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Enneagram Basics: The Triads



As we have seen, the Enneagram is triadic in nature.  In addition to the three Centers of Intelligence, there are three other interesting triadic groups you may want to consider as you discover and validate your type.  They are the Hornevian Groups, the Harmonic Groups, and the Harmony Groups.

Let's take a look at them...

The Hornevian Groups
The Assertives - Types 3, 7 and 8
     Moving against...or demanding...
The Compliants - Types 1, 2 and 6
     Moving toward...or earning...
The Withdrawns - Types 4, 5 and 9
     Moving away from...or withdrawing...

The Hornevian Groups (sometimes called "stances") are named in honor of Dr. Karen Horney (pronounced horn-eye), a psychoanalyst who developed Freud's work.  Horney identified three "social styles" through which we attempt to solve our inner conflicts and get our primary needs met according to our Instinctive, Feeling or Thinking Center.  Bringing awareness to the ways we unconsciously pursue our desires can help us disengage from them.

A note about the "compliant" types...they are not necessarily compliant to other people, but rather to the demands of their own inner critic.

Let's take a look at how these triads play out...

In the Instinctive Center - Types 8, 9 and 1 - "I want autonomy":

Eights demand autonomy; Nines withdraw to gain autonomy; Ones attempt to earn autonomy.


In the Feeling Center - Types 2, 3 and 4 - "I want attention":

Twos tries to earn attention; Threes demand attention; Fours withdraw for attention.


In the Thinking Center - Types 5, 6 and 7 - "I want security"

Fives withdraw for security; Sixes try to earn security; Sevens demand security.  

The Harmonic Groups
The Positive Outlook Group - Types 2, 7 and 9    
The Competency Group - Types 1, 3 and 5
The Reactive Group - Types 4, 6 and 8

The Harmonic Groups help us understand our "coping style" when we encounter conflict and difficulty, and how we respond when we don't get our needs met.  You'll notice that there are no inner lines (on the Enneagram symbol) that connect the points in each of these groups, but they share common themes and issues, and the types within each group are often confused (and misidentified) with each other.


The Positive Outlook Group - Types 2, 7 and 9: The types in this group respond to conflict and difficulty by adopting a positive attitude and reframing disappointments in a positive light, while avoiding painful and negative emotions and situations. They also tend to have issues balancing their own needs with the needs of others: Twos focus primarily on the needs of others, Sevens focus primarily on their own needs, and Nines go back and forth (often fulfilling neither).


The Competency Group - Types 1, 3 and 5: The types in this group respond to conflict and difficulty by putting aside their feelings and being objective, effective, logical and competent. They also tend to have issues around operating within structured systems: Ones operate within the rules of the system, Fives tend to operate outside the rules, and Threes go back and forth (wanting the benefits of the rules but not the restrictions).

The Reactive Group - Types 4, 6 and 8: The types in this group respond emotionally to conflicts and problems, and have difficulties knowing how much to trust others.  They also tend to have issues with seeking support versus independence: Fours seek advice, direction and support, Eights defy or rebel against advice, direction and support, and Sixes go back and forth (wanting at times to be both supported and at times to be independent). 

The Harmony Groups
The Pragmatists - Types 3, 6 and 9    
The Relationists - Types 2, 5 and 8
The Idealists - Types 1, 4 and 7

Based on the work of Dr. David Daniels, The Harmony Groups help us understand various ways in which we relate to, connect with, and engage the world.  You'll notice that to complete the Harmony Groups, lines were added between points 4 and 7 and between points 2 and 5 to create three equilateral triangles - each of which have all three centers of intelligence represented. 

The Pragmatists - Types 3, 6 and 9: Issues around how we relate to the world through our roles: Threes seek a practical and sustaining role in the world, Sixes seek a safe and secure existence in the world, and Nines seek a comfortable position or place in the world. 

The Relationists - Types 2, 5 and 8: Issues around how we relate to the world through connections: Twos move toward others to meet needs and ensure care, Fives move away from others to deliver analysis and perspective, and Eights declare or assert what is required.

The Idealists - Types 1, 4 and 7: Issues around a vision of the way the world could ideally be: Ones seek an ideal perfect world according to their internal standards, Fours seek an ideal precious world in which nothing is missing or less than hoped for, and Sevens seek an ideal positive world that is free of suffering and pain.    


Luminous triangle!

Whoever has not known you is without sense!

-- Isidore Ducasse Lautreamont

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Next Steps on Your Journey:
1. Thinking first about the Hornevian Groups, ways that we attempt to solve our inner conflicts and get our primary needs met, is your type among the Assertives (3, 7 and 8), Compliants (1, 2 and 6), or Withdrawns (4, 5 and 9)?    
2. How does your Hornevian Group ring true for you?  Can you give some real life examples?  
3. What insights do you gain from knowing your Hornevian Group?
4. Thinking next about the Harmonic Groups, ways we cope with conflict and difficulty and respond when we don't get our needs met, is your type in the Positive Outlook Group (2, 7 and 9), the Competency Group (1, 3 and 5), or the Reactive Group (4, 6 and 8),       
5. How does your Harmonic Group ring true for you?  What real life examples can you give? 
6. What insights do you gain from knowing your Harmonic Group?
7. Finally, thinking about the Harmony Groups, ways that we relate to, connect with and engage the world, is your type among the Pragmatists (3, 6 and 9), the Relationists (2, 6 and 8), or the Idealists (1, 4 and 7)?
8. What ways of relating to the world do you find reflected through your Harmony Group?  Can you give some examples?
9. What insights do you gain from knowing your Harmony Group?
10.  Thinking now of all three Triads, how do they help you validate your type (or not)?
11. Finally, let's take a brief look at the Spiritual Dimensions of the Enneagram...
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