Inherent Flaws in The Enneagram Tests

Proponents of enneagram tests believe that you get an essence from your birth which determines your real self. However, your environment, education, and culture develop behavioral trends which may be in consonance of your soul or conflicting.

The Enneagram personality tests claim to measure not only your essence but also various dimensions of your acquired personality. This way they try to assess how you will behave in future. Holding roots in the spiritual world, The Enneagram test is not prevalent in the job market primarily because it has roots in the spiritual world. However, the craze for ‘the right person for the right job’ may invite employers to look into its potential in the coming days. 

They must not ignore important flaws in the enneagram tests philosophy, typology and interpretation.

Not a Real Psychological System

Myers Briggs Personality Tests, Big Five Personality Tests, and DISC follow some psychological theory. Of course, they are ambiguous too, but they have a conviction of practical observations.

On the other hand, the enneagram tests don’t possess such kind of psychological pseudo-authenticity. The Enneagram model was initially construed a source of knowledge of the whole universe. Gurdjieff and his student Ichazo claim that they had learned the system in some mystic trance. Gurdjieff claims:

“All knowledge can be included in the Enneagram, and with the help of the Enneagram, it can be interpreted. And in this connection only what a man can put into the enneagram does he know, that is, understand. What he cannot put into the Enneagram makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the Enneagram.”

However, later developments, works of Helen Palmer, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson have given it fresh psychological flavor.


Like other psychological instruments, enneagram tests strive to determine your future behaviors with the help of Enneagram personality types. They believe that you ‘have to’ fit in one of the nine Enneagram personality types.

Whatever you think, say or do is predetermined by your type. When you are responding to your environment as specified for your type, an Enneagramists would suggest that your personality conflicts with your essence. However, your real self or essence remains the same throughout your life. You can’t change your type ever.

Origination of 9 Enneagram Types

Mistakenly, the nine Enneagram types are related to the name of Gurdjieff and Ichazo. Gurdjieff believed that you have three brains; instinctual, intellectual and emotional. Your personality is determined by the dominance of either of the three minds.

Spinozian school of thought believes that your instincts and intellect lead you to will a thing, and your emotions help you to do. However, you know, the basic urge of life is survival. In all forms, it adopts two secondary instincts; self-reproduction and self-aggression. Your intellect searches the ways, and your emotions help you to achieve whatever you desire.

Ichazo explained these three brains into nine descriptions. It was Helen Palmer who drew nine Enneagram types.

Later on, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson introduced ideas of wings, stress and security points and levels of development. They stated that there are three development levels for each Enneagram type; healthy, average and unhealthy. And each of these three levels has three sub-levels. This way they increased the number of the types to eighty-one.

Personality Development

The Enneagram model is mainly used to bring your personality in consonance with your essence. You are considered made of a physical body, an essence and a personality.

The Enneagram model suggests that you can develop your overall personality by creating harmony between your nature and nurture. Ichazo termed this process of harmonization as ego fixation. The experts call it personality development.

Some Enneagramists suggest that you don’t carry an essence but a behavior that dominates your life. You continue getting influenced by your wings and by your points of security and stress.

To develop your personality, you need to believe that you have one of the nine types. Then you will have to read how you react to your environment. Then you need to remove those influences which your situation has developed in you since your childhood. This way you can build your personality.

Some exercises suggested for your self-control, ego fixation and personality development are similar to concentration practice, Yoga and magical.

The philosophy is similar to that of mystics of almost all religions. They suggest that you are given a spirit and duty bound to cleanse it. You can purify your soul by abandoning the world, killing your desires and getting rid of environmental influences.

Gurdjiif suggests:

"Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is 'not his own.' 'Not his own' means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation -- all this is 'not his own,' all this is personality"

(Gurdjiif quoted by Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous)

Numerological Influence?

Some critics suggest that the enneagram tests follow the idea of the power of numbers. The model is considered akin to numerology. They indicate that Gurdjieff believes in the power of numbers 1, 3 and 7. The model utilizes the figure of zero and decimal system, which is an attempt to modernize it.

However, the supporters of the enneagram tests reject this criticism by saying that numbers are nothing more than identification of nine points on the Enneagram model. They are neither considered essential nor have any power to them.

They also claim that Gurdjieff just believed that the figures 1,3 and 7 are the primary numbers for this universe. Some identification points are generated by diving 1 into 7. The other numbers are derived by multiplying 3 with 1, 2 and 3.

Different Ideologies

The Enneagram model has gone through so many ideological revolutions that its originality has been overshadowed. Currently, different people like to explain it with a different context.

Some believe that your type is your:

•    Fundamental strength

•    Basic evil

•    Basic sin

•    Basic energy

•    Biological instinct

•    Emotional direction

•    Essence

•    Ego fixation

•    Motivational force

•    Spiritual direction

What is the truth?

What enneagram type stands for?

The exponents of this model don’t give any practical and logical reasoning for the enneagram tests. They suggest that you need to study the system instead of depending on your test results.

You have only two options.

Either accept the enneagram test results without any question or reject them altogether. Frankly speaking, it seems a lot easier to dismiss the model instead of trusting it.

Does Background of Enneagram Tests Matter?

The proponents of the enneagram tests claim that it doesn’t matter how Gurdjiif and Ichazo realized the system. However, they argue, you should focus on the benefits and results of the model.

However, a building constructed upon marshes is destined to be drowned. If enneagram model is understood in the light of modern psychology and the original structure is ignored, then these issues become more critical.

1-    ‘Essence’ is the main idea of Gurdjiif. Modern-day enneagram model can’t be explained without this idea.

2-    Personality development in the Enneagram model is different from psychological personality development.

3-    A system without belief is groundless.


Read enneagram types and their descriptions. Then choose the narrative that fits or dominates you. It is your type.

However, never make a significant career decision on the results of enneagram tests. They are used to visualize your strengths and remove your weaknesses. This model is not only a bit complex but more idiosyncratic. 

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