Exploring the Enneagram – Three Intelligence Centres


The Enneagram has 9 points or types, which themselves are divided into 3 sections or Intelligence Centres. These are the Body Centre (types, 1, 8 & 9), the Head Centre (types 5, 6 & 7) and the Heart Centre (types 2, 3 & 4). These Intelligence Centres reveal how we primarily perceive the world and how we experience God’s love for us. Although we may have one dominant Intelligence Centre, as we transform and grow we will integrate the other Intelligence Centres and become more whole.

The Body Centre – types 1, 8 & 9

Body Centred people are very rooted in the here and now. Where the mind (Head Centre) and feelings (Heart Centre) can wander to the past or future, the body is only able to be in the present. Body Centre people are gut people and experience life through their senses. Gut people are generally more impassioned than emotional, and carry a great level of determination. They engage the world through activity in an effort to maintain a sense of control. They can experience a lot of frustration and irritation and can project this onto those around them. In response to the drama they’ve created, gut people try to exert control by becoming the solution to it, each number within this type using a different means to do so.

Gut people respond to the world from this instinctive centre, they know they answers and believe that the solutions they offer are the right ones. They tend to be dissociated from their feelings and are not sure what to do with them. A fear that they are inherently flawed can often be at the root of their need to control and take charge of their environment. They attempt to use their will to affect the world without being affected by it. This core emotion of fear is suppressed by those in the Body Centre, leading to anger becoming their constant companion. For Body Centre types, life can often feel too much for them as they are living with so much intensity and suppressed anger. However, when they engage with their anger positively and harness it in a healthy way, they have a wonderful ability to build a better world.

The Head Centre – types 5, 6 & 7

People in the Head Centre are looking for a sense of inner guidance and support. Thinking types are mostly concerned with the future and ask questions like “What’s going to happen to me? How am I going to survive? How can I prepare myself to keep bad things from happening? How do I move forward in life? How do I cope?” They are hugely developed mentally and their experiences of life come to them as a threat or assault. They desire to master their environment in order to secure self-preservation and minimise these threats. Each of the Enneagram types in this centre use different methods to analyse the future in order to maintain their safety and security. Fear is the dominant feeling, which fuels their need to seek this security.

Head people are often mostly afraid of their own pain as they believe they’re unable to engage with it. They desire to quiet their inner distress in order to create peace and security. In order to do this, they methodically search for solutions, although they can also struggle to activate the answers they find. Their minds are constantly in highly active mode but as they transform, they can enter more freely into a “quiet mind”. As those in the Head Centre grow and heal, alongside a quieter mind, they’re also able to live from a more rooted place of safety and security.

The Heart Centre – types 2, 3 & 4

Heart Centre people feel their way through life. They fully occupy the heart space which at times can feel overwhelming. Heart Centre types often have a compulsive need to connect wth others whilst also comparing with others as a way to validate their own sense of self worth. They have a strong need to be seen and validated by others. Although they live emotionally present ,making them highly emotionally intelligent, it’s not uncommon for them to be out of touch with their own feelings. They have internal fears of not being loved, valued or seen, and they can project these fears by attempting to have their needs met by others. Each of the types in this Centre projects these needs in different ways and works hard to gain a sense of being loved and valued.

Shame is an ever-present for these types. Their tendency to compare can leave them wanting and deep in self-blame. Shame leads to fear that they are unworthy to experience need which then leads to more shame. In an unhealthy place, the Heart Centre can become relentless in developing activities that seek to secure the devotion of others. Healthy heart people bring love to the world, they do good and bring balance. As they grow they learn to trust their feelings and grow in discernment. Heart qualities are the source of our identity so when heart types are healthy their hearts are open and they come to see who they truly are which has nothing to do with what others think or past history.

Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
Don Richard Risso and Russ Hudson,  The Wisdom of the Enneagram
Christopher L Heurtz, The Sacred Enneagram

The Enneagram can be extremely useful as you continue your journey of growth and transformation. As a Spiritual Director, I can join you in discovering more about yourself through exploring The Enneagram and your Type within it.