Weekly Reads: The Honest Enneagram

Photo Credit: Sam Evergreen

I spent the last week or so extremely ill, and while I was stuck in bed, I decided to explore reading some nonfiction. While going through recommended books in the King County Library System, I stumbled upon “The Honest Enneagram” by Sarahjane Case.

I have familiarity with the Enneagram — it’s a nine-pointed star with each point representing a personality type. Each personality has a basic desire, a basic fear, levels of health (and how those levels relate to other personalities) and various subtypes. It gets quite complicated and fascinating, and I do think it’s best to read it for yourself. In a sense, this personality inventory is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but unlike the Myers-Briggs, it tends to veer on the negative. The Enneagram focuses not on what people of certain personalities are capable of, but rather more on what they can improve upon. This can leave people researching it feeling a bit gloomy, myself included.

To remedy this, the author decided to take the Enneagram and make it a more positive journey of self-exploration. Further, she offers suggestions tailored for each personality of things to keep in mind when the going gets tough, ways to support yourself in trying times, and areas of your life to explore. At the end of each chapter, she writes a letter to each personality, honoring them for what they bring to the world.

I have, according to the author, possibly the most stigmatized personality type: I’m an 8w9, so my core personality is at the 8th point on the star, with some aspects of the 9th. The basic desire of an 8 is to be in control of their own life, with their basic fear being the fear of being controlled. This led to many stereotypes in the Enneagram community of 8s being abrasive or even violent when that isn’t necessarily the case. Reading what Case had to say actually brought a lot of peace with my own past, why I reacted the way I did, and how she sees 8s as actually very strong people.

Because of how cathartic it was to read and how kind her passages about people like me were, I found myself much more moved by the book than I thought I would be. If you’re having some pandemic depression, personal uncertainties, or just want something pleasant and personal to read, I highly recommend it!

To find out your own Enneagram personality type, check out some free tests here.