This is Your Brain on the Enneagram

I kind of have a love/hate thing going on with the Enneagram. I have appreciated it as a tool of self discovery, and my pinned Tweet for awhile on Twitter was, “I am a 7 on the Enneagram, and my wings are buffalo and honey barbeque.” This really sounds like a 7 joke but honestly, eights are buffalos who will mow you down and honey barbeque is always a safe choice (sixes, I see you). But I have been less enamored with how people use the Enneagram as a profile prescription for navigating life. (e.g. “I’m a ___ so I do x), as though each enneagram is a box that encapsulates our whole way of being in the world.

Hardback with art.jpg

So when I picked up Whole-identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving by Dr. Jerome Lubbe, I was both interested and skeptical about what, if anything, it had to offer. Lubbe proports to look at the Enneagram through the lens of neuroscience. Since the Ennagram, is sort of a tradition without much scientific basis, this intrigued me. The book is a white paper, exploring the ennagram and how each type relates to what we know about the brain and how humans use them. Mike Morrell and John Luckovich also right a brief section describing the history of the Enneagram and it’s influences, which provides a nice overview of where the Enneagram came from and its growth in popularity.

One thing I really appreciated, is that Lubbe never puts people into the box of whatever number they are most proficient in:

You are not one thing, you are complex and multifaced; you are interconnected. This is a vital paradigm shift. When you consider having access to all nine numbers simultaneously, you increase and expand your capacity for thriving. (31).

This seems, to me, to be a vital insight. People are never one thing. Nevertheless we do have a core competency and a strategy for navigating the world, that is kind of our go to (which number we resonate most with). Lubbe has a system for helping us understand what our number is (based on the RHETI) and what our wings are. Lubbe also offers an at-a-glance view of the values of each type, and brain-based applications for each type.

I feel like Lubbe spends much of the book, trying to relate the Enneagram to science, rather than providing the ‘science of the Enneagram (repeatable, measurable data). I felt like this was more ‘sciency’ than science. Lubbe spends some time talking about the brain make-up—our brain stem, our limbic system, and the two hemispheres, and then relates each of the the types to things neuroscience tells us about the brain (i.e. which hemisphere each type/wing utilizes and what are the areas of cognitive growth for each type).

But this isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate what is here. While reading this book, I discovered that I have mistyped myself on the Enneagram for about ten years. I had thought I was a 7 because I was jokey (and sometimes used humor to deflect what was going on with me), but as I read through Lubbe’s descriptions of each type, I discovered, I don’t actually fit the 7 profile and their value on experience, as much as I do the 4s and their value on authenticity. So Lubbe, sent me back through my Enneagram texts, and I saw myself in a whole new light (which also made the enneagram make more sense and seem more helpful to me).

Some of the assessment stuff wasn’t helpful for me, since I haven’t taken the RHETI, so don’t know my RHETI number. So I can’t really comment on how Lubbe crunches numbers here.

I am not sure that this book/white paper accomplishes it’s goal of providing a neuroscience basis for the Enneagram. It seems to me that more often assumes the wisdom of the Enneagram and looks for links to Scientific understanding (which isn’t how science works); however, I thought that Lubbe was even handed in providing an overview of what the Enneagram brings to the table and how it relates to what we know of the brain.

I received this book via the author or publisher via SpeakEasy and offer my honest review here.

Published by

matichuk

I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.