Why Do Others Know My Type?

Personality is a pattern of habitual behaviours, which are for most people unconscious. They are unconscious in the same way that breathing is unconscious. Since these extensive patterns of behaviours are unconscious, they are in the main also invisible to the person. While they are invisible to the person, they are usually very evident to others, especially those closest to them.

Personality type includes all unconscious behaviours, including physical characteristics and behaviours, emotional behaviours and cognitive behaviours. It is often a shock when a person comes to discover their personality type and realizes that what people have been saying all these years might have been true. One of the reasons that some people react negatively to the whole idea of personality type is that they are defensive about what such an understanding might actually reveal.

An experienced clinician can often identify personality type fairly quickly. This alone can be confronting, especially if you believed yourself too unique to be categorized. Often the observations of the clinician reveal far more about the individual than the subjects might know about themselves. It usually follows that the subject begins a more careful study of their own behaviour and listens more openly to other’s feedback. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, describes the encounter with one’s personality type as a "vomit or weep experience". Sometimes one simply finds denial more acceptable.

Georgio Gurdjieff taught others about personality type using what he described as the ‘Chief Feature’. The Chief Feature was the standout physical, thinking and emotional characteristics of the person. Gurdjieff would then strongly challenge these Chief Features, often to breaking point. Gurdjieff would induce a dramatic face-to-face encounter between ones self and their personality type, stripping away layers of self delusion in the process. The contemplative tradition in which the Enneagram was conceived believed that the personality needed to be unmasked and challenged. Gurdjieff stood firmly behind that tradition.

The first stage of that task is to correctly identify one’s personality type. A very effective way to discover or learn about personality type is to watch the Enneagram Panels running each week in Brisbane, Australia. The Australian panels have now been running weekly for over 19 years. They are an exceptionally rich source of detailed and expert information about the types, from the people themselves. Over 450 consecutive, panel series have been run in Brisbane since 1994, building an exceptional body of expertise about personality type.


The Australian Enneagram Community (AEC) is a community based organisation that offers Panel Series, workshops, colloquiums and other opportunities throughout the year to learn about the enneagram.


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