Patrick O´Leary: “The Enneagram gives us a language to describe our innermost self”

Patrick O´Leary

As I sit here 50 some years later and I see all the things that have been added to the Enneagram, I’m glad for the excitement and I’m glad for the application of new insight. But is all this necessary or are we simply obfuscating a very healthy way of looking at human personality?

Patrick O´Leary in the Enneagram Insights podcast


Patrick O´Leary has taught the Enneagram for 53 years, he is the founder of the International Enneagram Association, is accredited with honors and has become a Wisdom figure in the Enneagram world.



So he is a pioneer and the co-author of the very first published book on the Enneagram (1984): “The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery”.



In this episode of “Enneagram Insights: On Awareness, Presence and Relationships” the cohost of the podcast Charlotte Haase talks to Patrick O´Leary on his Enneagram Lineage, his personal journey and hopes for the future in the Enneagram World.



You can listen to it anywhere you listen to podcasts.





The Enneagram spread like a wildfire


Patrick O´Leary has been in the Jesuit order of priests for 30 years.


And he was a student of theology in a four-year program and attended a graduate seminar in 1971-72 with Bob Ochs at Loyola University Chicago.



He reveals how the Enneagram was taught to him – and a small group of other 15 men – and how it really made sense to them. There were all nine types represented in the group.



The teachings was spread through the network of this little study group like a wild fire across North America and Worldwide. Because soon they began teaching it to others.



Even though it was not permitted.



In 1986 Patrick O´Leary, Maria Beesing and Robert J. Nogosek published the very first book about the Enneagram.



It stirred quite a controversy as Jesus was used as an example of the different types.



Listen to the story behind that in the podcast.



The Enneagram By Patrick o´leary

Book by Patrick O´Leary, Maria Beesing and Robert J. Nogosek: “The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery”



Playing a role



Patrick O´Leary found that the Enneagram gave a language to describe the innermost self also the parts we don´t want to see.  He explains:



“Well, on the Enneagram I’m a type three. I’m also an only child.



So I learned at an early age that the way to be accepted by the adult community was to demonstrate ability and trustworthiness.



And that was if you could conform to adult norms in a way satisfactory to your parents or other adults, that was a way to earn trust and therefore to be accorded more freedom.



I don’t think I reasoned that out. I simply understood that that’s how the system worked.



And as a three, I could demonstrate lots of successes, lots of accomplishments very quickly.



And if I didn’t know or wasn’t able to be familiar with those things, I would find ways to do something that would be equally or almost equally satisfying.



And in the Enneagram terminology, that’s called, playing a part, playing a role, being, acting is rather than being. And what that produces is acceptance.”



The Reverse Side


It has been Patrick O´Leary´s experience that it is easier to first look for the nice parts of the different types, when searching for your type.



But that the ultimate confrontation is that you realize that the nice parts that you’ve selected, when looking for your type, have a reverse side.



Patrick O´Leary tells in the podcast that he was not aware of having a hidden agenda, but the Enneagram and knowledge of type 3 confronted him with that.



And people close to him confirmed this.



He says in the podcast:



“The Enneagram said: Pat O’Leary. Yes, you’re a very competent, accomplished person.



But people can’t really trust you because they feel you’re going to somehow use all of that to control me or to dictate what’s going to happen in their life.”



Well, that makes intimacy nearly impossible.



Because to be intimate with another person, you have to surrender your power and you have to become spiritually and psychologically naked to that person.



And so it requires a great deal of courage.”



Patrick O´Leary found that the Enneagram gave him a language to help him with this process.



Patrick o´leary interviewed by Charlotte haase
Patrick O´Leary (Cleveland, USA) is being interviewed by Charlotte Haase (Copenhagen, Denmark) to Enneagram Insights podcast.



The Enneagram sees us as wholesome


When Patrick O´Leary was first learning about the Enneagram, he was immersed in the theological world.



“The concept of original sin loomed very large in theology.



But the Enneagram was far more tangible.



Because rather than looking at us as damaged, somehow inadequate or incomplete beings, most of us found ourselves as very adequate and, and wholesome and, and lovable.”



Back to Basics


In this episode Patrick O´Leary wishes for the Enneagram community that we get back to basics instead of complicating it:



“As I sit here 50 some years later and I hear and see all the things that have been added to the Enneagram, I’m glad for the excitement and I’m glad for the application of new insight.



I would only caution people to say, is all this necessary or are we just simply obfuscating a very healthy way of looking at human personality?



I mean, when you get subtypes and stacks and and multiple subtypes.



How many times can you multiply the small pieces?“



The Enneagram is applicable across borders


Listen to the podcast to also hear how Patrick O´Leary discovered that the Enneagram and the personality revealed in the types is cross cultural true.



He shares a story from Japan.



And express why he will keep on teaching the Enneagram in years to come.



Read more:


Patrick O´Leary on IEA


Patrick O´Leary on LinkedIn

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