The Triads and the Law of Threes
The basic foundation of the Enneagram is built around a Triad (or, group of three) of three centers of intelligence: the Gut center, the Heart center, and the Head center. Each of these has a main Enneagram type associated with it as shown below. They are the 3, 6, and 9, representing the core Enneagram energies of each Triad (which is another term for Intelligence Center). The Enneagram uses building blocks based on the Law of Three…in this case, there are three triads, each with three personality types associated with them.
The other numbers (which are not shown here) make up the other six types, and represent variations on these three main types. Incidentally, these three main types are the three most common types found in our culture.
The Gut center (or “triad”) is at the top of the symbol, represented by Point 9. The central type in the Heart triad is the 3, and the 6 represents the center type of the Head triad. Each of these triads is characterized by an expression of energy focused in the area of the body shown.
The Gut (or Anger) Triad
The gut triad is very instinctual energy, with an emphasis on Vitality and Life Force. Instinctual energy has more readily available access to anger, and its core issues are around managing aggression and repression. Enneagram types 8, 9, and 1 are part of this triad, and their key focus needs to be on bringing awareness to this anger, and how they personally manage it when in reaction mode. Each type will experience and express anger in a unique way.
The Heart (or Shame) Triad
The types within the Heart Triad, types 2, 3, and 4, have a focus that is on their own Value and Identity. Their concern is their own image, or how other people see them, which creates problems associated with their identities. Shame is an emotion common to most of the 9 Enneagram types, based on our most basic human experience, but the types in the Heart triad can experience a more chronic sense of it, which expresses in their behavior and inner experience of their own right to “be” without having to “do” anything else to prove it. Until they become aware of how they are affected by this concern for their own image, hostility can become an issue for them. Each type will channel it differently, as part of the expression of their type. Becoming aware of how they direct the hostility can be transformative in their lives.
The Head (or Thinking) Triad
Types 5, 6, and 7 make up the Head Triad, and each of these types focuses on the theme of Inner Guidance and Support. This translates to issues around Anxiety and Insecurity for them, and like the other triads, each of these three types will have a slightly different strategy to handle those issues. The Thinking types are also known as the Fear triad. They have more difficulty (relative to the types in the other two triads) with making decisions and making plans for their future. The Head types tend to focus on some, unique aspect of “worst case scenario” thinking, which, in turn, can develop their creativity.