Character and Neurosis [1994] – Claudio Naranjo, M.D.

The non-fiction book about the integrations between psychology and the Enneagram and Claudio Naranjo is one of the best books I've ever read. It relates each Enneagram type to a specific mental disorder and Naranjo's descriptions of the 'character' of each type is uncanny. 

Claudio Naranjo, M.D

  • Claudio Naranjo - integrative typologist from Chile who wrote Character and Neurosis
  • He was big in the sixties when there was a lot of awakening conscious movements and spent time at Berkley, California
  • No affiliation to any particular group
  • Combines the enneagram and neurotic types
  • It's a simple and symmetrical theory containing assymetrical complexity
  • Learned from the Sufi master in Arica (Gurdjieff)
  • He brings together character study, psychoanalysis, and spiritual traditions

Theory behind Character and Neurosis

  • Object relational view of development
  • Social learning theory
  • We cannot truly separate traits from motives
  • Each behavioural trait is linked to a cognitive trait and a motive
  • Spiritual darkness is equated with loss of being
  • Personality disturbance relates to an illusion of fulfilment
  • William Sheldon and the three dimensions of human temperament relating to the three biological layers of the embryo
  • Ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm
  • Gurdjieff founded the institute for the harmonious development of man and spoke of the Law of Three
  • Hans Eysenk
  • Factor Analysis as the measurement of the human mind
  • Oscar Ichazo and Protoanalysis
  • Naranjo says neurosis is characterological
  • It's a mixture of unconsciousness, aversion, and craving
  • A person is motivated by lack rather than abundance
  • Freud maintained that frustration of libidinal processes but modern psychoanalysts revise this theory as a lack of love and adequate parenting

The personality and the character

  • Personality is the false self and the conditioning of our experience
  • We developed a personality to survive but this isn't really who we are
  • The individual becomes fixed in their response and they are mentally "asleep"
  • They don't respond to situations as they are but according to patterns they learned early in life
  • Your character is either an identification with one of your parents or a reaction against one of them
  • Either way, it means abandoning your true nature called your "essence"
  • I notice many links with Pete Walker
  • Essence is a process of free functioning
  • There is a psychodynamics of the enneagram
  • The forces that motivate the formation of character in childhood are not the same forces that keep it there in adulthood

The passion of each type

  • The passion is kept in place by a cognitive distortion that prevents us from acting freely
  • Each point on the enneagram is related to the others but some have a stronger relationship than others
  • Type four is like a failed three that responds to an ability to live up to the idealised image with a sense of lack
  • Being ruled by your passion means because motivated by a sense of lack instead of seeking abundance
  • Character disorder results from a corruption of the and lack of self

The Enneagram and spirituality

  • Cognitive distortions are an inability to apprehend reality and find fulfilment
  • The path to spiritual fulfilment lies in moving away from what we think provides us with a sense of self and "journeying through emptiness"
  • The Enneagram is ultimately a spiritual tool based in ancient Christian traditions

Final remarks

Ultimately, this is a spiritual book that teaches the reader how to use the Enneagram to find spiritual fulfilment. It combines many of the 'humanistic' disciplines to form a cohesive view of how one should live their live. Liberally doses of philosophy also inform Naranjo's book and I'd recommend this book to any serious student of the Enneagram.