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There are two kinds of adventures. The usual kind, which most people know, involves exploring the world around us. The other, which fewer people know, is exploring the world inside us – the adventure of discovering ourselves.

Each of us is a unique individual, but there are many maps and tools that can help us understand our inner landscape.


The Enneagram is one such system of self-knowledge. It offers a map of our collective human psychology. It identifies nine basic personality types into which we all fit. 


How the Enneagram works

As individuals, we remain unique, but we can identify certain patterns of thinking and behaviour that we have in common with other people of the same type. These attitudes developed in our childhood, as we explored different strategies in order to survive, to be loved, and to adjust to our family environment. When we get to see and understand our personality type, with its built-in tendencies, we also realize the opportunity for more personal freedom. Seeing a pattern of behaviour gives us choice: we can follow the pattern, out of habit, or we can choose something new and perhaps more helpful to our present situation. It can be hard to accept that we are controlled by old patterns of thinking and behaviour. But once we see them, we can immediately understand how the Enneagram functions as a system of liberation. This new freedom allows us to make conscious choices for the first time, both in our personal relationships and in our working environment. For many people, this is a life-changing experience. It is common to find a little of oneself in all nine types, although one of them should stand out as being closest to yourself. This is your basic personality type.

Several more points can be made about this basic type.

  1. People do not change from one basic personality type to another.

  2. The descriptions of the personality types apply equally to men and women. No type is inherently masculine or feminine.

  3. Not everything in the description of your basic type will apply to you. People fluctuate between the healthy, average, and unhealthy traits that make up each personality type.

  4. No type is inherently better or worse than any other. 




Called “The Perfectionist” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Reformer” by Don Riso.

Called “Resent” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Angry Virtue” by Claudio Naranjo.

This type is idealistic, with strong principles, needs to feel a sense of purpose and morality, believes in self-control, wants to be seen as hard-working, reliable, responsible, clean and tidy.


Called “The Giver” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Helper” by Don Riso.

Called “The Flatterer” or “Flat” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Egocentric Generosity” by Claudio Naranjo.

Type Two likes to be seen as caring and understanding. Enjoys a sense of special intimacy and closeness with others, can get over-involved in other people’s problems, and easily gets possessive in relationships.



Called “The Performer” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Achiever” by Don Riso.

Called “Go” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Success Through Appearances” by Claudio Naranjo.

Threes are success oriented. They are driven, pragmatic, efficient, can be competitive and even ruthless in order to win, or to get the job done. Very concerned about self-image and how he or she looks in the eyes of others.


Called “The Tragic Romantic” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Individualist” by Don Riso.

Called “Melancholy” or “Melon” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Seeking Happiness Through Pain” by Claudio Naranjo.

Fours are sensitive, artistic, dramatic, and easily feel misunderstood. They suffer from loneliness, enjoy melancholy feelings, envy the happiness others, and want to go deeply into personal issues. 



Called “The Observer” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Investigator” by Don Riso.

Called “Stinge” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Seeking Wholeness Through Isolation” by Claudio Naranjo.

Fives tend to be intellectual, interested in knowledge. They feel safe when alone, withdraw when feeling stressed, easily feel overwhelmed by too many people, very perceptive, good observers, wicked sense of humour, secretive.


Called “The Devil’s Advocate” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Loyalist” by Don Riso.

Called “Coward” or “Cow” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “The Persecuted Persecutor” by Claudio Naranjo.

Sixes are suspicious of other people’s motives, on the lookout for trouble and problems, loyal when able to trust, pushy at work. They tend to the opposite view in any discussion and feel uncomfortable when things go too easily or well. Can be in denial of fear.



Called “The Epicure” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Enthusiast” by Don Riso.

Called “Planner” or “Plan” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Opportunistic Charlatan” by Claudio Naranjo.

Sevens are busy, fun-loving, flirtatious, easily bored, easily attracted to new projects, to new people, and new sexual partners. They tend to have a short attention span, and enjoy multi-tasking, taking on several different projects at once. They love travelling.


Called “The Boss” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Challenger” by Don Riso.

Called “Venge” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Coming On Strong” by Claudio Naranjo.

The No.8 needs to be seen as strong, likes to confront people as a way to make friends or to expose the truth, but is afraid to show weakness. They are protective of others, fight for justice, enjoy intense physical activity, and tend to drink and party to excess. 



Called “The Mediator” by Helen Palmer.

Called “The Peacemaker” by Don Riso.

Called “Indolent” or “In” by Oscar Ichazo.

Called “Going with the Stream” by Claudio Naranjo.

Nine are easy going, reassuring, agreeable, enjoy harmony and dislike conflict. They are afraid of anger, and feel comfortable in routine types of work, going along with the opinions and decisions of others. But this means they tend to suppress their own opinions and desires.



How a method for enlightenment ended up in court. 

By the time the bullets started flying, I had left the battlefield. I had bid farewell to Oscar Ichazo, creator of the modern Enneagram system. I had written a bitchy letter to his staff at the Arica School in New York, arrogantly informing them I was no longer interested in being an Arica trainer and was off to India to complete my spiritual education.

This was 1976. A couple of years earlier, I’d been an enthusiastic, gung-ho ‘Arican’. I was convinced that Arica was going to save the world. Oscar had warned us of a great darkness that was about to fall on humanity and we, as little Arican light bulbs, would be its shining saviours.

Nice, spiritually romantic idea. But there were a few problems: First, the darkness didn’t fall. Second, humanity wasn’t interested in being saved. Third, the light bulbs didn’t work. So, when an old girlfriend of mine came back from an ashram in Pune, India, wearing orange clothes and glowing with energy, I was ready to be seduced. Just kissing her was an orgasmic experience.

If she hadn’t been leaning out of a train window while I was standing on the platform, and the train hadn’t started moving, I think we’d still be kissing today. Anyway, I received her energy transmission. I got the message, passed from mouth to mouth: something wonderful and slightly scary was going on in Pune. I had to go and check it out.

A few weeks later, when I arrived at the ashram, I sat in front of Osho and he asked me how long I was going to stay. I heard myself reply “For ever.” Ooops! I hadn’t meant to say that, I still don’t know why I did, but it turned out to be true. I’d found the door to shunyata, divine emptiness, as well as sexual liberation, ecstatic celebration and chaotic meditation.

The combination was irresistible.

Fourteen years and many adventures later, I was sitting in the Pune ashram’s cafe, drinking a cup of chai, when someone handed me a book titled Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life, by Helen Palmer.

“My God, I used to teach this stuff!” I exclaimed, thumbing through Palmer’s detailed description of the Enneagram’s nine personality types.

“Why don’t you teach it here?” asked the book’s owner. So I got together with another ex-Arican, who’d conveniently kept all his notes, and we did.

Meanwhile, back in New York, Helen Palmer and Oscar Ichazo were locked in a legal battle that went all the way to the US Supreme Court. It’s ironic that a method for enlightenment should become a cause for combat. But then again, when you look at the world’s religious history, it’s not so surprising. So much blood has been shed in the name of spiritual truth.

The Arica Institute, with Ichazo’s blessings, accused Helen Palmer of copying his Enneagram doctrine and infringing his copyright, requesting the American courts to block distribution of thousands of paperback copies of her book. The courts refused, saying that copyright law did not cover most of what Ichazo was teaching. The secrets of the Arica school had escaped into the public arena.

Oscar was upset, Helen Palmer was happy and the Enneagram mushroomed into a New Age phenomenon, generating hundreds of ‘experts’, scores of trainings and dozens more books. In a way, it was Oscar’s own fault. He should have published his own book back in the early 1970s, when he had the whole system to himself.

But, alas, the Bolivian-born mystic, whose native language was Spanish, had a complex and difficult way of expressing himself and was never able to write a decent book in his whole life. There was another, more profound reason, why Oscar was distressed. Whether his methods were effective, or not, Ichazo was a genuine mystic. He wanted to help people become enlightened.

He knew that the ego blocked the path to cosmic consciousness and believed that the Enneagram’s description of the nine ego-fixation points could dissolve this basic obstacle. In other words, as Ichazo explained to us, if we could see the ego clearly enough, in its raw, naked form, it would collapse, opening an inner space for the manifestation of our Divine Essence.

Poor Oscar! He obviously had no idea how stubborn and adaptable the human ego can be. The ego is the all-time survival expert – I speak from personal experience.

For example, when I was informed by an Arica trainer in New York that I was Ego Plan, Type Seven, my ego took a massive hit. For a while, I was in a kind of daze, shocked to my core at this revelation of how my ego functioned.

The implication was a sobering indictment of my personal freedom and state of consciousness: if a system of personality typing could so accurately describe my behaviour, then what did that make me? A robot?

It was a powerful experience. But pretty soon, like other Aricans whom I knew, my ego had recovered from this knock-out blow, climbed back off the floor, and was again in business. After all, I had a new identity. Now I was an Arican, a Plan, a Seven, feeling spiritually superior to the rest of our sleepy humanity and happily giving Enneagram sessions to everyone around me.

But, as I say, Oscar was a mystic and his intentions were good. He’d wanted to keep the Enneagram system secret, because he knew it worked best as a tool for ego-reduction within the intense atmosphere of a closed school.

Helen Palmer, on the other hand, was no mystic. She’d made sociological studies of the nine personality types, describing their difficulties and making suggestions how to smooth out the rough edges. It was the exact opposite of what Ichazo had intended. He wanted to destroy the ego. Palmer was telling people how to improve it.

But how did Palmer get hold of the Enneagram in the first place?

Come to think of it, how did Ichazo get hold of it?

Let’s back up and take a look.

The Enneagram, as many people know, is an ancient symbol. It was brought to the attention of modern Europeans by George Gurdjieff, the Armenian mystic, who claimed it represented the laws of the universe. He used the symbol mainly in music and dance. He also asserted that every individual possessed a “chief characteristic”, but at no time did he mention nine personality types or try to relate these types to the Enneagram symbol.

Gurdjieff had visited many Sufi schools as a young man – documented in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men – so it was assumed he’d learned the symbol from them. Now it seems more likely that it was taught to him, as a boy, by his tutors, who were esoterically-inclined monks, belonging to the Greek Orthodox tradition of the Christian faith.

At this point, we find ourselves in historical regression, because the next question is: where did these monks get the symbol? They seemed to have inherited it from a group of early Christian mystics, living in Egypt, called the ‘Desert Fathers’, who may, or may not, have linked the Enneagram symbol to the so-called Seven Deadly Sins, adding two more for good measure, making nine in all: anger, pride, deceit, envy, avarice, fear, gluttony, lust and sloth.

This, however, is not the beginning of the story. The Desert Fathers, being mostly Greeks, may have picked up the symbol from the teachings of Ancient Greeks like Pythagoras, Plato and Plotinus. However, even if all this is true, Oscar Ichazo denied that he got the Enneagram symbol from Gurdjieff, so there was no clear line of continuity.

So, where did he get it? For a while, all kinds of exotic rumours buzzed around the Arica School in New York. My favourite one went like this:

Oscar had undertaken a dangerous solo pilgrimage through remote areas of the Hindu Kush Mountains, in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, meeting with secret Sufi schools and receiving their sacred knowledge.

Actually, the truth was more mundane: he got it from his uncle’s library. In a 1996 magazine interview, Ichazo explained that when he was 12-13 years old, he inherited an esoteric library from his uncle Julio, who was a philosopher.

Since he’d been having frightening, out-of-body experiences from the age of six, Ichazo hungrily devoured these books, hoping to find reassuring answers for his paranormal states. He came across the Enneagram symbol while studying an ancient text from the Chaldean civilization, which existed around 600 BC, in what is now known as Iraq, and whose citizens appear to have been fascinated by numbers.

For example, the Chaldean system of numerology is considered to be more accurate, with more mystical depth, than Pythagorean numerology. So it makes sense that an intrinsically mathematical symbol like the Enneagram would be embraced as part of their metaphysics. 

And where, might one ask, did the Chaldeans get the symbol? Nobody knows and we cannot ask them, because in 536 BC, Cyrus the Great crushed their little realm, adding it to his ever-expanding Persian Empire.

Meanwhile, returning to the twentieth century, Oscar Ichazo, studying in his library, also found evidence of the symbol in the teachings of certain Sufi schools and in the more recent Theosophical movement. By the age of 18, Ichazo had joined a group of Theosophists in Buenos Aires who discussed all kinds of esoteric issues, including Gurdjieff’s secret sources and the meaning of the Enneagram symbol. Ichazo soaked up all this information like a sponge and by his mid-twenties possessed a vast store of knowledge.

As a culmination, the placing of nine ego types on the Enneagram symbol seems to have come to Ichazo through personal revelation. In other words, he channelled it, attributing his illumination to a couple of disembodied entities: the Archangel Metatron, and a Sufi entity, the Green Qutub.

This sounds bizarre, if we envisage these entities to be blond-haired angels flapping their golden wings amid white puffy clouds. But to Ichazo, these were states of consciousness. Metatron represented a function of higher mind, which gave Ichazo the blueprint of his whole Arica system, while the Green Qutub personified surrender to divine will and receiving baraka, the energy of divine grace.

So far, so good. But, as is often the case with mystics, problems began for Ichazo when he started to teach his knowledge to others. As long as he confined himself to esoteric groups in South America, things went pretty well. But, in 1970, he invited a group of Americans from the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, to participate in a three-month training in the town of Arica, Chile. This, by the way, is how Oscar’s school got its name, because it began with the training in this obscure city.

Among those who answered the call was Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean-born psychiatrist who was living and working in the United States. Naranjo was bearded, brainy and hungry. He was no ordinary psychiatrist. He’d trained in Gestalt Therapy with Fritz Perls, dabbled in psychedelic drugs and was obsessed with contacting the elusive “Sarmoun Brotherhood” whom Gurdjieff said possessed great secrets of human transformation.

Astonished by the range of Ichazo’s knowledge, Naranjo was convinced the Bolivian knew the whereabouts of this mysterious Sufi school. But, alas, as far as we know, Naranjo never got the brotherhood’s postcode from Oscar.

After the training in Chile, Ichazo flew to New York and set up his new school in the middle of Manhattan. I still remember the address: 24 West 57th. We called it ‘GHQ’, short for ‘general headquarters’, the hub of a growing network of Arica branches that spread through the US and Europe.

Meanwhile, Naranjo had returned to Berkeley, California, where he began to develop psychological profiles of the nine ego fixation points. He also began to give lectures on the subject. Oscar Ichazo was not happy about this. He’d already criticised Naranjo on several occasions for being overly intellectual and was worried that his precious Enneagram would now be distorted. As it turned out, Naranjo’s eagerness to adopt the Enneagram as his own brainchild was nothing compared to the predatory instincts of the people who attended his lectures.

Among those present at Naranjo’s discourses were Helen Palmer, a Jesuit priest called Bob Oakes, Hameed Ali (who adopted the pen name A H Almaas) and Faisal Muqaddam. All of them would catch the Enneagram ball thrown to them by Naranjo and run with it, developing their own systems, writing their own books, offering their own trainings.

Later, Naranjo would complain to journalists that his precious ideas had been stolen by these people without giving him credit. How ironic! Naranjo, it seems, was incapable of seeing how he’d done exactly the same thing to Ichazo. Indeed, Naranjo even went so far as to claim that it was he, not Ichazo, who’d developed the psychological dimension of the Enneagram.

This is simply untrue. Back in 1974, when I was participating in a training at the Arica Institute in New York, we were given psychological profiles of all nine types as part of our instruction, coming directly from Ichazo. Certainly, Naranjo developed these profiles further, fleshing out the psychological aspects of each ego fixation, but even then, it seems he relied quite heavily on the input of his students, to whom he gave key phrases for each type – perhaps gleaned from his studies with Ichazo – and then invited them to expand and amplify their significance.

Helen Palmer, using many interviews and sociological studies, provided an even broader view of each type’s behaviour and attitudes. But the source of all this was unquestionably Ichazo himself.

For this reason, it seems to me that Oscar could have won the court case, if he’d been a bit more street savvy. But in some ways he was his own worst enemy. When asked by the court to describe his Enneagram theory, he replied, “It is not a theory. It is a fact.”

“Well, you can’t copyright a fact,” the court replied. Case dismissed. 

In reality, of course, it was a theory. But Ichazo was so insistent on asserting the objective reality of his precious system that he ended up shooting himself in the foot. Although he did succeed in persuading Palmer’s publishers to insert a notice at the beginning of her book, saying, in a nutshell, that her book had nothing to do with his original Enneagram system.


from left to right, George Gurdjieff, Ichazo, 






Standing in the doorway of the train compartment, the young girl watched scornfully as Ron Weasley tried to turn the colour of his pet rat from brown to yellow with a magic trick. 

“Are you sure that’s a real spell? Well, it’s not very good, is it?” she commented sceptically, after a small explosion, which did nothing to the rat, but gave Ron a blackened nose.

She continued, “Of course, I only try simple spells, but they usually work for me.”

Pulling out her magic wand, she entered the compartment, sat down opposite Harry Potter and uttered the spell “Oculus Reparo!” instantly mending Potter's cracked glasses. Only then did she introduce herself.

"I'm Hermione Granger," she announced, peering out from under her massive fringe of hair.

"You two had better change into robes. I expect will be arriving soon," she added, having already put on her own magician's gown. 

Getting up to leave, she reached the door, turned around and looked at Ron in a slightly disgusted manner. "You've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?" she told him, then abruptly departed.

A short while later, at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hermione confided, “I’ve learned all the course books by heart, of course. I just hope it will be enough."

Serious, hard-working and contemptuous of those more frivolous than herself, such is the character of Hermione Granger, the child heroine of the hugely successful Harry Potter books and films.

Hermione, as everyone who has followed the seven-part series knows, became best friends with Harry and Ron, and together the three of them defied and defeated the evil magician, Voldemort.

From the perspective of the Enneagram system of nine personality types, there isn't much doubt which strategy Hermione has adopted. This young lady is a Perfectionist. She has ‘One’ written all over her. Author J K Rowling might not know anything about the Enneagram, but she certainly knows how a perfectionist thinks and acts.

Ones do their homework and rigidly stick to the rules - at least, until higher priorities require them to disobey them.

"I hope you're pleased with yourselves," said Hermione, disapprovingly, after Harry and Ron had messed up again. "Now, if you two don't mind, I'm going to bed, before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed - or worse, expelled."

Her unintentional humour at making expulsion from school seem worse than dying is a well-scripted insight into the minds of perfectionists, who find the prospect of being publicly shamed far worse than suddenly expiring in a magical mishap.

Another quality of Ones is a willingness to work hard and, in one of Rowling's books, Hermione uses a time-rewinding device to study three different subjects at the same time at Hogwarts. 

Type Threes, being high achievers, also have this trait, but their motivation is different: Threes want to be successful and don’t really care how they get there, while Ones worry about making mistakes and want to make sure they know their subject as thoroughly as possible.

Not surprisingly, Ron Weasley sometimes called Hermione a 'know-it-all', but her thirst for knowledge did come in handy when the trio were in a tight spot.

"Honestly, am I the only person who’s ever bothered to read 'Hogwarts, A History'?” she asked crossly, when providing Ron and Harry with much-needed information.

"Probably," muttered Ron, with grudging admiration.

For Ones, their strong moral obligation to do things the right way carries with it, like a shadow, a well concealed, slow-burning anger, directed at those whom they judge as imperfect or immoral. 

This was why Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Enneagram personality system, named this type ‘Resent’, his shorthand term for ‘resentment’.

From the beginning, Hermione had this quality, but, like most Ones, she struggled to keep it in check. When she finally exploded, in her third year at Hogwarts, it was bad guy Draco Malfoy who felt the force of it – in the form of a well-delivered punch on the jaw. 

Looking at the Potter movies through the window of the Enneagram, what makes the portrayal of Hermione doubly enjoyable is the fact that her character is played by Emma Watson, who is also a One. This gives a new twist to the old showbiz expression “type casting”.

Watson was just nine years old when she landed the part. The daughter of two English lawyers, she was sent to the prestigious Dragon School in Oxfordshire and at the age of six told her parents she wanted to be an actress. Obligingly, they sent her for part-time lessons to the local branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. 

Her breakthrough came when one of her teachers referred her to casting agents for the role of Hermione and, when J K Rowling saw her, the author supported the choice.

From the very first movie, titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone”, Emma Watson was praised for her portrayal of Hermione. As the series progressed, Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry Potter, got mixed reviews, but Watson always did well, won awards, and was complimented for 'carrying' the bland Radcliffe through his role.

Ten years later, when the Potter film series was completed, Emma Watson had mutated from child to teenager to young woman. But her onscreen confidence, evident through all eight movies, concealed her self-criticism and the high standard she requires of herself.

"I’m not a worrier, but I’m a perfectionist," she reflected, in a press interview. "The thing is, feeling like I didn’t do the best job I could have. I will always be able to find something wrong, something I can do better."

This is a classic One view of life: the need to always strive to improve and never quite reaching the impossibly high standard that Perfectionists set for themselves.

It's speculation, of course, but looking for the source of Watson's decision as a child to adopt the One strategy, it might well have been the busy and successful lifestyle of her lawyer-parents, combined with the underlying expectation that their daughter needed to work hard if she wanted to be like them. 

There is also the fascinating possibility that it was through playing the role of perfectionist Hermione that Watson adopted it as her own strategy. It’s unlikely, though, since most children create their ego-fixation well before the age of nine, when she won the role. 

After the Potter movies, Emma Watson put herself through university, graduating at the age of 24 with a bachelor's degree in English Literature. She also got herself certified as a teacher of yoga and meditation.

These days, she is recognised as an accomplished actress and won praise for her portrayal of Belle, the heroine, in a remake of the classic fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast". The movie was a huge success, becoming one of the highest-grossing film of all time.

Playing a heroic female character might seem easy, but Watson made it clear she had to work for it. “There were so many new things that I was taking on with the role,” she said on a TV talk show. “I'd never done a musical before, I'd never sung publicly before, I've never ridden a horse before, I'd never danced in a movie before.

“So, I kind of went into this boot camp for three months before we started shooting, which was like: singing four times a week, dancing five times a week, riding three times a week. 

Watson added: “In the prep, the build-up to the shooting, I really felt the pressure from that: not just from me loving those films (previous versions), but knowing how much this character means to so many people.”

Here, we see the Perfectionist’s concern, not just to meet their own standard of competence, but also taking on a feeling of responsibility towards others – trying hard not to let people down.

When asked about awards for her role, Watson made it clear she has higher priorities. "I couldn't care less if I won an Oscar or not, if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear," she replied.

Emma Watson has also pushed her sense of social responsibility in other directions, branching out from acting and modelling into the realm of social activism, campaigning for women’s rights. 

In a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York in 2014, Watson said that she began questioning gender-based assumptions at age eight when she was called "bossy" (a trait she has attributed to her perfectionism) while boys were not, and at 14 when she was "sexualized by certain elements of the media.”

This reflects the tendency of Ones to dedicate themselves to worthwhile causes. First, they have to be convinced of the correctness of a cause, then they will throw their energy into it, taking satisfaction in a job well done.

Meanwhile, in her personal life, Watson has been fiercely protective, trying to avoid the paparazzi and gossip columns as much as possible.

“I really draw a super-conscious line between what is public and what is private and that has helped me maintain a certain degree of sanity,” she confided in an interview. “Because having people wade in and giving an opinion on absolutely everything about me would just destroy me as a human being.”

Again, this concern for privacy isn’t just for herself, but out of a sense of responsibility towards her boyfriends. 

"I don't date people who are famous and I don't think it's fair that, all of a sudden, intimate details of their personal life are public as a direct result of me. I wish I could protect them,” she explained."

Naturally, Emma Watson has done her share of television interviews and its indicative of her type that she always appears fresh-faced and neatly dressed, looking clean, calm and clear - just how Ones like themselves to be seen.

Of course, any female star will want to look her best in front of the TV cameras, but Ones tend to make an extra effort to create a squeaky clean image. This arises out of a deep, unconscious fear of not really being okay inside – that original feeling of ‘wrongness’ that caused Ones to set out on the path to perfection.

Perhaps more than any of the nine Enneagram types, perfectionism is understood and accepted in society as a common psychological characteristic. Lots of people experience it from time to time, but they are not all Ones.

So, where does perfectionism come from? Like many Western traits, it can be blamed on Ancient Greeks like Aristotle and Plato, whose philosophical musings included the notion that human beings can – and perhaps should - be better-behaved than they actually are.

Strains of this attitude can be found in later philosophers like Saint Augustine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Stuart Mill.

Isaac Newton, the father of modern science, was said to be so afraid of criticism, that in 1704 he removed his name from the title page of one of his own works, when he found printing errors in the text. Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time, is said to have despaired of ever reaching the idealized standard he set himself.

During the past century, perfectionism has also been recognized as a form of neurosis. 

According to psychologists, “normal” perfectionists can pursue their ideals without losing self-esteem if they fail. On the other hand, “neurotic” perfectionists are prone to strive for unrealistic goals and feel dissatisfied or depressed when they cannot reach them.

For her part, Emma Watson’s self-esteem seems healthy enough. Even though she fears public criticism, she doesn’t let it stand in her way. On the contrary, when criticized, she fights back fiercely to defend herself.

Just this year, when she modelled for Vanity Fair magazine, Watson came under fire for posing almost topless. Critics accused her of compromising her campaign for feminism and gender equality. 

Watson hit back in typical One style, delivering a lecture on feminism, keeping her feet firmly on the moral high ground and making her critics seemed wrong: 

“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she said. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.” 

By the way, a little footnote on another famous One, the former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. For years, I assumed Thatcher was an Eight, because of her bossy nature and the nickname given to her by her fearful male colleagues: “Attila the Hen.”

But Thatcher lacks the typically round and robust body type of the Eight and when it was pointed out to me that she was a One, then, of course it all made sense. 

Thatcher was a right-wing politician driven by unshakeable social convictions that government spending in Britain was too high and that the free-market economy needed to be liberated from restraint. Morally certain of her policies, she slashed welfare budgets, then broke the power of the trade unions.

At first, her policies were unpopular, and her ratings sank, but when her political allies in Westminster suggested making a U-turn, she scornfully replied:

“You turn if you want to. This lady’s not for turning.”

Thatcher’s popularity was saved by her militant response to the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentinian troops in 1982. While everyone in the British Government assumed she would use diplomacy to protest, Thatcher’s moral certainty of the need to protect British sovereignty meant she felt justified in sending a battle fleet to get the islands back. Her victory, hard won by British troops, assured her popularity for years to come.




To enthusiastic applause from the audience, Dolly Parton, the well-known American country singer, walked onto the stage at the Chicago television studios. She was welcomed by her equally famous hostess, Oprah Winfrey. 

Oprah began the interview by saying that when her plane landed at the city's airport the previous evening, the airport staff were still excitedly talking about Dolly's arrival, which happened a couple of hours earlier.

Jokingly, Oprah implied that Dolly's arrival made far more impact than her own.

Immediately, Dolly turned the compliment around, telling Oprah "Well, they were all excited because a lot of people in the airport knew I was here to do your show, and they're real proud of you here in Chicago – as they should be."

Naturally, the audience burst into applause. 

Oprah then handed Dolly another compliment, saying she'd always wanted to do this interview because Dolly Parton's down-to-earth honesty reminded her very much of herself.

Dolly smoothly accepted the comparison, then deepened the sense of intimacy between the two women by saying "I've heard a lot of people say that you and me are alike. I have a movie production company and one of the things I've been trying to get somebody to develop, or come up with an idea, is something for me and you to do in a movie together."

This was followed by another enthusiastic round of applause from the audience.

The interview happened in 2010. Dolly Parton was 64 years old and had been in the entertainment business almost all her life, starting as a song-writer for others, then evolving into a singer herself. 

Of course, the repartee with Oprah was pure showbiz – a couple of well-known celebrities helping each other to shine in front of the television cameras. But the nature of the dialogue also revealed Dolly Parton's style as an Enneagram Type Two personality.

Twos excel at flattery and, when they wish to do so, have a natural ability to make others feel important. They also have a knack for rapidly creating a sense of intimacy and making people feel heard, seen and understood.

And so, within minutes of appearing on one of America's most popular television talk shows, Dolly Parton had succeeded in bonding closely with Oprah and making it seem like they'd been friends forever.

Twos love this feeling of creating a special connection. After all, this is the basic purpose of the strategy that female Twos develop in childhood: to feel safe through knowing they are "daddy's little princess" and that he will always love, cherish and protect them. For male Twos, it’s more about being “mommy’s little prince” but the strategy is the same.

It is a form of seduction, rooted in a lack of self-worth, which in turn creates an early understanding that love and affection have to be earned by meeting other people’s needs. This continues into adult behaviour. 

Twos intuitively mould themselves to fit your idea of the perfect partner and this can create problems, especially for female Twos. Their talent for creating closeness can easily send the wrong signals to the men they attract.

Attractive female Twos frequently report that guys start thinking “Oh wow, this woman wants to go to bed with me,” when sex is not even on their own radar screen. 

The bottom line is: Twos want you to appreciate them for being open, caring and friendly, but they don't necessarily want to go to bed with you. They are more interested in sexual attention than in sexual intercourse.

Dolly Parton certainly validates this point. Her extremely large breasts have always been one of her main features and over the years have attracted lots of attention, including speculation about how much silicon has been added to boost her natural charms.

"It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!" she once joked, referring to the cost of repeated cosmetic surgery.

Especially in modern times, women’s breasts have been culturally enshrined as symbols of love, sexuality and nourishment. In Dolly’s case, such large breasts attached to such a small body seem to deliver a message and a promise: “I have so much to give you!” she announces to the world. 

This is very much in tune with the Type Two personality, which some pundits refer to as “The Giver.” But whatever is promised by Dolly Parton’s appearance isn’t delivered in sexual terms to anyone except her husband. Parton married Nashville businessman Carl Dean way back in 1966 and they have remained together ever since.

“He knows I’m a flirt and a tease, but it’s harmless,” she told Oprah. “I’ve never met the man that would take his place.”

In 1980, Dolly Parton starred in an American comedy movie, called "9 to 5", in which the problems of being a female Two were caricatured. Parton played a voluptuous blonde secretary who was being sexually harassed by her boss.

The paradox of wanting to be sexually attractive and yet not wanting to be sexually molested came across loud and clear, as Parton tried to defend herself against her boss’s crude advances. Then, with two other secretaries, played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, she plotted revenge.

But Parton is no dumb blonde. She wrote and recorded the movie's theme song, "9 to 5", which became a major hit. The song might also claim to be one of the most effective indictments of modern capitalism since Karl Marx and, had it been recorded a few decades earlier, in the days of anti-communist Senator Joe McCarthy, might have gotten Dolly into trouble with the Un-American Activities Committee .

Marx needed to write a long, complicated book called ‘Das Kapital’ to make his point. Parton captured the essence of financial exploitation in a few lines:

"It's a rich man's game, no matter what you call it,

And you spend your life putting money in his pocket.”

Due to her success as a singer, plus her solid performances as an actress, Parton, who started life as a "dirt poor" Tennessee farm girl, is now herself playing a rich man's game. She is currently thought to be worth around US $650 million.

The song “Jolene”, which in 1973 gave Dolly Parton her breakthrough to stardom, was written by Parton herself and is interesting from an Enneagram perspective, because it carries a distinctly Twoish flavour. 

In it, she is pleading with another woman not to take away her man. The song begins with a flattering description of her rival, in which Parton freely admits she cannot compete with the other woman’s looks:

“Your beauty is beyond compare

With flaming locks of auburn hair

With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green.

Your smile is like a breath of spring

Your voice is soft like summer rain

And I cannot compete with you, Jolene.”

Then she describes the pain of knowing that her man is already attracted to Jolene:

“He talks about you in his sleep

There's nothing I can do to keep

From crying when he calls your name, Jolene,

And I can easily understand

How you could easily take my man

But you don't know what he means to me, Jolene.”

In the hook line, repeated through the song, Parton makes it clear that she is giving all the power to the other woman, combined with a plea:

“Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

I'm begging of you please don't take my man.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

Please don't take him just because you can.”

As an intuitive Two, Parton, in her song, reaches out to the other woman at a level of intimacy that is unusual, because the normal reaction in such a situation is to either give up, run away, fight, compete, cry and weep, blame the boyfriend…and so on.

Instead, Parton flatters her rival and surrenders before her beauty, as way of trying to save her relationship – an approach that has “Two” written all over it.

Of course, the situation in the song is fiction. Parton isn’t really in this kind of trouble. But her feeling for the song may well have arisen out of her experience of the Two strategy.

Parton’s other massive hit of the Seventies, which she wrote one year later, was titled “I Will Always Love You” and also has a distinctly Twoish flavour. 

It was her tribute and farewell to Porter Wagoner, a country singer who had been hugely influential in helping Dolly’s early career. 

By the way, almost two decades later, Whitney Houston recorded Parton’s song for the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard” and it became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Apart from Dolly Parton, Twos are not found so frequently among the ranks of famous people, since their natural tendency is to choose supportive roles, either as love partners or personal assistants.

Rather than taking the front seat themselves, they feel more comfortable leaning forward from the row behind and softly whispering words of encouragement in the ear of their chosen partner.

However, there are exceptions. Elizabeth Taylor, the Hollywood actress, is widely considered to have been a Two, although this assessment seems to be based mainly on Taylor’s track record of having been married eight times to seven men.

Certainly, in her stormy relationship with British actor Richard Burton, Taylor was a devotional partner and played a supportive role in his career. But even Twos have limits and eventually Burton’s explosive character and alcohol addiction caused her to break up with him.

Taylor and Burton made several films together, including the ground-breaking 1966 movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf”, a brutal portrayal of a middle-aged couple locked in a deteriorating relationship. Elizabeth Taylor’s Academy Award winning performance as the bitchy Martha might well be seen as the vindictive revenge of a Two, who failed to get what she wanted through flattery and manipulation, and has now shifted to bossy behaviour as a last resort.

Taylor and Burton had met two years earlier, in 1964. They fell in love while making the epic movie “Cleopatra”, documenting the love affair between the legendary Queen of Egypt and Roman general Mark Anthony. 

Here, Taylor found herself in the interesting position of being a Two playing a Two, since Queen Cleopatra is also considered to have chosen this strategy as a child, using her bonding skills to survive all kinds of dynastic intrigues among Egypt’s ruling Ptolemaic family. 

First, Cleopatra ruled with her father, then with her two brothers, one of whom she married, and then by herself. As an adult woman, she sought to protect her throne by seducing two Roman conquerors, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.

Pop superstar Madonna is often tagged as a Two, because while building her career, she became lovers with a succession of influential men in the music industry. But you don’t necessarily qualify as a Two just because you share your bed. 

Madonna’s personality lacks natural empathy with others and she looks much more comfortable in the Three category as the Performer (see separate article).

Elvis Presley has also been named a Two, mainly because of his long, symbiotic relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. But when you study their relationship, Presley comes over as a weak-willed Nine, who for years was just going along with whatever “the colonel” decided was good for his career.

Parker was a classic Eight and, true to type, a bullying manager. Born in Holland, he was an illegal immigrant to the United States and for this reason never allowed Presley to tour abroad. Parker had no US passport and was afraid that his true nationality would be discovered while crossing America’s borders. 

Parker even persuaded Presley to turn down a $10 million offer to perform in Saudi Arabia and, after mildly objecting, Presley just caved in. Sad to say, the mighty King of Rock ‘n Roll was in reality nothing more than a spineless wimp.

Two more candidates need mentioning here:

Mother Teresa has been typed as Two, because of her charitable work for the poor in India, but she exudes no warmth, intuitive empathy, or seductiveness. It is more likely she was a One, rigidly doing her duty while piling up credit in the after-life.

Mary Magdalene, the famous Jerusalem prostitute, became a follower of Jesus and bathed his feet in expensive perfume. Her generous and devotional manner fits into the giver category and as such Magdalene may well have been a Two.

Let’s give Dolly the last word. In her 1992 movie, “Straight Talk”, Parton plays a character called Shirlee Kenyon, who hosts a call-in radio program, giving personal advice on the air to those who seek it.

New to the job, one of Shirlee’s first callers is a deep-voiced man who says he is considering having a sex change and wants to know if she thinks it’s a good idea.

Remember, this was about twenty years before the so-called ‘transgender tipping point’ in America when it became more socially acceptable to switch between the male and female genders.

What would Parton’s character say? How could she bond with the caller without offending her mainstream listeners? 

After a moment’s hesitation, Parton replies: “Well Gary, if you’re sure that’s what you really want, all I can say is don’t try to perm your own hair and don’t wear high heels on a soggy lawn!”




The word "performer", which Enneagram author Helen Palmer calls the Enneagram Type Three, certainly applies to Madonna, commonly referred to as the "Queen of Pop" and the best-selling female singer of all time.

In the Enneagram system of nine personality types, however, the term "performer" has a different meaning. It refers to children who learn at an early age that love and attention come their way when they can demonstrate to their parents – and others – what they can accomplish.

This becomes their main focus. Achieving becomes the path to a promised land where success, praise and recognition are showered upon them. So it's not surprising that Threes tend to be ambitious, driven and image-oriented.

In this sense, the word "performer" does not refer to musical onstage talent, although it certainly includes it. Rather, it indicates a more general ability to perform well and produce results in any field in which Threes have chosen to excel.

Most Enneagram buffs type Madonna as a Three and it's easy to see why. In a moment of humorous, self-mockery, the singer once said "I have the same goal I've had ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the world."

But this ‘modest’ ambition takes hard work and Madonna has never shied away from it. At school in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, she was an exhibitionist, doing cartwheels and headstands in the corridors to show the boys her knickers – a personality trait she certainly emphasized as a star – but she also studied hard and always got good grades.

She attended college in Michigan but dropped out in 1978 to head for New York City with the dream of becoming a dancer. She threw herself into the task, waiting tables to earn a buck, taking classes, joining off-Broadway dance troupes, gaining experience as a backup singer and dancer, then mutating to singing and song writing.

Using sex as a stepping-stone has been a woman’s tool since time began, and Madonna dated a series of musicians, DJs, artists and record label managers on her way to the top.

After her breakthrough, with hits like "Holiday" and her massive global chart buster "Like a Virgin", Madonna didn't slow down. Whenever it looked like the public was getting tired of her, she reinvented herself with new singing styles, new clothing fashions, new movies… 

Her priority, naturally, was to stay at the top of her profession, not to be loyal to any particular style of music or clothing, and this typifies the Three’s sense of priorities. Madonna, trye to her childhood ambition, wanted to rule the world of showbiz and she succeeded.

She was always keen to sense a change in the public’s mood, not so much by knowing what kind of new ideas people wanted, but in sensing what they were growing tired of hearing or seeing.

For example, her 1984 “Virgin” dress style of lace tops, fish-net tights and long, dangling crucifix necklaces, created a whole fashion trend, with thousands of young women imitating her.

But two years later, it was all suddenly thrown out of the window by Madonna, with her “Papa Don’t Preach” video that showed her with brutally cropped hair, plain clothes and a taut, muscular body.

In March 1994, after releasing a spate of sexually explicit albums, books and films, she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, who insulted her by introducing her as a woman who had “slept with Hollywood’s finest”. Madonna retaliated by and using four-letter words like "fuck" many times on his show, to his obvious discomfort.

The horrified critics agreed: this time she'd gone too far. Her career was over. But Madonna mutated once more, presenting a new, softer, more subdued image in her songs, fashion outfits and public appearances. Soon, all was forgiven and she was as successful as she'd ever been.

Here, we see Madonna's effectiveness as a Three: a shrewd and intelligent performer who focused not on sticking to personal principles, but on reinventing herself to stay in the spotlight, and stay at the top of her profession.

Relationships have been important for this star, but always took second place to her career. In later years, one man hopped out of bed and out of her life when he discovered she slept every night in a plastic bag to keep slim by sweating off kilos during her sleep. Such was her dedication to her public image.

Where did it all begin for Madonna? 

She had a rough start to life. Her mother died of cancer when she was five and her father, on whom she was leaning heavily for emotional warmth, shocked and dismayed her by marrying his housekeeper three years later.

Not surprisingly, the young Madonna disconnected from her emotions and poured everything into "making it". Striving for success became her lifeline. Public recognition substituted for parental care, and here we can glimpse the underlying fear of all Threes: if they aren't succeeding, then they are convinced they are unlovable and worthless.

The former US president, John F. Kennedy, is also generally considered to have been a Three, and its not hard to see why. Kennedy was no conviction politician. He was driven to succeed and so navigated his way by shifting his concerns and allegiances to suit the political territory.

For example, as Senator for Massachusetts, Kennedy was sympathetic to trade unions and their labour rights. But when he ran for president, he shrewdly picked Senator Lyndon Johnson as his running mate to help him win votes in the American South. This infuriated the union bosses, because Johnson was widely perceived as anti-union.

As we saw with Madonna, a successful-looking public image is of critical importance to Threes, which, indeed, is why Claudio Naranjo named the Three type “Success Through Appearances”.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the ground-breaking American television debate, held in September 1960, between two presidential candidates: Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon.

Nixon looked tired from campaign, was running a fever, wore a suit that faded into the background and looked at the reporters who asked the questions, rather than into the TV cameras. Kennedy, on the other hand, looked very smart, young and fresh, well prepared with his answers and looked directly at the national TV audience via the cameras.

It is argued that this debate turned the tide in favour of Kennedy, who, up until this moment, was lagging behind Nixon in the election polls. And, as everyone knows, the election itself, one of the closest ever fought, was narrowly won by Kennedy.

One other aspect of JFK’s life is worthy of note: his ability to be in a working relationship with his wife, Jackie Kennedy, who proved to be a huge asset to his public image, while at the same time being personally involved in a large number of affairs – so much so that he earned the nickname “Jack the Zipper”.

I assume that it was a Three’s ability to disconnect from emotion that enabled Kennedy to manage this remarkably intense situation. Several Washington-based journalists were aware, to some extent, of Kennedy’s extra-marital affairs and one wonders how much longer it could have remained a secret, had he not been assassinated.

Now let’s take a look at the life and times of Meghan Markle. As a little girl, she hung around the Hollywood film studios with her father, an award-winning lighting director, and it was always clear to her that she wanted to be an actress. But she did not secure a major role in the movies or television until she was 30 years old.

There were many small showbiz jobs, including that of being a decorative assistant in a TV game show, some modelling contracts, minor roles in several movies, but no big breakthrough. Meghan attributed this, in part, to her mixed-race background, which didn't easily fit into showbiz stereotypes:

"My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I'm half black and half white," she explained. "I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job."

What Meghan did learn, during these years, was how to shape her personality to match whatever role came her way. Like any actress, or actor, she developed the art of mutating into different characters, according to need.

But Meghan Markle wasn't just another dreamy Hollywood hopeful. She had drive and determination. Even at the age of eleven, she was experiencing that personal initiative and social intervention can make a difference.

While watching a series of television commercials as part of a class project, she spotted gender discrimination in an advertisement for dishwashing soap, which asserted that "women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans." 

The sexist implication was, of course, that men didn’t wash dishes. Encouraged by her father, young Meghan wrote to Hillary Clinton, then America’s First Lady, and also to Proctor & Gamble, the soap manufacturer, to get it changed. Her protest worked and the wording in the TV commercial was modified to “people all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”

At 22, Meghan graduated from university with a double major in theatre and international studies, and was ready to present herself to the world - especially the entertainment industry - as a smart, capable, good-looking woman with a talent for acting.

Eight years of steady persistence eventually paid off. She won a role in the American TV series "Suits", playing the part of a beautiful "paralegal" who falls in love with the boss of the law firm in which she is working.

"Suits" wasn't a runaway hit, but it was well received, running for seven seasons and bringing Meghan public recognition and a bankable income. Meanwhile, the young actress was venturing into humanitarian projects, speaking at international conferences on the need for gender equality and ways to end modern slavery.

So, looking at Meghan and her life story through the window of the Enneagram's nine personality types, what do we have here? Which strategy did she develop, as a child, to help her survive and prosper?

Without having a deep, intimate talk with Meghan herself, there's always going to be a margin for error, but there's one strategy that seems to fit snugly enough. Given her sharp looks, carefully groomed image, determination and effective drive, Meghan looks very much like a Three.

Threes experience little difficulty in shifting their values to suit the task. To others, such moves may look calculating, but Threes tend to see it as a pragmatic approach to life, as if answering the question "How can I make this work?"

For example, in terms of religious faith, Meghan's father is an Anglican, while her mother is Protestant, and she was sent to study at an all-girl Catholic school in Los Angeles. Yet, when Meghan married her first husband, a Jewish film producer called Trevor Engelson, in 2011, their celebration included traditional elements of Jewish nuptials. This seemed to pose no problem for the young actress.

However, another shift was required when she fell in love with Prince Harry. Anyone wishing to marry into the British Royal Family needs to be a member of the Church of England, so Meghan has agreed to be baptised into the Royals' faith before her marriage to Prince Harry in May this year.

Meeting Harry in 2016 proved a game changer, an invitation for Meghan to play the glamorous role of a British princess, prompting her to announce that she is giving up the rest of her acting career. 

She appears to be making this transition effortlessly, without so much as a tearful backward glance. This is the kind of move that Threes can do without much trouble: seeing what the new challenge requires and modifying their behaviour accordingly.

It may seem cynical to portray Meghan's Royal role as acting, but that is the reality. British Royals are constantly onstage, exhibiting themselves as social role models for others to admire and look up to.

Meghan's stunning good looks and charming manner would seem to make this task easy, but there has been a major downside to the role: her exposure to brutal examination by the British media, especially the mass circulation tabloid press.

When Meghan's relationship with Harry was first discovered, The Daily Mail compared their backgrounds in a racist way, describing the American woman's ancestors as “a tailor, a teacher and a cleaner, in racially divided Jim Crow South, while his were ruling the British Empire.” It noted that she had slave ancestors, while his forebears were kings and queens.

Not to be outdone, The Sun featured a vicious smear by her step-sister, Samantha Grant, who warned Harry that Meghan was a social climber and "pushy princess" who habitually fancied ginger-haired men.

Wisely, Meghan chose to remain silent and at the time I had a strong feeling that she could, like Kate Middleton did before her, rise above the gossip columns and effectively establish herself as a British Royal. She had the skill, intelligence and adaptability to do it.

But husband Harry went ballistic. In an unprecedented condemnation of the British press, the prince’s press secretary accused the media of introducing “racial overtones” into comment pieces on his relationship with Meghan, claiming she had been subjected to a “wave of abuse and harassment”. 

The statement also referred to “nightly legal battles” to keep defamatory stories out of the newspapers, plus the prince’s “deep disappointment” that he has not been able to protect Meghan from this kind of exposure.

It was Harry who dragged Meghan into a major confrontation with the media, which came ultimately to the dramatic point of pulling out of the Royal Firm altogether and running off to Hollywood. Harry’s motivation, of course, came from his childhood trauma of watching his mother, Princess Diana, being chased by the media and then tragically ending her life in a car crash.

Harry’s type, by the way, is a hard one for me to guess, but I’d probably tag him as a Six, because of his self-perceived role as the underdog, the “spare” who would take the throne if anything happened to brother William and his family.

William himself seems to be a Nine. As a child and teenager, he seemed very uncomfortable with his role as a future king, but then settled down and decided to go along with the wishes of his family. His wife, Kate, is tagged as a One, because of her impeccable correctness as a princess and her squeaky-clean image.




"Suzanne takes you down..."

It was his moment. His turning point. At the age of 33, after years of semi-obscurity as a novelist and poet, the sad-faced Canadian guitar player stood in front of a massive audience in New York City and began to sing the ballad that would become his trademark.

The audience went crazy. They loved it. But then something unexpected happened: Leonard Cohen stopped singing, half-way through the song, and walked offstage. The audience begged him to come back, but he stood in the wings, hesitating, almost paralysed.

Some might say it was just nerves. But when one understands that Leonard Cohen is a Type Four on the Enneagram system of nine personality types, a different reason offers itself:

According to their inner program, Fours firmly believe they cannot have what they really want. So, if they dream of success and actually get it, then success cannot be what they really desire. Once they have it in their hands, it becomes almost worthless.

Fortunately, Judy Collins, the American singer-songwriter who had discovered Cohen and invited him to the fund-raiser in New York, was on hand to save the situation.

"I'll go out with you," she told him, so they went back onstage together and sang "Suzanne". That, of course, was the beginning of Leonard Cohen's long career.

The Enneagram, by its very nature as a psychological system, is incapable of being objectively proved. As readers of my articles know, every attempt to type an individual can be challenged. However, if ever a type might be transparently clear and beyond argument, it would be the labelling of Leonard Cohen as the Number Four, the Tragic Romantic.

That voice, croaking and crooning like a foghorn in the night. Those doom-and-gloom lyrics, lamenting lost loves and bitter regrets. Those mournful eyes staring at you from the album cover. It all combines to seduce you into a soft, sinking feeling that Fours know so well, taking you down into the comfortable despair of melancholy.

Fours remember that in childhood they experienced a deep sense of loss, which in Cohen's case is not hard to identify: his father died when he was nine years old.

The strategy may have been adopted earlier, because this young boy was subjected to a very serious religious upbringing, in which there was little in the way of light-hearted, carefree frolicking.

"I had a very Messianic childhood," Cohen recalled, in later years, referring to the intense Orthodox Judaism into which he was born. One grandfather was founder of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the other was a Talmudic writer, and he was soon informed that he was a direct descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses and founder of the Israelite priesthood. 

Quite a solemn burden for a pair of young shoulders to carry.

As he grew into adulthood, Leonard Cohen evolved from writing poetry, to writing novels, to composing song lyrics. In these creative expressions, we find his attitude to life:

For example, in his best-known song, “Suzanne”, the woman who mesmerizes him is beautiful, but she is also "half crazy", while in the same song Jesus becomes “broken” before the skies can open to redeem him. In Cohen’s equally famous song, “Hallelujah”, the secret chord that pleases the Lord is part of a "cold and broken hallelujah”. 

In "Bird on the Wire" he tells us:

"Like a worm on a hook, like a knight in an old-fashioned book,

I have torn everyone who reached out to me..."

Cohen suffered periodically from depression, about which he said "I speak of a clinical depression that is the background of your entire life, a background of anguish and anxiety, a sense that nothing goes well, that pleasure is unavailable and all your strategies collapse."

But this is not the whole picture. As you may have noticed among your friends, Fours don't necessarily go around with long faces, spreading their misery. 

"People think Leonard is dark, but actually his sense of humour and his edge on the world is extremely light," Judy Collins once commented about her friend.

Here is the paradox that typifies Fours: they rarely think of themselves as miserable. Rather, they see themselves as realistic and authentic, courageous enough to face life as it is, rather than being deceived by sugar-coating and superficial appearances.

In the 1990s, Leonard Cohen withdrew from his musical career to become a Zen monk for six years. He also took time to study the world's major religions but abandoned the project because he discovered that his own "cheerfulness kept breaking through."

This remark is significant. It shows how, in comparison to conventional religious attitudes, Leonard Cohen saw himself as light-hearted and even optimistic. And in many of his songs there is a promise of redemption and fulfilment, although only after a lengthy period of soul-searching and anguish. Hence Naranjo’s name for this type: “Seeking Happiness Through Pain”.

This, again, is typical of the Four approach to life. You can find happiness, it is possible, but you must struggle and grope your way through a long dark tunnel of suffering and pain in order to find it.

“The effect of a sad song is not to depress, but to bring you closer to the emotion and make you feel better,” Cohen once explained. “It’s not uplifting in the sense that it’s like ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ or anything like that, but it does have, for me, when I listen to a so-called sad song, it has a healing quality.”

Ichazo called the Four type "Melon", which was shorthand for "Melancholy." If you listen to the tone of Cohen's voice, without even understanding the lyrics, that's the word that captures its sound.

Naturally, as his fame increased, so did Cohen's attraction as a potential lover. One girlfriend, Marianne Ihlen, who stayed with him during his years on the Greek island of Hydra, reported afterwards that she'd found herself in competition with an ever-increasing number of devotees who wanted to share his bed.

But Cohen rejected his image as a ladies man, commenting "I was never very good at enjoying it. I was drawn to those intense experiences, and obsessed with those intense experiences for much of my life. But I can’t say that I really enjoyed them. Afterwards, I generally gave myself a bad review."

In other words, he did his share of sleeping around, but didn’t enjoy it. How very typical of Type Four! This bleak self-criticism was mirrored in his song “Death of a Ladies Man”, the title number of an album released in 1977, in which Cohen relates a torrid affair, then concludes:

“So the great affair is over but whoever would have guessed 

It would leave us all so vacant and so deeply unimpressed.”

This, again, is a classic Four attitude. Whatever experiences you can have, even in bed with a beautiful woman, it's never quite what you're looking for. This, of course, reflects the pain of the original loss in childhood - the loss that nothing can replace.

Marianne Ihlen, by the way, attained near-immortality after her breakup with Cohen, having provided inspiration and cause for his nostalgic lament “So Long Marianne”. 

Another ‘by the way’ aside: the album “Death of a Ladies Man” stunned Leonard Cohen’s fans, not because of its sexual imagery, such as “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On”, but because Cohen collaborated with producer Phil Spector, who completely wrecked the singer’s style.

Cohen’s raw, undecorated, minimalist use of voice and solo guitar was replaced with Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’, adding enough multiple tracks of instrument overdubs to make Cohen seem like he was surrounded by an orchestra.

It didn’t work. Dismissing this bizarre marriage of Spector and Cohen, Rolling Stone condemned it as “the world's most flamboyant extrovert producing and arranging the world's most fatalist introvert.”

From the Enneagram point of view, if ever Cohen tried to trade his downbeat Type Four for an upbeat Type Seven, this was the moment. But, alas, it didn’t work. He himself called the album “a catastrophe”.

Another quality of Fours is their appetite for drama. This certainly suits a poet and song-writer like Cohen, because, after all, ordinary life can’t easily be wrestled into fable. It needs to be artfully blended with dramatic imagination to move from the mundane into the realm of myth.

For example, in Cohen’s classic “Suzanne”, the young woman is portrayed as half-crazy, but in reality Suzanne Verdal was the perfectly sane wife of a Montreal artist when she met the Canadian singer. 

She declined Cohen’s sexual advances, which may be the reason why she made such an impression on him - Fours are typically fascinated by the unavailable - and then went on to travel the world, eventually becoming a choreographer in Los Angeles.

Speaking of drama, in one of his final songs, published years later in 2016, Cohen announced “I’m ready Lord”, meaning he was ready to die. But then, soon afterwards, he changed his mind, saying jokingly, “I think I was exaggerating. One is given to self-dramatization from time to time. I intend to live forever!”

Ready or not, he died just a few weeks later.

People who enjoy speculating on the internet about which songs can be categorized as “the saddest songs ever” frequently include Leonard Cohen’s “Alexandra Leaving” in their top ten.

The track was released in 2001, marking Cohen’s return to the public spotlight, as the part of his album, “Ten New Songs”, created in close collaboration with his old friend, singer-producer Sharon Robinson.

“Alexandra Leaving” conveys a double tragedy. It is based on Constantin Cavafy’s poem about the last hours of Mark Antony, when the Roman leader is besieged in the City of Alexandria by his all-conquering rival, Octavius Caesar.

Antony already thinks his great love, Queen Cleopatra, is dead and then he hears the sound of musical instruments and voices coming from the city streets. He realizes that Bacchus, his patron god, is deserting him. Within hours, he commits suicide.

Leonard Cohen cleverly weaves the song into a parallel lament for a woman, Alexandra, with whom he shares one last, unexpected night, before she leaves him forever.

It’s worth noting that sadness and happiness are not always opposites. In Fours, we find people who enjoy the intensity of their own feelings of unhappiness, so much so that, to them at least, it almost seems like a form of happiness. Cohen definitely fitted into this bracket.

He also loved being on the road and between 2008 and 2013 conducted two huge world tours. The fact that he felt compelled to do so by financial troubles - he claimed a former manager had robbed him of millions - may have been a lucky accident for both him and his fans.

In conclusion, let’s leave Leonard with his own self-assessment:

"Seriousness, rather than depression is, I think, the characteristic of my work," he once told an interviewer. "I like a good laugh, but I think there's enjoyment that comes through seriousness. We all know when we close the door and come into your room and you're left with your heart and your emotions, it isn't all that funny." (Unless, of course, you’re not a Four. In which case, it might be - funny, that is).

Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, is another obvious type Four, with a life filled with drama, artistic expression and passionate love affairs. When she was a child, her parents did not get along and so her family atmosphere was fraught with fighting and unhappiness. 

She caught polio at the age of five, damaging her legs and making it difficult for her to relate to other children, although it brought her closer to her German father, also an artist, who coached her in painting.

At the age of 18, she was a promising academic student and was thinking of training at medical school when she was severely injured in a horrific bus crash that caused her lifelong pain and medical problems.

Ironically, it was the crash that made her an artist, since it was during her long recovery that she returned to her childhood interest in art. She became known for her autobiographical canvases, portraying her suffering, her chronic pain, and also her anguish that she would never bear children, as well as her surrealistic portrayal of reality.

Her intensely dramatic lifelong love affair with another Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, has become the stuff of legend, as well as her many affairs with men and women. Her work remained relatively unknown until the 1990s, when she became an icon of Mexican folk culture and by feminists for her uncompromising portrayal of female experience.

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