"How Much of
this Universe Have You Really Explored?"
Direct Path to Our Personal Depths"
August 3-6, 2000
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Burlingame, California
by Dr. Evelyn I. Challis
Dr. Evelyn I. Challis felt she needed to
respond to a "lite" review of the conference that was
done by Steve Rubenstein of the San Francisco Chronicle. Dr.
Challis attended the whole conference rather than the quick sampling
that Mr. Rubenstein performed. Read and enjoy.
The San Francisco
Chronicle's staff writer Steve Rubenstein obviously had great
fun ("Strength in Numbers at Enneagram Event," 8/4/2000)
with his gleeful romp through the rooms of the Hyatt Regency,
site of the recent Enneagram Conference. Sadly, the loss was
the public's who, with the benefit of a more fulsome report,
could've become truly informed and educated with regard to an
ancient system of personality called the Enneagram. Isn't that
what newspaper reporting is supposed to be about? (She said naively).
At any rate, here is an attempt to fill in the holes left by
Rubenstein's piece, which, if one didn't know any better, gave
the distinct impression that he was describing the latest California
'woo-woo' craze. To the contrary, the International Enneagram
Association's Conference 2000, August 3-6, drew over 400 people
from more than 15 countries:
(pronounced any-a-gram) dates back more than 2,000 years to the
Middle East, and the ancient brotherhood of the Sufi, a Muslim
sect who could arguably be called the world's first psychologists.
They passed on this typology (the nine qualities of the Divine)
as part of their oral tradition. The Enneagram came to the West
through the mystic teachings of the Russian George Ivanovich
Gurdjieff in the 1920's and took hold in the United States in
the 60's primarily through the seminal work of Oscar Ichazo and
Claudio Naranjo (the Arica Institute) in their development of
the psychology of the types. So today we have "a distillation
of teachings from several profound schools of spiritual wisdom,
combined with insights from modern psychology. It is at once
ancient and modern, representing a marvelous and dynamic synthesis
of old and new. The likely sources of the system can be traced
to early teachings in the Judeo (Jewish mystics and Kabalists)-Christian
tradition and to early Greek philosophy." (Riso, 1996)
In the last few
decades the enneagram has flourished and is currently accepted
by much of academia: The Stanford University Medical School's
psychiatry department co-sponsored an Enneagram Conference the
summer of '94 which attracted 1400 people. The enneagram has
drawn thousands of professionals to it and within these professional
circles it is held in very high esteem for all of the usual scientific
reasons: its validity, its reliability and its usefulness in
forging a path for change from the unhealthier behaviors on the
lower rungs of each type (neuroses and psychoses) to the healthier
levels. For those with a more mystical or spiritual bent, the
enneagram has the added gift of its being able to be used as
a guide towards greater enlightenment and spiritual growth.
was a wonderful opportunity to sit at the feet of the current
generation of masters in this continually developing field: Dr.
Jerome P. Wagner, (clinical psychologist at the Counseling Center
of Loyola University in Chicago, where he has been teaching graduate
courses in the Enneagram for more than 15 years) led a panel
discussion on the latest, validating enneagram research as well
as leading a hilariously funny workshop on "Making Connections
with our Shadow Selves." Dr. Wagner was one of the first
to do formal research on the Enneagram's 'nine phenomenological
world views and perspectives.' Today he offers an Enneagram Training
and Certification Program at Loyola's Institute for Pastoral
Dr. David Daniels,
(clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford Medical School)
is a leading developer of the enneagram and he co-heads the Center
for Enneagram Studies with Helen Palmer in Palo Alto, which offers
professional training programs world-wide. Dr. Daniels, who would
see the Enneagram typology as 'nine types of Being,' gave a wonderful
workshop on "Will as Transformer: Power and Control"
guiding us in identifying our unique way of using our will within
the particulars of our type. He also wrote "The Essential
Enneagram," which is based on the understandings and philosophy
of Helen Palmer.
developed the enneagram oral tradition based on Naranjo's earlier
exploration of personality using interviewing techniques. She
elucidate's each type's way of organizing their attention: one's
attention focuses on some things in the environment and leaves
others out. "In this way, we can all learn that we are just
incomplete rather than right or wrong," she says. Her workshop
"Type and Spiritual Freedom" was itself a spiritual
experience and provided some beginning enlightenment into the
hard work and practice of spiritual growth.
Don Richard Riso
and Russ Hudson, who have created together the RisoHudson Enneagram
Type Indicator (RHETI) both gave a wonderfully informative and
meaningful workshop on "Intimacy, Contact and Wholeness
in Relationships." Mr. Riso, a former Jesuit, is co-fournder
of the Enneagram Institute and has taught for more than 20 years,
pioneering a revolutionary new approach to ego psychology through
his "Levels of Development." I am most familiar with
Mr. Riso's clear and understandable books, many co-written with
Russ Hudson: "Personality Types," "Understanding
the Enneagram," and their most recent work, "The Wisdom
of the Enneagram," any one of which would serve as an introduction
for any beginner. Hudson, one of the foremost scholars and innovative
thinkers on the enneagram today, is also co-founder with Riso
of the Enneagram Institute.
There were so
many more: Peter O'Hanrahan from Berkeley on "Enneagram
Subtypes--Instinct and Archetype," Thomas Condon from Oregon
on "Using the Enneagram to Grow and Change," Katherine
Chernick and David Fauvre from Menlo Park on the "Enneagram
Instinctual Subtypes and Psychotherapy," and Elizabeth Wagele,
who co-authored with Renee Baron, "The Enneagram Made Easy,"
a wonderfully readable and informative introduction to the enneagram,
provided us with a lovely musical event on the last day: "The
Enneagram of Music."
was a terrific smorgasbord, from academic analyses and psychological
insights to practical guides and hilarious fun and games, all
pertaining to the basic theme of the nine enneagram types, which
incidentally are: Perfectionist, Helper, Performer, Romantic,
Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Leader and Mediator. Far from
using this typology to stereotype people with easy labels, which
beginners often fall into doing, this very ancient system is
best used for understanding the inexplicable in human behavior.
Most of us can operate free of the biases of our type a lot of
the time but as Helen Palmer says in her book, The Enneagram
in Love and Work, when the pressure builds, the "bias
of each type comes into play and tends to dominate our perceptions.
Often we are blind to our own shortcomings and unconsciously
try to compensate by finding someone else with the qualities
that we are missing. The enneagram can guide us in our need to
develop these qualities in ourselves." (Palmer, 1995)
While I am aware
that Mr. Rubenstein's article on this Conference is about one-half
as long as mine, I give anyone who is interested, permission
to edit my article down by half and whatever is left can still
be used as a more accurate representation of the Conference which
both of us attended. Perhaps my headline should be: "The
Enneagram Conference As In the Eye of the Beholder." Or
better: "Unveiling our Inner Map of Reality." Or best:
"A Direct Path to Our Personal Depths."
International Enneagram Association, What's New Section: