Enneagram Dimensions

Exploring the life themes
of the 27 subtypes from the perspective of soul

by Susan Rhodes
404 pages, $22.95

Read Chapter 1

See the list of film & TV themes by subtype

In my first book, The Positive Enneagram, I presented an optimistic, non-dualistic approach for working with the nine enneagram types. In Archetypes of the Enneagram, I use the same approach for exploring the 27 enneagram subtypes.

Drawing from the insights of positive philosophers such as Carl Jung, James Hillman, Robert Johnson, Mark Epstein, Joseph Campbell, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Margaret Wheatley, Arthur Koestler, and Ken Wilber, I propose a completely new framework for enneagram work—a framework that enables us to envision the 27 enneagram subtypes as 27 paths to individuation. I use examples from film, TV, and real life to make the subtypes come to life and include a test that allows you to determine your type and subtype.

* * *

Okay, so that's the formal introduction to the book. In addition, I wrote an Amazon blog entry that offers a little more info on the book and how I came to write it.

After finished my previous book, The Positive Enneagram, I thought I would take a little time off to relax, collect my thoughts, and catch up on my housework! But just a month after I finished the book, I found myself jotting down notes for another. I think it happened so fast because while The Positive Enneagram presented a new vision of working with the nine enneagram personality types, it didn't explain in detail the roots of the ideas. That approach was intentional—I wanted to focus on the ideas themselves, not so much where they came from. But I always planned to write another book where I’d go into greater depth.

So it was inevitable for me to start down that road. I just didn't expect it to happen quite so soon!

But the seeds were planted for the book a long time ago. For seven years, I’d been compiling a list of themes, archetypes, and roles associated with the enneagram subtypes. Briefly, the subtypes are the categories that arise when we look at the nine types in the context of three different arenas of life—the personal, sexual/creative, and social.

If we take nine types and three arenas of activity, we get 27 possible categories. I'd been fascinated with the subtypes because they provide us with much finer-grained descriptions of personality/individuality than we get if we only look at the nine types. So the subtypes can tell a lot about ourselves as individuals, especially about the motivations affecting our most pivotal choices in life).

But a list is not a book. To make it one, I needed a philosophical framework—the kind of framework that would allow me to expand on the ideas I set forth in The Positive Enneagram. The foundation I chose was based mainly on the work of depth psychologists like Carl Jung and James Hillman, who offer us an approach for working with human consciousness that is as profound and positive as it is practical. (Try saying that last phrase three times fast!)

Hillman is the founder of archetypal psychology, the psychology of soul. So the first part of the book is an evocative exploration into the nature of soul and soulful experiences (the kind that help us attune to our calling in life. The second part is on the enneagram; and the third and longest part is on the subtypes.

Writing this book posed an interesting challenge for me: how to write something that could reach both enneagram old-timers (who tend to regard the nine types as “fixation” types)and newcomers (who tend to be puzzled as to why it’s necessary to show that personality is something positive). So I tried to meet the expectations of both groups, while making the book fun to read, too.

So while this is a theory book (and explores the enneagram from the perspective of Jungian psychology, archetypal psychology, positive philosophy, Gurdjieff’s transformational enneagram, and Ken Wilber’s emerging cosmology), it’s also a story book. It includes a lot of tales, experiences, and film examples designed to bring the material to life.

Note: My approach to the subtypes is based on the view that both type and subtype are meant to support our journey through life. This is a significant departure from the view that the subtypes are based on instinctual drives influenced by the "distorted passion" of the type. (That's how they are often described.) So one of the main purposes of the book is to offer a rationale for my view; you can also read about these ideas in "On the Nature of the Enneagram Subtypes."

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