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Spiral Dynamics®

Research pairing the Enneagram and Spiral Dynamics®

Comparison of Clare Graves with other Developmental Theorists (background for Spiral Dynamics®)

Spiral Dynamics® is a system that offers a view of the evolution of human consciousness over the last 100,000 years (Graves, 2005). It is a superior tool for helping humanity to shift cultures. As we become more aware of the spectrum of human values and worldviews, we are capable of developing deeper insight into the core issues that are responsible for conflict or cohesion among people, groups, and cultures. When combined, each of these systems informs the other, allowing individuals to have a multi-dimensional understanding of their inner workings over their lifetimes and a broader view of the always evolving levels of consciousness operating within and without.

The Spiral Dynamics® system originated from the work of Dr. Clare Graves and has been elucidated since then by Drs. Don Beck, Chris Cowan, and Natasha Todorovic, among others. This system describes a bio-psycho-social, double-helix, openended, emergent model of human consciousness that provides a new way of framing and understanding the forces of human interactions and behavior through stages of human development (Graves, 2002; Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). These stages can be applied to individual, organizational and geo-political nation-state levels (Beck, 2006). The expression of the level of consciousness is a product of interaction between external conditions of existence and internal complex adaptive systems.

Eight basic levels or waves of human consciousness have been observed at this point, alternating “I” expressive and “We” sacrificing levels, divided into two tiers. In the first tier focus, there is conflict within levels and between levels. The second tier levels promote alternative, highly adaptive means of problem resolution. Each emergent level transcends the level before while also including the values, methods, and perspectives of the previous stages (Graves, 2002).

Spiral Dynamics® is an open-ended system, meaning that levels continue to emerge as humanity evolves. To date, seven levels of development have been clearly observed, studied, and documented (Graves, 2002; Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). The eighth level of development is just now emerging, but not enough individuals have reached this level to accurately describe it yet. The image of the spiral is used because each level includes the values, skills, and mechanisms of the levels below it while becoming more adaptive, complex, and expansive (Beck, 2006). As we evolve through each of these stages, all previous levels of consciousness are still operating and can be expressed appropriately or inappropriately given the life conditions of the time, place, problems, and circumstances we face (Beck, 2006). These levels apply across different types of development, including the span of time of human evolution, the continued maturation of the individual from infancy through adulthood, the progression of societies, and the stages of corporate culture.

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Learn More about the Nine Enneagram Types

The Enneagram shows nine ways of seeing and experiencing the world as well as the relationships between personality and psychological development.  It explains underlying motivations, as well as strengths and weaknesses in navigating life and relating to others.