The three Centers of Intelligence of the Enneagram have often been described as a three-legged stool. To keep the stool level and upright, all three legs need to be in balance. Our tendency is to be out of balance, each according to our compulsions and fixations. Most of our attention goes to the drives of our Home center/point. It’s the Stress point and Stress center that play a pivotal role in reining in those compulsions and bringing our core personality into balance.
The two kinds of types, Exterior and Interior, access their Stress centers differently. [See the Center Relationships chart for details on each type.]
When Exterior types (the six types connected by the lines of the hexad, 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8) are functioning on autopilot, their Stress center supports and fuels their compulsions.
Energy flows ONE-WAY.
The Stress Center drives the Home Center.
The Security Center is least effectively accessed.
All types are not created equal—at least in terms of how they relate to the three Centers of Intelligence and, therefore, how they are out of balance. The way we move around our triad can be described as a particular pattern of motion. Some of the types have one pattern of motion and some of the types have a different pattern of motion.
I call the types connected by the lines of the hexad (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8) Exterior types because they’re located at either end (the exterior) of their respective centers:
8 and 1 in the Doing center
2 and 4 in the Feeling center
5 and 7 in the Thinking center
I refer to the types connected by the lines of the triangle (3, 6, and 9) as Interior types because they’re located in the middle (interior) of their respective centers.
Exterior types are pretty straightforward. A Type 2, for example, could have a 1 wing or a 3 wing (meaning it could be strongly influenced by one of the types on either side). Or it could be a straight-up 2 with no wing. And as is true with all types, a 2 can be high-functioning, low-functioning, or somewhere in between. What is true for all Exterior types—but not true for Interior types—is that each Exterior type always has the same stress point and the same security point. All 2s, for example have 8 as their stress point and 5 as their security point. Continue reading
The circle of the Enneagram symbol contains two linear figures, the triangle linking points 3–6–9 and the hexad linking points 1–4–2–8–5–7. (See the diagram to the right.)
The direction of the lines of the hexad pertains to what is known as the process Enneagram. Although I’ve been aware of the process Enneagram for years, I haven’t studied it, so I’m not a reliable source for defining it or explaining how it works. [Both John G. Bennett and Anthony G.E. Blake have written about the process Enneagram.]
In the psychological Enneagram, the three Centers of Intelligence organize the nine types into groups of three: Doing (8, 9, 1), Feeling (2, 3, 4), and Thinking (5, 6, 7). And within the psychological Enneagram, there are three triads—three equal triangles—each with a “foot” in one of the centers:
3 (Feeling) / 6 (Thinking) / 9 (Doing)
2 (Feeling) / 5 (Thinking) / 8 (Doing)
1 (Doing) / 4 (Feeling) / 7 (Thinking)