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Diana DeregnierRSS Feed of this column.

As a lifelong student of human nature, less interested in degrees than consciousness, I write about social and psychological issues relevant to our complex society. Rather than proselytize, I

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More than a decade ago, Jackie Speier, Jan Yanehiro, Michealene Critini Risley and Deborah Collins Stephens forged a relationship to meet in mutual support. These women credit the friendship and network that included other women of like mind, heart and tenacity as crucial to their subsequent personal and professional stability and triumph. In 2007, the four applied their insight and skills to write "This is not the life I ordered: 50 ways to keep your head above water when life keeps dragging you down," Conari Press.

Take a centuries-old system of personalities charted in a nine point diagram called the Enneagram, mix it with modern psychology and nonsectarian spiritual ideas, and you have a means for understanding ourselves and others that prompts compassionate and empathetic behavior.

The Enneagram has undergone a renewal of scholarly attention in the last decade. Helen Palmer, co-founder of Enneagram Worldwide and the Enneagram Professional Training Program considers the system crucial and promising in uniting psychological and spiritual insight and awareness.