Friday, September 23, 2016
'The Road back to You' by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
Ignorance is bliss except in self-awareness.
Genre: Non fiction, self help, Christian and secular
Although the title sounds like it could suit a contemporary romance novel, this is a fascinating book about a personality typing system I've come across before and found to be accurate - the Enneagram. Its name is a cross between ennea, which means nine, and gram, which is a drawing or figure. The Enneagram is a wheel-like diagram with nine points, representing the nine personality styles. The authors explain how it was possibly a tool used by ancient Christians, including the desert mothers and fathers, to give us self-knowledge for deeper understanding.
The types include the Perfectionist, the Helper, the Performer, the Romantic (or Individualist), the Investigator, the Loyalist, the Enthusiast, the Challenger and the Peacemaker. There is an interesting, comprehensive chapter on each one of them. For each type, famous examples are given, along with people well known to the two authors. It's not difficult to figure out intuitively which types we, our friends and family belong to. In some cases, it's pretty impossible to miss! (I'm a Number 4.) Strengths and weaknesses are outlined, and each type is described at their best and worst, to enable attitude adjustments. It's not that we can ever choose to become a different type, because that's impossible unless we're play acting. We have to work with the raw material we're born with, but the knowledge in this book empowers us to maximise our strengths.
It also helps us gain understanding of others, so we can be more forbearing, instead of finding those dissimilar to us too hard to read, and dismissing them as pains in the neck. As well as being an easy, entertaining read, it struck me that many self-help books written by people without knowledge of the Enneagram could be extremely misleading or unhelpful. This could happen when the author blindly tries to convince readers to be more like him, without realising that eight out of nine of us genuinely aren't his 'type.' This makes the trite old advice to 'be true to yourself' wise and significant indeed. Often when people give us this advice, we aren't in touch with ourselves enough to even know what they mean. This is the perfect book to help us find out.
Thanks to Inter Varsity Press and Net Galley for my review copy.