For those unfamiliar, the Enneagram is a complex psycho-spiritual system that divides individuals into nine personality patterns.
Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, founders of The Enneagram Institute, have pioneered the theory of Levels within each Type—with Level 1 being the “healthiest” and Level 9 being the “unhealthiest”.
The nine Types of the Enneagram are:
Type 1: The Reformer (The principled, idealist type)
Type 2: The Helper (The caring, interpersonal type)
Type 3: The Achiever (The adaptable, success-oriented type)
Type 4: The Individualist (The introspective, romantic type)
Type 5: The Investigator (The perceptive, cerebral type)
Type 6: The Loyalist (The committed, security-oriented type)
Type 7: The Enthusiast (The busy, productive type)
Type 8: The Challenger (The powerful, aggressive type)
Type 9: The Peacemaker (The easy-going, self-effacing type)
Riso and Hudson are also the creators of The Enneagram Cards, a set of 90 cards designed to help individuals ascertain Type in themselves and others. Because the Enneagram can be so complex, tools such as The Enneagram Cards can aid with understanding the differences between Types, as well as fostering empathy for those who may irritate or confound. The Enneagram Cards are color-coded according to the “centers”: Red are the Instinctive Types (8, 9, 1), Green are the Feeling Types (2, 3, 4), and Blue are the Thinking Types (5, 6, 7). These Types are further specialized according to a colored circle. An easy-to-read color chart is included in the 25-page companion booklet, as are ten different ways to “sort” the Enneagram Cards—solo, by an Administrator for clients, or within a group. Despite the complexity of the Enneagram, The Enneagram Cards themselves are accessible, engaging, and fascinating—even for those intimately familiar with the system. One side of the card depicts a specific trait, while the other side elaborates further on the meaning of the trait. In addition to a brief description of the trait, a descriptive sentence is provided, as is an excerpt from the books Personality Types, Understanding the Enneagram or The Wisdom of the Enneagram that speaks directly to the particular level. There is a small gold code on the side for quickly discerning Type and Level. For example, Card 63 says “Accomplished”, with T7/L3 on the side. This means that Card 63 describes an Enneagram Type 7 at Level 3. (One could also determine that it’s a Type 7 card from fact that it’s a blue card with a purple circle.) To give you an idea of the valuable insights found in The Enneagram Cards, here is how Riso and Hudson describe the trait of Accomplished:
“As in having brought many projects to completion, with the implication of doing each of them well. Implied is the note of exceptional ability, talent, or capacity for high quality work and performance, with a particular reference to past projects.”
The sample sentence for this card says: “Lauren was an extremely accomplished musician and could play several instruments at a professional level.”
Also found on Card 63, Riso and Hudson have this to say about Type 7 at level 3:
“When people of this type are at this Level, the more they accomplish, the more they are able to accomplish—skills beget more skills. Exercising a skill leads them into new areas, and their abilities mount exponentially as they do more and more with them.”
I thought I’d test out The Enneagram Cards with my husband, who is minimally acquainted with this system. (Being the easy-going Type 9 that he is, he agreed!) I asked him to look through all 90 cards and pick out the ones he thought described me (just based on the side printed with the trait itself). Some traits were challenging for him to sort, but he came up with an incredibly accurate assessment just based on the traits themselves!
For those cards that he was iffy on, he read the Riso-Hudson description, and then was able to either include or eliminate the trait. (I feel this aspect of the cards is invaluable, because what, exactly, does it mean to be “territorial”? Or “special” or “correcting”?)
The majority of the cards he selected for me were Type 8, which I believe to be my (very strong) Wing. The second highest pile was Type 1 (my Stress Point), with Type 7 (my actual Type) coming in third. Rather than consider this test a “failure” (since my husband didn’t pick Type 7 traits the most), I was pleased that it offered so much insight into “where I was” at the moment. The results were a snapshot that actually gave me valuable information—especially the cards dealing with Type 1. I gained a greater understanding of Type 1, as well as why I was exhibiting the traits of my Stress Point.
As with the RHETI test online or in the book Discovering Your Personality Type, The Enneagram Cards *may not* provide you with your basic Type (although it certainly may), but you’ll likely glean pertinent information on Wing/s and Stress/Security Points. (Some Types are easier to peg than others, in my opinion.) The various “Sorts” in the booklet generate intriguing insights; I especially like the Least-Like Shadow Sort for determining possible repressed or rejected issues in the personality. Therapists, Enneagram Teachers and Life Coaches will likely find The Enneagram Cards an excellent tool, as would individuals or groups seeking to know more about themselves and others—as well as those dedicated to personal growth and self awareness.
Below are 6 cards from this deck:
Card images and content © The Enneagram Institute. All Rights Reserved.
Other Deck Reviews:
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.