Using the Enneagram with Judith Searle


As an actor and director, I wanted to share my experience of Judith Searle's recent workshop in Los Angeles. Although it was advertised for actors and writers, anyone interested in the Enneagram would have found it valuable. After having read several of Judith's insightful contributions here in the EM, I was excited to go and spend a weekend to hear her expand on her ideas.

Unfortunately, as the Enneagram is still rather unknown as a system to the general public, she had to start off with a rather thorough explanation of the types and the system. However, her introduction to the types was clear, interesting, and easy to follow, but I really wanted more of what the title of the workshop indicated: "Using the Enneagram to Create Characters." Having studied the Enneagram for 8 years, the applications of the Enneagram have become more interesting to me than reviewing the type traits. This said, I think Judith did an excellent job in communicating the essence of the system to a group with very mixed levels of Enneagram knowledge.

Judith had excellent literary examples that illuminated the dilemma of each of the types. This is an area where I feel her work is very solidly grounded and I hope she chooses to continue this work as I believe an Enneagram Literary Guide by Judith Searle would be a much welcomed addition to the growing plethora of Enneagram books on the market. The reading of the literary examples may have taken up more time than necessary in the workshop as we were provided with copies of these in our handouts. Judith also gave some well-chosen type illustrations on video from movies. Again, she proved to be generally very knowledgeable and insightful in her selections.

An area of Enneagram explorations where she is doing some very good pioneering work is in the application of the Enneagram to story genres. Hearing her talk about this and seeing her examples helped me a lot as a theater and film professional. I am very much looking forward to her further development of this theory.

What I found most interesting was unfortunately one of the areas she discussed most briefly: her ideas of how to develop character arcs by using the Enneagram [see Judith's article, "The Latitude and Longitude of Enneagram Fixations" in the Feb., Mar. and Apr. '96 issues]. This is an important application of this system that I have done some work with myself and hope will become part of the training for every actor, director, and writer. I think that Judith is the right person to help bring this about, and I am grateful that she has chosen to dedicate herself to the work she is doing. If you have an opportunity to go and listen to her, I believe you will find she is well worth it, regardless of what your interest in the Enneagram is. 


The above article was published in the September 1999 issue of Enneagram Monthly.