The Enneagram and Ego Development_ Exploring the confluence of two

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The Enneagram and Ego Development_ Exploring the confluence of two Powered By Docstoc
					    The Enneagram and Ego Development: Exploring the confluence of two powerful
                        systems for understanding personal growth
                    Paul Marko with, David Daniels and Terry Saracino

How does the Enneagram model as described by Palmer/Daniels work with the ego
development system defined by Loevinger/Cook-Greuter? When we as Enneagram
professionals work with clients to help them to “dis-identify” from type are we aiding
them to move through expansion levels on a step model? Is ego development slightly
disparate for the different Enneagram types, or subtypes? Can the knowledge of both
systems help Enneagram professionals in all fields understand and work with clients in a
more productive way? Finding possible answers to these and other questions was a topic
at the July Enneagram Teacher‟s Conference.

The Enneagram provides a deeply insightful path to the understanding of the self and
others. Even though the initial voyage into type is often made for more materially
utilitarian reasons, with serious students of the Enneagram over time, profound
“spiritual” transformations often take place. A loosening of the confinement of the type
may occur, leading to a more mindful and “choiceful” way of living. This newly
developed ability to allow less restrained emotional, cognitive and behavioral reactions to
occur presents new perspectives that were unable to be reached previously. Allowing
oneself to see life through these new perspectives can represent personality development,
spiritual growth or consciousness expansion. A credible charting of the journey through
the various worldviews that unfold along this developmental path is referred to as ego

Jane Loevinger‟s process of ego development coupled with Susanne Cook-Greuter‟s
augmentation at the most expanded ranges of that model provides a conceptual
framework for understanding the development of personality from infancy to the highest
ranges able to be measured in adults. Many studies provide substantial support for both
the validity of the concept, the description of the stages and the reliability of the

instrument used to measure growth, the Washington University Sentence Completion
Test, (SCT). Studying this model helps us understand how the re-conceptualization of a
personal worldview changes as consciousness expands throughout life.

Childhood development follows a predictable pattern. In youth, shifts of consciousness
are foreseen and the changes in worldview that accompany these shifts are “normal for
that age.” In adulthood, however, if and when expansion occurs, development appears to
be random and difficult to foresee. Most humans fall short of reaching all of the
developmental stages described in the Loevinger/Cook-Greuter model. Studies show that
only a minority of adults develop beyond the average and most frequented level
identified by Loevinger as the Self-Aware stage. This most common expansion level is
the next stage following the Conformist stage which normally occurs around the age of 7.
To put this level of expansion in context, the SCT can and has frequently measured ego
development a full 5 stages beyond the modal‟s Self-Aware stage.

          Loevinger & Cook-Greuter’s Levels of Ego Development
                  Level                           Brief Description
                  Integrated                      Unitive, non-evaluative, witnessing*
                                                  Unitive, ego aware, self-insight*
                  Autonomous                      Self-actualization & fulfillment quest
                  Individualistic                 Appreciate differences, feelings
                  Conscientious                   Conceptual complexity, understands
                                                  others views
                  Self-Aware                      Self-consciousness, sees gray
                  Conformist                      Conventional, right/wrong, stereotypes
                  Self-Protective                 Optimistic hedonism, don‟t get caught
                  Impulsive                       Present orientation, own needs
                  Symbiotic                       Differentiation of self
                  Presocial                       Construction of reality

               *Integrated Stage further divided and described by Cook-Greuter

In the first two stages of her model, Loevinger portrays the emergence of a person from
surrounding objects. The first stage of her model, the Presocial stage, describes a period
in which a baby barely begins the process of differentiating himself or herself from his or
her environment. At this stage, the baby realizes the existence of a stable, surrounding
world and undertakes what Loevinger calls the “construction of reality.” The true
differentiation of self from non-self, however, occurs at Loevinger‟s second stage, the
Symbiotic stage. The stage carries this title because; the child maintains a symbiotic
relationship with his mother or a significant playmate.

Although these first two stages appear in her model for theoretical completeness, the
study of these lowest stages lies beyond the scope of Loevinger‟s work. These primary
pre-linguistic stages remain outside of the purview of her research because the creation of
meaning through language forms the basis for her theory of differentiation between
developmental stages. Without language to define the individual‟s worldview little can
be learned or measured.

The child‟s emphatic “No!” marks the struggle to affirm a separate identity and thus
signals the beginning of the Impulsive stage. This stage constitutes the third in
Loevinger‟s model and the lowest one to be included in her studies. The stage is so
named because the actions of the child are primarily driven by impulses. Although
constantly in the process of being curbed by his or her environment in the form of
constraints, rewards and punishments, the child remains driven by physical urges
throughout this stage of development. Emotions rage intensely in this young, dependent
stage, and individuals at the Impulsive stage view people as either good or bad depending
on whether they either meet the child‟s needs, or fail to do so. Focused entirely on
immediate needs, the Impulsive individual lives in the present with no concept of the

Emerging from this stage, the child changes orientation from existing exclusively in the
present and begins to anticipate short-term consequences in the form of positive and
negative consequences. With this new ability to conceive of a short-term future, the child
moves toward the development of self-control. Loevinger entitles this stage the Self-

Protective stage, because of the child‟s emerging, albeit somewhat innocent, notion of
self-control. Loevinger states that “Controls are at first fragile, and there is a
corresponding vulnerability and guardedness, hence we term the stage Self-Protective...
his main rule is „Don‟t get caught.‟” Blame lies exclusively on the external and getting
caught becomes the measure of right or wrong. Loevinger describes the mode of
operation at this stage as “opportunistic hedonism” where life is a zero-sum game – your
loss is my gain.

Around school age, most children, progress to a fourth stage that Loevinger refers to as
Conformist. In a level characterized by the development of an identification with a group
and the authority of the group, the child begins to display an obedience for rules, not out
of fear of reprisals, but because these rules are accepted by the larger group. This
accompanies a growing association with, and an entrusting of, his or her welfare to that
of the larger group. At the Conformist stage, individuals put a great deal of their effort
into conforming to social conventions and standards and this strict adherence can cause
them to be rigid and insensitive to individual differences. Children and adults, at this
stage, are preoccupied with appearance, material possessions and social acceptance.
During this stage, perceptions of emotions remain at an elementary level, expressed in the
most rudimentary of terms such as: sad, happy, angry and love. According to Loevinger,
“This is the period of greatest cognitive simplicity: There is a right way and a wrong way,
and it is the same for everyone all the time, or at least for broad classes of people
described in demographic terms.” Individuals, at the Conformist stage, comprise a group
that is likely to have a tremendous influence on society. According to Loevinger, “People
at the Conformist stage constitute either a majority or a large minority in almost any
social group.” This fact gives insight to the functioning of most organizations and groups.

The next stage in Loevinger‟s model, is entitled the Self-Aware stage. Loevinger believes
this stage to be the modal level of individuals in our society. This stage, which can be a
stable and life long position for many adults, is marked both by a major increase in self-
awareness or self-consciousness and by the conceptual realization of multiple
possibilities that arise in various life situations. This more differentiating viewpoint
replaces the stark black and white perceptions of the Conformist. Although there remains

the stereotypical view of demographic categories like sex and age, there emerges what
Loevinger refers to as pseudotraits. Pseudotraits represent the emergence of the ability to
distinguish rudimentary traits and begin to be sensitive to individual differences. For
example, a woman may be considered feminine, a pseudotrait, unlike a more specific
individualistic trait such as passive, seductive or manipulative. The ability to
conceptualize pseudotraits marks a transitional, conceptual state that lies between the
Conformist viewpoint of seeing only stereotypes and the full blown appreciation for
individual trait differences that occur in the more expanded viewpoints.

The beginning of true conceptual complexity, however, emerges in the following stage,
the Conscientious stage. Loevinger says that at this expansion level “Rules are no longer
absolutes, the same for everyone all the time; rather, exceptions and contingencies are
recognized.” Rather than strictly adhering to rules as dictates for actions, the avoidance
of hurting another person becomes a guiding principle. According to her 1996 scoring
manual written in conjunction with Le Xuan Hy, Loevinger states that at this point
“Motives and consequences are more important than rules per se; ought is differentiated
from is.” He or she abandons conventional standards of achievement and adopts his or
her own individual standards. At the Conscientious stage, the person develops a
deepening understanding of the other‟s point of view and there emerges the beginning of
the tendency to look at life in a broader social context. The youngest age at which
Loevinger feels that a person ordinarily can rise to this stage, if they are going to assume
this worldview, is approximately 13 or 14.

Following the Conscientious stage, Loevinger delineates the characteristics of the
Individualistic level. A concern for emotional relationships, which grew increasingly
intense as development from Conformist to the Conscientious stage progressed, come to
be viewed by the Individualistic person as so important that they to appear to work
against efforts for achievement or conformity. In addition, an emerging awareness of
differences between the perceived inner reality and overt appearances illustrate an
increasing level of conceptual complexity at the Individualistic stage.

A capacity and willingness to cope with various types of inner conflict signals the next
stage in Loevinger‟s model, the Autonomous stage. The title for this stage is appropriate
for two reasons. First, the Autonomous thinker displays an acute recognition of, and high
regard for, other people‟s need for autonomy. Second, there is an emerging freedom from
the constant demand of conscience seen in lower stages, which becomes replaced with an
autonomous ethos based more on tolerance than conventional morality. At this stage,
there emerges the realization that an individual‟s motives are an outgrowth of
experiences. He or she begins to take a more objective viewpoint regarding him or herself
and others, and the race for achievement is replaced with a search for self-actualization.
The Conscientious person‟s drive for conventional forms of achievement is transformed
into a quest for self-fulfillment or self-actualization.

Following this stage, but achieved by very few individuals, is the Integrated stage.
Loevinger estimates that less than 1% of the population is comprised of this type of
individual. A person at the Integrated stage, the highest in Loevinger‟s model, displays
the ability to transcend the conflicts experienced at the earlier Autonomous level. To
illustrate this stage, Loevinger compares her Integrated stage with Maslow‟s Self-
Actualized individual. Maslow describes a person who has achieved this most advanced
state of humanness in glowing terms. He states that “Self-actualization means
experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total
absorption...without the self-consciousness of the adolescent...the person is wholly and
fully human.”

In an augmentation of Loevinger‟s model, Cook-Greuter divides the Integrated stage into
two separate and distinct levels that she entitles the Construct-aware stage, or Ego-aware
and the Universal or Unitive stage. She defines the Construct-aware individual as having
achieved a high measure of self-insight and as one who is bound by deep-rooted mental
habits that obscure a deeper, less cerebral type of self-knowledge. The Unitive individual,
on the other hand, does not actively struggle with mental habits. According to Cook-
Greuter, they “no longer attempt to consciously break the rational mental habits, but have
relaxed enough to be open to both the naked experience and the mental activities as they

unfold.” These differentiations make Cook-Greuter‟s addition to Loevinger‟s model
useful in studying the detailed differences between the Autonomous stage and the
Construct-aware stage.

Helen Palmer, having heard the description of the levels as presented in July offered two
salient comments. She noted that psychic experiences can be experienced at all levels of
development and are not reserved to the more expanded viewpoints. Helen speculated
that at the less expanded levels, awareness and experiences of psychic phenomenon are
likely held in a state of “cognitive dissonance” and not integrated into the individual
worldview but exist as outside phenomena. Another relevant comment made by Helen
concerned the characterization presented of the highest levels. She feels that it is
important to note that these individuals are still functioning as flesh and blood humans
and undergo dilemmas and life problem just the same as in all viewpoints.

After viewing the Loevinger/Cook-Greuter model, the Enneagram participants at the DC
conference, were asked to comment on what they thought facilitated or thwarted ego
growth for their particular type. Each type group came to the conclusion that generally
the same factors of type that hampered development were the very same tools that
aided progression through the worldviews. They concluded therefore that the tools
that allowed one to move to more expanded worldviews were also the obstacles that
impeded progress and that growth was a matter of realizing and working with the
elements and characteristics of type. (For example, fear and doubt can be converted to
trust and faith in Type 6.) Mentioned also were some ideas unique to each type that
facilitated movement.

Type 1, the Perfectionist listed several times that working in groups and relationships
aided in their release. They rationalized that in groups there exists a variety of opinions
and realizing that more than one can be “right” contributed to learning. In addition,
embracing the holy idea of complete perfection in each moment of life also allowed a
shifting of worldview for this type. The Perfectionists also mentioned that comedy was a
good way to “ease the inner critic” and allow some fearless creative space to grow.

Types 2 and 3 referred to more somber paths to ease type and move forward. The Givers
brought up repeatedly that suffering represents a breakthrough mechanism for them.
“Brokenness,” “hitting bottom”and“life crisis in personal relationships” all were
suggested as contributing to release for type 2. Type 3, the Performers listed the idea of
failure and coming to grips with failure, physical breakdown and dealing with trauma as
paths to learning and growth. One participant in the Performer‟s group also added that
uncovering self-deception regarding one‟s own inadequacies while still being loved
provided a key to dis-identification with type. David believes that when we experience
the deepest concern and realize it no longer is true, we are then more able to release from
the confines of our personalitye.g.,in the example of type 3 here, realizing that failure and
incapacity are not your undoing.

Some researchers have found that creative and imaginative individuals seem to progress
through the worldviews more easily or rapidly and this trait or function was felt to be the
key by many of type 4, the Romantics. One participant wrote, “Getting to the bottom of
things – to the creative core – leads to genuine creative expression which in turn leads to
connection. We connect through our creations.” Others felt that the “energy of
movement, the creative flow” and “finding a venue that allows creative expression” was a
key for development in the 4 type.

The Observers, type 5, surprisingly did not find that their thoughts, mind or knowledge
propelled their development. On the contrary, out of mind (normal waking
consciousness) experiences seemed to be the key for many of them. They mentioned
meditation retreats, being in nature, and experiences with different states of
consciousness such as dreams and out of body experiences to be more worthwhile for
development than trying to accumulate knowledge or figure things out.

Type 6, the Loyal Skeptics, also stated that focusing upon intuition, direct knowing and
the bypassing of mental processes of type expanded their awareness. Type 6 participants
felt that support and relationships represented key components in their movement giving

them the confidence and comfort that they needed to grow. And, like they Perfectionists,
the Loyal Skeptics wrote that the use of humor constituted a developmental tool for their

The Epicures, type 7, as would be expected, painted a rather rosy picture of their most
useful growth scenarios. Listed were the realization of a sense of freedom and movement,
a curiosity about other states and stages, a sense of adventure and desire for new
experiences. Only one 7 type participant referred to life crisis (death of parent) as being a
source for learning and growth.

Situations or practices that facilitated growth for type 8, Protector, were much more
uniform than for the type 9, Mediator. The Protectors mentioned different forms of
reactions to conflict and structured growth experiences that engendered worldview
changes for them. Many 8 types wrote that moving to the type 5 position enabled them to
find coping and growth strategies. They felt that moving to the position of the Observer
helped them survive and move forward. The type 9, Mediators, developmental
mechanisms ranged widely from dealing with crisis to blending in so that they could
better understand a situation. There seemed to be no one or two real growth facilitators
repeated in the list for the 9 type.

Input from the Enneagram group that attended the summer convention was done in a
somewhat rushed fashion due to the tight schedule, so the collected results are more “off
the top of their heads” rather than deeply thought through answers. In addition, these
participants had just viewed the Loevinger/Cook-Greuter model five minutes before they
were asked to respond and, in all fairness, they did not have time to fully internalize the
material. Given those constraints, the Enneagram students, teachers and psychologists
that gave input provided the first foothold in understanding how development might
differ for the various types. Providing more time or a more reflective format might
extract even more gold from the minds of this knowledgeable group. Questions like how
the various levels were experienced by the different types and what thwarted or allowed

movement at the various stages could be probed. A wealth of information still lies
undiscovered at the intersection of these two powerful personality models.

For further information on this topic or to help in the discovery of the mysteries lying in
the midst of this convergence, write Paul Marko at or visit his
website at


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