This is an overview of the facts on the Enneagram, and some of the fictions. In light of its rapid increase in use, people should know the Enneagram is not valid as a personality tool/assessment/. The fictions are more known than the facts, so please consider the facts.
1. The Enneagram originated with esoteric teacher GEORGE GURDJIEFF (scholars have verified this). Fiction: It did not start with the Desert Fathers, Evagrius Ponticus, or Ramon Lull (see CANA article No Christian Origins).
2. Gurdjieff’s followers claimed he got the Enneagram from a secret Sufi brotherhood but this was never proven and later debunked — Fictional claim.
3. The original Enneagram had no numbers or “types” and had nothing to do with personality but was a diagram of “cosmic reality,” according to Gurdjieff. He believed one could see the universe in it and ascribed mystical meaning to it.
4. Gurdjieff’s pupil P.D. OUSPENSKY wrote about Gurdjieff’s ideas and called those teachings “The Fourth Way” (these beliefs influenced the New Age).
5. Gurdjieff’s teachings were adopted by OSCAR ICHAZO who ran an occult school in Arica, Chile. He added various ideas to the Enneagram but he did not use it for personality typing. Ichazo claimed contact with 2 spirits (Metatron and the Green Q’tub).
6. CLAUDIO NARANJO, a New Age psychiatrist and spiritual seeker, learned about the Enneagram from Ichazo. Naranjo claimed to add the personality types partly from his “observations” but “mostly” via automatic writing (his claim is on video and included in the first video link at end).
7. Fiction acknowledged: Naranjo stated that he and Ichazo fabricated the idea that the Enneagram was ancient, and he admits it was not (this is also in the video).
8. Naranjo took the Enneagram ideas to ESALEN, an edgy humanistic/New Age think tank in California in the 1960s. Esalen is characterized by Dr. Ronald V. Huggins, formerly of Moody Bible Institute (Spokane), Salt Lake Theological Seminary, and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as “…a place where people were likely to get naked, take LSD, and beat on native drums.”
9. The Enneagram got into the New Age from Esalen (as did other New Age ideas) and the Enneagram became big business in the New Age starting in the 1980s. New Agers and New Age psychotherapists began giving interpretations to the “types” but initially with the idea that the Enneagram uncovers a true “divine Self.” Helen Palmer was one of the main New Age writers and teachers (and is mentioned positively by Richard Rohr in the 2nd video at end).
10. Jesuit Bob Ochs was at Esalen and learned the Enneagram from Naranjo and took it to the Catholic Church where it spread to other priests (though the Catholic Church never endorsed it).
11. Richard Rohr, who learned the Enneagram as a Catholic priest, wrote a book on it in the early 1990s.
12. As Progressive Christianity grew, Richard Rohr’s influence on Progressives sparked interest in the Enneagram and it was presented at their churches and conferences.
13. The Enneagram’s popularity led to two books on the Enneagram now used widely in the church, written by students and followers of Rohr: Episcopal priest and psychotherapist IAN CRON, SUZANNE STABILE (mentored by Rohr for many years), and CHRIS HEUERTZ. Heuertz thanks his Enneagram teachers: Richard Rohr and 3 New Agers.
14. One cannot disconnect the Enneagram from Rohr which is why it’s important to know his beliefs since the writers of the two main books are his students and have taught at his Center. One needs to know Rohr denies biblical doctrine on man, sin, creation, salvation, and God, and Rohr teaches a false Jesus/Christ. Rohr makes a distinction in Jesus and Christ, saying that Jesus was not the “Universal Christ” who is “bigger” than Jesus.
In summary, the Enneagram is a fake. It has no origins in psychological theories or studies.
The Enneagram has as much validity as astrology and the facts support this. Even more people believe in astrology, so belief in something or thinking it works are not grounds for its validity, and such claims crumble in light of the facts.
Unfortunately, pastors, ministry leaders, counselors and others are relying on either false information or on others who have relied on false information for the Enneagram and the myths continue. Whether those who learn the Enneagram has no validity will recant or not remains to be seen.
The Enneagram Video (9 1/2 minutes, Marcia Montenegro filmed and produced by Brandon Kimber)