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Enneagram and Spiral Dynamics
Chris Cowan, Natasha Todorovic, Fabien & Patricia Chabreuil interviewed by Jack Labanauskas (Traduction par Fabien Chabreuil)

[Editor's note: The following conversation(s) took place over the span of a few months during several exchanges with Christopher Cowan and Natasha Todorovic, authors and teachers of Spiral Dynamics; with Fabien and Patricia Chabreuil, co-authors of several books in French on the Enneagram and Jack Labanauskas.

After Fabien and Patricia learned Spiral Dynamics, the Chabreuils immediately recognized how this system differed but complemented the Enneagram. They spent two years verifying the practical implications by observing and interrogating their students and found the results both encouraging and useful.]

Jack Labanauskas: Fabien and Patricia, tell us about your research linking the Enneagram and Spiral Dynamics. Why is it important to make these connections? How did you find out about Spiral Dynamics and would you give a brief explanation to our readers?

Fabien Chabreuil: Something strange happened to me in 2002, during a training. I was sitting next to a participant named Michael. After we were introduced, he said: "Ah, you teach the Enneagram. I sort of studied that model some time ago, but it never really interested me." That was quite a shock! How could anybody not be interested in the Enneagram? So I asked him, "maybe you could not find out your type?" "I did," he replied, "I'm clearly a type One. Anger and perfectionism drive my personality, but I am not centered in BLUE."

Jack: Centered in BLUE?

Fabien: That's what I thought too. Actually, BLUE comes from a model called Spiral Dynamics that describes how human personality works; but whereas the Enneagram considers it steady (one type for a lifetime), Spiral Dynamics proposes that human personality evolves through a set of levels. Several levels can coexist at the same time.

Patricia Chabreuil: We always pay attention to people who do not like the Enneagram. They often give us an opportunity to better our knowledge of the profiles or our pedagogy. Sometimes they give us the opportunity to improve the model and make it more accurate. That is how we came up with the Unified Model of the Enneagram and the counterpassions. [see these articles respectively in EM Nov. 1998 & Oct. 2002]

Fabien: What was new with Michael is that he could recognize himself in the model, but he thought it described him inaccurately. Roughly speaking, the basic patterns of the types, mainly passion and fixation, were relevant, but most of what Michael read in books about the Enneagram did not mean much to him.

Jack: That surprises me. Usually the hardest part is identifying your basic patterns and accepting that your life is largely driven by your passion and your fixation.

Patricia: You're right. Michael's problem was the opposite of what we usually encounter. He was informed enough to know that he was driven by type One's patterns so his doubts about the model were even more relevant.

Fabien: That's where Spiral Dynamics come in, but as a French saying puts it, you'd better talk to God rather than his saints. Spiral Dynamics is the popularized version of a model built by the American researcher, Clare W. Graves [Professor Emeritus, Union College, Schenectady, NY], and was later simplified and applied by two of his mentees, Christopher Cowan and Don Beck. Chris Cowan and his associate Natasha Todorovic, whose contribution is fascinating, have agreed to present the model.

Jack: OK! So what is Spiral Dynamics?

Chris Cowan: First of all, Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram share the idea that people think in different ways – that people from the same family, company, or country have totally different worldviews. Like the Enneagram, Spiral Dynamics brings some order to the apparent chaos of the human psyche. It provides a framework describing the evolution of worldviews for individuals as well as for organizations and societies.

Natasha Todorovic: The main difference is that Spiral Dynamics does not define a set of types. It's a dynamic unfolding process that describes why societies and individuals evolve or stagnate. Each of the systems emerge if the individual has the required capacities and if life conditions make it necessary. Clare W. Graves, the genius behind the research and the theory, talked about emergent bio-psycho-social systems.

Jack: Can you describe those systems in practical terms?

Chris: For pedagogical reasons and simplification, each system in SD was assigned a color, even though Dr. Graves primarily used letter pairs. The first level is BEIGE. In the Stone Age, BEIGE represented the highest form of development. Its only concern is to satisfy instinctive physiological needs, such as looking for food, or reproduction.

Natasha: Human beings' evolution is followed, in a short period of time, by a corresponding evolution in society. Infants start their lives with a BEIGE period. Later, those concerns are still present, but they are no longer a priority in our lives, unless we encounter serious difficulties. For instance, some diseases, like Alzheimer's, take people back to a primarily BEIGE way of living and responding.

Jack: It seems that BEIGE corresponds to the self-preservation instinct in the Enneagram. And what color follows BEIGE?

Chris: After BEIGE comes the PURPLE world. The thinking is animistic. Though there is no real sense of Self yet, the individuals sacrifice themselves to the wishes of the elders, to what the ancestors and the spirits command. Being part of a tribe is the means to ensure your safety in a frightening world that's full of mysterious powers.

Natasha: Currently we see some of this in the world of anthropology and in childhood. Nevertheless, its traces are still visible today in superstitions, in the importance of reciprocal contacts, in rituals, in blood kinship. The impact of this level is often underrated, particularly in the context of globalization and international relations. The next level…

Jack: Sorry to interrupt. When and why do we go to the next level?

Chris: Each system in the Spiral appears according to the life conditions the human being confronts. It is awakened to solve the main problems caused by those life conditions. But, as a consequence, the levels might change the human being. Some of those changes are positive. Others are negative and create new problems. As they accumulate, a new system is needed.

Fabien: As a type Seven, I like to explain that with a metaphor. You are in a room. The life conditions make it cold. You put a heater in the room. As planned, that heater changes the life conditions by making the temperature more comfortable. But at the same time, it dries out the air and, some time later, without really making any connection between those facts, you develop allergies. Your heater, which was supposed to solve all your problems, created new ones and, affected by a change you thought was positive, your life conditions become uncomfortable again. Thus you want a new change. You start that change by taking anti-histamines every day. Great, you are breathing again. The problem seems to be definitely solved. Yet, some time later, because of the drowsiness due to the drugs, you make a lot of mistakes in your personal as well as your professional activities. A new change is now essential, etc.

Chris: To it sum up, each level of the Spiral solves problems caused by the previous level and creates problems that will need to be solved by the next one.

Jack: Until…?

Natasha: The system has no end. So far, eight levels appear to have emerged. When the human being is aware that the eighth level creates its own share of problems, as Graves said: "He will be off on his ninth level quest. As he sets off on each quest, he believes he will find the answer to his existence. Yet, much to his surprise and much to his dismay, he finds at every stage that the solution to existence is not the solution he has come to find. Every stage he reaches leaves him disconcerted and perplexed. It is simply that as he solves one set of human problems he finds a new set in their place. The quest he finds is never ending." Spiral Dynamics is an open system, not one focused on an end state or perfection.

Chris: Among the problems caused by each level, we find the individual/collectivity dialectic. One system favors the expression of the Self and the next system sacrifices the Self to the needs of the community. Too much individualism creates problems that human beings try to solve by fitting into a group. After some time, that creates frustration and difficulties and the pendulum switches back to an individualistic level.

Jack: So after PURPLE, we find the next level favors the Self?

Chris: Exactly! After each cool color, in which the Self is sacrificed, comes a warm color where it is expressed. The next color after PURPLE is RED.

Natasha: RED is the world of power and domination, impulsiveness and the ego. The congruent way to cope with an unpredictable world where you are discovering a sense of self for the first time, and overwhelming emotional drives, is to be the strongest and toughest around with a reputation of being so. Those centralized in this system do not sensate guilt because they don't have the chemistry for it, yet. Thus, there is no long term, consequential thinking. This is a system that does not respond to punishment and is most likely to be punished by our current values in society. Punishment only reinforces that they were right about their view of the world.

Jack: In human development, that sounds like the mindset of the "terrible twos!"

Natasha: I would be cautious about comparing it to child development since this is a model of adult behavior, not chronological development. In a very general sense, though, that's right. During that period in children's development their favorite word seems to be "no," and parents have a terrible time. We often have problems in the teenage years – puberty – as well. It's a very important system to understand for at-risk-youth and some street crime. It can also be incredibly creative and think outside the box. When they think of RED, many people associate it with violence. But violence can come from many systems. If we use this system well, we want to know what conditions led to the violence – why? If it was an impulsive and uncontrollable act, then it might well have been based in this kind of thinking; but if there was planning and consideration, then it could well come from other systems. It is the prevailing reality of life in some countries and neighborhoods. The film Monster is a great example.

Chris: Even if our culture calls itself civilized and tends to reject RED, it is important to understand that this level, as any other level, is an essential step in human development. With RED, a real sense of Self appears, supported by a great power to act without constraints.

Jack: What happens when that self-centeredness becomes excessive?

Chris: If there is the capacity, BLUE emerges.

Jack: Just like that?

Chris: No, and that's an important point. Dr. Graves' work, more than Spiral Dynamics, describes subsystems between systems. Each change of level can be seen as a continuous transition along a wave; but to keep the model operational, it is simpler to talk about the big steps. For instance, RED is followed by RED/blue, then red/BLUE, before getting to BLUE, strictly speaking. Those details are essential to fully understand the theory, but they are too complex for this article.

Natasha: With BLUE appears the awareness of linear time and concerns around mortality, thus the need to give meaning to life, and the rise of guilt rather than just shame. There is one right way, ordained by a Higher Truth, to do things, to organize the world and society. That transcendent source of Truth punishes and rewards. A social order is created with which the individual complies in hopes of a future reward.

Jack: Can we say that Christian religions or communism are in BLUE?

Chris: Spirals levels often run in combinations, not pure tones. But you are essentially right – many such systems strongly express BLUE. Your question gives me a good opportunity to introduce another aspect of the model. Each level describes a system of values. But we make a distinction between surface values and hidden values – stated ideals and deeper ideologies. Spiral Dynamics describes deep value systems, values structures we are more or less unaware of. Each system can express itself through a vast number of surface values systems that are apparently very different. That's why two antagonist systems such as Catholicism and communism can be connected to the same level of the Spiral. A BLUE container can hold diverse contents.

Fabien: That's another aspect that Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram have in common. A type in the Enneagram consists of a set of patterns the individual is more or less aware of. Each of those patterns can express themselves in a vast number of different personalities. For instance, the sense of beauty is a main line in types Four's lives. But I know some type Fours who express it through Gregorian chants and others by working on car bodies. Another example: all type Ones have a moral, values driven life, but we don't know anything about those values.

Jack: I assume the same problem afflicts Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram. Finding your position on one or several Spirals is not obvious and requires that you analyze yourself with honesty and awareness.

Fabien: You are right. Especially because a set of surface values can on the surface look like one of the Spiral's levels and yet correspond, as far as hidden values are concerned, to another level.

Jack: Could you give us an example using the levels we have talked about so far?

Patricia: A cult guru may use a BLUE surface speech (let's sacrifice ourselves today for our future spiritual awakening), but in fact he may only look for immediate satisfaction of his impulses, power, fame, fortune at the expense of his followers. This is the expression of RED and probably other levels we have not talked about yet. Although it's not true of all cult leaders, somme might be characterized in this way.

Jack: That's clear. So after BLUE, we switch back to an individualistic system.

Natasha: That's right. Now comes ORANGE , a level we are familiar with since it's prevalent in current western culture. In ORANGE, the world is seen as full of opportunities to reach success, to achieve results, to have influence and to achieve autonomy. Those in ORANGE seek productivity and take calculated risks. The important thing is to be a winner and to control change.

Chris: ORANGE brings us the introduction of rationality as we conceive it since the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. There are many possible ways to do and to be, but one is the best and that is found through study and research. With its strong individualism, ORANGE also brings, at least in theory, equality of possibilities, no matter what your ethnic group, your gender or your culture – if you can produce results. ORANGE believes in historical and personal progress. Of all the levels identified to this date, ORANGE is by far the most materialistic. Thus it is in that field that its influence on the world has been the most important, for instance in our everyday comfort, agriculture, transport, globalism, and information exchange.

Jack: Individualism and materialism create limited world, don't you think?

Chris: This leads to the emergence of the next level, GREEN. In GREEN, the attention turns towards those who were excluded by ORANGE and brings back a sense of the group. It becomes important to take human needs into consideration, to belong to one or several communities, to live in harmony and to look for consensus.

Natasha: The thinking is relativistic with a focus on people, human and environmental needs and interdependent living. Ideas are considered in their context and all members of a group are listened to and their choices respected as much as is possible. Functioning becomes more intuitive. Equality and a balanced life are often core values. Collective responsibility regarding how the world goes appears, as does doubt and ambiguity.

Jack: It seems that values play an increasingly important part.

Natasha:Yes. It is the current emerging system in Western culture, and it is getting some significant impact, especially in some pockets in Northern European countries: Denmark and Sweden certainly have more than the US.

Chris: Although GREEN is still just forming in most places, there are two more systems, both of them still marginal. We encounter them in individuals, in small groups and organizations, but they do not prevail yet in any country's culture. In some ways, the next two appear to be repeats of the first two, but at a higher level. The first one, YELLOW, is notable for a reduction compulsiveness and fears which often drive the first six systems.

Jack: Could you be more specific about those fears, maybe sum up the first six levels?

Natasha: In BEIGE a dominant fear might be those natural, instinctual fears such as loud noises and heights; it's good programming for escaping saber tooth tigers and things with claws, fur and fangs, as well as not falling off cliffs. In PURPLE the dominant fears might include evil spirits, curses, or angering the ancestors or violating taboos. In RED there is no open admission of fear, but powerful others are respected and shame is dreaded. In BLUE fears might include being victimized by someone in RED, fear of chaos and social disruption. Concern with sin and evil, mortality and punishment take high priority. ORANGE might include fears of failure, of financial ruin, of one's image being tainted, of missed opportunities, or out of control. GREEN fears might include rejection or not being liked by others, fear of freedoms being taken away, or social disapproval for hurting feelings or harming others.

Jack: So after GREEN, fear disappears?

Natasha: It's still there! But it is not the driving force it once was. The attention turns towards existence problems, rather that survival problems. Fears become concerns, not debilitating drives.

Patricia: It is a bit like in the Enneagram. Any ego can feel and does feel envy once in a while. But for Fours, it is the core emotion of the way they function. It is structural, whereas for any other type, it is circumstantial and therefore less important. In the same way, fear is structural for the first six Spirals' levels, whereas it is circumstantial for the following ones.

Jack: You mentioned two features of the second tier levels.

Chris: Let's make it quite clear that the repeat of a basic six systems is just a hypothesis – a fascinating one, but only a hypothesis. That said, the second feature that seems to be shared by the seventh and eighth levels is that, little by little, a global awareness of what all other levels bring appears, as well as a need to connect internal and external forces and to accept simultaneously order and chaos. As Graves said, it's simply using more of the brain that is there.

Jack: How does it show?

Natasha: There comes a time when individuality, sacrificed in GREEN, comes back. Collective values keep their meaning, but belonging with the peer group is no longer an end in itself. YELLOW appears and this is also a relativistic, situational and interdependence-oriented system. In YELLOW the individual considers that the world is at risk and neither change nor lack of change is the norm. Thus, uncertainty and chaos are inevitable and ambiguity is a totally acceptable way of life.

Chris: YELLOW approaches this world with systemic thinking. It notices interdependences and accepts with flexibility differences and flows. In YELLOW more important than integration is the idea of differentiation. There is no need or compulsion to get finished, simply to understand something is the key. Those in this system favor being functional and dislike things which are not, often authoritarianism and competition are dislikes as well and when faced with this, if they can't change it, they simply vacate the scene.

Jack: Does the individual/community switch continue after YELLOW?

Natasha: Apparently, yes. After YELLOW comes TURQUOISE. But YELLOW is already extremely rare. Probably no more that a minute percent of the world's population have regular access to that level. TURQUOISE is even harder to find. Graves thought he had a handful of cases and we have found none in our current research. The current description of TURQUOISE is imprecise and will have to be refined and completed as this level emerges.

Chris: It is an example of a field in which the difference between surface values and deep values is essential. The need to preserve all life goes way beyond the "common good" speech sometimes heard in ORANGE, or the concept of "extended community" often found in GREEN, or even the connection to elements that exists in PURPLE. We have already talked about it, but I insist because it is one of the essential points to really understand the model.

Jack: One of the points? Could you give us the others?

Chris: It is important to understand that no level is better than any other. One level is good if it enables people to adjust to their life conditions. That is all. There is no reason to move to the next level just for the sake of it. That would be an ORANGE worldview, focused on the idea of progress, and willingly competing to reach the Spiral's highest possible level. Among other things, it is certain that you are not smarter when you reach one level or another.

Fabien: In a magazine I read, a person (we will kindly keep the name secret) describes three levels after TURQUOISE, levels that person represents, of course. I even read a text about a third tier!

Natasha: We see that all the time and it's evidence that they have done neither their homework nor research involving clear understanding of this model. Grandiose claims without fact or data are very easy to make and often come from a kind of ORANGE hypertrophy. Many of the same people believe it is their mission to grow people. There is no reason to force other people to change. Graves had a great phrase he liked repeating: "Damn it all, people have a right to be who they are!"

Jack: Are there some other points you would like to talk about?

Natasha: We have also mentioned that Spiral Dynamics is not a typology. No one is a YELLOW or a BLUE. People, at some point in their lives, in a given context, can express one or more levels. This dynamic, this complexity makes Grave's model so rich – systems in, not types of people.

Fabien: This is also important from our point of view. Since it is not a typology, Spiral Dynamics does not compete with the Enneagram. Thus the point is not to make connections between two models aiming for the same goal, but to understand how they can complement and enrich each other.

Jack: It is true that, listening to the description of the different levels, it was sometimes difficult not to think of certain types in the Enneagram. RED and type Eight, or ORANGE and type Three, for instance. How can we put all this together?

Fabien: We have been observing and asking questions of people around us for almost two years to see if and how both systems can coexist. The results of that survey support the validity of both systems and respect their specifics. Every morning, when we wake up, we are convinced that we are the same person we were the night before, and ten years before, and in our childhood. Yet, and it may sound like a paradox, we also have the feeling that we have deeply changed.

Patricia: The Enneagram describes with extraordinary subtlety the steady part of our personality. It is the enneatype we keep from the beginning of our life until the end. Which doesn't keep the Enneagram from being dynamic and from integrating a certain number of changes, with the growth of the wings, or with the disintegration or integration process. This process represents a major psycho-spiritual evolution, that independent of the changes described by Spiral Dynamics.

Fabien: Spiral Dynamics describes with as much subtlety as the Enneagram another aspect of our personality: the way we adjust to life conditions, and the way we fit into a social structure. We think that, for a more thorough understanding of how we and others function, we need to use both approaches together. Our observations show that both systems can be used fully.

Patricia: All types in the Enneagram can have access to the Spiral's levels…

Fabien: … and all levels can be experienced by all Types!

Jack: Are you pulling the "all is in everything and vice versa" trick on me?

Fabien: Yes. All combinations are possible, but they are not equal. Let's talk about the concept of affinity between a Type and a Spiral's level. A Type may feel comfortable in one particular level because it enables the Type to fully express its personality; or on the contrary, feel uncomfortable because that level does not match its natural way of functioning.

Patricia: This is a bit like traveling. In some countries, you feel immediately comfortable; the culture seems familiar. In other countries, people look unfamiliar to you and you need more time to adjust.

Fabien: In the process of growing up, humans go through different levels of the Spiral. Some levels feel more natural and comfortable than others. A person might find it hard to leave one level and go to the next, even if life conditions require it. In Enneagram terms we would say that in such instances an individual rigidly clings to their personality instead of adjusting to changes in the environment. So certain levels encourage clinging to the personality which slows down the adjustment to the new environment.

Jack: Could you give us some examples?

Fabien: Sure. The chart sums up how each Type can feel at home or not in each Spiral's level:

In or outside one's element
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
The description of this system is imprecise and incomplete. Samples are too few.
cp=counterphobic – s=social subtype – x=sexual subtype
a=mental as support center – m=instinctive as support center
© Fabien & Patricia Chabreuil, Paris, 2004, 2006.

A complete discussion of this chart requires a thorough knowledge of Spiral Dynamics. However, we can rapidly go through the main aspects for each enneatype.

Patricia: Ones are particularly comfortable in BLUE. The existence of an absolute Truth, of specific rules defining the right way of doing things, suit type One. The negative, sometimes punishing attitude towards behaviors seen as deviant easily matches an egotic type One's functioning. The sacrifice of Self required by this level is easy. Of course that does not mean that all Ones are centered in BLUE. It means that for Ones reaching the BLUE level in the Spiral is easy and once there, it's difficult to detach from BLUE. Because they feel so at ease in there, Ones prefer to "live" there and even when circumstances require a move to ORANGE, Ones put up more resistance than other types.

Fabien: Twos do not like RED. RED's impulsiveness and potential to explode frightens them. They feel much more comfortable in GREEN, which is sensitive and takes others more into consideration; but that level is probably too egalitarian for them. Twos are one of the Types who haven't found a world yet that seems perfect for them.

Patricia: Thanks to their ability to adapt and to their passion, deceit, Threes are able to feel comfortable in any level. But individualistic, opportunity-driven, competitive ORANGE is their favorite field. That causes a big confusion between Threes and ORANGE . We will get back to that later. GREEN, egalitarian , and YELLOW, operating on the basis of principles, suit him far less.

Fabien: Like Twos, Fours have not yet found a world that suits their ego. Fours are sensitive, caring and respectful of others, that's why they could easily like GREEN. But GREEN implies a level of sacrifice of the Self that Fours are not comfortable with.

Patricia: Rationality and scientific progress are an ORANGE feature and perfectly suit Fives. He also appreciates VIOLET who seeks to understand the world, and YELLOW which addresses the world through the mental and the collect of information. To the contrary, Fives cannot bear BLUE's existence of an absolute and indisputable Truth.

Fabien: Sixes can feel comfortable in strong, hence secure, social structures: PURPLE with its traditions, its referring to authority and its wish to find an explanation for the world; BLUE, there again, with its authority, rules and belonging. But counterphobic behaviors can lead types Six to reject those same systems.

Patricia: Highly developed type Seven's individualism, which is centered around avoiding pain and satisfying impulses, deeply connects them to RED. Sevens also feel comfortable in ORANGE: they share its wish for material success, the same progress-orientated optimism, the same taste for change and technology. If types Seven manage to discipline their mind, YELLOW, which is curious and understanding-oriented, can play a prominent part.

Fabien: RED, which favors strength, refuses to be dominated, likes fighting to get power and control is Eights' big temptation, the level in which they can satisfy their taste for action. On the other hand, GREEN's search for consensus, and the rhythm that goes with it, can seem unbearably soft to type Eight.

Patricia: Last but not least, Nines. They are horrified by RED's impulsive violence. They feel reassured by the traditionalism of PURPLE and to a lesser extent BLUE; but GREEN, with its search for consensus inside the community and its purpose to belong represents their main values but also their potential shortcomings: vagueness, inaccuracy and indecisiveness.

Jack: This idea also appears in the Enneagram: our biggest strength is our biggest weakness. Because we know how to function in a level, we tend to get stuck in it. On the other hand, we can miss interesting information from levels that seem initially off-putting. Using Spiral Dynamics and the Enneagram in tandem can help therapists and coaches fill the gaps in their understanding of client behavior.

Fabien: Not only therapists and coaches, but also parents can help their children as they grow up. On a personal level, we can understand our own reluctance and difficulties. What's more, bringing both systems closer enables us to foresee difficulties adjusting to structures. For instance, if you hire a Seven in a department that is centered in BLUE, you may have problems.

Jack: Do you think that considering these two models in conjunction benefits both?

Fabien: I think the affinity between a Type and a Spiral's level can sometimes distort the way we describe Types.

Patricia: That is one of our pet topics. An enneatype is a favorite center, an inner and/or outer use of that center, an orientation, a compulsion, a passion-virtue pair, a fixation-holy idea pair and a main defense mechanism. If you push it, that's all there is to it, and the whole Enneagram could be described on both sides of one page. But to be more precise, to make the identification easier, to make the model more effective, the Enneagram community wrote tens of thousands of pages! For the same reason we have observed, researched and questioned people of all enneatypes.

Fabien: Now let's assume that, statistically, most Ones stopped their growth in BLUE, or went further, but kept a hypertrophied BLUE. In that case, our description of One might mix features of type One, and features of BLUE that have nothing to do with type One. You remember I mentioned Michael, the person I met in a training? That was his criticism about the Enneagram: "I'm clearly a type One. Anger and perfectionism drive my personality, but I'm not centered in Blue."

Patricia: For instance, a deservedly highly respected member in the Enneagram community writes: "If you are a One, […] you'll feel secure in a workplace that provides clear guidelines and a strict demarcation of responsibilities." The same person writes: "They need to know the rules and how to follow the rules to get the job done." Another person describes type One as "rule-bound".

Fabien: No, this is not type One. This is type One–BLUE. When Michael reads those sentences, he cannot fully recognize himself in the Enneagram model. He considers that it is flimsy, that it accurately describes some parts of his personality, but is totally inaccurate about other parts.

Patricia: And what about our description of type Eight, that is often a bit too RED?

Fabien: Not to mention the description of type Three. In western culture ORANGE is dominant and types Three, who seek social success, easily adjust to the ORANGE level. Our portrayals of Threes, apart from describing their basic patterns, are overly influenced by ORANGE . That puzzled us for a long time. We saw many people who knew that they were not types Three and yet showed so many features traditionally linked to that type. Actually, what we thought was type Three was in fact ORANGE.

Jack: What can we do to better discriminate?

Fabien: Two things. First, we should pay more attention to distinguishing between patterns that are type based and patterns that are unique to the individual. For instance, nothing in type One's basic features demands there be rules.

Patricia: The second thing is to welcome minorities! Even if most types One have a strong and frequent access to the BLUE level, let's try to define new combinations like type One-GREEN, type One-YELLOW, etc, and let's do it for all nine types.

Jack: That would be a huge task!

Fabien: Tell me about it! We hope that this article in the EM will make many readers want to look further into Spiral Dynamics and take part in that task. All contributions are welcome, feel free to contact us.

Jack: Obviously, it is also a way to make the Enneagram more transcultural?

Patricia: Of course. People from all over the world are passionate about the Enneagram, but most of them come from western countries. For economic or other reasons, our type descriptions do not take enough of other countries' cultural specifics into consideration. Introducing all the possible combinations between enneatypes and Spiral Dynamics levels would remedy this situation.

Fabien: Making the Enneagram more specific to make it more universal.


Chris Cowan or Natasha Todorovic: NVC Consulting, PO Box 42212, Santa Barbara CA 93140-2212, USA. Phone: +1 (805) 962-0366. Fax: +1 (805) 962-0306 Email: Web: &
Fabien and Patricia Chabreuil: Institut Français de l'Ennéagramme, 66 Champs Elysées, F-75008 Paris, France. Phone : +33 6 14 37 55 98. Email: Web: &