Levels of Development

The Levels of Development is a key contribution by Don Riso from Enneagram Institute. The Levels are a measure of our consciousness, our ability to be present and to maintain contact with the moment. It is not only used to explain variations between people of the same type, but also used to understand the level of health within a type through measuring our degree of identification with our personality structure, how liberated and aware, or how defended and shut down.

For ease of understanding, the 9 Levels are usually grouped into 3 groups as follows:

  • Healthy – levels 1 through 3 (high functioning aspects of the type)
  • Average – levels 4 through 6 (normal behaviours of the type)
  • Unhealthy – levels 7 through 9 (deeply dysfunctional manifestations of the type)

9 level cylinderAt unhealthy level, a lot of our destructive patterns of behaviour are driven by a core fear that relates to our core Enneagram type, we become so identified with our personality structure, and out of touch with reality. At an average level, this is the level where most of us operate, we are less reactive, but the core fear still drives and motivates behaviours to a large extent. At healthy level, we no longer identify with our ego, we let go of a particular self-image, we come to understand our core fears and move beyond the limitations of our core Enneagram type.

The level at which we operate changes throughout the day, we generally move up and down Levels within a range. This is also generally true for us  at any point in our life. For example, we may have operated between levels 4 through 6  earlier in life, and operating at levels 3 through 5 in later part of our life.

Healthy Levels

Level 1 – Liberation (Ego transcended-balance and freedom)

Level 2 – Psychological Capacity (Ego is identified as an ideal-self)

Level 3 – Social Value (Ego operating in a constructive way)

Average Levels

Level 4  – Imbalance (Ego-role assumed, defences increased)

Level 5 – Interpersonal Control (Manipulative & Defended)

Level 6 – Overcompensation (Ego inflation, conflicts with others)

Unhealthy Levels

Level 7 – Violation (Survival tactic, neurotic)

Level 8 – Delusion and Compulsion (Major personality disorder)

Level 9 – Pathological Destructiveness (Psychosis, breakdown)

EPTP Intensive   Typing Process