The centers of intelligence, sometimes simply called the centers or triads, are common to most teachings of the Enneagram personality types. The nine types are placed into three centers with three types in each center. Although every individual has access to all three centers, one of the centers becomes a preoccupation based on type. Enneagram authors and teachers use many different labels and concepts for applying the centers to the types. Below are a sampling of the more common ones.
One common set of labels is the following:
Types 8, 9, and 1 are often said to be body-based or gut-based.
Primary emphasis is placed on somatic or sensory-motor activity.
Types 2, 3, and 4 are often said to be heart-based.
Primary emphasis is placed on feeling states or emotional connection.
Types 5, 6, and 7 are often said to be head-based.
Primary emphasis is placed on thinking or mental reasoning.
The three centers are sometimes referred to in terms of a dominant emotional response.
- Types 8, 9, and 1 may also be referred to as anger-based types.
Anger can be thought of as an energy of will that pushes against obstacles.
- For type 8, this energy arises in service of making things happen in the world.
- For type 9, this energy arises as resistance when pushed into unwanted activities.
- For type 1, this energy arises when correcting behavior and actions.
- Types 2, 3, and 4 may also be referred to as shame-based types.
Shame can be thought of as a sense of self-deficiency in the eyes of others.
- For type 2, there can be a feeling of not being lovable unless they are attending to the needs of others.
- For type 3, there can be a feeling of not being worthwhile unless they are successful in the eyes of others.
- For type 4, there can be a feeling of not being significant unless they cultivate their own unique qualities.
- Types 5, 6, and 7 may also be referred to as fear-based types.
Fear can be thought of as an anticipation of future negative uncertainties.
- For type 5, negative uncertainties are prepared for by attaining knowledge.
- For type 6, negative uncertainties are prepared for through doubting and questioning.
- For type 7, negative uncertainties are prepared for by generating pleasant alternatives.
Since it can sometimes be difficult to see how types 9 and 3 fit their centers, another pair of labels are sometimes used to describe their centers.
- Types 8, 9, and 1 are sometimes called the self-forgetting types.
Type 9 is often described as the least self-aware type.
- Types 2, 3, and 4 are sometimes called the image types.
Type 3 is often described as the type most aware of image.
Some authors have drawn an anology between the three centers and the triune brain concept developed by Paul MacLean (MacLean descriptions below are from Wikipedia).
- Types 8, 9, and 1 tend to lead with the reptilian complex.
MacLean proposed that the reptilian complex was responsible for species-typical instinctual behaviors involved in aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays.
- Types 2, 3, and 4 tend to lead with the paleomammalian complex (limbic system).
MacLean maintained that the structures of the limbic system arose early in mammalian evolution (hence "paleomammalian") and were responsible for the motivation and emotion involved in feeding, reproductive behavior, and parental behavior.
- Types 5, 6, and 7 tend to lead with the neomammalian complex (neocortex).
MacLean regarded its addition as the most recent step in the evolution of the mammilian brain, conferring the ability for language, abstraction, planning, and perception.
The centers can also be associated with the ABC's of psychology (affective, behavioral, cognitive).
- Types 8, 9, and 1 can be associated with the behavioral (conative) domain.
- Types 2, 3, and 4 can be associated with the affective domain.
- Types 5, 6, and 7 can be associated with the cognitive domain.
The centers can be tied in with Gurdjieff's fourth way teachings as well in looking at the three lower centers.
- Types 8, 9, and 1 - the moving or physical center.
- Types 2, 3, and 4 - the emotional or feeling center.
- Types 5, 6, and 7 - the intellectual or thinking center.
This can also tie in with the three traditional paths to spiritual enlightenment mentioned by Gurdjieff (bullets below are from Wikipedia).
- The Way of the fakir
The fakir works to obtain mastery of the attention (self-mastery) through struggles with [controlling] the physical body involving difficult physical exercises and postures.
- The Way of the monk
The monk (or nun) works to obtain the same mastery of the attention (self-mastery) through struggle with [controlling] the affections, in the domain, as we say, of the heart, which has been emphasized in the west, and come to be known as the way of faith due to its practice particularly by Catholic religious.
- The Way of the yogi
The yogi works to obtain the same mastery of the attention (as before: 'self mastery') through struggle with [controlling] mental habits and capabilities.
The Enneagram Attention approach to the types borrows the concept of function but not the corresponding definition from the Jungian types (adding doing to feeling and thinking), calling the centers the functional centers.