The nine personality types on the Enneagram can be divided into three groups of three, each Triad relating to a Center of intelligence. In the Riso-Hudson teaching—as influenced by the work of G. I. Gurdjieff and Oscar Ichazo—the Centers are the Belly, the Heart and the Head. Gurdjieff theorized that man, unless realized, is a “machine” in which these Centers are not functioning properly. Riso and Hudson further theorize that each of the personality types on the Enneagram is a result of a specific state of imbalance in one of the three Centers.

The way these Centers become imbalanced is through the process of ego-splitting. We are born in an Eden-like state of full connection with our true nature, which we could also infer means full connection with all three Centers, each of which is associated with certain qualities of Essence. When the Centers are balanced, we function at a high level and the Essential qualities are able to manifest through us effortlessly. But through the process of developing an ego to protect us from the inevitable pain and harm that results from having a human body in this world, we lose contact with the fullness of our being. This is extremely painful to the psyche and so Ego begins to try to fill that void by manufacturing its own version of being in contact with Essence.

Ego is an attempt to cover over and protect ourselves from the complete and utter inner freakout that results from losing connection with everything that’s real, beautiful and sacred within us.
—Russ Hudson

The three types associated with each Center are the ones whose egos are contracted around the pain of losing connection with that Center. They respond by manipulating the energy of the Center in one of three ways: one will over-express, one will under-express, and one will be the most disconnected and both over- and under-express its energy. For a breakdown of how this works for each type, click the links below:

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