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Based on my somewhat limited understanding of both Myers-Briggs and Enneagram theory, I think there's a reason the Enneagram is more motivation-oriented while Myers-Briggs is more pattern-oriented. It's more of a nurture (Enneagram) vs. nature difference.

Myers-Briggs (and other Jungian-based theories like Socionics) looks at how you generally prefer to observe and process the world. Do you prefer to focus more on concrete information or underlying patterns? Do you prefer to process information objectively or subjectively (extraversion vs. introversion), using logic standards or value standards (thinking vs. feeling). Not to mention, this is just preference...it's not an either-or. It's just about your usual way of approaching the world, but everyone is capable of using every function, and will in various circumstances.

Enneagram, on the other hand, seems to look at why people choose to behave certain ways. It seems on the surface, types can look similar to one another, but when you dig beneath, you'll find very different motivations for the behavior. I'm still digging into Enneagram theory and working on figuring out my type. It does seem to be more straightforward than figuring out your Myers Briggs type because with Enneagram, you just dig and dig until you find that one basic fear, that shame that motivates you to act the way you do. You find the why. Whereas with Jungian typology, you have to look at how you're thinking, you have to see your patterns, I guess you still have to analyze the "why", but you're using "why" as a proxy for "how", so yeah, I can see Enneagram being more straightforward.

It seems there are a lot of misunderstandings about the Myers-Briggs system, and maybe like you said, the vast room for misunderstanding in Jungian-based systems could make Enneagram more useful in many cases.

I have spent a huge chunk of the past year doing armchair research into Myers-Briggs with some Socionics mixed in, and now it seems I'm moving into Enneagram (following where my interest leads). Since Jungian-based typology and Enneagram theory look at people from two different perspectives (patterns of thought vs. underlying motivations) it seems the two can be used together to create even further self-understanding.

Interesting stuff. Hope you don't mind my rambling. :)

Gary Houchens

Kelly, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your insights. I'm not familiar with Socionics, but I agree that one of the things that distinguishes the Enneagram is its emphasis on WHY we do what we do. Plus it describes type-specific patterns at varying levels of personal health, which points us toward personal improvement - not just describing what we typically do.

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