Personessence: Understanding People

Click Here to Download the Profile Chart

The Personnessence System: Understanding People

This is a basic introduction to the PersonessenceTM System of Personality.  This Introduction comes from the series of e-books that will soon be available through this site. Please be patient. The books are complete but need to be formatted to fit the web pages. These e-books will cover every aspect of the PersonessenceTM system complete with photographs to help the reader understand people in a highly informative way. This approach will offer you the opportunity to choose the areas you want to study in greater depth.



This is a challenging and transformative time in history and the world needs tools to help people understand and communicate with one another more than ever before. Our world today is full of unprecedented misunderstanding and judgment. The fact that the core essence of people desires to be understood bodes well for breaking down these otherwise seemingly impossible barriers. By and large, people want to be communicated with in a way that shows they are accepted, acknowledged, and recognized for who they are. Given tools and maps to self knowledge, people can learn to live in harmony and mutual respect despite cultural diversity or other environmentally contrasting realities.

The PersonessenceTM system is a powerful tool to help people meet the challenges of today's realities. PersonessenceTM has proven successful in facilitating greater understanding and communication in multinational companies, law firms, school systems, non-profits and in the private lives of countless individuals for many years.

The PersonessenceTM System to Understanding People has been developed over the last 35 years and has been impacted by numerous fields and traditions. Informing the core of this system is the work of late Sarah Chambers, a public health administrator, teacher and intuitive who researched findings of Jorges Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky for years. Many of the terms and concepts explored by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky as delineated by Chambers in the 70's influences much of the basic content of PersonessenceTM. PersonessenceTM, however, takes much of this work to a significantly deeper and more contemporary, applicable level.

PersonessenceTM also draws from the well known studies of other psychologists including the anthropological cross-cultural archetypes explored by CG Jung. In his research, Jung noted certain preconscious dispositions that allowed human beings to react in specific ways. He ascertained that people were born with instinctive patterns, seemingly unrelated to environmental conditioning or genetic make-up that structure their realities. Jung further found that common archetypal patterns existed in every culture of the world and throughout all phases of human history unifying all peoples over space and time.

Another theoretical  system that influences PersonessenceTM is that of Abraham Maslow. Through the Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow's theoretical model, he observed that people seek to first fulfill certain basic biological needs before progressing on to increasingly more complex and sophisticated needs. PersonessenceTM reflects some of these basic truths, but extends far beyond it to incorporate an additional nine needs. This is explored in greater detail in chapter 8.

The PersonessenceTM map of personality has offshoots and is referred on the internet by other terminology. The language may be slightly different with explanations ranging from highly insightful to unfortunately bizarre. Known as the Michael Teaching by many, it was given that name by Sarah Chambers in the early 1970's. The PersonessenceTM System remains faithful to her early research.

Having spent the past several decades on research and exploration of my own, dedicating time and energy to uncovering the truth of what impacts us, how to apply that understanding and teaching the PersonessenceTM system to thousands of individuals has been enlightening. My background as a licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in counseling psychology has given me the unique opportunity to apply my understanding of this deeply personal, yet universal system to help others in a variety of environments - from corporate settings to individual therapy sessions - around the world. This system's great advantage is that it is blind to race, gender, religion, and cultural traditions. People who learn the system and understand how to apply it do so in their own lives and sometimes as a mechanism for understanding their cultural or familial heritage. PersonessenceTM is a simple system that functions as a mirror, giving people of clear view of themselves and others and helps deepen their understanding of common intra- and inter-personal communication styles. An understanding of this personal context can help one achieve one's full potential in life with deep satisfaction.


Perceiving People

There are a variety of maps to the terrain of the human heart. Some are excellent and some are less than adequate, designed by people who know little about themselves and others. A well crafted map can help you explore the landscape of who people are and why they do the things they do, spotting major landmarks, obstacles and clear pathways.

Maps label things clearly to help people avoid getting lost. It is true that labels can be limiting and self-fulfilling, but without a legend or clearly labeled landmarks a map is useless. Like a map that helps differentiate between a river and a forest, a mountain or a canyon, a map that helps us differentiate between different types of people can be quite useful. Understanding the mannerisms, behaviors and thought patterns of certain types of people can help us better develop techniques for effective communication and form the basis of strong relationships. For example, a cautious person will deliberate for a long time before making a purchase, but a passionate person might make a decision in a matter of seconds. An intellectual person needs time to think about the formula that will provide the solution to a problem, while an emotionally centered person like Einstein often knows the answer before fully comprehending the problem solving formula. Having a clearer understanding of how people are in the world can provide adequate context for shaping our own responses to our world and the people around us.

Unfortunately, psychology has provided us with rather inadequate maps to human nature and the net result has been massive confusion. Too often psychological maps are oriented toward locating and diagnosing dysfunctions and deficits which easily lend themselves to overgeneralizations and misleading levels of simplicity. Dividing everyone into introverts and extroverts, thinking and feeling types, etc. does not provide enough detailed information about a person to be useful. These simple maps do not do justice to the tremendous varieties of human motivations, perceptions, traits and behaviors not to mention great ranges of maturity and development. People are complex and have multiple layers to their personalities that require a system with more interlocking parts to fully explore the contours of each individual human being.

Before we understand how we are equal, we need to understand how we are different. Understanding the diversity present within the world is a critical step toward accepting all people as unique contributors and moves us collectively toward a peaceful and cooperative planet. It is important that maps intended to uncover the differences between people and provide a meaningful framework for greater understanding not be misused as a vehicle to judge others.

The PersonessenceTM system is a map to understanding the complexities and subtleties present within the human experience. This system or map is complex enough to keep you interested for many years if you wish to master its subtleties. To understand the thousands of possible variations requires proper training and a course of study. This book, however, describes the basic model and can be effectively understood with a single reading of the text.

Many people using the PersonessenceTM System have said unequivocally that there is no other map to the human personality that is so accurate nor so comprehensive in its scope and potential.

Some Examples of PersonessenceTM in Practice

In thirty years of private practice working with individuals, groups, families, couples, management teams and people in crisis, I have been privy to the healthy and dysfunctional dynamics of human interaction. I have seen the value and benefit of applying even the smallest bits of information from the system. The following examples from individual and group level sessions illustrate the power and focus of this information in directing us through education and self awareness toward compatibility and workability.  With this goal in mind, I will use some terms from the system that may seem unfamiliar to you within this context. My intention is to give you a taste of how a basic understanding of this system and its personal application can provide you with greater self knowledge, useful in navigating the complexities and obscurities in the world around us. I will fully explain the various terms and components of PersonessenceTM system in chapter one.

Individuals, Couples and Families

After three years of law school, a twenty eight year old man was nearly suicidal after failing to pass the bar exam a third time. Following some discussion using the PersonessenceTM system as a tool for greater self reflection and understanding, the man realized that he had actually sabotaged his own efforts to pass the bar exam because he didn't actually want to be a lawyer. It became clear that he had been responding to family pressure and would be much more interested in graphic design, something he spent most of his spare time doing. Using this system, the man became increasingly self aware and realized that he was a pragmatic artisan with a need for expression, not the skeptical warrior with a need for exchange that he had been trying to be.

In acute distress a couple reported that they were having great ambivalence about marrying after being engaged for a year. He was upset because he felt she wanted to talk about everything and he simply wanted to be quiet together. She accused him of never wanting to talk. Each thought the other dysfunctional. Their personalities revealed that he was a rule oriented stoical warrior with reserve mode while she was a relationship oriented, idealistic, intellectual sage with a need for exchange. With this understanding, they were able to observe their differences without judgment, but with a greater degree of acceptance. Realizing the challenge posed by such different personalities, they decided not to get married and found great solace in the decision.

In another case, two parents, committed to making the right decision regarding their eight year old son, argued about whether he was old enough to attend a two week summer camp in the mountains. Dad felt he wasn't ready and should perhaps wait until next year. Mom felt that it would do him a world of good and that he should go. Their son Danny was caught in the middle wanting to please dad but wanting very badly to go. Danny's personality revealed that he was naturally growth oriented with a moving center, and power mode. This suggested that he was an excellent candidate for camp. Dad had caution mode and was nervous about Danny going. Mom was in observation mode and had seen that he was ready. After acknowledging his own fears and personality make-up, Danny's father cautiously agreed to let him go if he agreed to call every other day. Danny went to camp.


Partners, Companies, and Large Organizations

A wealthy, accomplished doctor who specialized in hearing loss set up a number of clinics with several partners with whom he was having great conflict.  His partners were success oriented and pushed for unlimited, rapid expansion. Being relationship-oriented, the doctor was concerned that service was being compromised. Because he realized the incompatibility of the two approaches to the business, he decided to buy his partners out and establish policies more in line with his own true values of customer service.

A law firm set up teams of three to prepare and litigate small cases. However, the teams were not working harmoniously and the bickering was taking a toll on productivity. Each staff member was interviewed, tested and informed about their particular value set, needs, roles, goals etc. Each team pored over the results and it became evident why they were not getting along. They were able to personally suggest changes and after careful consideration management implemented some of them along with their own. The teams were changed according to a better balance of personalities. The problem was solved.

A large food processing corporation was mystified why they experienced such a high turnover rate with employees After a study of staff members was done, it became clear that there was a disconnect between their hiring practices and the positions needing to be filled. The company was inadvertently hiring for leaders who were then put into positions where they could not exercise their leadership abilities. Frustrated, they would leave shortly after the company had invested in an expensive training program. This left the corporation two options. Change interviewing practices to hire different personality types or offer employees more outlets to exhibit leadership skills. After a review the corporation made some changes in both areas and retention improved dramatically.

A multinational corporation noticed that morale was low in one of their divisions and chose to address the problem. In that division there were people of various nationalities with a wide range of dispositions that resulted in some tension. There was some racial intolerance especially among management there. They decided to introduce to management a set of training seminars with a focus on diversity and the personality system. Managers were exposed to information about differing values, attitudes, needs, reaction centers and so on. Following the training, there were 2 significant results. First the managers had a new appreciation for similarities and differences that extended beyond stereotypes of race, culture and religion that enabled them to communicate more effectively with their staff. They experienced an expanded world view. Secondly, the managers realized the need to realign staff with managers of similar values. In this way tolerance for diversity increased and tension was reduced.


The System

These examples illustrate that the PersonessenceTM System is not an arbitrary collection of personality traits grouped together haphazardly. The traits and characteristics are arranged according to a deeply meaningful pattern with profound intent in their arrangement. As you become acquainted with the chart and the way it works you may begin to appreciate its solid foundation in the natural world. It is not within the scope of this book to explain the relationship of the system to mathematical and physical laws of nature yet they do underlay the entire structure of the chart.

This map of personality is based on the number seven. Each aspect of the map is divided into three sets of pairs and a neutral category, making seven in all. When clear light shines through a prism, the light breaks into seven colors of the color spectrum. All seven are derived from the same source, white light, however they have different frequencies that make them appear distinct. In the same way, humans come from the same source yet they manifest in distinctly different ways as exhibited by their varying specialties, talents, and styles of behavior.

There are seven categories, each with seven choices. They are as follows:

  • Archetypal Roles: the seven primary character types
  • Goals: the seven primary motivations that lead people to seek certain experiences
  • Attitudes: the seven primary perspectives
  • Dragons or Obstacles: the seven primary obstacles or fear patterns
  • Modes: the seven primary methods or styles of approaching a task
  • Centers: the seven primary ways of reacting or processing information
  • Values: the seven primary ways of perceiving what is important in life

In addition to these seven layers there is one additional dimension that adds depth to our already comprehensive map of personality-the nine needs. This is the only category that has nine instead of seven aspects.

Like the perennial favorite game of clue where you are asked to combine elements in a murder mystery, any one of the seven roles can go with any of the seven attitudes, or seven modes, or seven goals, or seven obstacles and so on so the possibilities are practically endless. Yet the different categories are so simple and intuitive that just by reading the different options you can often see yourself clearly.