Most helpful positive review
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
EXCELLENT BOOK on a insightful subject!
on 14 September 2006
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT BOOK!. I COULDN'T LET THE LAST REVIEWER'S UNINFORMED "RANT" GO UNCHALLENGED - even though I've never written a review before! I've been studying psychology for over 30 years and I can tell you that the modern Enneagram of personality really does offer many profound insights into human personality and the way our minds works. It has not been invented by self-styled Californian guru's as the last reviewer states but is studied and taught by respected psychiatrists, academics and lay therapists of very high reputation and by educated atheists, agnostics, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Moslems and many others including those who have dedicated their lives to helping others or to following a specific spiritual path whether religious or not. (A recent British book on the subject - although it was nowhere near as good and this one by Helen Palmer - had an introduction by no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury - who, as far as I know, is NOT an Californian guru! And as far as I know his job depends on him NOT being unduly influenced by them either!).
The last reviewer obviously has an axe to grind and seems to hanker after the Gurdjieff-style version of the Enneagram symbol with its "mysteries" and explanations that really have little to do with psychology and which come across as weird and pseudo-scientific - definitely NOT a "true science" and NOT a scientific Cosmology like Einstein's as he claims.
In a nutshell, by the last reviewer (like many other "literal" followers of Gurdjieff) has badly missed the real point, significance and value of the Enneagram as a representation or map of personality types by treating the symbol almost magically and loading it with a "Cosmology" and other unwarranted "significances".
Anyway, let's leave the previous reviewer believing his / her own version and missing the point and get back to this book and the modern Enneagram of Personality of which Helen Palmer is a leading teacher. As a psychological typing system (there are many)it has interesting and profound things to say about real people's lives (both us "ordinary" people and people who have and are shaping the world's history and politics). It can help us understand not only ourselves and those close to us (and therefore be more tolerant) but it can also inform our appreciation of art, literature and the lives of artists, writers and politicians who's decisions and personalities influence the world. Helen Palmer's book alone will not do all that for you - you will have to read more widely (e.g. try the work of Thomas Condon, Michael Goldberg, David Daniels, Judith Searle and Claudio Naranjo for instance) but the Enneagram personality typing system is a respected, thoughtful and insightful method of understanding many (but of course not all) aspects of the human mind and the human condition as they influence our lives and decisions.
What Helen Palmer's book will do, on a personal level, is help anyone who is reflective and thoughtful and wants to know themselves better. It can help us grow both spiritually and psychologically by allowing us to be more honest with ourselves. It can help us effectively to identify some of our unexamined habit patterns, strengths and weaknesses.
I recommend this book wholehearted to all thoughtful and unbiased people - whether they be scientists, artists, business people or students of humanity with degrees in the university of life. This is an astute and excellent book. I too will return to it many times.