The conventional Enneagram is a personality typing system. It categorizes people by nine personality types or styles and lists the qualities of each type. The types are organized around a circle, with some lines connecting them in a six-pointed star and a triangle.
See one here.
The conventional Enneagram gives no explanation for why its nine types can be presented on the enneagram shape.
The Structural Enneagram explains that mystery and others. It offers:
- Detailed specification of the underlying structures of personality.
- More-accurate, two-number structures as opposed to the old single-number types.
The basic Structural Enneagram still looks like the illustration above, although its parts have different meanings. For example, in the conventional Enneagram, the lines
connecting numbers map a “direction of integration”, while in Structural Enneagram some of the lines are repurposed to map a developmental path, an order in which perceptual and cognitive abilities arise in childhood.
For those wishing to break out of personality traps, the conventional Enneagram’s vague recommendations to behave more like the type in one’s “direction of integration” are replaced by specific behavioral and conceptual patterns that may be either directly emulated or used to devise a plan of therapy.
Even at the level of delineation and description of types, the Structural Enneagram’s innovations are quite extensive. The conventional Enneagram describes nine personality
types, with the option of assigning a “wing”—the type on either side of the dominant type. The Structural Enneagram proposes instead:
- 6 “perspectives” that form the building blocks of personality
- 9 personality structures corresponding to the numbered points around the circle
- 18 type-plus-wing personalities
- A model of personality dynamics
In short, the Structural Enneagram understands the Enneagram to be not only an organized collection of personality types but also a dynamic model of the underlying structure of personality.