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The Enneagram is Something We Do
The Enneagram is a map of human consciousness, a description of our inner terrain. It elaborates a single comprehensive insight -- that we each have one of nine ways of paying attention that structures our flow of energy. At one time in our life, this allocation of attention and energy worked well enough so that we still employ them, but often we overdo it. So our strength often becomes our problem. This gift/problem structures our personality so clearly and deeply that it never changes. If we're under much pressure at all, we tend to reveal it to anyone who knows the Enneagram. Oh, and we are unaware of this pattern. That's why we need to study it. Learning our Enneagram style is a matter of inference, seeing the deeper motivation behind a myriad of assorted behaviors.
We are all more than our Enneagram style (I don't say "type" because our Enneagram style is something we do, it is not who we are). I use movies, real persons, poems and books to illustrate Enneagram styles so you can watch the dynamics, for example, see how a style Four can act out in a dozen ways, all be dramatically different yet all share a common bundle of inner patterns of. attention and energy.
The Enneagram is easy to learn superficially and surprisingly difficult to learn well. That's because it is about people and people are wondrously complex. You should be warned; the Enneagram is fascinating to the point of addiction but can considerably nourish your self-development, first through insight itself and then through other means that I'll explain frequently.
One thing I usually don't tell you is your Enneagram number. If you are told your number, you miss the important part -- the squeeze -- searching your inner workings to see what really drives you, what delights you and what unties all your strings. I wouldn't deprive you of that for the world.
What about Subtypes?
A number of you have asked about subtypes. A subtype is probably best understood, at least to start with, as the psychological arena in which we do the most compulsive thinking and are perhaps the most distorted in our energy and attention placement.
There are three subtypes and they are called various things, but I will usually use the terms self-preservation, intimate and social. I love Margaret Frings Keyes' encapsulation of "the one, the few and the many." Some authors use the term Sexual instead of Intimate.
Regardless of the terms, you can see concentric circles of attention. Some pay attention to themselves, others to their significant other and a third group to the wider community. Again, there is no gradation, no one subtype is better than the other. And when I say "pay attention" to themselves, I mean they pay that kind of Enneagram-distorted attention. This is the area to which they pay the wrong attention.