Enneagram Institute (A Comprehensive Guide)

Enneagram institute was created by Don Richard Riso and by Russ Hudson. The basic purpose to establish the Enneagram institute was to enhance the research on Enneagram.

According to enneagram institute, it is the most powerful tool for the understanding of oneself and others.

Understanding enneagram can be a valuable asset for a deeper and extremely objective understanding of oneself which can be helpful in an individual’s endeavor for self-knowledge.

Currently, Enneagram institute is engaged in conducting different seminars and workshops which are devoted to the understanding of the enneagram and its connection with human nature.

Enneagram Institute is situated in Stone Ridge, New York which is independent of other privately owned offices around the globe.

In this article, we will discuss the Enneagram Institute. 

Staff on Enneagram Institute:

  • Russ Hudson – President
  • Brian Taylor – Vice-President
  • Donna Teresi – Director of Programs     

History of Enneagram institute:

Enneagram representing personality type is a modernized version of a wide variety of ancient traditions full of wisdom.

Originally the person who put the enneagram of personality together was Oscar Ichazo.

Ichazo was born in Bolivia and was raised there. Later in his life as a young man, he moved to different parts of the world such as Buenos Aires and Argentina.

The basic purpose of his travel was to learn about the inner world which he explored. He also went to Asia, a land of great ancient tradition, to further enhance his knowledge and finally returned to South America.

In South America, he presented the complete systematic form of all knowledge he acquired from different parts of the world. 

After many years of exploration, he started focusing on the process to transfer the knowledge which he had acquired.

For this purpose, he established the Arica school in Chile in the late ’60s and early ’70s. After that, he moved to the United States of America and is still living there.

At times when he was living and teaching in South America, a bunch of writers and psychologists traveled to Arica in Chile to explore the method of self-realization directly from Ichazo who has established those methods through his expedition.

This group of psychologists and writers also included John Lily and Claudio Naranjo. 

Those joining Ichazo started their journey of learning the system developed by them and were engaged in practices that were taught by him.

The Arica school of thought like any other school of thought defined to explore the inner work was a complex system with disciplines like spirituality, metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, and so on intertwined to bring about the desired transformation of human consciousness.

It should be noted here that neither of the two founders of enneagram institute undertook this teaching and practices but this teaching has a major share in shaping enneagram institute. 

The teachings belonging to the Arica school of thought were based on the symbol of the enneagram, an ancient symbol.

History of enneagram symbols can be traced back to the times of Pythagoras. In the modern world, this symbol was introduced through the work of George Gurdjieff.

George Gurdjieff developed a highly influential school of thought of exploring inner work.

He first used the enneagram in the modern world. George Gurdjieff used different sacred movements and dances to teach the importance and meaning of symbols.

George Gurdjieff did not teach the system related to types associated with these symbols.

As the reintroduction of the enneagram symbol in the modern world was through sacred movements, many early proponents of enneagram attribute the nine type system to George Gurdjieff and to the few Sufi techniques.

Thus it is mistakenly believed that the enneagram system was handed down to the enneagram institute from Sufi tradition and some other ancient school of thought.

According to them, this transference has been oral. Coming back to Ichazo, who no doubt relied on many traditions but the connection of those old traditions to the enneagram symbol was genuinely his creation.

Thus the enneagram tradition of enneagram institute only goes back to Ichazo in the 1960s when he first attempted to teach it.

Enneagram philosophy contains components from all ancient traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and many Greek philosophies. 

In American school of thought Ichazo introduced a system of 108 Enneagram, he used to call it enneagons), but in the Enneagram institute enneagram system is based only on the first few them and more specifically on four of them.

According to enneagram institute, these enneagrams are enneagram of passion, enneagram of fixation, enneagram of virtue and enneagram of holy ideas. 

Before understanding the relationship between these diagrams of enneagram by enneagram institute, it is important to understand that this system was developed to have an in-depth understanding of the relationship existing between the essence of an individual and his personality or ego. As Ichazo said:

“We have to distinguish between a man as he is in essence, and as he is in ego or personality. In essence, every person is perfect, fearless, and in loving unity with the entire cosmos; there is no conflict within the person between head, heart, and stomach or between the person and others. Then something happens: the ego begins to develop, karma accumulates, there is a transition from objectivity to subjectivity; a man falls from essence into personality.” 

Thus it can be inferred that the basic purpose of Ichazo was to understand the structure of the soul of human beings and more specifically he wanted to explore how these qualities of the essence of an individual become contracted or distorted in ego state.

During his attempt to establish enneagram theory, he constantly relied on the philosophical and mystical tradition of the west which is based on the idea of nine divine forms.

This idea was first discussed by Plato, where he talked about Platonic solids or divine form.

According to him these divine forms were essential qualities of existence and cannot be broken into constituents’ parts.

This idea was also furthered by Neo-platonic philosophers. 

System of Enneagram institute: 

The Enneagram system of Enneagram Institute traces its roots to the philosophy of Ichazo.

They extended his philosophy to develop a personality to better the understanding of human personality. System of Enneagram as per enneagram institute is as follow:


Enneagram is a system of typology which describes the personality of an individual as a number of interconnected personality type.

This has become popular in the spiritual and business domain but it is not widely accepted in evidence-based psychology as it lacks empirical research. 

Enneagram personality theory:

Enneagram personality is defined with the help of the enneagram structure. It consists of a circle with nine distinct personalities.

The outer circle has an equilateral triangle inside which connects three of the nine points of the circle.

The rest of the points in the circle are connected through irregular hexagons. 

In the simplest form, enneagram represents 9 distinct personality types and it grows complex when these 9 personalities give rise to 27 different personality subtypes.

Enneagram personalities are clustered in 3 X 3 arrangement giving rise to three centers.

These three centers are instinctive, feeling, and thinking. The three personalities in each center have common characteristics of their center.

For example characteristics of personality type four have their relationship with feelings. 


The arrangement of personality to its center is not arbitrary rather it is the emotional responses to the loss of contact of self with the core self.

This emotional response is largely unconscious and powerful.

It should be noted that the emotions of three centers are common among all personality type but the personalities of a center are affected by that emotion. 

Enneagram 2.gif

According to researchers in enneagram institute, individuals can find part of themselves in all personality types but one of the types constitutes the dominant aspect of their personality.

According to them, individuals are born with that dominant personality but it can further be shaped by environment and experiences.

These two factors tend to interact with and influence each other.

The personality type a person is born in defines how a person responds to the experiences and these experiences in return shape how a personality is shaped. 

Enneagram suggests that people do not usually go from one personality type to another.

But it is important to understand that not all aspects of personality are expressed at a particular time.

People tend to fluctuate among healthy and unhealthy traits of their personality depending on their circumstances.

A person can relate to each of the personality types but according to enneagram institute, it is the dominant personality which is important. 

It should be noted here that no one personality type is considered better than others by researchers at enneagram institute.

The characteristics of one personality type can be seen as a hindrance or helpful for an individual depending on the individual and the culture they belong to.

For example, the trait of being self-reliant might help individuals living in individualistic society but might become trouble for one in a collectivist society. 

The basic personality types:

The basic personality types described through enneagram are as follow:

  1. Reformer
  2. Helper
  3. Achiever
  4. Individualistic
  5. Investigator
  6. Loyalist
  7. Enthusiast
  8. Challenger 
  9. Peacemaker

The Wings:

Enneagram researcher suggests that no one person has only one pure personality rather the dominant personality type is influenced by either one or both of its adjacent personality types.

These adjacent personality types are known as wings.

According to enneagram institute, these wings or adjacent personality types add up complementary or sometimes contradictory elements to individuals’ personality type.

It is important to take into account these wings in addition to dominant personality types as they are often known as the second side of one’s personality.

For example, individuals with personality type eight will be influenced either by nice or seven which are adjacent to it. 

There is a contradiction in enneagram tradition that either there are one or two wings influencing the dominant personality type of individual. 

Some say only one wing is dominant in basic personality type while others say that both wings are equally operative or equally influence basic personality type.

Research needs to be done in this area to justify one of the two propositions. 

Enneagram personality test:

The Enneagram personality test is based on the enneagram personality theory.

Enneagram personality type can be determined by using the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI version 2.5). This test categorizes individuals according to nine different personality types.

It is comprised of 105 items and it usually takes 10 minutes to complete the test. 

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The function of Enneagram Personality Type:

Each personality type is characterized by a particular set of behavior, emotion, and fear.

The main objective of an enneagram personality test is to understand your strength as well as your weakness so that a person can utilize his strength in a better way and work on his weakness to achieve a wholesome self.

It is considered as a tool for self-awareness and self-analysis.

By becoming self-aware a person can move towards self-improvement thus achieving self-actualization. 

By understanding personality type individuals are better able to communicate and work through their lives.

It has also been used in an organization to enhance employee productivity and motivation.

Understanding one self and others lead to better group dynamics and interpersonal communication, making it easier to achieve the desired goal. 

FAQs about Enneagram Institute 

What is the best enneagram test?

The best enneagram test is ‘The Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire’ from an integrative 9 enneagram solution.

It cost almost $60.

Can you take an enneagram test for free?

Enneagram tests can be taken free. A free questionnaire titled ‘The Enneagram Personality Test’ is available at Truity. 

Which enneagram is rarest?

Rarest enneagram is type 4 that is an individualistic personality type.

It is hard to find type 4 because they tend to be with themselves and hardly meet others. 





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