The Fascinating Origin of the Enneagram

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The Fascinating Origin of the Enneagram

The Enneagram, a powerful personality typing system, has gained significant popularity in recent years. It offers deep insights into our core motivations, fears, and desires, helping us better understand ourselves and others. But have you ever wondered where this profound tool originated? In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and origin of the Enneagram, tracing its roots across time and cultures.

Ancient Beginnings:

Although the Enneagram as we know it today emerged in the last century, its origins extend far back into antiquity. The roots of the Enneagram can be traced to multiple ancient wisdom traditions, including mystical teachings and spiritual practices from different cultures.

One significant influence on the Enneagram was the work of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher and mystic who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gurdjieff taught a system of self-development called “The Work,” which emphasized self-awareness and self-transformation. It is believed that Gurdjieff encountered the Enneagram during his travels in Central Asia and integrated it into his teachings.

Reference: The Enneagram Institute

Modern Development:

The modern Enneagram system as we know it today was further developed and popularized by Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian-born mystic, and teacher. Ichazo claimed to have received direct revelations about the nine personality types and their interconnections during a 40-day meditation retreat in the late 1960s.

One of Ichazo’s students, Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist, was instrumental in introducing the Enneagram teachings to the Western world. Naranjo expanded upon Ichazo’s work, refining the descriptions and classifications of the nine types and integrating psychological insights into the system.

Another key figure in the Enneagram’s modern development is Don Richard Riso, an author and teacher who extensively researched and popularized the Enneagram in the 1990s. Riso, along with his collaborator Russ Hudson, played a vital role in developing practical applications of the Enneagram in various fields.

Reference: The Enneagram Institute

The Enneagram Symbol:

The Enneagram symbol, a nine-pointed diagram, is a central visual representation of the Enneagram system. Each point on the Enneagram represents one of the nine personality types, and the lines connecting the points signify the dynamic relationships and interactions between the types.

The Enneagram symbol bears resemblance to various sacred geometric figures found in different spiritual traditions. For instance, it shares similarities with the Sufi teachings of the Naqshbandi Order, Hindu-Buddhist mandalas, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life in Jewish mysticism.

Criticism and Controversies:

Despite its widespread popularity, the Enneagram has not been without criticism and controversies. Some skeptics argue that the Enneagram lacks scientific validation and is based more on subjective observations than empirical evidence. Others claim that the system’s categorization of individuals oversimplifies complex human behavior and ignores the nuances of individual experiences.

While it’s true that the Enneagram does not adhere to traditional scientific methodologies, it remains a highly valuable psychological tool for personal growth and understanding. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to provide insights and raise awareness about our recurring patterns and motivations, enabling us to break free from self-imposed limitations.

The Enneagram’s Influence:

Over the years, the Enneagram has gained recognition in various domains, including psychology, business, spirituality, and personal development. Its versatile applications have made it a valuable tool for individuals, couples, teams, and organizations seeking to improve relationships, enhance communication, and increase self-awareness.

The Enneagram’s impact goes beyond personal growth; it has also been integrated into therapeutic practices and leadership training programs, offering profound insights into individual and group dynamics.

Reference: The Enneagram Institute


The Enneagram, with its ancient origins and modern development, offers a unique perspective on human nature and behavior. While its precise origins might be shrouded in mystery, the Enneagram’s enduring popularity and effectiveness are testament to its profound impact.

Whether you seek personal growth, better relationships, or a deeper understanding of yourself and others, the Enneagram provides a powerful framework for self-reflection and transformation. Embrace this timeless tool, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal development.

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The Fascinating Origin of the Enneagram