s.

Dont forget that this division gut-head-heart comes from Frauve and it is not on the original enneagram. She did hers in studies that she didnt put out there on public and neither were repiclated and I do doubt if they ever existed.

I understand that these "mechanisms" and these dynamics are good, but a good portion very probably is, Im sorry to tell you, just made up. I say that partially because I have been fooled many times here in Brazil and I had slowly learned some lying and manipulation patterns. When somebody does strong claims about reality yet negates everything on reality because the reality make them wrong are people to not to be trusted and are likely engaged into manipulation or deceiving, paranoia or magical thinking at best. You know, people on this department does strong claims - the enneagram is still supposed to describe real people, not fictional martians or spirits - such as that 3 is a heart type, and yet they refuse when whatever applied form shows them differently (not only tests but also people self-typing). This refusal really drops the usefulness on this - perhaps it can be useful to inspire a more dynamic typology. And this is not really me being a sensor here, it is just that it is healthy to separate fictional from real, and any theory & abstraction that is oriented by reality and do claims about reality should not avoid reality (even if they are abstract and theorical).
 

mancino

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Vendrah;3263771 Its not really about you said:
Don't worry, no hard feelings. Nothing personal, we're just debating!

I don't buy into them so easily, believe me. I've been digging into Cognitive Function for longer than the Enneagram now, and I still don't buy it. I'm mildly accepting the dominant, but the rest is a mess. Actually, I'm not even sold on T and F being a dichotomy, if you ask me.

I don't agree for example with your equating Feeling in both systems, neither Thinking. "Repressing" has different meanings. The Enneagram and MBTI/Jung are different, different vocabulary, different approach, different goals too.

My practical experience is that the 16 types, however you decline them (MBTI, Jung, Grant) are promising and intriguing, explain some parts of personality, but are too shallow and imprecise with just dichotomies, and too complex and incoherent with cognitive funtions. The more I analyzed them, the less they made sense. Socionics is even worse in that regard: as if people were machines that you could tear apart and then put together again.

However, with the Enneagram, I've found a system that works. It's very easy to type people, and it predicts quite accurately how people behave, get stress, develop in a multi-faceted, yet simple scheme.

I'm fully aware that the Enneagram is not empirically validated, which I'm fine with.

Actually, to be honest, I don't trust all the data regarding typology. You know, the source are always self report, so there are huge biases, both from the subject and the questions themselves.

Just to name one, not to make this too long or annoying to anyone: in tests, you are always asked to reflect your most common behavior. Then you get averages, so static types. What about unhealthy behaviors? And incoherences? People are a mess, you know that. It's impossible to average data coming from self-reports and get something really spiritual. It's the craziness of the Age of the Data, the Age of the Machine. I don't trust that more than old-age wisdom for shedding some light on the human condition.

Modern MBTI, even in its "pseudo-Jungian" incarnation, is very good with a business orientation: to assess people disposition to have a better fit with job positions. You administer a test and you get a type, simple and quick, very efficient.
But it's a poor tool for self assesment and personal growth, IMHO.
It's a good starting point, yes, because it's easy to get into it.
And the Big5 is good for its purpose: measuring stuff for statistics among populations in psychological studies. Self growth and spiritual journeys? I don't think so.

I'm not saying that the Enneagram is superior, just that it's a different beast. It has the purpose that I seek. It's imperfect, but at least tries to go in the right direction. You cannot dismiss it simply as "made up" just because this data-driven statistical scrutiny fails to confirm its structure and assumptions.

Actually, I believe that the most fundamental approach is using some sort of archetypes. The majority of typology enthusiast start by some type descriptions as archetypes: an INFJ is an archetype, a 3 is an archetype. That's what resonates with the human soul. Even Jung eventually abandoned Cog Func in favor of archetypes. The Cognitive Function deconstruction is a overly complicated structure that fails to provide more insight, and blurs the picture.

The beauty of typology is to become aware of human variety and of universal patterns in characters. This worshipping of data, of measuring everything, maybe is not suited to the job, not even necessary.
 
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