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The Three Centers


> The Head Center: 5,6,7
> The Body Center: 8,9,1
> The Heart Center: 2,3,4

Mental, Thinking, Fear

Everyone uses the Head Center whenever they think, plan, memorize or strategize. Our dreams and visions for the future are made in the Head Center. It is the center usually associated with understanding and intelligence. But for Fives, Sixes and Sevens, this is THE control center, the one they occupy most of the time. These people are strong on thinking, as opposed to feeling (heart) or sensing (body).

People in the Head Center are inclined to analyze any situation by taking in the evidence and applying logic, particularly in the context of a system or theory. They deal with tasks methodically and may try to construct meaningful patterns, putting their trust in ideas. Their common assets and liabilities all spring from this preoccupation with using the mental center to evaluate all aspects of life. They are inclined to believe that they know all there is to know about something once they have collected and observed all the objective data. They can have a compulsion about collecting more and more information.

They ask "Where am I?" "How does this all fit together?" "How will I survive?" "How can I prepare myself to be safe in the world?"

Fear is the main driving emotion of this center. The background theme music for this center might sound like the soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock movie played at various audible levels for each of the types. Inside they feel a lack of support and guidance. Fives, Sixes and Sevens are the most conscious of life's dangers. They use their heads to deal with their anxieties about life's risks and are sometimes called the "fear" types. Each type copes with their fear differently, but all three types use thinking (usually unconsciously) as a way of pre-empting fear in a potentially threatening world.

Fives, who represent the internalized version of fear, make themselves safe by amassing knowledge and grasping the complexities of the world, and they use their knowledge as a kind of buffer to keep others at bay. Sixes, representing externalized fear, try to make themselves safe by being constantly on the lookout for danger and by forming solid alliances with trustworthy people and striving to clearly understand all lines of authority—sometimes aligning with authority for protection, sometimes rebelling against it. Sevens simply deny their fears and forget them by distracting themselves with pleasurable experiences or ideas to avoid thinking about any dangers.

While their anxieties are exaggerated, they tend to hide their feelings, most especially tender ones, behind a mask of objectivity and non-involvement. They can appear clear, convinced, and clever, while inwardly feeling isolated, confused and meaningless. They even fear looking confused, illogical or unwise. These types sometimes have difficulty making decisions and moving confidently into the future.

In a sense, the Five is the type in the Head Center that over-expresses thinking; they are the most cerebral and mentally intense of all the types. They live for their ideas, their concepts, and their imagination while neglecting many of the practical aspects of life. The Six is most out of touch with the inner guidance of the Head Center. Their minds are always thinking; actually over-thinking—anxiously figuring everything out and second-guessing themselves so much that they have a hard time recognizing their own inner guidance. The Seven under-expresses thinking; not that they aren't smart, they just jump too quickly from one thought to another, or from thinking to doing, without really thinking through the ramifications of their actions. This can result in doing too many things at once and in becoming addicted to staying in motion.2

Fives, Sixes and Sevens tend to overlook their feelings and are able to stay objectively uninvolved. They also tend to move away from people, in comparison to the heart types who naturally move towards others, and body types who tend to stand their ground. Fives withdraw into their observations of people and situations. Sixes withdraw into their belief systems, and Sevens withdraw into ideas, plans and possibilities.

Head types are sensitive to pressure, prodding and meddling and to having their lives taken over by people they may see as more passionate, strong or competent. Fives can feel overwhelmed by perceived demands of others and accordingly establish strong boundaries. Sixes' reactions are to either use charm and warmth to seek constant confirmation of trustworthiness or to deliberately confront perceived threats. Sevens resist being tied down or limited by creating whirlwinds of visions, ideas and activities.

2Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, Understanding the Enneagram, Houghton Mifflin Co, 1987


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