BY VAALPARK MHU | October 22, 2021

Blog By

Dr Melané van Zyl
Psychiatrist

Today I write about something that is not a therapy program– a personality test named the Enneagram. Patients treated in our ward or programs are often diagnosed with a type of Personality Disorder. Although an accurate diagnosis is essential, we seem to forget the unique (and beautiful) personality traits each person possesses. If we develop self-awareness, we can use our personality traits to our benefit. The Enneagram was my first step into the realm of psychology. Until I discovered it about seven years ago, I considered myself a “biological” psychiatrist who works as a doctor- making a diagnosis and then giving medication. I did not give much attention to the finer nuances of each patient’s personality and subconscious drives and how this might affect their current mental condition. I have also not considered how my personality and views of the world impact my patients. This unawareness was a significant oversight in retrospect.

Recently, the Enneagram came back into my life during the lockdown, and I am currently studying the Enneagram with Inner Life Skills. Although I am only at the start of the course, I have learned some intriguing aspects that completely changed my understanding of the Enneagram.

There are nine personality types. However, it is more important to understand the three Pearls than trying to find your type, at least initially. The three Pearls describe the reason for behaviour. Our subconscious drives form the “grains of sand,” irritations that cause us to develop our Pearl. Each Pearl represents the actual reasons for our behaviour, anger, fear, or self-worth issues. Anger corresponds with the gut, fear with the brain, and self-worth with the heart. The idea that subconscious drives come from the brain, gut, or heart fits what I have learned in Kundalini Yoga and White Tiger Qigong. I am super excited to explore this more in the future.

It is crucial to note that we are NOT our personalities. We are taught in this course that the Enneagram does not place us “in a box”; it shows us the box we are already in. Then we can get out of the box and be free to live and behave to live our best lives.

To learn more about the Enneagram, have a look at The Enneagram Institute. To look at the course I am doing, have a look at Innerlifeskills.

If you are interested in having a coaching session where we discuss your Enneagram, contact me.

Dr. Melane Van Zyl