Arica Psychology I

The contemporary Enneagram of Personality is derived in large part from the teachings of Oscar Ichazo. However, Ichazo’s “Arica Theory” contains a great deal of material that is not present in the currently popular versions of the Enneagram. In fact, Ichazo asserts that his Arica system is a complete map of the human psyche.

In 1969 and 1970, when Ichazo was transmitting this material to a group of around 50 North Americans, his presentation of theory focused almost solely on “Protoanalysis/Fixations” and “Mentations”. Of these, the teachings of “Protoanalysis/Fixations” became the basis for the Enneagram of Personality.

Dr. Claudio Naranjo was the person most responsible for bringing back to North America the theory Ichazo was presenting in Chile at that time. By his own account, this was the theory of Protoanalysis/Fixations which is presented by John Lilly and Joseph Hart in Charles Tart’s “Transpersonal Psychologies”. (John Lilly was the other major figure who publicly transmitted what he had learned in Arica.)

The Arica School had not yet been established then, and Naranjo and Lilly both left the group just as the School was being founded. Neither of them spent more than eight months working with Ichazo.

In the Arica School which eventually developed, Protoanalysis/Fixations was just one particular training, and it took place at the Third Level of study. The first two levels were concerned with introductory material which would serve to aid in the understanding and practice of Protoanalysis. In particular, the theoretical and practical study of the Hypergnostic Systems and the Domains of Consciousness was closely related to the ideas presented in Protoanalysis/Fixations.

While the work of Claudio Naranjo (and all those who followed) in developing the Enneagram system has gained much public attention, the ideas of Oscar Ichazo have remained relatively unknown, due in large part to the lack of a major comprehensive public exposition by Ichazo. (In terms of writing, Ichazo has focused mostly on producing training manuals, letters, lectures and articles, and occasionally giving interviews. A major work, The Arica Way, which he has been preparing for over 20 years, is said to be near completion. In 2005, Ichazo and Arica finally established an internet site to officially present some of these writings and materials to the public.)

The following is a summary and analysis of some of the basic introductory concepts of the Systems and Domains as presented in Ichazo’s Arica Theory. These explanations are meant to serve as an aid to a further understanding of the contemporary Enneagram system, just as they are used as related material within the Arica school.

A brief exposition of Ichazo’s Theory of Trialectics will also follow. According to Ichazo, the Enneagons must be worked with Trialectical logic, not from a linear or dualistic perspective.

Some attempts will also be made at showing similarities and differences between Ichazo’s ideas and those of G.I. Gurdjieff.

The author of this article is in no way affiliated with the Arica School nor any Gurdjieff Work/Fourth Way organization, and all information here is derived from either existing written materials or internet sources (in some cases anonymous). A list of source material can be found at the end of this article. All interpretations of the source material are based on the personal understanding of this article’s author.


According to Ichazo, the personality of a human being is made up of Nine Constituents which are co-dependent and interrelated.

The Nine Constituents Of The Human Personality are given as follows:

1. Materiality, or Elements
2. Systems
3. Mentations
4. Senses Consciousness
5. Mental Perceptions
6. Domains
7. Feelings or Discriminative Mind
8. Willing Intention
9. Access Base

As stated above, this presentation will be primarily focused on the Systems and the Domains.


Ichazo asserts that Consciousness preceeds the body. But this is consciousness in the sense of a pure, eternal, permanent, unchanging consciousness, often referred to as Essence. However, when this consciousness manifests in the material world as a human being, it becomes part of the world of space, time, change and multiplicity, and takes the form of nine different physical systems.

The Nine Systems are given as

1. Sexual
2. Skeletal
3. Digestive
4. Protective
5. Circulatory
6. Expression
7. Coordination
8. Central Nervous System
9. Unity

These nine physical systems then give rise to the Hypergnostic Systems. In the Arica school, the study of the Hypergnostic systems is considered key for gaining an understanding of one’s psyche and developing the “internal witness”, also called the “natural persona”.

In Eastern traditions, the “inner witness” is usually established through years of meditation, learning to observe our inner processes while maintaining an aspect of ourselves that is neutral and non-attached. Only when our contact with this inner witness is stabilized can true “self-observation” be accomplished. Ichazo asserts that in his system, this process, which usually takes years, can be completed in days. He considers this “speeding up” of the process to be one of the main characteristics which distinguishes the Arica system from traditional esoteric paths.

This permanent inner witness has a special kind of awareness that can know reality as it truly is. The development of the “natural persona” seems to correspond to Gurdjieff’s Man Number Four and Man number Five, i.e., the development of a person who has balanced their Centers and established a unified, permanent “I”.

From this it can be seen that the Enneagram of Personality is derived from a system whose original aim was to help establish self-observation and self-knowledge through stabilizing contact with a higher aspect of ourselves which transcends the limitations of ordinary human faculties. This aspect is our Essential nature, and it is through this nature that one can experience one’s connection with the Absolute.

The Nine Hypergnostic Systems consist of 3 Instincts, 4 Functions, and 2 Poles. They are listed as

1. The Sexual Pole, which comes from the Sexual system.
2. The Function of Space, which comes from the skeletal/muscular system
3. The Conservation Instinct, from the digestive system.
4. The Function of Time, from the protective system (skin/lymph system)
5. The Relations Instinct, from the circulatory system
6. The Function of Expression, from the expression system
7. The Function of Coordination, from the coordination system
8. The Adaptation instinct, from the central nervous system
9. The Spiritual pole, from the unity system

From the point of view of the study of the contemporary Enneagram, the most important of these are the Three Instincts. These Instincts produce the three fundamental centers of attention: Physical, Emotional and Intellectual. As Ichazo points out, these centers are in keeping with most traditional esoteric teachings, as well as with the teachings of Gurdjieff.

According to Ichazo, the Instincts manifest in our consciousness as innate basic questions. These are non-verbal “felt” questions, which are actually the demands of our need for simple survival. These instinctual questions call our attention and cannot be eliminated or postponed because they are basic to our psyche, instructing us on how to live and survive.


According to Ichazo, The Conservation Instinct is the organism’s instinct to feed itself in order to preserve its life. It results from the needs of the alimentary tract, and its center is felt at the top of the abdominal cavity, in the solar plexus.

The innate non-verbal question projected here is “How am I?” This question has to be answered constantly by the organism, instinctually establishing whether one feels hunger and tension, or satisfaction and relaxation.

The need to eat means that one has to acquire food through work and involvement in a certain process.

The Conservation Instinct is also known as the Self-preservation Instinct.

The need to meet the demands of the Conservation Instinct produces a concentration of our attention on that area, which leads to the development of an artifical “ego” or “I” with which we become identified. This “ego” will have its own particular concerns, demands and strategies for success. Through experience, it learns how to get the food that is needed for survival.

Because it learns from past experiences, Ichazo calls this “ego” the Historical Ego. Our sense of property, possession, and the accumulation of wealth are all related to this Ego because these contribute to a sense of being secure in our ability to meet the demands of the Conservation Instinct.

The Historical Ego is further subdivided into a triad of egos: Ego-Vengeance, Ego-Indolence and Ego-Resentment. These correspond to points 8, 9, and 1, respectively, on the Enneagram symbol.

As a natural development, the Conservation instinct will become infused with the “instinctual poison” of Greed. Greed, in turn, can be broken down into the three poisons at the root of the three “egos”: Avarice (ego-vengeance), Greed (ego-indolence), and Possessiveness (ego-resentment).

When the Conservation instinct is consistently threatened during childhood, the entire self then centers its attention on the lack of a feeling of well-being in that area. This leads to the development of a fixation in one of the three points of this triad, producing 3 “types”: Over-Justice-maker (fixated in Ego-Vengeance), the Over-Nonconformist (fixated in Ego-Indolence), or the Over-Perfectionist (fixated in Ego-Resentment).

Ichazo calls the 8,9,1 triad the Being Group.


According to the Arica theory, the Relation Instinct is our instinct for associating with other people as a fundamental principle of survival. It develops from the needs of the circulatory system, which includes the heart, lungs, arteries, veins, and kidneys. Its felt center is in the thoracic cavity. Ichazo points out that people are related to their environment most directly and intimately though breathing, which is one reason why this system corresponds to our relationship with the community of which we are a part.

According to Ichazo, our emotions result from our relations with other people. The instinctual innate question asked here is “Who am i with, friend or foe?” The answer will produce the primary emotions of like and dislike, and a strong focus of attention on this center develops.

An artificial Ego or “I” then develops which is concerned with how we appear to others and how others appear to us. Ichazo calls this the Image Ego because it is always adopting a “persona”, playing a social role.

The Image Ego is subdivided into three Egos: Ego-Flattery, Ego-Go, and Ego Melancholy. These correspond to points 2,3 and 4, respectively, on the Enneagram symbol.

The poison which naturally develops in the Relations Instinct is Hate. This can be broken down according to the three corresponding egos of the triad, giving the three root poisons of Envy (Ego-flattery), Hate (Ego-go), and Jealousy (Ego-melancholy.)

A sense of insecurity in the Relations Instinct during childhood leads to the formation of the three fixated “types” in this triad: Over-Independent (fixated in Ego-flattery), Over-Efficient (fixated in Ego-go), and Over-Reasoner (Ego-melancholy).

Ichazo calls the 2,3,4 triad the Living Group.


According to Arica Theory, the Adaptation Instinct is the result of our basic need to constantly adapt ourselves to our natural and social environment in order to survive. This instinct is the product of the central nervous system and its felt center is in the cranial cavity. The instinctual innate question projected here is “Where am I?”

According to Ichazo, the fundamental need to orient ourselves gives us direction on what to do and how to behave in order to succeed in our environment. This is the Intellectual Center, composed of thoughts and mind constructs. It is the basis of our sense of working and doing.

In order to deal with the concerns of this center, an artifical Ego or “I” develops which has the know-how to survive, known in the Arica system as the Practical Ego.

The Practical Ego is further subdivided into three Egos: Ego-Stinginess, Ego-Cowardice, and Ego-Planning, which correspond to points 5,6 and 7, respectively, on the Enneagram symbol.

The Adaptation Instinct naturally develops into the poison of Deceit. Deceit is subdivided into the three root poisons of this triad: Confusion (Ego-stinginess), Deceit (Ego-Cowardice) and Mythomania (Ego-Planning).

The resulting fixated “types” which develop from the Adaptation Instinct are given as the Over-Observer (fixated in Ego-Stinginess), Over-Adventurer (fixated in Ego-Cowardice) and Over-Idealist (fixated in Ego-Planning).

Ichazo designates the 5,6,7 triad as the Doing Group.


Ichazo seems to assert that each of these artifical “Egos” or false “I”‘s is present in everyone. People ordinarily cycle through all of these on a regular basis. However, one of these Egos becomes the primary fixation, the point from which we continually begin all our processes, giving the impression that this is our real “I”. But in reality, it is just an artifical Ego with which we have become primarily identified through early life circumstances.

Furthermore, when we are in a disharmonious state– which is the habitual terrestrial condition of humanity in general — the three Egos of the three Centers begin to conflict with each other, leading to fragmentation, disorder and suffering.

It should be noted that all of this is consistent with the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, where people in their habitual state are portrayed as operating with three Centers or “brains”– physical, emotional and intellectual– which are misused, undisciplined and in conflict with one another. Gurdjieff asserts that we have multiple “I”‘s with with we mistakenly identify ourselves, and that we cycle through all these on a regular basis. However, there is one aspect which comes to dominate our personality and this is called our “chief feature”. This leads to the formation of a “false personality”. Gurdjieff taught that “chief feature” arose from the Seven Deadly Sins, along with self-love and vanity.

Apparently, Gurdjieff was working with a system of Personality Types, although the details are unclear. It seems to have involved blending the three primary types –physical, emotional and mental– into twelve “basic” types (symbolized by the astrological signs of the Zodiac). These were then divided into the 27 human types, which Gurdjieff says were known in ancient times. Finally, the 27 were further subdivided into 72 types.

However, as far as the explanations of all these characteristics of our psychology, Ichazo is much more explicit and detailed than Gurdjieff.

It is also important to remember that Ichazo postulates a Tri-fix, whereby each individual has a primary fixation for each Center. Of these three fixations, one is the predominant fixation, while the other two are secondary. For instance, 5 may be the main fixation, while 9 and 3 can be the secondary fixations.

In this sense, Ichazo’s Tri-fix approach is consistent with the Sufi Enneagram system presented by Laleh Bakhtiar, which is based on the work of Nasr al-Din Tusi, a thirteenth century Islamic philosopher who expanded on the work of Aristotle. In the Sufi system Bakhtiar presents, each of the traditional Centers (physical, emotional, intellectual) has three imbalances, leading to 9 imbalances. A person usually suffers from one imbalance per Center. However, in the Sufi system, a person may actually be balanced in one or more Centers, creating a fourth option for each Center. Consequently, the Sufi Enneagram Bakhtiar presents describes 64 possible combinations.


In addition to the Three Instincts, Arica Theory describes two Poles between which our whole life is supported. Both Poles are connected with survival and questions about our identity. Ichazo calls these the Sexual and Spiritual Poles.

The Sexual Pole is the outcome of our instinct for procreating to ensure the survival of the species. Its felt center is in the pelvic region, where the primary sexual organs are located. The innate instinctual question asked here relates to our gender identity.

The Sexual Pole develops the psychic poison of Lust, as well as a sense of Guilt.

It should be noted that, while in the Gurdjieff system the Sexual Center is considered part of the “Belly center”, in Ichazo’s theory it is given a separate place of importance and explicity coupled with the Spiritual Pole.

The Spiritual Pole is related to our sense of our identity as individuals. It is based on a need to perpetuate our survival as a certain identifiable, individual entity. The Spiritual Pole is centered in the brain.

The Spiritual Pole develops the psychic poisons of Ignorance, Arrogance and Stupidity as well as a sense of Duality.

Arica theory postulates a constant tension between the Sexual and Spiritual Poles, with the psyche of the human being fluctuating between the sense of one’s gender identity and one’s individual identity. This tension can only be alleviated by purifiying and clarifying the energy of these Poles.


An in-depth study of the Hypergnostic Systems would also involve an analysis of the workings of the Four Functions mentioned earlier and how they interrelate with the Instincts and Poles. However, for the purposes of studying the relationship between the popular versions of the Enneagram of Personality and its basis in the Arica system, such an analysis is not entirely necessary.

It may be interesting to note, however, that Gurdjieff included a “Moving Center” as part of the Belly Center. Ichazo does not describe a Moving Center, but does include a Function of Coordination and Kinsethetic Awareness which may be similar.

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