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If you’re into personality theory, you’ve probably heard of something called the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality framework that consists of nine core types. You may have seen its visual representation, which is sometimes mistaken for a pentacle.
The Enneagram has ancient roots. No one really knows where it originated, but it is thought to have come out of the Sufi tradition and that of the Desert Fathers. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that the early, more universal Enneagram theory was applied to human personality by Bolivian spiritual seeker Oscar Ichazo and Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo.
The Enneagram is often derided as pseudoscience–no better than the Zodiac or other superstitious claptrap–by laypeople and hardline skeptics. In fact, the CIA started using the Enneagram in 1994 to profile world leaders, the U.S. Postal Service has used the Enneagram to help employees resolve conflicts, and the very first international Enneagram conference was cosponsored by Stanford Medical School’s department of psychiatry. So while the complexities of the Enneagram could be hard to quantify in a laboratory setting, it has some substantial intellectual weight behind it. (For more on the relationship between science and the Enneagram, watch this video.)
The Enneagram isn’t just a personality inventory like Myers-Briggs or the Big Five. It’s a powerful tool for personal and spiritual growth that has many layers. It’s often said that the Enneagram won’t put you in a box; it will help you figure out which box you’re already in and show you the way out. I have certainly found this to be true in my own life.19 Enlightening Books on the Enneagram of PersonalityClick To Tweet
If you’re brand new to the Enneagram and want to learn more, or if you’re already familiar with it and want to dig deeper, here are some books that will help you on your way.
Quick & Easy Introductory Books
Absolute beginners–start here! I’m not going to lie; the Enneagram can seem pretty complicated when you really get into it. These books make it easy to understand by distilling it down to the bare essentials.
The Essential Enneagram by David Daniels, M.D. & Virginia Price, PhD
If you’re brand new to the Enneagram, this is the #1 book I recommend you start with. Instead of overwhelming readers with a lot of long, convoluted type descriptions, it summarizes the key identifying features of each type, which will make it easier for you to differentiate if you’re on the fence about which type you are. It also includes a helpful self-typing guide. Enneagram tests can be useful (I really like the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator.) but ultimately, you are the only one who can determine your core type.
The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele
I like this book because it touches on some of the key features of each type and how you can get along easier with people of different types. It’s peppered with little cartoons that illustrate the each type’s eccentricities. My one caution is that the personality inventories at the beginning of each chapter are not likely to give you a clear and accurate result, so don’t rely on them. To type yourself, take the RHETI and/or read The Essential Enneagram (above).