What is TrueType?
When test takers complete the TrueSelf Personality Test they receive results that look like this:
The results include a Primary Type, a TrueType and an Instinctual Stack and names that correspond to those variables. The Starring Roles come from the Primary Type Wiring and the Personality Type Name comes from the TrueType Wiring.
The Profile Content by default is based on your Primary Type but there’s a set of buttons across from the text “Switch to view Secondary Types” that allows you to see the Secondary and Tertiary Types in your TrueType.
In my case I’m a 5-8-3, so this is what it looks like on my profile:
The core of the current TrueSelf test is based on the Enneagram. In this blog post we’re going to assume you already have basic knowledge of the Enneagram and are looking to understand more about TrueType. (But you can learn more about the basics of the Enneagram here.)
The Enneagram is a 9 sided symbol that can be divided into 3 Centers of Intelligence: The Body Center, The Heart Center and the Head Center. The core idea behind TrueType is that you have a personality type in each Center of Intelligence.
The roots of this idea of a personality type in each Center of Intelligence trace back to Oscar Ichazo, the forefather of the modern Enneagram. One enneagram scholar describes the following history: “Ichazo is the original source of much of the Enneagram material. Claudio Naranjo learned of the types from Ichazo in 1970. Ichazo and Naranjo took the material down two different paths. Ichazo started the Arica School and used the Enneagram material as part of his methods taught there. Naranjo took the Enneagram material into psychology and what we know today as the Enneagram personality types. The two versions of the Enneagram material have similarities but are also different in many ways.
Ichazo used the types to work with ego fixation where each type was assigned a fixation that could be remedied by the corresponding holy idea. Although an individual had a primary fixation, that individual also had other fixations (one from each center). Ichazo called these three fixations an individual's Trifix.”
Later, Katherine Chernick Fauvre after taking the Arica Trainings developed this construct much further, in more alignment with the Naranjo inspired Enneagram of Personality with what she called Tritype. Her empirical research with clients and subjects showed that the claim that we just have a Primary Enneagram Type and some fixations of the other types is incomplete. Rather, her research showed the whole energetic and defense strategy of non-primary Types operates in individuals — and that it is far more accurate to claim we have 3 distinct Enneagram Types operating within us, one in each Center of Intelligence.
My journey with the Enneagram began when I was 19, having just dropped out of Stanford to create the Startup Genome Project, living in a large Startup House in Menlo Park called Blackbox Mansion. A close friend of mine, Alexandros Pagidas, a Greek philosopher who was living in the house, shared his book with me: Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.
Immediately I was trans-fixed. I had already gone deep with other personality typing systems such as Myers Briggs and I loved elegant systems that pierced the veil on the true nature of reality — naturally as my Primary Type is Enneagram 5 known as The Investigator. But it was also clear to me that I resonated strongly with the Enneagram Type 3 — to the point Alexandros would sometimes question whether I was really a Type 3. This inquiry led me to discover Katherine Fauvre’s work on Tritype which elegantly described my Type 5 / 3 predicament in ways the conventional Enneagram Theory couldn’t (as a person only had a Primary Type and a Wing). As I put the Tritype theory to the test and typed all my friends I discovered just how accurate and illuminating the Tritype approach was.
What I particularly like about the Tritype approach is how well it matches up with other systems that map the human being and human development.
The Chakra System and TrueType
The Chakras are an ancient Indian / Hindu mapping of the major energy centers in the body.
In the traditional chakra system there are 7 energy centers that are positioned through the central vertical axis in the body.
The Enneagram Centers of Intelligence correlate well to the Chakra mapping of the human system. You can understand the Body Center of Intelligence in the Enneagram as representing the lower third of the human being, the Heart Center of Intelligence as representing the middle third of the human being and the Head Center of Intelligence as representing the upper third of the human being.
Triune Brain Theory is another system that lines up well with the Enneagramatic Centers of Intelligence. In the 1960s, American neuroscientist Paul MacLean formulated the 'Triune Brain' model. Triune Brain Theory posits that the Human Being contains within it a composition of its evolutionary history, where we have a Reptilian Brain, a Mammalian Brain and a Human Brain. Or more technically mapped as:
Reptilian or Primal Brain (Basal Ganglia)
Paleomammalian or Emotional Brain (Limbic System)
Neomammalian or Rational Brain (Neocortex)
One author summarizes theory in the following way, “according to MacLean, the hierarchical organization of the human brain represents the gradual acquisition of the brain structures through evolution. The triune brain model suggests the basal ganglia was acquired first, which is thought to be in charge of our primal instincts, followed by the limbic system, which is in charge of our emotions or affective system, then the neocortex, which is thought to be responsible for rational or objective thought”.
It’s worth noting that many modern scientists consider the Triune Brain Theory to be a significant oversimplification but a useful entry level model nonetheless.
The Triune Brain Theory and the Chakra System both point to the biological reality of human beings having 3 core Enneagram Types — one in each center of intelligence.
Integral Theory (which I discussed in one of the introductory videos to TrueSelf) through its construct of the Quadrants presents a beautiful and elegant way of relating and unifying the more external constructs of the Chakra System and Triune Brain Theory with the more internal constructs of Personality. Essentially, Integral Theory claims that everything has an inside and an outside, that they correlate to each other and that the internal and external dimensions co-arise and are not reducible to each other. Therefore, one can understand their Enneagram Type and Personality in general as the internal corollary experience to particular biological realities.
Therefore, one path to understanding the fundamental basis of having 3 Types, is that there are Three Centers of Intelligence in the Human, which many methods and approaches converge to (we’ve just looked at a couple here but there are many more) and each Center of Intelligence has 3 different core ways it can express itself.
We can map each triad along a spectrum [8-9-1], [2-3-4], [5-6-7] and see that there is actually a continuum of outward to inward expressions of the fundamental energy of each Center of Intelligence. For instance in the Body Center the Type 8 strategy is built around expressing instinctual energy fully, whereas the Type 1 strategy is built around repressing and directing the instinctual energy. The Type 9 is an amalgam of these two approaches. In the Heart Center the Type 2 strategy is built around directing emotional energy outwards towards creating relationships with other people, whereas the Type 4 strategy is built around directing emotional energy inwards towards self-discovery. The Type 3 has an amalgam of both the external and internal orientation. In the Head Center the Type 7’s strategy is built around directing its mental energy outward into the world, whereas the Type 5 directs its mental energy much more inwardly and the Type 6 is focused both externally and internally.
Relating this to core Enneagram Theory, the 3-6-9 in the Enneagram Symbol form a Triangle known as the Primary Types and the other 6 types are known as Secondary Types and are essentially variations on the Primary Type in more external or internal ways.
Nature versus Nurture
In the Enneagram World, there is debate about whether we are born with our Personality Type or whether it is an adaptive response to childhood experiences. Essentially, the age old debate of Nature vs. Nurture. At TrueSelf, we are firmly in the camp that Personality Type is Nature. What Nurture, or the environment determines is healthy development or lack thereof, of a particular Personality Type (in Enneagram circles this is often referred to as Levels of Development; 1 thru 9). Many factors point to Personality as Nature being the far more accurate position. The most important factor is that Personality Types are not just a mental construct or set of beliefs that can change over time but rather are a complete, integrated, multidimensional, energetic system.
Many researchers have found that those of a particular Enneagram Type have similar facial features and architecture, microexpressions and auric energy structures. Dario Nardi, a UCLA professor, had many subjects take the Myers Briggs Personality Test and then go into an EEG scanner and he found that each Personality Type uses their brain in distinctly different ways. The research formed the foundation of his book the Neuroscience of Personality.
Additionally, many Enneagram researchers claim to be able to determine the Enneagram Type of children and have monitored them over time to see their predictions come true. We suspect if the research were done properly we’d find markers in the genetic code that determine what personality type someone is at birth.
From an esoteric spiritual perspective, the soul is said to choose a particular vessel for the work it intends to carry out in its next lifetime. You can think of this as the soul as the driver of a car, selecting the right make and model vehicle for where he or she intends to go and do.
Here is one slide I developed for the Shift Network’s Personality Summit where we mapped the relationship between Enneagram, Myers-Briggs and Strengths Finder as increasing concentric circles — and included all the other typological systems presented on in the Summit.
Essentially, we would classify the Enneagram as the innermost circle which describes the core structural fears and desires of the ego. Myers-Briggs excels at mapping and describing how one processes information and makes decisions — especially if you dig into its Jungian Roots and the 8 corresponding Cognitive Functions. Systems like Strenghts Finder and the Big 5 (the most widely used personality model in academic circles) are a mapping of individual traits along a spectrum, rather than an integrated categorical classification. We see trait based systems as the outermost surface layer of the personality. They describe behavior — the What — whereas as Myers Briggs describes The How and the Enneagram describes The Why. If one is interested in personal transformation the inner circles offer much more insight and leverage into how to change, improve and grow.
The Evolution of TrueType
While the profile on TrueSelf currently only lists 3 variables (i.e. 5-8-3) in our research and work with clients TrueType is a much broader construct that aims to capture all the essential aspects of a person’s unique Typological Signature. From an Integral Theory perspective Types are an aspect that does not change with time (in contrast to changes of States or moving up and down Developmental Levels of health).
Our intention is to add many of these other typological systems to TrueSelf in time, where in the future one’s TrueType may look something like 583 Sp/Sx/So, INTJ, Mental Projector, Virgo, Warrior/Magician. Each of these systems (Enneagram, Instincts, Myers-Briggs, Human Design, Astrology, Archetypal Embodiment) capture a different aspect of our unique essence and gifts we have to share with the world. Our TrueType can be understood to be as unique and differentiated as our genetic code — after all the entire Genetic Code is composed of just 4 letters – GCAT. The current TrueType site with just the 3 different enneagram types and instinctual subtypes and the different orders they can be arranged in spits out 972 unique different personality types (9*3*6*6).
We believe understanding oneself through a diversity of different systems is incredibly important. We regularly come across Enneagram purists who only work with the Enneagram system who unknowingly create a self-reinforcing feedback of self-limitation: because the Enneagram is a near exclusive lens for their self-examination and self-exploration they end up seeing themselves as say, just a Type 9 and normatively adapting and conforming to recommendations for how Type 9s are and should be at their higher expressions.
Maps like the Enneagram enable us to make distinctions, spot patterns and transform them along proven paths, but it's important to recognize most maps have specialties of what aspects of self and reality they point out with high resolution. An integrative approach that uses many maps and perspectives is far more resilient, nuanced and rich but it requires a person to develop the capacity to become Meta-Systematic — to both understand systems and the contextual boundaries where they apply and where they don’t.
We hope you’ve found this deeper exploration and articulation of TrueType illuminating and that you will continue to explore the TrueType resources we have to offer, including spending time deep diving into your Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Enneagram Type in each Center of Intelligence. This exploration and embodiment really has the potential to unlock a tremendous well-spring of self-understanding, self-compassion and personal power.