The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, The Enneagram for Caregivers (working title) by Holly Whiteside (Mindfulcaregiving Coach) and Herb Pearce (Enneagram Guide). Estimated publication, Summer, 2013.


Introduction to The Enneagram

Have you ever felt frustrated when trying to communicate with your loved one, or irritated by a doctor not giving you what you need, or angry at a sibling for not listening to you or not being helpful? Want to have less of that “emotional friction” in your caregiving and more balance in your life? The Enneagram is a little bit of magic that can make all of your caregiving easier.

We’ll begin by looking at who you are. After all, your personality drives your caregiving style, setting the tone of your caregiving communications, and balancing (or disrupting) your relations with your loved one, family members, and the medical community. When you discover your own type, your automatic tendencies will be revealed to you, as well as ways to strengthen your caregiving style.

Just as The Enneagram is a path to self-knowledge, it is also a new window onto the world. It will give you access to the inner world of everyone with whom you deal. You will understand why relations may have been strained with a family member. You‘ll learn easy ways to craft successful communications. You will be able to talk to others so that both of you feel understood. The Enneagram will show you why people do what they do, and why they are the way that they are. By understanding the nine Enneagram types, you will be able to see “outside the box” with greater appreciation and compassion for all.

You will learn about yourself to:

– See why aspects of caregiving are especially challenging for you;

– Suddenly see new ways to get different results;

– Solidify relationships to lighten your emotional load.

You will learn about your loved one, family members, and others to:

– Understand why they are as they are;

– Know how to speak so that they hear you;

– See more intimately how caregiving feels to them.

You will learn a new way of seeing situations, and dilemmas to:

– Choose the appropriate course of action;

– Know how to speak and listen in simple new ways;

– Understand how your unique gifts and talents are a blessing.

Last but not least, you may be surprised to learn that The Enneagram is also a system that can assist in your spiritual growth. If you want to reduce fear and anxiety, and have some fun learning while letting go of your ego, the Enneagram provides you with a road map for that evolution too.

Since you are a unique individual, we want to reassure you that The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. The Enneagram is also not a full description of every aspect of personality. There are circumstantional factors not addressed by The Enneagram that of course influence your personality formation. The Enneagram just shows you the lens through which your personality tends to express itself. Though at different times in your life you can find yourself moving among all nine types, taking on characteristics of each, you are always pulled by your primary type. It tends to define you.

The Enneagram offers clarifying insights, expanded choices, and more opportunities for growth. Join us on this fascinating and uplifting exploration as we reveal the secrets of the Enneagram and show you how to apply them during caregiving. Get ready for caregiving and its attendant relationships to get easier.


The Enneagram’s Symbol & Its System

The Enneagram is both a symbol and a system. The symbol is the nine-pointed figure that you see above. The system is a dynamic set of qualities that have been mapped onto the symbol. These qualities have evolved over  centuries into a way of understanding the human experience.

The Roots of The Enneagram

(Derived from information at

The Enneagram symbol can be traced back at least as far as the works of Pythagoras. That’s 2500 years ago! But it was in the 1960’s that a man called Oscar Ichazo, drawing on his knowledge of this ancient symbol and a number of other traditions, created the foundation of the Enneagram as we know and use it today.

The next important contributor to the modern Enneagram was Claudio Naranjo, a student of Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy. Naranjo learned the Enneagram during an intensive self-realization program offered by Ichazo in Chile in 1970. Naranjo returned from Chile that year and began teaching the basic ideas to a small group in California. As he worked with the system, he enriched the nine types with other psychological principles he had learned (such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) personality disorders, various defense mechanisms, and other personality theories).

A Jesuit priest Robert Ochs brought Naranjo’s interpretation to other Jesuit priests and seminarians around North America. Don Riso encountered the Jesuit tradition of the Enneagram in Toronto in 1973 as a Jesuit seminarian. On September 2, 1975, he began full-time work on the Enneagram, interpreting the Jesuit tradition in the light of Freud, Jung, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, and other modern psychologists. He also established the use of detailed descriptions and testable formulations thereby helping to take the Enneagram out of the realm of simple self-reportage and into the realm of psychology and objective science.

And so, as The Enneagram has been passed down to us it has been revised and honed to become a flexible and masterful tool for living. The Enneagram system is so effective that it is used in business and in government. In Sept.12, 1998, Jean Seligmann of Newsweek reported, “The CIA now uses the Enneagram to help agents understand the behavior of individual world leaders. The U.S. Postal Service recently turned to the Enneagram to help employees resolve conflicts. Clergy from the Vatican signed up for an Enneagram seminar last year. And last month the First international Enneagram Conference was cosponsored by Stanford Medical School’s department of psychiatry, with 1,400 participants who came to Palo Alto, Calif. from as far away as Japan.”

It continues to be a work in progress. And now, with The Enneagram for Caregivers, you can use its power to simplify the inner experience of your caregiving.

The Modern-day Enneagram System

While that’s a lot of wisdom to have at our fingertips, the basics of The Enneagram system are fairly simple. Let’s first take a quick trip through an overview of the nine types, and then in the next chapter we’ll take a more in-depth look at the subtleties of each personality type as they can play out during family caregiving. Be looking for the type that feels like you, as well as the key people in your life.

Later on we’ll give you insights into the communication and chemistry between people of different types. That’s when you’ll begin to see ways to shift your interactions with just about anyone.


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