Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge

Rate this book
The Enneagram―a universal symbol of human purpose and possibility―is an excellent tool for doing the hardest part of consciousness realizing, owning, and accepting your strengths and weaknesses. In this comprehensive handbook, Beatrice Chestnut, PhD, traces the development of the personality as it relates to the nine types of the Enneagram, the three different subtype forms each type can take, and the path each of us can take toward liberation. With her guidance, readers will learn to observe themselves, face their fears and disowned Shadow aspects, and work to manifest their highest potential.

494 pages, Paperback

First published July 31, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Beatrice Chestnut

9 books51 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,045 (50%)
4 stars
729 (35%)
3 stars
216 (10%)
2 stars
50 (2%)
1 star
12 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 204 reviews
Profile Image for David Sasaki.
244 reviews346 followers
March 20, 2017
Over the past couple of years an old interest in personality psychology has reawakened. In part, it stems from spending more time in office environments, where my success is dependent on my ability to work well with people who are different from me. Also, the more data I get from 23andme about my genetic traits, the more curious I’ve become about how nature and nurture have shaped my adult self.
Nurturing My Nature

Studies of adopted twins that grew up in different families have found that most personality traits are inherited rather than developed. In one study, researchers gave a personality questionairre to identical twins that grew up separately. Based on their responses, the personality traits most strongly influenced by heredity were need for achievement, leadership, obedience to authority, zest for life, alienation, risk-seeking, and resistance to stress. In other words, most of the traits that define how we behave in any given situation.

Researchers that study the genetics of personality now focus on the so-called “big five” of personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness. With genetic data from more than 140,000 people, there are demonstrable associations between our genes and our personality traits, but they have yet to find, say, an extraversion gene. Not only do these studies confirm that we inherit many of our personality traits, but they have also found correlations between some of those traits and other characteristics. There is a strong association, for example, between extraversion and attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder, and between openness and schizophrenia. More controversially, some research suggests that there may be associations between our personality traits and our physical traits. Studies from the Face Research Lab at the University of Glasgow have found a correlation between plump cheeks and higher rates of anxiety. Introverts produce more saliva when drinking lemon juice than extroverts.

The internet becomes a scary place when you search for these studies. If some of our personality traits are inherited and linked to our appearance, then it’s natural to wonder if there are broad personality differences that differ by race. Of course there are differences between a Chinese teenager in Beijing and a Finnish teenager in Helsinki, but how many of those changes would reverse if the Finnish teenager had been adopted as a newborn baby by Chinese parents in Beijing and vise-versa?
Traits, Situations and Self-Constructs
“Every person is in certain respects like all other people, like some other people, and like no other person.” ~ Clyde Kluckhohn & Henry Murray

A few weeks ago, I went to a happy hour after a workday that was packed with meetings and was greeted with, “we all thought you were too introverted to come out.” Instead, I was one of the most talkative and animated people at the happy hour. I wasn’t behaving out of character. I’m almost always extraverted when in group settings, though I put myself in group settings less often than most. Personality traits are real, but how they manifest themselves in any given situation depends on the person and the situation. We can learn about ourselves and others by using personality assessments like Myers-Briggs or DISC, but we run the risk of exaggerating the effect of personality traits and underestimating the importance of mood and situational context. In fact, when we attempt to explain the behaviors of others, we’re more likely to cite personality (he’s rude), while we’re more likely to explain our own behaviors based on context (I was hungry).
We Can Change
So, context matters. And so do self-constructs, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. The more we identify with the introvert construct, the more likely we are to explain our behaviors through that lens. The more we identify as “decisive,” the more decisive we are likely to become.

On the other hand, personality tests can help us see ourselves through the eyes of others. Whereas I may describe myself as “direct, intellectually curious and willing to engage in disagreement,” others may describe me as judgmental, cynical, aggressive, and even closed-minded. Personality types help us see traits that tend to bundle together and how those traits are interpreted by other types of people with different bundles of traits. And there is no shortage in the offering of personality types.

Let’s say there is total randomness in how the big five of personality traits express themselves; then there are 25 possible combinations of personality types. That’s more than the 16 personality types according to Myers Briggs , the 15 types based on the DISC assessment, or the four color-coded profiles of Taylor Hartman. And it’s slightly less than the 27 personality sub-types based on the Enneagram or or the 4000+ personality traits described by Gordon Allport.

Over the past two years I’ve read up on all of these different personality frameworks to come to a better understanding of myself, how I differ from others, and how they are likely to perceive me. Surprisingly (to me at least), the most helpful framework is the one surrounded by the most psuedo-scientific, mystical woo-woo: the Enneagram.

Author and Enneagram evangelist Beatrice Chestnut doesn’t shy away from hippie mysticism in her book The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge. Case in point:
In the chapters that follow, I will explain how the vision and technology associated with this ancient wisdom tradition come alive in the Enneagram. As we will discover, the Enneagram symbolizes this wisdom path through both its message and its mathematical-geometric structure, which expresses universal laws of nature that show how this ancient vision can be enacted, and reveal the methods for achieving it.

I would advise the scientific minded to skip chapter two and head straight to Chestnut’s clear, no-nonsense descriptions of the nine main Enneagram profiles and the three sub-types for each profile. I identified deeply with the #5 “Investigator” profile with a strong “social subtype.” This isn’t to say that it’s a complete picture of my personality traits or behavioral tendencies, but it’s pretty damn close. Among my highlights:

“Fives have analytical minds and tend to spend a lot of time pursuing their intellectual interests.”
“They see knowledge as the most secure and satisfying form of power. In the face of conflict, difficulty, or hurt feelings, this stance sees withdrawal and distance as the best strategy.”
“They are calm in a crisis. As they appreciate the importance of boundaries in relationships, they value and respect others’ boundaries and confidences.”
“Naturally austere and laconic, Fives are minimalistic and economical in the things they do, which reflects their concern with making the most of what resources they have and an ability to get by on limited supplies.”
“Fives typically report that they had an early experience of being either neglected or engulfed by others at a time when they needed other people to survive. Because there was nothing to do but to live in privation, they learned to hold onto their meager resources.”
“This leads to a tendency to withhold limited resources, and to a “greediness” or hoarding mentality when it comes to time, energy, information, and material supplies. They often pride themselves on having an ascetic or minimalistic way of life.”
“This defensive strategy naturally leads Fives to acquire habits through which they distance themselves from others. This strategy can make Fives seem aloof and uncaring, but they are much more sensitive on the inside than they appear.”
“Five’s desire to observe and reflect on life instead of participate in it actively, in spontaneous ways. Naranjo thus likens the satisfaction Fives seek in thinking to a “replacement of living through reading.” Intense thinking activity also serves the purpose of helping Fives prepare for life, a preparation that they always feel like they need to do more of because they never feel ready enough.”
“Fives’ thinking tends to focus on figuring things out, preparing for interactions, and engaging in mental classification and organization. They are also attracted to thinking because it supports looking competent, which can be a way of hiding or a way of communicating your value without revealing too much of yourself.”
“Fives both feel a need for and idealize autonomy. They highly prize self-sufficiency, a value that offers both a way of affirming and rationalizing their preference for distance from others.”
“Fives are mindful of others’ needs for space based on their own concern with privacy and protection.”
“Normally, people have some ability to say, “I want that”—to express desires and do the work they need to do to get what they want—but these Fives cannot ask and cannot take. So they must rely on preserving what they are able to acquire themselves.”
“In their search for meaning, these Fives can become spiritual or idealistic in a way that is actually counter to real spiritual attainment, because it bypasses compassion and empathy and the practical level of how people connect to each other in ordinary life. This tendency is the prototype of what is sometimes called a “spiritual bypass,” in which a person looks for and devotes himself to a higher ideal or a valued system of knowledge as a way of avoiding doing the emotional and psychological work he would need to do to grow and develop.”

As you can see, these archetypical observations aren’t intended to make us feel good about ourselves; they are far more useful. Chestnut describes the common childhood experiences that lead to coping mechanisms that become personality traits — and I readily identified with all three. Also, each chapter doesn’t stop at diagnosis; we’re given practical suggestions to understand ourselves better and experiment with approaches to address the negative aspects of our personality traits. For example, she recommends that I:

Recognize when you may be thinking about feelings rather than actually experiencing emotions … allow yourself to shift your attention to your body, with the intention of being open and alert to picking up subtle signs of emotion.
Whether it’s getting a massage, letting someone take you out to dinner, or sharing more of yourself with someone you trust, allow yourself to increase the pleasurable ways in which you participate in the external world.
Notice when your devotion to high ideals displaces an openness to what’s happening in everyday life and actually causes you to close yourself off to others.

The biggest surprise from reading over past journals is how little I’ve changed over the past 20 years. The fundamentals of my personality remain the same, and surely most of them are rooted in my genes while others are deeply encoded in my subconscious based on how I grew up. Still, emerging research suggests that there are aspects of our personality we can change. And even if we couldn’t, I still find it valuable to better understand why others perceive me differently than I perceive myself. There is a comfort and confidence that comes with self-awareness.
Profile Image for K.M. Weiland.
Author 32 books2,298 followers
November 4, 2019
Deeply insightful. I’m a fast reader, but it took me two and a half months to finish this treasure trove, since I found myself stopping every other paragraph to ponder what I was reading. It’s no exaggeration to say my experience with this book changed my life several times over. I found it one of the best and deepest resources on the subject that I’ve yet encountered.
Profile Image for Rebekah Giese Witherspoon.
261 reviews26 followers
July 1, 2017
I've recently become obsessed with Enneagram personality types (almost as obsessed as I am with Myers Briggs personality types and the MBTI cognitive function stack).

This book does an amazing job of explaining not only the 9 Enneagram types, but also the 3 subtypes within each type, for a total of 27 different types. After reading a brief description of each of the 9 types in the beginning of the book, I quickly identified myself as a 5, with a wing 4. After reading the chapter about type 5, I realized that I'm actually a sx5 (countertype of the 5). No wonder I spend my life in the contradictory state of simultaneously wanting solitude and a soulmate. :)

I did read the entire book to have an understanding of all of the types, and could see my friends and family members in the various descriptions. I love to try to understand what makes other people tick, as much as I can.

The only thing that this book is lacking, in my opinion, is a description of the various levels of health (levels of development) of each type. For that, I recommend the 9 type descriptions on the website enneagraminstitute.com. For each type, the site explains the behavior of that type when very healthy and developed, when in average health, and when unhealthy/with personality disorder.
Profile Image for Erin Henry.
1,156 reviews9 followers
January 29, 2019
Deep dive into the enneagram including the subtypes: self-preservation, social and sexual. Not great for an introduction to the enneagram (I’d recommend The Road Back to You) but great if you want more information.
Profile Image for Christina DeVane.
361 reviews31 followers
September 12, 2019
Definitely a deep dive into each number with all the subtypes and their meanings! Super interesting to listen to yet it’s probably better to have a hard copy and use this as a reference book when certain questions or numbers come up.
Profile Image for Charity.
Author 25 books115 followers
May 20, 2020
I came into this an experienced Enneagram reader, so I can't judge whether or not it would help you find your number right away -- although Chestnut does include an awesome section in the back where she contrasts each number with every other number in case of misidentifications and talks about the similarities and differences between them.

Where the gold mine of this book lies is in the subtypes section (with a minor caveat) and in the self-growth section. I have read almost every book out there on Enneagram and this is the ONLY ONE who bothers to tell you what to do to help yourself mature as your number. Most books are just, "Congrats, you are a 2, now go work on yourself." Chestnut says, "Congrats, you are a 2, these are the problem areas you need to self-observe yourself doing, and here are some techniques to help you address and change them, to become a healthier version of yourself." That alone is worth 5 stars. She does this for all 9 types, plus has an individual growth recommendation for each of the 27 subtypes (sp6 - get in touch with and learn to express your anger, for example).

It's likely to help you, if you've had type confusion between similar numbers and/or are a counter-type of your number. For example, not all 2s can relate to the social 2's driven need to do good in the community. The cute, carefree, childish self-preservation 2 might mistype as a 9 or a 7 until they read the section on the reasons WHY they are cute, carefree, and childish (to attract other people's love, affection, and care FOR THEM). There's a huge difference between the three subtypes for every number, and going through them as she does should make it easy to identify your top one and a likely second in your stacking.

My only issue is with the sexual 6, which seems specifically slanted toward a counter-phobic 6. I don't know whether to assume assume all sx6s ARE counter-phobic, or that she needed to talk to some that aren't, because the beauty/strength aspect of someone like Marilyn Monroe (full of intense self doubt, but also set herself out to be the feminine ideal of beauty as a way to attract men and their protection) seems sexual 6, but she was in no way counter-phobic or aggressive.

The rest, however, is solid, and I appreciate her thoughtful steps for self growth. Knowing your number is, after all, mostly worthless unless you can actively DO something about maturing it, learn to see what it's covering up, and take steps to resolve the blind spots and problem areas in your life. (You don't HAVE to be this way.)
Profile Image for Iman  Dirige.
11 reviews
April 25, 2022
“Social Nines can look like Type Threes because they work very hard and accomplish a lot without showing the stress of it. But they differ from Threes in that they are much more reluctant to be in the spotlight and they don’t support the group to create an image or to win admiration from others. They may also be mistaken for Twos because they are active in meeting the needs of others, but they have much less need for approval and appreciation than Twos, and are generally more emotionally steady.”

“Social Eights are more loyal, more overtly friendly, and less aggressive. They are helpful Eights—people who are nurturing, protective, and concerned with the injustices that happen to people. Male Social Eights can look like Type Nines, and female Social Eights may resemble Type Twos. However, these Eights can be distinguished from Nines and Twos because they act in more direct, powerful ways, engage more readily in conflict, and express more power and control in seeking to protect and support other people.”

Color my love & I impressed.

Although the love of my life and I will take our time to complete this book to hold a true understanding of subtypes of all archetypes, I’ve marked this book as “read” in order to write this short pre-review. I’m ecstatic to share.

As a recently acknowledged instinctual variant Social 9w1 joyfully married & equally yoked to an instinctual variant Social 8w9, “The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge“ by Beatrice Chestnut is hands down the greatest enneagram informational book in regards of assistance towards integration to God.

The depth within each archetype, subtype, and growth path is distinguishably detailed to the point of surprise for my beautiful wife and I. We appreciate the defense mechanisms listed of each type - such as dissociation by Enneagram 9, denial of vulnerabilities by Enneagram 8, manipulation and repression of needs by Enneagram 2, isolation by Enneagram 5 just to name a few.

Looking forward to sharing with others the knowledge we have gained throughout our year long studies - whether within our Christian community or at the grocery market compassionately listening to life stories from a fellow beautiful human over a warm hug.

“The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Self-Knowledge” is definitely added to our pastorship bookshelf along with “The Road Back To You” by Ian Morgan Cron. It will be referenced abundantly with The Enneagram Institute.

Enneagram has been a great foundation for our little ohana’s Bible studies and family prayers - for ourselves as a married couple, our motherhood with our two adorable children, and for others within this vast earth. This book is definitely a wonderful enneagram asset to reference for our future Metropolitan Community Church within our forever home of Puerto Rico. It is a great reminder to continue to lead with our deep compassionate empathy and belief that all human beings within this beautiful world are interconnected.🌻

Goodreads review shared publicly June 16th 2020 - coincides with our Pinterest vision boards for our humble Dirige Ohana.🌻
Profile Image for Graeme Newell.
200 reviews50 followers
January 2, 2020
Over the past few years I’ve encountered Enneagram testing again and again. This seems to be the hottest new personality test, replacing the Myers-Briggs test. I decided that it was time I finally learned what it was all about. So I took the test online and then bought this book to find out more. This is quite the comprehensive book with deep dives into each of the various types.

This book does a competent job of explaining the Enneagram and its archetypes. It’s unfair for me to pass judgment on this system knowing so little about it, but my initial impression is that I was not impressed. The entire system feels like a lot of pop psychology. It just seems to lack depth and the answers that it does provide seem rather arbitrary.

Still, if you want to learn how the Enneagram works, this is a good primer.
Profile Image for Susy C. Lamb *MotherLambReads*.
373 reviews46 followers
May 15, 2019
This was a deep deep dive into the Enneagram. Some parts were really tedious and sort of “mystic”. But I plugged away at it and understood more about the sub types. Definitely not for a beginner wanting to learn more. Felt like this one really got more into the “negatives” a lot better and really got to see myself. Self analysis is hard!
Profile Image for Bethany.
115 reviews
March 18, 2018
Great in-depth descriptions of the subtypes of each Ennegram number, as well as suggestions for growth/action, for those who want to delve a little deeper.
66 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2021
Each Enneagram type has a core objective and gets in their own way of achieving it through unconscious programming. The Enneagram journey is about waking up to these limitations and becoming more conscious of them - and finding ways to grow into more mature forms. This core objective is talked about a lot - but at times can feel. A little repetitive in my opinion. Maybe I'm just not into it enough to appreciate the depth of detail and to me it feels repetitive but. I couldn't fully finish the book. That's my opinion.
Profile Image for Sarah Koppelkam.
397 reviews14 followers
May 25, 2022
"The Complete Enneagram" was recommended as a go-to source by several Enneagram podcasts I've been listening to. In it, Beatrice Chestnut provides an essential overview to the enneagram and its legacy; gives an overview of each type and subtype; and then provides a deep dive into each type, including suggestions for growth. I found this especially valuable when it comes to learning about subtypes, as I have seen more focus on "wings" in pop-culture enneagram work. I confess I did not read this cover-to-cover but know I will return to it as needed
Profile Image for Jeremy.
723 reviews43 followers
October 31, 2021
I mean how can you resist a book written by a woman named Beatrice Chestnut? What's more, how can you resist the best book on the Enneagram in existence? Her descriptions of the instinctual subtypes changes everything!

This is practically the only thing I read during the entire month of August, as I tried to refine a Disney personality test I was working on. If that sounds like a frivolous pursuit, you're right. But HEY, I don't choose my hyperfixations, alright? My brain goes where the dopamine flows.
Profile Image for oli.
42 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2021
cabei esse tijolo me sinto livre
Profile Image for Kacie.
91 reviews13 followers
November 30, 2018
I would recommend doing some online tests and reading before tackling this book, but once I had familiarized myself with the enneagram this book was an excellent more complete and clear descriptor of how the enneagram works and what the types are like. Some of the psychological theory I fundamentally disagree with, but I still think I can draw from the typing and apply my own worldview about what is good and unhealthy and what our responsibilities are within our own types.
Profile Image for Suphatra.
202 reviews25 followers
January 4, 2016
The Enneagram is so amazing. It is a model of human personality which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. It's unique in that you are discouraged from "testing" into your type -- it's believed you can only truly discover your type through learning and awareness. It's also unique in that it's an interconnected personality system, unlike the popular Myers-Brigg system where an ENTJ has no relation to an ISFP. In the Enneagram, any type "integrates" into another type when healthy, and "disintegrates" into another type when unhealthy. This interconnected system shows a richer, fuller range of human behavior and patterns than Myers-Brigg and other typology systems.

This book by Beatrice Chestnut is one of the better books for learning about the Enneagram. I'm saying this with my bar set at the Riso-Hudson books, which are the most (in my opinion) substantive analyses of this unique spiritual personality system. I like that Riso-Hudson provides painstaking details in each type's motivations, weaknesses, and general psychology, even explaining how each type corresponds to other personality systems and psychology theories (Jung, Freud, etc).

What is interesting and meaningful about Chestnut's approach to the Enneagram is that, unlike Riso-Hudson, she skips the wings of each type (i.e. an 8w7 is the Maverick, 2w1 is the Martyr, etc) -- she instead dives head first into the instinctual variants, providing deep analysis of the sexual, social, and self-preservation instincts of each type (something that Riso-Hudson skip). I found this extremely helpful in understanding common mistypes and in learning how to type others better. For example, Chestnut explains how a Sexual One can seem like an Eight, but the defining difference is that Sexual Ones are overly social whereas Eights are under social.

I also liked that her book read like an abridged version of the Naranjo and Ichazo work on the Enneagram, the two Chilean psychiatrists that brought the mysterious 9-pointed figure into the modern world (they were pioneers, not founders -- the founder of the Enneagram is unknown). Overall, this is a light read with good in-depth analysis in the right places (on the instinctual variants of each type) and I would recommend this book as a great complement to any of the Riso-Hudson books. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,173 followers
November 16, 2016
Chestnut has her own spin on the Enneagram. I particularly liked how she lists the key beliefs and assumptions for each type and the way she laid out practical applications. She offers one of the most thorough explanations of the instinctual subtypes (self-preservation, social, sexual) that I've come across and while that particular part of the theory has yet to resonate with me, a ton of friends were able to identify their specific type because of this. I had a huge personal breakthrough while reading the chapter on Fours, which should warrant 5 stars in itself. However, I find her explanation of arrows to be confusing and even misleading and would point people toward Riso and Hudson's explanation in The Wisdom of the Enneagram instead. I also didn't like the insets on each type's Greek archetype, though I can see why others will appreciate it. Overall, a solid resource.
18 reviews
February 17, 2022
I remain convinced that one of the best paths towards compassion is mutual understanding. A keen observer might note the ways this belief reflects my own personality, and they wouldn't be wrong. Still, time and time again, I have seen - both in myself and in others - the lowering of weapons, the stirring of empathy, and the softening of the heart with love that comes when people finally see - at long last - the depth and complexity and mirrored brokenness in the person who stands before them. It can be painful, but it can also be beautiful.

This book is one way to pursue such understanding. As you turn each page, you discover a new complexity - either in yourself or in a loved one - and you see a new vulnerability - either familiar or as yet unknown - and you have a new opportunity - either to condemn the admittedly flawed or to extend empathy, compassion, and love to shared brokenness. I found myself moved to the point of tears, at times, as I finally understood why people I know and love act the way they do, as I finally saw how they think and how their experiences reinforced their faulty beliefs and how they - like I - were really just trying to use flawed tools to navigate the pain, suffering, and chaos of our world.

To shift away from flowery language (perhaps another clue to my personality), let me speak practically. Apart from the occasionally - and intentionally - repetitive passage, which I understood to just be a reminder of how the concepts functioned in the abstract, this book was absolutely brimming with quality content and useful insight. The practical applications of this information are myriad. I suspect one could successfully revolutionize and repair an otherwise broken and estranged relationship using this information. Similarly, an honest and self-reflective reader could likely achieve unprecedented levels of personal growth and inner healing by applying the tools that the author provides at the end of each personality's section.

I think one of my favourite parts of the book was the repeated and relentless reminder that no personality is better than the other and no personality is to be desired over and above the others. The author is quite clear that all of us use our personalities as fronts, as defence mechanisms, as "acorn shells". I appreciate this reminder, because it is easy to be live to the flaws of other personalities and be blind to the flaws of your own. (I say this to myself, as well.) And I think this risk of arrogance is one reason why many people dislike personality psychology, because it can be - and has been - used to advance a somewhat elitist, arrogant mentality that either says "this one is better than that" or that says "this is who I am and you just have to accept that". I appreciated the sweeping exposure the author engaged in, exposing each type for the understandable yet flawed caricature that it is. Here, no one can condemn and no one can boast.

I will note that, for those who come from a religious worldview, you may finding the author's repeated encouragement to recognize one's "essential goodness" to be grating or displeasing in some way. I must say that, having recognized that this was a worldview that the author adopted but that I did not share, I simply skipped over that unique recommendation and tried to learn as much as I could from the others. I would encourage other religious readers to do the same. While I am aware that this is evidence of the author's underlying belief system, which will no doubt have informed everything that she wrote, I remain convinced that there is much that anyone and everyone could learn from her and from the wisdom in this book, and so I would encourage people to be willing to overlook these points of disagreement and try to glean as much of that wisdom as possible.

In summary, I would recommend this book to everyone. If you read this book with a teachable mind and an open heart, I believe that you will emerge from the experience of this book a more empathetic, compassionate, and loving person.

(NOTE: For those who find it difficult to make it through a book of this length, consider reading the introduction to get an idea of the theories that inform the book, and then perhaps skip ahead to learn about your personality type or the personality type of a loved one.)
Profile Image for Ronald.
89 reviews12 followers
April 15, 2021
Extremely helpful book in terms of reflecting on the past and seeing areas for improvement personality wise. My method was something that worked for me. I watched Josh Keefe’s enneagram video a few months ago, and was inspired to take a look at the enneagram model a bit more. I got to a point where I felt like I got an overall gist of what each type was about. Then, I read this book for a bit more of the details and clearer overview. I skipped the portions about areas to improve on, since they aren’t really relevant half of the time

Through this, I was able to find a lot of things about myself through this book, and I haven’t squirmed this much reading a book since no more mr nice guy. A lot of the descriptions for my type really got me nervous, which is probably an indication of how true it rings to me. It’s still a struggle to keep doing what I need to do, but it’s a process. Let’s get to it.

The organization of the book is crystal clear. Go to this section for this. It’s can be a bit long winded, but I think it does a good job. Love the descriptions of the Odysseus parts and the passions, especially since it paints a great picture of what these passions really mean. The best part of the book, however, must be the appendix that describes the differences between the types. Freaking awesome.

Overall would recommend this

(EDIT) Thought I'd add the components that are listed for each Enneagram Type:

Enneagram type
- Basic description of what the personality type is
- Type of Triad: Head/Heart/Guts
- Core emotion: Anger/Fear/Sadness
- Main Sin/Passion
- Dante’s inferno story
- Odysseus story
- Childhood descriptions
- Main defense mechanism
- Main focus of attention
- Central cognitive mistake
- Central trap
- Type traits
- Types (social, sexual, self preservation)
- Self preservation
- Sexual
- Self preservation
- Work you can do for your type
- Self observation
- Self inquiry
- Self development
- Inner flow of chart (explains inner flow)
- Vice to virtue
Profile Image for Maria.
12 reviews
May 19, 2021
4.5 stars - An extremely thorough introduction to the Enneagram with decent, if very high-level, advice on how to use it for personal growth. Unless you're very, very interested in the Enneagram, you may be better off using this book as a kind of diagnostic tool rather than reading it cover to cover like I did. The first few chapters go into its history, structure, and use, and provide brief summaries of each subtype - from there, you can just read the applicable chapter(s). If you want to read the other chapters while you're at it, all the better!

I only have two fairly minor negatives. One is that there are bits and pieces occasionally that suggest sloppy editing - things like two periods at the end of a sentence or a typo. The other is that at the beginning of the book, during the discussion of the history of the Enneagram, Chestnut mentions its ancient roots and evidence of Enneagram-like narratives throughout history and across cultures. She doesn't get more specific than just describing those as "ancient," although each type's chapter has an example from the Odyssey. I would have liked other examples from other cultures - "ancient" is a pretty broad term! It's also okay if the ancient Greeks are the only example for which we have decent evidence, but in that case, there's no reason not to say that instead.

I will definitely hang on to this book and revisit it in the future (though not all at once) - it's an excellent reference, and I'm already itching to get back to the chapter on type Five so I can relive the experience of being publicly flayed.
Profile Image for Jennifer Fischetto.
Author 38 books100 followers
January 30, 2023
This book is amazing!

I only heard of the Enneagrams a couple of weeks ago. I took the test (okay, so I took many tests) and they said I was a 6 most of the time, a 5 a couple of times, and a 4 once). I have social anxiety so the 6 kinda fit, but the idea of wanting guidance (eh) and community (oh, heck no!) didn't sit well with me, so I continued my research.

I found YT coaches and online articles and eventually, someone said to take the test as you were in your 20s. I'm 55. I've definitely changed somewhat. But that didn't help much (got the second 5). THEN someone told me that the enneagram is based on your Core Motivations (fears, desires, weaknesses, and longings) and NOT your behaviors. Ohhhh!

I watched more videos and while some of the 4 info fit, not all of it. I don't expect to be the fourest of 4s, but I didn't feel aligned to the core desires, which is a big part of this.

So I bought this book and another by the same author. And wow!
I AM the fourest of 4s. ;)
The way Beatrice described 4s in this book was spot on to how I felt in my 20s and 30s and on my lowest days today.

She covered ALL of the language used to describe a 4, some of which wasn't available online in any of the platforms I searched. There's practical advice on how to become more healthy. Some of which I've been doing over the years and some I just accidentally started doing--not realizing it was key for me. I guess I connected with it without knowing why.

I feel relieved and glad that I ignored the tests and looked deeper. I'm happier that I purchased this book. I can't wait to see what the second one tells me.
57 reviews10 followers
March 25, 2019
I really enjoy books that encourage introspection and this book definitely does that through the lens of the Enneagram. It was thorough and very informative if a bit rote at times. I thought it didn't include enough positives of the different types. Its focus is self-improvement rather than a holistic view of the types - pros and cons. I was left needing to do my own research on the positives of each of the types.
Profile Image for Jordan Stephens.
104 reviews7 followers
September 13, 2020
As an Enneagram counter-type, this book spoke to me more than any other 101 or 201-level Enneagram book I've read. I often feel like authors assume, for example, that all 3s are social-instinct 3s, leaving us countertype 3s (self-preservation) not feeling very spoken to. But Chestnut does a great job of reaching all types AND instincts. She also provides practical paths of growth not only for each type but also for each subtype.
Profile Image for Howard.
283 reviews4 followers
June 26, 2022
This is a great book, but very hard to work with. It is mostly a catalog of the personality types, In the appendix, there is a very useful comparison of all of the 27 types she documents. I haven't figured out mine yet, I'll go back and study it more. But I think this is a very helpful book to understand the personalities you encounter in everyday living.
Profile Image for Dallyce Potess.
22 reviews10 followers
April 11, 2018
The most comprehensive enneagram text I have ever read. I can tell Beatrice Chestnut put her heart and soul into this work. I own a few other books on the enneagram but I find myself reaching for this one over and over.
Profile Image for Bethany Ehrlich.
15 reviews4 followers
April 27, 2019
Fascinating read about different personalities. It has been helpful for me in thinking through my interactions with others. The author’s worldview is interesting to, unlike a humanist she believes that we are all “asleep” and need to wake up and change our weaknesses.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
425 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2021
Really helpful for deciding between types as well as knowing what each subtype looks like. As a result I know for sure that I’m a type 5 with sexual subtype and a 4 wing. Didn’t really know my wing before this book but now I’m positive on my subtype and wing.
Profile Image for Samantha Nowatzke.
570 reviews3 followers
December 12, 2021
Comprehensive guide to the Enneagram. I especially appreciated the sections discussing how types interact with one another and mistyping. Hard to take it all in at once but will be a good resource to look back on.
Profile Image for Lisa Smith.
222 reviews26 followers
March 25, 2018
This resource has a good overview of the three subtypes of each of the nine Enneagram types
Profile Image for Mariya.
27 reviews2 followers
December 30, 2018
Excellent introduction to the enneagrams study. In my view, it is a more comprehensive description of personalities and their traits than MBTI.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 204 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.