ELV Billboard


By illania edwards

Did you see our new billboard?

EnneagramLasVegas was featured on a flash billboard at the NE corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara.

Starting New Year’s Eve 2017 through mid-January 2018, our billboard for “Making Yourself Easier to Live With” flashed periodically at one of the busiest Strip intersections.


Take a look:





Japan and the Enneagram Tritype 6/4/1


By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)

Sandra Maitri is a well-respected enneagram teacher.  In her book “The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram”, she described Japan as a Type 4 country.  I understand clearly her reasoning.  The Japanese find beauty in everything.  However, as I stated in the previous article, I think Japan’s dominant type is type 6 and type 4 is second in importance.  The most helpful aspect of determining an individual’s enneagram type is their motivation.  That is not possible for a country and therefore I have based my comments on my observations of Japanese behavior over the past 30 years.

So why do I think that Japan’s second most dominant behavior is Type 4? They are consumed with the beauty and elegance in the arts and have expanded the arts to multiple phases of everyday life.  Calligraphy is a great example.  The simple art of handwriting has been elevated to a high art form.




Then in clothing there is beauty.  Formal kimonos and wedding kimonos in particular are an art form.




Japanese workmen’s clothing has its own unique style.  The latter has been adopted by western designers.

When Mika and I walk on Omotesando Street, there are numerous young people dressed in long, flowing black clothing.  I describe them as “uniquely alike”.



Ikebana, flower arranging, has been studied since the 7th century and, as they have done with numerous other artistic skills, the Japanese have brought out the creativity, meaning, and the interface of nature with humanity.  The short description of Ikebana below emphasizes the creativity and meaning of each flower arrangement.

“More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Contrary to the idea of a parti- or multi-colored arrangement of blossoms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. Though ikebana is an expression of creativity, certain rules govern its form. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.” (source: Internet)

This photo is at the entrance of La Tour D’Argent, our favorite French restaurant.



The elegance and beauty continues with food presentations and here are two representations of meals that we have had in Japan on this trip.  I think they speak for themselves.






There are numerous other examples:  from simply wrapping packages to Taxi cab drivers wearing white gloves and decorating their taxis with lace.




I would add that all of the enneagram types are artistic but the search for meaning and spirituality in the presentation is what leads me (and perhaps Sandra Maitri) to describe this as type 4 behavior.

There is of course the drama, longing, and idealization that is part of the type 4 personality in Japan’s culture, but for a non-native it is impossible to capture and characterize.  I have therefore limited this article to the beauty and have attributed this obsession and romanticization to type 4 behavior.   Japan is a wonderful and exotic country and has lots to contribute to our understanding of each other.

Meiko-san is Japanese and perhaps will share some of her insights at our first meeting on January 18th.

Dewa Mata (see you soon)



Editor: Illania Edwards


The Enneagram and Japan: Is Japan a 6/4/1 Country? I Think So.

By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)

I have spent a lot of my adult life in Japan (see “about the author”).   My wife is Japanese and we have been together for 15 years.  She also fully understands the enneagram.  I love the culture, language, and lifestyle, but I also understand that every situation has a “Shadow”.  I am not going to discuss Japan’s shadow, but rather look at Japanese behavior to try and understand their enneagram type.

First, let’s review the Hornevian Triads.  Karen Horney was a German psychological analyst who immigrated to the U.S. in 1932, at age 47, and lived the remainder of her life in the U.S.  She described three types of social interaction: Assertive,  Compliant and Withdrawn.    The enneagram was introduced into the United States in the 1970’s and she died in 1952, before its introduction.  The enneagram community took her descriptions of behavior and applied it to the enneagram.  They are a perfect fit.  The assertives are types 3, 7 and 8.  The compliant are types 1, 2 and 6.  The withdrawn are types 4, 5 and 9.

From Wikipedia:

Three categories of needs

Upon investigating the ten needs further, Horney found she was able to condense them into three broad categories:


Needs one and two (affection and approvalpartner) were assimilated into the compliance category, also called moving toward people. This category is seen as a process of joining, submitting, or self-effacement. Under Horney’s theory children facing difficulties with parents often use this strategy. Fear of helplessness and abandonment occurs—phenomena Horney refers to as “basic anxiety“. Those within the compliance category tend to exhibit a need for affection and approval on the part of their peers. They may also seek out a partner, somebody to confide in, fostering the belief that, in turn, all of life’s problems would be solved by the new cohort. A lack of demands and a desire for inconspicuousness both occur in these individuals.


Needs three through seven (powerexploit otherssocial recognitionpersonal admirationpersonal achievement) were assimilated into the expansion category, also called moving against people, or the expansive solution. Neurotic children or adults within this category often exhibit anger or basic hostility to those around them. That is, there is a need for power, a need for control and exploitation, and a maintenance of a facade of omnipotence. Manipulative qualities aside, under Horney’s assertions the expansive individual may also wish for social recognition, not necessarily in terms of limelight, but in terms of simply being known (perhaps feared) by subordinates and peers alike. In addition, the individual has needs for a degree of personal admiration by those within this person’s social circle and, lastly, for raw personal achievement. These characteristics comprise the “expansive” neurotic type. Expansive types also tend to keep people around them. On the other hand, they only care about their wants and needs. They would do whatever they can to satisfy their needs and wouldn’t desist from hurting anyone in the obtainment of them.


Needs eight through ten (self sufficiencyperfectionrestrict life practices) are assimilated into the detachment category, also called moving-away-from or resigning solution or a detached personality. As neither aggression nor compliance solve parental indifference, Horney recognized that children might simply try to become self-sufficient. The withdrawing neurotic may disregard others in a non-aggressive manner, regarding solitude and independence as the way forth. The stringent needs for perfection comprise another part of this category; those withdrawing may strive for perfection above all else, to the point where being flawed is utterly unacceptable. Everything the “detached” type does must be unassailable and refined. They suppress or deny all feelings towards others, particularly love and hate.

Horney delves into a detailed explanation of the above needs (and their corresponding neurotic solutions) in her book ‘Neurosis and Human Growth’.


    As you can see, that would give Japanese people two of the compliant types.  Compliance is the hallmark of Japanese behavior.  Type 6 and Type 1 share so many similarities that in my discussion I will group them as simply compliant.  In individuals they are, however, very distinctive.  That compliant nature presents itself as dutiful, responsible, rule-following, and community oriented.  Most, if not all societies definitely have rules, but the willingness to follow those rules is what is so striking in my interactions with everyone in Japan.  Yes there is the occasional anti-social type 6, the “Do it my way” type 8, or the self-promoting type 3, but these behaviors are suppressed to some degree.  I especially notice the difference with type 3s, who try very hard to be humble.

So where do I see this compliant behavior?  It starts in the home.  Everyone takes their shoes off before entering the home.  I have never seen a Japanese person enter their home or someone else’s home without removing their shoes.  It is so ingrained that it doesn’t even seem to be a conscious effort.  Our apartment in Tokyo comes with housekeeping twice a week, and the housekeepers go in and out of our apartment to their cleaning cart; for each trip they take off and put on their shoes.

the entrance to a Japanese home






When Mika and I go to the gym, we are required to wear shoes that have never been worn outside.  If you don’t have these shoes they will rent them to you.  You cannot wear outside shoes on the gym floor and you cannot wear any shoes, except for the slippers that they provide, in the locker room.  The floor in the gym is as clean as the one in our house.  In addition, they provide a cloth to wipe each machine after you use it, and they expect (and again we all comply), that we will put up our weights after using them.  See photos of gym—notice how clean the floor is and that every weight is in its correct place.  There is no mixing of dumb bells or different weights.




Compliance transfers to the school system.  Even in kindergarten, the children wear color coordinated caps so that the teachers know which child is in their class.  (see photo).  I think this would be difficult to accomplish in the U.S.




Then in middle school and high school the students wear uniforms which keep them on equal footing and discourage behavior outside social norms.  They are required to buy uniforms, which includes shoes, from the same vendor.  I was surprised to learn that their shoes (black loafers) are identical. In addition, there is a limit on hair length, which you can perhaps appreciate in the photo below.




Compliance is also present on the subway, where people are expected to stand in the middle and face the people who are seated. The rule of law is strictly enforced.  Another rule that is strictly enforced: the first DUI offense is punishable by a $10,000 fine.  There are almost no DUI’s in Japan.

There are numerous other examples but in addition to the rules that are to be followed, there is a sense of community and belonging that I think is partly the result of a homogeneous society.  They live on a small island (smaller than the state of Montana) that is densely populated with almost no diversity (98.5% Japanese). The population has almost the same skin color, hair color, height and weight.  They identify with the members of their large village.

An example of the sense of community is that when the clean up for the nuclear disaster in Fukushima happened, older males volunteered to do the cleanup so that young males would not be exposed to the radiation.  The following is from an article discussing the “Skilled Veterans Corps”.


“A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station.

The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60.

They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young.

It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up.

No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him.

For weeks now, Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter.

Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical.

“I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live,” he says.

“Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.”


They recognized that the exposure to radiation causes cancer decades later and therefore if you are over 60 then your risk is much lower.  I find it amazing that 200 men over the age of 60 would volunteer for such hazardous work.

In my next article, I will expand on the “4” part of the Japanese culture.

Dewa Mata (see you soon)



About the author:

Steve Purdom trained as an Internal Medicine physician and practiced medicine for 18 years.  He was the Medical Director and subsequently COO of the U.S. operations for Aflac, responsible for Claims and Underwriting for Aflac in Japan.  Steve has traveled to Japan for 30 years and now spends 4 months of each year vacationing in Tokyo with his wife Mika (who is Japanese). He has studied and taught the Enneagram for 20 years.

Editor: Illania Edwards

Type 4

By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)

Type 4’s have a unique way of using their enneagram personality to defend themselves from others, or perhaps to emotionally distance themselves from others.   They view themselves as flawed and their focus on their inadequacies keeps them from seeing what is good and hopeful.  In addition, they search for idealized situations or idealize people, which again keeps them from seeing that the situation is adequate or that the person is good (but not perfect).  If they focus on idealized relationships that are unobtainable, then they can ignore the potential of a good relationship.  All relationships have their challenges, but fours seem to see acutely the flaws in their partners, rendering them unacceptable.  Instead they wait for the perfect partner, who almost never comes.

In addition, fours have longing and envy, which is a barrier to the attainment of what might provide them satisfaction in life.  The envy also moves the resolution of their frustrations from inner work to an outward process.  They see their happiness in other people’s accomplishments, material goods, or relationships.  The place that fours need to focus their energy is internally.  Why am I so frustrated with myself? My accomplishment? My relationships?

The Passion of the Nine Enneagram Types









Type 4’s also can use their suffering or personal drama as a distraction from their inner work.  They can actually choose a path of suffering that is more tolerable than the emotional pain that is the real cause of their suffering.  Type fours frequently give a long history of not being loved or understood by parents, siblings, friends and their adult relationships.  The only place they can achieve unconditional, consistent love/understanding is from themselves.  Again, looking outside themselves for these emotional needs is futile and simply a distraction.  In addition to focusing on their suffering, fours can create drama in their lives as a distraction.  If we are fighting over some perceived offense–or perhaps even a real one–then the type four can escape temporarily from focusing on their inner pain.  What do I need? Love? Understanding?  Is that too painful to contemplate?

“I dream of getting the love I won’t ever have.”  This quote from Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram aptly summarizes the dilemma of type 4.  Dreams and fantasies are a substitute for real life experiences.  Since fours doubt they have the “right stuff” to attract love, they live in their fantasies rather than choosing to believe that they are loveable as they are.  Choosing love and actively pursuing the relationships that allow this to happen is too painful a choice if you believe you are fatally flawed and will simply be disappointed again.

Idealization also results in what is called “Push-Pull” relationships.  If you are at a distance and unavailable then the type 4 can see your perfections, but if you are present and available then they see your flaws and mundaneness.  One of my first encounters with a type 4 was a lady whose husband traveled during the week and only came home on the weekends.  She said that all week long she missed him and longed for his company.  When he returned on Friday, she then longed for his departure on Sunday night.  That story occurred 20 years ago and it still resonates with me today.  I miss you/ you are here/ now please leave.  That could be difficult in a relationship.

Type fours are no different than the other eight types.  Each uses their personality type to interact with the extroverted world but also to defend themselves.  Each enneagram type just has its own style to view the world and its own style of defense.

All nine enneagram types have a payoff for their behavior.  So what is the payoff for type four?  They are very comfortable with emotional issues and are very capable of being present in the presence of intense emotions—even anger or overwhelming sadness.  Type fours make great therapists.

Fours also see the beauty and art in emotional pain or suffering.  Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist, clearly paints her own emotional pain in her art.  For examples, see “A Few Small Nips” and “My Birth”.  I think that type fours hold these emotional pains for all of us and artists are expressing our pain when they paint.  Fours see the aesthetic in many situations such as food or fabrics or sculpture or interior design and they share those aesthetics with the rest of us. Fours also use the tragic and romantic to express their deep feelings in poetry or theater or books or film.  The list is endless.

“The Column” by Frida Kahlo



So the payoff for Type 4 is passion and creativity.  They live their lives with emotional intensity and are able to hold emotional intensity when others find it difficult.  They also crave emotional authenticity and recognize when it is not present.  I think that these rewards sometimes are so substantial that it is hard for type fours to consider a more mundane existence.  It feels like it is too big a compromise.  As one t-shirt said:  “Anything but Normal”.

I love my type four friends and wish for them that they retain their emotional intensity and creativity while embracing the benefits of the Normal or Mundane.

What a great life that would be.


Psychological Projection

By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.*

Freud considered that, in projection, thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings that cannot be accepted as one’s own are dealt with by being placed in the outside world and attributed to someone else. What the ego repudiates is split off and placed in another.

Carl Jung considered that the unacceptable parts of the personality represented by the Shadow archetype were particularly likely to give rise to projection, both small-scale and on a national/international basis. Marie-Louise Von Franz extended her view of projection, stating that “wherever known reality stops, where we touch the unknown, there we project an archetypal image”.*

Projection in our daily lives consists of finding someone, who carries to some degree, characteristics that we have relegated to our shadow because we find them unacceptable and attributing those characteristics solely to them.  As an example, I might want to view myself as being very unselfish and therefore be unwilling to accept that at times my behavior is indeed somewhat selfish.  Even though I have banished that behavior to Shadow it still has energy and it needs an outlet.  That outlet is the psychological process of attributing that behavior to another person.  I am not selfish, they are.  There are no limits to what we can project on to other people.  They are arrogant, lazy, aloof, bullying, critical, racist, judgmental, incompetent, powerful, weak, boring, disloyal, irresponsible, fearful, etc.

One of my favorite lines from a television series is the following:  “You hate me because I represent the evil inside of you”.  If you hate or love someone for a specific characteristic, then you are projecting.  That does not mean that this person does not have the quality that you accuse them of, but it does mean that your emotional reaction to that quality is because you have the same quality.  If I hate your weakness, then I am in some way weak and have not incorporated that characteristic into my consciousness.

Carl Jung stated “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

That is, we should take note of each instance in our lives when we do not like another person and use that information to find that behavior in ourselves.  It should be a requirement to send thank you notes to those who irritate us!

In addition to projecting our unowned parts of ourselves on to other individuals, we can also do so to groups of people.  Denigrating language about other races or cultures is projection of those traits that we carry in Shadow that are unacceptable parts of us.  In addition, we can project on to the opposite gender or people with different sexual orientation or religions or the evil empire or lawyers or mainstream media or our favorite professional wrestling star.  It is endless, and the payoff is that we don’t have to accept or resolve our negative feelings about ourselves.   The cost is continued anxiety, fear, sadness or anger that is centered on these unresolved projected personal traits.  If I view incompetency as life threatening to me and completely unacceptable, and therefore feel compelled to accuse others of this trait as opposed to accepting some degree of incompetence in myself, then I will be doomed to projecting it over and over, all the while never resolving my own anxiety.

Carl Jung states that “The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadows from others”.

I agree totally.  The process involved is to look for the moments that we are irritated by another’s behavior and then accept that the unacceptable in others is really the unacceptable in us. Secondly, have compassion for–and suspend judgment of–ourselves.  Lastly, know that we are whole, divine creations and accept ourselves in our totality.  There is value in our wholeness and to deny part of that wholeness is impossible and fraught with suffering.

I look forward to a world in which each of us “withdraws our projection” from others.


*Source: Wikipedia

Skillfully Setting Boundaries in Intimate Relationships

By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)

What are boundaries? They are verbal descriptions of where your emotional and physical space begins and ends. It establishes our separateness from others and lets our family and friends know what sort of behavior we are comfortable with and what sort of behavior makes us uncomfortable. Our boundaries define us in relation to others. If we don’t have boundaries, then we don’t have ownership or possession of our lives.

Why do some of us have so much trouble setting boundaries? We are afraid that the people we love will be angry, that they won’t love us or support us or that they might even abandon us. It’s important to note that if they abandon us when we skillfully set boundaries, then they did not love us in the first place. They were needy and expected us to meet those needs. Frequently, there are early childhood experiences that taught us that if we set boundaries they would not be accepted by our parents—and that has carried over into adulthood.

Overcoming these fears regarding the consequences of setting boundaries is necessary for us to live as happy, mature adults. We cannot embrace ourselves, fulfill our passions, and seek our destiny without boundaries.

So how do we set boundaries? We choose the biggest issue in our lives and set boundaries one step at a time. Perhaps we have a sibling who is always asking to borrow money which they do not repay. We need to learn to tell them no. “No” is the most important word in setting boundaries. That does not mean you don’t love your sibling and don’t want the best for them. It does mean that you are responsible for your own financial stability and they are responsible for theirs. Perhaps you can help them learn financial management or find better employment, or help them set better boundaries.

Setting boundaries is a sign of maturity. It is not selfish, mean or unkind to set boundaries. It is simply a responsible and effective way to interact with the people you love. Boundaries provide clarity to relationships. I will tolerate this behavior but not that one. I will provide you with love and emotional support, but I will not loan you money. I will interact with you at mutually agreed to times, but you can’t drop by my house unannounced. All of us set boundaries, and the more skillful we become at defining and setting effective boundaries, the better our relationships will be and the less conflict that we will encounter.

We are helping ourselves and our partners by setting effective boundaries. We are “Making Ourselves Easier to Live With”—and that is our goal.