The Enneagram for Teens

The Enneagram for Teens.

Who is the Real Me?


My sister, mother, me, my father, c. 1952.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between who you are and who you’re pretending to be? I’m searching my earliest memories, when my environment had the least impact on me, to help me find out.


• My love of music goes back forever. I had to have been born with it. This points to preferring the feeling side of life—the arts, beauty, people, psychology, etc. There’s not much argument against the MBTITM preferences (introversion and extraversion, feeling and thinking, for example) being inborn; I believe I’ve also been individualistic, focused on possibilities, and empathic from the beginning.


• When my older sister and my mother screamed at each other, did I freak out and cringe behind the closed door because I naturally disliked conflict? Or did I dislike conflict because their screaming traumatized me? I think I have the anti-conflict gene, if there is such a thing, which Enneagram 9-Peace Seekers and 5-Observers (my type) share. I thrive on peace and dislike drama in my life.


• Football players and wrestlers like rough contact, even getting hurt, and don’t usually mind trading insults. This is not the real me for sure! I’m as far as one can get from typical players of contact sports, often 8-Asserters in the Enneagram.


• Are you too lazy to spend 55 minutes beautifying yourself every day, as the average woman does? My mother, a 2-Helper, wasn’t. She put on lipstick, powder, rouge, and eye makeup every day, finishing by brushing mascara on her two or three white hairs as a quick cover up. She never allowed me to touch her shiny auburn hair. When I see apes bond by running their fingers through each other’s hair, looking for dirt and parasites, the feeling of disappointment comes back. My mother’s interest in her appearance influenced my attitude. I’m not totally lacking in vanity, but I don’t spend much time on it.


• Whenever my mother and I passed through the huge main doors of ZCMI, the big department store in Salt Lake City, she would beeline it to the nearest set of mirrors. We could not talk until she was satisfied with her lipstick, powder, and the angle of her hat. Every so often she’d spot another mirror and recheck herself. Would my mother be as interested in mirrors if she happened to be ugly instead of pretty? Wondering this led me to thinking it would be fairer if humans didn’t have bodies. I wished we could be spirits and relate to one another purely from our inner selves, a wish I almost forgot about when puberty set in.


• My father, a 5-Observer and a scientist, was a role model to me for thinking logically—and he did not suffer fools gladly. I’m thankful I picked up his respect for the intellect, but maybe I tricked myself into thinking I could also be strong and smart like him if I were more critical of others. Being like him would compensate for feeling weak. Now, however, I am more interested in being kind than in one-upping anyone. Being true to my real self by being empathic beats having a false sense of strength.


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Projecting Self-doubts on Others

"I must have deserved this."He “blamed” a restaurant after he lost his house.

Seth’s house washed away in a storm. He lost everything, including valuable paintings, antiques, and computers containing all his writings.

In the nineteen years since he designed and built his dream house, several floods have come close and terrified him. Recently he woke up to the sound of rushing water and began filling sandbags. All his neighbors evacuated but he stayed to fight. The neighbors, who had collected together in a safe place, thought he had died. Some scolded him for taking a dangerous chance.

After listening to the details of his experience, his friend Linette did Seth a favor, she thought, by telling him about the new take-out restaurant that delivers a hot meal in less than ten minutes for $6.00, thinking he could use such a convenience as he rebuilds his life. To Linette’s surprise, however, Seth became angry and attacked the restaurant: “This place is delivering food to 3 year olds who can’t cook it themselves!” he ranted. “Restaurants have to make sure they never run out of food, so they waste a lot of it. People these days don’t even know how to cook their own meals!” And he boasted that he only shops for food every two weeks. Linette felt his anger was directed partly to her, as if he was telling her, “I-have-all-the-answers-so-why-are-you-wasting-my-time?”

Perhaps Seth’s sudden burst of moral superiority was an unconscious attempt to feel better about himself after his loss. Suffering a natural disaster can result in feelings of self-doubt and shame. “I got picked on because I’m a loser.” Without quite realizing it, we try to feel okay by comparing ourselves to others, tearing someone or something down to inflate ourselves and prove our worth.

Linette felt Seth was browbeating her and calling HER one of those 3 year olds. She wanted to keep the peace, however, because Seth had just undergone a trauma. So she struggled to keep her mouth shut.

Seth seemed to be making sure Linette, and more to the point, HE (Seth), knew he was capable and could handle everything. In Enneagram terms, Seth, an independent 5-Observer, has a strong 4-Romantic wing and a need to feel special. He needed more attention than he was getting concerning his loss and his survival.

Linette eventually realized Seth had lashed out in response to  stress, fear, and shame. Scolding her and “her restaurant” was a projection—a way of scolding himself for putting himself in harm’s way. She realized his need to boost himself up had little or nothing to do with her. When she next saw him he was more in touch with his grief. Instead of lashing out he expressed his real feelings, that he was depressed and overwhelmed.

Visit to check out my books (including The Enneagram of Grief), CD, cartoons, essays, music, and Famous Enneagram Types.

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Do You Prefer Having Fun at Work or Working at Work? Part II

This is Part II of a blog based on New York Times’ Op-Ed Contributor Oliver Burkeman’s article, “Who Goes to Work to Have Fun?” 12-11-2013. How Enneagram types fit into fun at work – or not—are my own additions. Burkeman wrote, “Psychologists have shown that positive-thinking affirmations make people with low self-esteem feel worse; that patients with panic disorders can become more anxious when they try to relax; and that an ability to experience negative emotions, rather than struggling to exclude them, is crucial for mental health.”

            One reader commented: “Last year, in a conversation with the young adult son of a friend, I asked him if he would like it if his generation just stopped with the ‘awesome!’ for a little while and was             able to express real feelings. He looked at me like he wanted to cry and nodded his head yes. As I see that generation with its forced cheerfulness I wonder if they know how inauthentic they’re             

            being with themselves.” – Lute, Broooklyn

The Burkeman article continues, “And these are just the hazards of trying to enforce happiness on oneself: Matters are surely more fraught when the person doing the enforcing is a manager with possible ulterior motives, such as discouraging too much focus on low wages or inherently unfulfilling work.”

These companies force you to go to happy hours and then use your “friendship” against you when “asking” you for things later on. When I was an employee, I knew very well what made me happy. Doing a good job, producing a quality product, receiving a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work, going home each night believing I’d done something of value during the day and that both the customers for my efforts and my peers and supervisors recognized the value I added; earning my living and the respect of people whose own work I valued. What did not make me happy included pizza parties,      Employee of the Month and similar contests… – ACW New Jersey

The Eneagram types most likely to be managers are the 3-Achiever and the 8-Asserter. Of course, these types may or may not be ethical.

“Instead of striving to make work fun,” Burkeman said, managers should concentrate on creating the conditions in which a variety of personality types, from the excitable to the naturally downbeat, can flourish. That means giving employees as much autonomy as possible, and ensuring that people are treated evenhandedly.” The Enneagram 4-Romantic, a sensitive type, would especially appreciate this. “According to a recent Danish study, lack of fairness at work is a strong predictor of depression, and even heavy workloads don’t bring people down, provided their bosses are fair. 


            Another comment from a reader: “If a fungineer shows up at the water cooler at my job it will be very difficult to treat them with respect… If corporate thinks they can ramrod happiness down our             gullets with trite mantras they ignore at their peril our basic intelligence in favor of another device aimed at boosting quarterly productivity. A poorly dressed Trojan horse indeed; invading our emotional privacy under the guise of caring about employees feelings.” – Morgan S, Atlanta, GA

            And: “I suspect a lot of this “Fungineering” movement is aimed at Millennials who are extending adolescence to hitherto unrealized horizons. Work should be engaging, rewarding, fulfilling and             pay the rent. If it’s not that, a foosball tournament with microbrews won’t keep employees.” – NYC

Article: “Not that you’d necessarily want an office full of optimists” (3-Achievers, 7-Adventurers, and 9-Peace Seekers), “even if that were achievable. People who are oriented toward ‘defensive pessimism’ play a valuable role, preparing organizations for worst-case scenarios.” These would mainly be 6-Questioners in the Enneagram, who look out for safety.

“And if your business card describes you as Head of Fungineering, or Chief Cheerfulness Ninja, or Vice President of Wow, please skip the next company paintballing weekend, and use the time to ask yourself a few tough questions instead.”

Visit to check out my books, CD, cartoons, essays, music, and Famous Enneagram Types.

See “The Career Within You – How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality” using the Enneagram.

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Young People Talk about the Enneagram and Death, Part I


A Perfectionist talks to Death, from “The Enneagram of Death.”

Four years after his father died, author and psychiatrist Mark Epstein’s mother told him she was still upset. This conversation pleased him because, he said, “grief needs to be talked about. When it is held too privately it tends to eat away at its own support.”

Epstein says in “The Trauma of Being Alive,” (New York Times 8-4-13), “Trauma isn’t just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of it runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence… If we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder.  There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us… “

Trauma was also a theme of the panel of 9 people mostly in their 30’s I had assembled to talk about death, fear, and grief at the 2013 International Enneagram Conference last August.

Earl, the 1-Perfectionist, was concerned about his need to leave the world better than he found it. “I’ve always had this sense of mission and zeal. I want to have an impact. In the background I desire to make improvements and bring forth a new perspective. My fullest form of self-expression is to change things. I don’t want my mission to be cut short. Death is the point that, whatever you’ve done by then, you’re done.

“My own death seems like a zen or transition point, but physical and mental decline scare me. Back in my 20s I was depressed and felt a disconnect between the way I wanted to live and the way I was. It’s painful to think about losing my mobility, my capacity to enjoy activities. I hope to think rationally, have a clear sense of judgment, and see things how they are. Realizing how much we regret decisions we’ve made and fear living with the consequences are big fears for Ones in general. This sheds light on death itself. You die and there’s nobody there and no more regret. A lot of times when I’m anxious about something I can’t control (job security), I’ll get tunnel vision and concentrate on what I CAN control. Like the 6-Questioner, I’ll ruminate, think, and keep busy.”

Linda, the 2-Helper, said “I relate to the 6-Questioner’s mental anxiety. I make up that my husband will die and I’ll be alone. I am the one with health issues, but the habit of the Helper is to focus on the other. He eats a lot of Snickers so I’m always criticizing his diet in my head. I go on rants about nutrition and how we’re killing ourselves with toxins. I’m a health nut because I have rheumatoid arthritis—I’m the one who has had to change my diet.

“When I was 9 years old a horse kicked me in the head. I went to a beautiful place where there was no separation. There was no light but it wasn’t dark. No pain. Peaceful. Infinite. I can’t imagine anything more amazing. My whole life has been about getting back there. There’s nothing to fear. We have moments of heart connections where there’s no separation. The thought of dying is a comfort. I think about it a lot and look forward to it.”

See Part II (types 3, 4, and 5) on Oct. 8.

Look for my blog about healing PSTD in Psychology Today Oct. 1.

Visit “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” on FB and check out my work on

The New DSM: Abnormal is the New Normal


Cartoon by E. Wagele from “The Happy Introvert”

Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM), which defines mental illness in the U.S., half of us have a diagnosable mental disorder.

 It should come as no surprise that many who profit financially from mental illnesses would encourage broadening the definitions in the DSM-5. This benefits therapists because insurance covers clients if their diagnosis is in the DSM.

According to Robin S. Rosenberg in his article in Slate,  “Abnormal is the New Normal,” our odds of having a mental disorder in our lifetime are greater than 50%, based on the new DSM-V. “For decades, mental health clinicians, physicians, the U.S. surgeon general’s office, and various state and local agencies have been advocating for better detection of mental illness. If we are better at spotting it, we can treat it. And if we detect it earlier, we can hopefully intervene to reduce the intensity and/or frequency of symptoms. For instance, people who decades ago may have had undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, or substance abuse are now more likely to have their problems recognized and diagnosed. But the increased awareness and detection translates into a higher rate of mental illness.”

Various tests show our population is getting more anxious, more neurotic, and more narcissistic.

We’re more willing to see mental illness in ourselves and others. Many normal problems that were once considered healthy are now classified as mental illness, partly because the DSM keeps increasing the number of disorders, from 106 in 1952 to 297 in DSM IV.

Some of the disorders added are medical, not psychological, such as “breathing-related sleep disorder,” caffeine intoxication, and caffeine withdrawal.

Even shyness, worrying, and grief are now considered pathological.

When insurance pays for treatment, a diagnosis is necessary. So you can see why therapists like it when more problems qualify. The more problems, the more the pharmaceutical companies profit, too. 70% of the DSM-5 task force members have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Also, people want quick fixes to their problems and mental diagnoses enable them to become more eligible for government services.

Rosenberg adds, “…Having a diagnosis gives a name to the suffering we feel and the hope that with a label can come relief… Hope is essential. But I’m not sure that ultimately labeling half of us with a mental disorder is the best way to give people realistic hope. Having a diagnosable mental illness has almost become the new ‘normal.’ As a society, we have an opportunity to think about how we define mental health and illness. It shouldn’t only be up to the authors of the DSM.”

In my blog last May in Psychology Today, “Criticism of the DSM-5 and a Suggestion, II,”  I suggested the DSM completely change the way it diagnoses problems by using the Enneagram as a model for not only mental illness, but also for a comparison with people who are healthy mentally. Each of the 9 Enneagram personality types can be described in stages from healthy to unhealthy. The DSM would be tied to a continuum of these 9 basic features. For example, the 6-Questioner when healthy is alert, often witty, and concerned about safety. This personality descends when unhealthy into paranoia. The healthy 1-Perfectionist wants to do what’s right and is well-organized. People of this type who are unhealthy may suffer from obsessive/compulsive disorder. While most pathologies could be compared to the normal personality, schizophrenia and some other illnesses may lie outside of this model.

Read my Psychology Today blog of 8-6-13, Pessimism and Enneagram Type 6-The Questioner.

Visit to check out my CD, cartoons, essays, Famous Enneagram Types, and books:

“The Enneagram Made Easy,”

“Are You My Type, Am I Yours?”

“The Enneagram of Parenting,”

“The Happy Introvert,”

“Finding the Birthday Cake“ (for teaching the Enneagram to young children),

“The Career Within You,”

and “The Enneagram of Death.”

My CD, “The Beethoven Enneagram,” is available only through My books can be ordered from independent book stores or


Invitation to Workshop: “Finding Our Way Home” February 9

Dear Reader,

If you or someone you know would like to start the year exploring how we Love and how we engage with Others and with Life itself… #4EnnPar

if you are looking for an adventure… #1EnnPar

or healing…


this workshop in Chicago based on my newest book may be for you and/or your friends…

I’d like to invite you to:

Finding Our Way Home


Co-presented by Ruthie Landis and

guest author, artist, and musician Elizabeth Wagele

Saturday, February 9, 2013

9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.


Our tango with Loss, Grief, and Dying offers us a

poignant opportunity to know our True Self more fully,

explore how we Love, and how we engage with Others and with Life itself.

EnnDeathCover7inches copy

Come join us for a “happening”; a safe, playful, and provocative day of learning and connecting with others, while we find ways of looking at that which we fear and avoid, our own mortality.  As the centerpiece of the day, prolific author, artist, and pianist, Elizabeth Wagele will offer her latest book, The Enneagram of Death, as well as her live music and comic perspective to the facilitated workshop experience. Coming together, actors and dancers, people of all ages and backgrounds, with curiosity and open hearts, will share an unforgettable and truly enlivening day as we each continue to

Find Our Way Home.


at The Ethical Humanist Society, 7574 N. Lincoln Ave. Skokie, Illinois

Pre-registration-$75———Register after January 25- $85

(includes signed book and light lunch)

To register email  or PayPal at


Yours truly,

Elizabeth Wagele for information on The Enneagram of Death and other books and essays.