Body Types of the Enneagram

body triad enneagram symbol

Types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types of the Enneagram. You’ll also find this triad called the creative center, the action center, or the instinctive center. (Head types and heart types are the other two triads.)

Body types have issues around autonomy and anger. They resist reality with aggression or repression.

Eights go outward and don’t think twice about expressing their anger. This keeps potential external threats – and other people – at bay.

Nines go numb to their anger. They don’t feel safe expressing it outwards or inwards, so deny feeling it at all.

Ones repress their anger. This can lead to resentment and anger towards self that leaks out at others.

When we truly inhabit our Instinctive Center – fully occupying our body – it gives us a profound sense of fullness, stability, and autonomy or independence.

Most of us in modern societies are almost entirely estranged from the wisdom of our bodies.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Don Richard Russo and Russ Hudson

How to spot a Body Type

No, it isn’t the physical body shape I’m talking about here. Some teachers claim there is a correlation between the mesomorphic (stocky, muscular) body type and this Enneagram triad. I don’t think this is true anymore than I think everyone born in a certain year will be lucky, but hey, work with what you know to be true.

body types of the enneagram

The area of concern for the body types tends to be the “reality” – who is in control of it and them (8), who wants to stay calm and centered within it (9), and who wants to make it be as perfect as it is meant to be, and is therefore dissatisfied with how things are (1).

A person’s internal motivation is a tricky thing to identify, and is clouded by cultural expectations, family roles, etc. You can make educated guesses and use your intuition – but accept that you really can’t know for sure. That’s why it is better to work on understanding yourself.

Each type looks different depending on what level of health they are functioning at. Healthy people of all Enneagram types share, well, health. But at average and unhealthy levels, the stereotypical patterns and fixations emerge. Learn more about the levels of health at the Enneagram Institute.

spiky prickly cactus
Body types can be stubborn, prickly or defensive if you challenge their sense of what’s real and right.

Fixations of the Body Triad

8: Power, control, dominance and feelings of vengeance.

9: Something that won’t disturb their peace of mind – something other than what is essential, so they can ignore uncomfortable feelings (like anger).

1: What needs to be corrected and feelings of resentment.

… and how to fix those fixations with their corresponding virtues:

8: Innocence, getting in touch with feelings of vulnerability.

9: Action, being willing to feel uncomfortable and to get to know themselves.

1: Serenity, accepting life for what it is.

Eight, Nine and One are pictured at the top of the Enneagram symbol, but their issue is the root issue: reality at the physical level. When the body types of the Enneagram learn to master anger and acceptance, they stop resisting and start experiencing life in all its beauty. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Names for the Body Types of the Enneagram

I’m not really a fan of using names and titles to find your Enneagram type. Yes, they are useful, but they are also potentially dangerous. To hopefully make them more helpful than harmful, here I list the two most commonly used names for each Body Type in bold. Then, Riso & Hudson’s titles for the healthiest, average and most unhealthy presentation of each type.

8 The Leader or Boss: Magnanimous Heart, Enterprising Adventurer, Violent Destroyer

9 The Peacemaker or Mediator: Self-Possessed Guide, Accommodating Role-Player, Self-Abandoning Ghost

1 The Reformer or Perfectionist: Wise Realist, Idealistic Reformer, Punitive Avenger