The Enneagram of Personality, by its very design, so competently holds the reality that personality health lives on a continuum from lightly held “style” to the grips of a “disorder.” This real quality of personality has been the focus of much research in personality science over the last twenty years, and is made most obvious in Enneagram scholarship in Don Riso’s original observations on the Enneagram Levels of Development.
Unfortunately, some of the models out there for the Enneagram of Personality can sabotage our work with other people and ourselves, as those models tend to only reinforce the most visibly difficult parts of Oneness, Twoness, Threeness, etc. Admirably, Enneagram students and teachers often try to counter-balance this narrowness by adding notes on the higher aspects of the Types, the Holy Ideas (the higher Head aspects of Type) and the Virtues (the higher Heart aspects of Type). However, Riso and Hudson’s Levels of Development for the Nine Types is a model that addresses the need for a more accurate “map” of growth within each Type structure on the Enneagram.
Instead of simply teaching us to identify Type by the florid symptoms of the personality style when it’s running the show and steeped in defeating patterns, Levels of Development work allows Enneagram students to taste and familiarize themselves with the shadings between Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy functioning in each Enneagram personality Type.
The best way to get familiar with the Levels of Development is to start to identify what it feels like to shift up and down our own personality health continuum. It is especially important to be able to notice the more powerful downward shifts we all experience at times that take us from Healthy to Average, where Riso and Hudson would say we experience our “Wake Up Call” for our Type, or from Average to Unhealthy , where they would note we experience the “Red Flag Fear” for our Type. Both the Wake Up Call and the Red Flag Fear are important invitations back up the Levels into Health that all of us can become familiar with and learn to respond to on an experiential plane.
For further learning on the Enneagram Levels of Development, check out the following Enneagram Institute courses:
The Levels of Development Workshop