This article will take a look at whether enneagram types run in the family as well as other factors that may shape our personality. The article will also comment on the nature and nurture debate and clarify what enneagrams exactly are.
Family CounselingFamily CounselingDo Enneagram Types Run In The Family?
Yes, enneagram types run in the family because we are often born with our enneagram type which determines how we interact with the world. Hence, our genes play an important role in determining the traits, characteristics and temperament we have which in turn shapes our overall personality that can be reflected in our enneagram type!
You are born with your enneagram type that is mostly determined by genes and other prenatal factors; post birth factors such culture, childhood experiences and your environment also have some effects on a person’s personality however enneagram authors agree that one enters the world with an already determined enneagram type from one of the 9 types that exist in the enneagram typology.
It is also necessary to mention that our personality type – with which we are born – determines how we face things in our early childhood and how we decide to interact with our overall environment.
Enneagrams are not something we learn later on in life or develop as a result of our experiences with others and the environment – in fact it is something we are born with according to the enneagram system.
It is also necessary to mention that other factors such as culture, the primary caretaker’s attitude and the upbringing of the child may also affect a child’s personality and hence this view strengthens the nurture side of the nature nurture debate. This debate centers around the argument of whether personality is affected by innate factors such as genes or the environment within which a person grows up in!
Despite these existing debates and multitudes of evidence, the enneagram authors hold that enneagrams are something each person is born with and it is the dominant personality type they have which actually determines how they behave in their entire life; this includes their early childhood when they are still looking at the world from a new lens as well as their adult life and finally old age up to the point when they die.
What is Personality?
Personality is a term used to describe the traits a person expresses in most situations. It is made up of their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Every person has a distinct set of characteristics or traits that makes them a unique individual and helps give them a personality. So technically, according to this definition everyone has a personality.
However, in some cases, certain people may have a more expressive or appealing personality than others. Such a personality would make them more likeable and obvious to others compared to someone who is not likeable or too quiet to be noticed.
“Personality is the entire mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development. It embraces every phase of human character: intellect, temperament, skill, morality, and every attitude that has been built up in the course of one’s life.” (Warren & Carmichael, 1930, p. 333)
“Personality is the essence of a human being.” (Hall & Lindzey, 1957, p. 9, characterizing statements by Gordon Allport)
“An individual’s pattern of psychological processes arising from motives, feelings, thoughts, and other major areas of psychological function. Personality is expressed through its influences on the body, in conscious mental life, and through the individual’s social behavior.” (Mayer, 2005)
The Nature And Nurture Debate – An All Time Hot Topic!
The important question that exists and extends to the effect culture has on our personalities is whether personality is innate or acquired by us from our surroundings? This question is popularly known as the nature and nurture debate that exists despite much debate over it and hundreds of researches conducted in relation to it!
There are many opinions on this debate. However, what is important is that we know what it is exactly.The side that supports nature says personality is innate and not acquired. This implies that regardless of where we grow up or what experiences we have, our personality remains unchanged overall.
However, the nurture side states that personality is mostly shaped by our surroundings and the experiences we have that include our childhood time, culture, friends, languages, parents and what not! Everything we are exposed to somehow affects us and the personality we eventually develop.
The nurture side supports the stance that culture indeed affects our personality.
What Are Enneagrams?
The enneagram is a typology system which describes human behaviour as a set of interrelated parts with each part having unique characteristics and behaviours or a set of defining traits that distinguish it from other parts in the system. This typology has a total of 9 parts of enneagrams that have different personalities and hence titles. For example, there is the enneagram type 1 which is also known as the Reformer and they have unique traits such as strong moral values, strive for integrity and may at times be judgemental.
At the same time, this personality system assumes and believes that no one person is of a single type – that is they cannot be a type 1 or type 9 purely but will be influenced by other adjacent types that are also known as wings. These wings influence but do not change the overall personality type.
Enneagrams – The Components That Make Them Up
In this section we will take a look at the components that not only make up the enneagram system but also make them unique from other personality systems like that of the MBTI.
Like other personality typologies, the enneagram one also highlights the traits of the personalities it has in its system. For every enneagram it has, it has highlighted a distinct set of traits that describe the enneagram in a detailed manner so people have an idea of how they behave. For example, one enneagram may be bold and courageous while another may be shy and quiet.
Each enneagram has a set of strengths that differentiate it from other enneagrams and adds to its overall personality. These strengths are also indirectly related to its desires that give it the motivation to move on in life. Some enneagrams may have strengths like being able to remain calm in a stressful situation while others may be great negotiators; each enneagram has their own set of strengths.
Naturally, strengths are accompanied by weaknesses so each enneagram also has a set of weaknesses that stem from its fears. Nonetheless, these weaknesses make the enneagram vulnerable to the outside world and may include ones like not being able to sustain relationships, becoming afraid of confronting someone about their behaviour or being unable to take a stand for themselves.
What is quite unique about the enneagram typology is that it highlights the fears of each enneagram. The fears of an enneagram are quite integral to their personality and affect other components such as desires and weaknesses. An enneagram usually has one central theme for a fear such as the fear of being controlled or the fear of not being loved.
It is natural to have desires and hence enneagrams also have their own desires. Similar to fears, the enneagram type usually has one central theme for a desire such as becoming quite powerful or gaining love and recognition.
A very unique thing about the enneagram system is the fact that it acknowledges that personalities may overlap and they represent this through the use of wings. Enneagrams may share traits from ‘neighboring’ enneagrams. So, for example, the type 5 enneagram may have a wing from either the type 4 or 6 enneagram.
Enneagram Authors – What They Agree On When It Comes To Personality
Here are the things enneagram authors unanimously agree upon according to the ‘Enneagram Institute’:
- People do not change from one basic personality type to another.
- The descriptions of the personality types are universal and apply equally to males and females, since no type is inherently masculine or feminine.
- Not everything in the description of your basic type will apply to you all the time because you fluctuate constantly among the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits that make up your personality type.
- The Enneagram uses numbers to designate each of the types because numbers are value neutral— they imply the whole range of attitudes and behaviors of each type without specifying anything either positive or negative. Unlike the labels used in psychiatry, numbers provide an unbiased, shorthand way of indicating a lot about a person without being pejorative.
- The numerical ranking of the types is not significant. A larger number is no better than a smaller number; it is not better to be a Nine than a Two because nine is a bigger number.
- No type is inherently better or worse than any other. While all personality types have unique assets and liabilities, some types may be considered to be more desirable than others in any given culture or group. Furthermore, for one reason or another, you may not be happy being a particular type. As you learn more about all the types, however, you will see that just as each has unique assets, each has unique liabilities. The ideal is to become your best self, not to imitate the assets of another type.
This article took a look at whether enneagram types run in the family or not as well as what other factors may play a role in shaping our personality. Vital to the discussion were the topics of the nature and nurture debate, how personality is defined as well as what enneagrams are; all of these topics were discussed in detail. Finally, some light was shed on what enneagram authors agree on when it comes to enneagrams.