Don Richard Riso wrote the first major book on the Enneagram personality system, Personality Types, and served as a leading authority on the Enneagram and the human potential movement. With longtime teaching partner and co-author Russ Hudson, he developed many techniques in the Enneagram field, including the Riso-Hudson Type Indicator, a leading personality test.
Riso, MA '71, died August 30 in Stone Ridge, N.Y., of cancer. He was 66.
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Riso was raised in New Orleans and attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where he graduated with highest honors in philosophy and English. He attended Stanford as a Ford Foundation Fellow, earning his master's degree in communications and social psychology.
In 1973, while studying theology at Regis College in Toronto, Riso first encountered the Enneagram, a model of human personality that delineates nine basic personality types and their interrelationships. He dedicated the rest of his life to developing new Enneagram theories, including the Levels of Development within each personality type that indicate healthy, average and unhealthy areas of psychological functioning. Riso founded The Enneagram Institute in 1986 and was a founding member of the International Enneagram Association in 1994. After publishing Personality Types in 1987, he wrote several other books about Enneagram theory, including The Wisdom of the Enneagram (1999), regarded as the field's definitive book.
Under Riso's leadership the Enneagram Institute became a forum for seminars on psychology and spirituality, training thousands of students around the world. Convinced of the Enneagram's potential to guide people to self-knowledge, he wrote that "Through self-observation, we can come to a deeper level of self-awareness and self-realization, [through which] things can begin to change."
In a written tribute, Hudson remembers Riso "as a close friend, a steady companion, a tireless searcher of truth, for his wise and gentle manner, his compassionate teaching style, the incredible depth of his love, and his boundless support of his students and friends."
Riso is survived by his partner of 41 years, Brian L. Taylor; his father, Leo; and three brothers.
Rachel Kolb, '12, is a graduate student in English.