Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions for Type 6, and My Resolutions, But Not in That Order

Here are my resolutions for the upcoming year:

1. Clean countertops twice a week. Take dishes out of dishwasher when they are done, and then put clean dishes in, or wash dishes by hand. Keep inside of sink clean. Watch tv from couch, and put away air mattress (in the interest of decreasing clutter.) Take out trash once a week or more often. Take unread magazines to work. Continue getting rid of unnecessary objects. Organize kitchen cabinets. Check oil twice a month. Write these goals (e.g. clean the countertops on Wednesday) in Franklin Planner. Get new pages for Franklin Planner.

2. Don't eat candy. Make one large, healthy food dish each weekend (that I am in town.) Keep weight at current level or lower. If weight gets to a certain line on the scale, ratchet it back.

As you can see from the specific nature of the above two resolutions, I don't believe in just saying "lose weight" or "clean the house more," but in focusing on how specifically I can accomplish it. I have also purchased some great smelling Method products to help me enjoy the cleaning.

3. See Kathy more often. Put in Franklin Planner.

4. Be more responsible about giving gifts. Put in Franklin Planner.

5. Ask the doctor about my sleepiness. Get a mammogram this year. Put making these appointments in Franklin Planner. Start drinking a little less coffee. Drink decaf every other cup, or switch to tea. More exercise might help with the sleepiness.

6. Take the time to blow-dry hair with round brush.

Here are some other things I intend to do, that for one reason or another are not exactly resolutions:

1. Paint finger- and toenails. Watch seasons 2-4 of The Wire. Take books back to the library so I can start getting books out again. Consider getting a cell phone. These aren't resolutions; more of a to-do list.

2. Continue my studies and blogging. Teach Enneagram class. Continue current dating practices (i.e., Willing to go out; Willing to tell someone to take a hike, Not being attached to a particular outcome; Being happy to be alone.) Continuing current good practices is important, but clearly doesn't fall under the rubric of resolutions.

3. There are a couple work-related changes that are being made. These aren't resolutions because they've already been planned for some time.

4. Undoubtably I will flirt with various physical exercise regimens throughout the year. This is not a resolution because I do not have a particular plan in mind.

OK, now let's turn to Riso and Hudson, and see what they have to say for 6's. Will it be cleaning the countertops?

1. Learn to be more present to your anxiety, to explore it, and to come to terms with it. Work creatively with your tensions without turning to excessive amounts of alcohol or other drugs to allay them. In fact, if you are present and breathing fully, anxiety can be energizing, a kind of tonic that can help make you more productive and aware of what you are doing.

2. You tend to get edgy or testy when you are upset or angry, and you can even turn on others and blame them for things you have done or brought on yourself. Be aware of your pessimism: it results in dark moods and negative thought patterns that you tend to project on reality.

3. Sixes tend to overreact when they are under stress and feeling anxious. Learn to identify what makes you overreact. Also realize that almost none of the things you have feared so much has actually come true.

4. Even if things are as bad as you think, your fearful thoughts weaken you and your ability to change things for the better. You can't always manage external events, but you can manage your own thoughts.

5. Work on becoming more trusting. There are doubtless several people in your life you can turn to who care about you and who are trustworthy. If not, go out of your way to find someone trustworthy, and allow yourself to get close to that person.

6. Others probably think better of you than you realize, and few people are really out to get you. In fact, your fears tell you more about your attitudes toward others than they indicate about others' attitudes toward you.

7. You are highly responsible in many areas, but you can be afraid of accepting responsibility for mistakes. You may fear others will jump down your throat, but most people respect those who take responsibility for their actions, especially if they have made a mistake.

8. You want to feel secure, but this will never be possible unless you are secure with yourself. You need to focus on becoming more self-affirming -- developing a realistic belief in yourself and your own abilities. A good way to do this is by getting more grounded in your body and allowing your fretting mind to become more quiet. When this happens, you will naturally feel more confident and supported by life.

9. Examine your attitudes toward authority. Do you reflexively rebel and resist authority? Do you seek it out, hiding behind an "I was only following orders" attitude? For most Sixes, issues with authority are highly charged. The greater your awareness is of your unconscious attitudes in this department, the more you will be able to recognize the authority of your own inner wisdom.

10. Be fair with others and tell them what is on your mind, lest you appear indecisive or defensive. Any of the alternatives cause conflicts and tensions in your relationships.

11. Most of your issues have to do with finding reliable sources of guidance and support outside of yourself. It is good to remember that many of these sources can be useful up to a point, but none of them can provide the kind of unwavering stability and unerring wisdom you want. Only your true nature can give you a deep sense of solidity and capacity in the world, because only the spontaneous intelligence of your own soul can respond to each unique situation freshly. So be grateful for the many sources of support in your life, but lean on them less. You have within you everything you need to move through life with dignity and grace.

Wow, I'm really not feeling most of 'em. I trust others; I take responsibility for my mistakes. Becoming aware of projection and knowing what situations make me overreact are good ideas. I think that meditation (and other forms of spirituality) is the subtext for some of these (having read Riso/Hudson and met Hudson) and I am trying it, but I classify it under "continuing Enneagram studies" rather than an actual resolution.

But let's look at my actual resolutions. Two of them are, I think, related to 6 issues. I wonder sometimes why at my age I have not developed better cleaning habits. I have started to think it is related to the "you can't make me" theme of type 6, and it's pretty obviously related to type 6 dependency issues (i.e. I shouldn't have to do this for myself.) Also, the gift-giving: I have anxiety about gift-giving... I worry what if the person doesn't like it, and then it's a waste of money? (I have a 6-ish terror of wasting money sometimes.) Also, sometimes I worry that my gift won't be good enough for the other person. I also have a similar anxiety about receiving gifts... possibly even more anxiety, because if you don't like a gift you might have to pretend you do, and I hate to have to pretend. I have memories dating back to age 5 in which I got gifts I didn't like and felt sick about it. This Christmas I was feeling anxiety during the gift exchange, mainly about receiving them, because all my gifts this year were surprises. (I ended up liking them all -- luckily! They were great, actually.) So right there during the gift exchange, I did something Riso and Hudson suggest -- observe your reactions rather than "get on the train." And what I observed was something I've read in various places (including, I think, The Wisdom of the Enneagram) that one will observe, that right below the fear was sadness.

Another important aspect of resolutions is accountability; I will keep you updated on how I do. And yet another aspect is starting back when you inevitably fail (if, for example, you eat candy!)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dance Dance Resolutions for 7s, 8s, and 9s

At church this morning, we heard this excerpt from Frederick Buechner's Telling Secrets:

"Memory makes it possible for us both to bless the past, even those parts of it that we have always felt cursed by, and also to be blessed by it."

Then, after a sermon about, among other things, the eternal now, we were invited to write, on little slips of paper, things we intended to carry with us into the new year. Finally, we burned the paper, the ashes fell down, the smoke rose up, and our intentions were transformed.
What will become of your resolutions, types 7, 8, and 9? What mighty changes will result from these humble little (Riso and Hudson-inspired) suggestions?

Type 7:

1. Spend more time observing your impulses, and less time giving in to them.
2. Improve your listening skills.
3. Play "quiet mouse" to win.
4. Spend one day per week without the tv or stereo on.
5. Find ways to delay gratification.
6. Tell yourself that quality is more important than quantity.
7. While weighing your options, consider the consequences.
8. For your consideration in 2008:
"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. " ~James Openheim
"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want." ~Margaret Young
"There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second." ~Logan Pearsall Smith
"Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
"If you are not happy here and now, you never will be. " ~Taisen Deshimaru
"The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things." ~Epictetus
9. Put your words to the "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?" test, not the "Is it funny?" test.
10. Try crying, instead of laughing, when you're sad.
11. When you think you're running toward something, ask yourself what you're running away from.
12. Count your blessings.

Type 8:

1. From the Tao te Ching: "leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue."
2. If it doesn't really matter to you, let someone else get their way.
3. Question your "me against the world" attitude.
4. Hug your allies. And your "enemies."
5. If you find yourself reflecting on your own self-reliance, reflect on interdependence instead. When you eat an apple, consider the one who planted the tree, and so on.
6. Ask yourself what price you have paid for power and try to strike a better bargain.
7. Instead of acting solely out of self-interest, act on behalf of your relationship, your family, or your cause. Get one of those if you don't have one already.
8. Something to consider, straight from Understanding the Enneagram: "If you do not believe in God, is your nonbelief based on genuine intellectual convictions or merely on the fact that you do not want to give up your ego and the things you enjoy? A great deal may depend on your answer to this question."
9. To mix quotes willy-nilly, Beat your swords into ploughshares, or else you will die by them.
10. Use your resources to create opportunities for others.
11. Scratch someone else's back.
12. Think of a way to create a legacy of goodness that will live on after you.

Type 9:

1. Remember that love is something you do, and take action.
2. Start a new independent activity this year.
3. Cut back on daydreaming and zoning out.
4. Recognize that negative emotions find a way to express themselves, even if you try to repress them. Give voice to your anger and anxiety. Let them out and let them go.
5. Examine the ways your actions (or your passivity) have affected your relationships. Own your part of your conflicts.
6. Exercise more frequently. This video game might help.
7. If you have unexplained headaches, backaches, or nausea, consider the idea that repressed emotions might be the cause. Learn to express your feelings.
8. Swear off drugs and alcohol.
9. Make a list of things you would like to do before you die, and do some of them this year.
10. Stand up for yourself whenever you are being mistreated.
11. Make it a goal to learn something new about every person you love this year.

Bless the past; lean into the future. Mary Beth will be blogging on resolutions for 6s shortly.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Recommendations for Personality Type Five" vs. My Actual Intentions for 2008

This is another post in a series on New Year's resolutions, based on the "Recommendations" chapter of Understanding the Enneagram. Previous posts on this topic can be found here and here.
This time, I'm gonna do things a little differently. First, I'm just gonna tell you more or less exactly what Riso and Hudson said, and then I'll comment in red on whether or not said advice has in any way factored into my resolution-making. Ya dig? Good; let's go.

1. "Learn to notice when your thinking and speculating take you out of the immediacy of your experience... Stay connected with your physicality."I'll get back to this one later.
2. "Make an effort to learn to calm down in a healthy way, without drugs or alcohol." I'm actually pretty good on this one. I will admit that, back in September, after I had spent the whole day nearly drowning (see picture above) and watching Mary Beth and other friends nearly drown, I did drink half a beer to calm down, but no, I haven't reached rock bottom yet, so 2008 will not be the year of total sobriety. "Exercising or using biofeedback techniques will help channel some of your tremendous nervous energy." Other than the aforementioned near-drowning, I have few memories of 2007 that do not involve me sitting on my butt, so exercise is a great suggestion. Getting back into the gym is tops on my resolution list. Also, I did not know what "biofeedback techniques" were, but apparently, they are this. "Meditation, jogging, yoga, and dancing are especially helpful for your type." Another hit! Meditating more regularly is on my list!
3. "When you are caught in your fixation, a sense of perspective can be missing, and with it the ability to make accurate assessments. At such a time, it can be helpful to get the advice of someone you trust while you are gaining perspective on your situation." Whaddaya say, Mary Beth, are you up for talking me off of more ledges in the coming year? If so, I'm down for asking for some advice.
4. "Notice when you are getting intensely involved in projects that do not necessarily support your self-esteem, confidence, or life situation. It is possible to follow many different fascinating subjects, games, and pastimes, but they can become huge distractions from what you know you really need to do." So true. Most of my resolutions this year are about setting aside time for the kinds of things -- timely bill-paying, occasional house-cleaning, grocery shopping -- that I often neglect because they're just so darn boring compared to, say, blogging about the Enneagram. Of course, I could delegate some of those tasks... say, is there anyone out there who would like to help me get my stuff together and, um, connect me with my physicality (see item 1 on this list)? If so, call me, but understand that, as a 5 in good standing, I am obligated to not pick up the phone.
5. "It is important to remember that having conflicts with others is not unusual and that the healthy thing is to work them out rather than reject attachments with people by withdrawing into isolation." Fine. I will pick up the phone. Sometimes. Maybe.
6. "Try to be more cooperative with people and less of a loner."
7. "Some Fives tend to make others feel ill at ease. Because they are so intensely involved in what interests them and find their own ideas so fascinating, they tend to forget the social niceties that help others be comfortable with them. If this applies to you, remember that your very brilliance may be intimidating to many."
8. "Even if other people are not as intelligent, this does not automatically mean that they are stupid or their ideas are worthless. Try to be more accepting of their intellectual limitations without being cynical or harsh in your judgements."
9. "If others begin to avoid you or react to you antagonistically, consider the possibility that you -- rather than they -- have begun the antagonisms. Examine yourself to discover what you may have contributed to your interpersonal conflicts."
10. "Think of ways to develop your compassion for others, to understand what they are going through from their point of view.... Do not use only your head; use more of your heart." I actually think I've been doing a pretty good job with items 6 - 10 lately, so I intend to sort of plateau out and rest on my laurels in the coming year; I hope this will not bite me in the ass.

Friday, December 28, 2007

As Promised, Resolutions for 3s and 4s

Tips for a better 2008:

Type 3:

1. Cut down on the "little white lies".
2. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
3. Spend more time with the people you love.
4. If you are an employee and the law requires that your employer offer you a break, take it. They have that law for a reason.
5. Work on a project that has nothing to do with your personal ambitions.
6. Be sure you are working with people, not against them.
7. "In their desire to be accepted by others, some average Threes adapt so much to the expectations of others that they lose touch with what they are really feeling about the situation. Develop yourself by resisting the tendency to adjust to others' expectations. It is imperative that you invest time in discovering your own core values." (Riso and Hudson, Understanding the Enneagram, 335) Might I suggest that you read Finding Your Own North Star (previously blogged about here and here), and follow the suggestions therein? It will help.
8. Take note of the things other people are good at -- and praise them for it.
9.Use your energy for the good of the group as a whole. Be a real "team player".
10. Lower your expectations for success and acclaim.
11. Identify an area of your life where you are honestly in over your head and tell someone about it; they may be able to bail you out before it's too late.
12. Stop comparing yourself to others so much. Your life is your life, not a game with winners and losers.

Type 4:

1. Question your desire to base a permanent identity on an ever-changing set of feelings.
2. Go to work every day, even if you're not in the mood.
3. Plunge in before you're totally ready.
4. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
5. Exercise regularly.
6. If you find yourself imagining what you'd like to say to someone, call them up and say it for real. If it's something you shouldn't say, try putting it out of your mind.
7. Find someone -- either a friend or a therapist -- to whom you can talk openly.
8. Get involved with a community service organization.
9. Let your parents off the hook; at a certain point in adulthood, complaining about them excessively just becomes unseemly.
10. When you feel misunderstood, make one more earnest attempt to communicate.
11. If someone seems critical of you, double-check to see if their remark is intended as a critique. If it is, you be the judge of whether the criticism is true.
12. Speak more kindly to yourself.

5s and 6s are up next.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Riso and Hudson on the Enneagram versus one-size-fits-all advice; plus, Diet advice for 2s

Wise words from page 2 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram:

We believe that most self-help books are not necessarily wrong, but merely
incomplete. For example, even with a basic topic like weight loss,
there are many possible reasons why a person might have a weight problem
or issues with food -- a sugar sensitivity, or excessive fat in the diet, or
nervous eating to repress anxiety, or any number of other emotional
issues. Without identifying the specific core issues that are causing the
problem, no solution is likely, no matter how great the effort.

The self-help author's prescriptions are usually based on methods that have
worked for him or her personally and reflect his or her own psychological
makeup and personal process. If a reader happens to have a similar
psychological makeup, the author's method may be effective. But if there
is little "match," the reader may be misled rather than helped.


This diversity explains why what is good advice for one person can be
disastrous for another. Telling some types that they need to focus
more on their feelings is like throwing water on a drowing man. Telling
other types that they need to assert themselves more is as foolish as putting an
anorexic person on a diet. In understanding ourselves, our relationships,
our spiritual growth, and many other important issues, we will see that type --
not gender, not culture, and not generational differences -- is the crucial factor.

Web MD has sent me some advice, including diet advice, that seems custom-made for 2s:

Most of us secret believe that good people, especially women, take care of
others first. They wait until everyone else has a plateful and then take what's
left. Unfortunately, most of us make decisions based on our ideas of who we
think we should be, not on who we actually are. The problem is, when we make
choices based on an ideal image of ourselves -- what a good friend would do,
what a good mother would do, what a good wife would do -- we end up having to
take care of ourselves in another way. Enter food.

Read the entire article here. Some of the advice in this article might be somewhat relevant for other women, or other compliant types, but it seems custom-made, and dead-on, for the 2.

I see in the extensive Riso/Hudson quotation above the hint that it might be helpful to have a collection of self-help articles, reviews of books, and personal stories that might be helpful or of interest to people of the particular types. I think that's something the blog format is able to do, because after we've been writing for awhile (and updating daily), we will eventually have amassed quite a collection, sorted by type. For example, click on 3, and one post that will come up is Cindi's from yesterday about (among other things) Martha Beck, who writes about issues of bringing your life in line more with the true self than the persona. (I have read two of Martha Beck's books, Finding Your Own North Star and Leaving the Saints, and would recommend them both, not just to 3s by any means, but to anyone interested in bringing their life more into line with their true values. I don't think any personality type has cornered the market on this issue! Also, she is a funny, delightful writer.)

Back to 2s and dieting: I see 2s as a group as having more trouble with weight gain than any of the other types (taken as a whole.) The Web MD article hits on what is probably the key reason (use of food to soothe oneself and calm unconscious anger about having to sacrifice onself for others). I've also observed two other trends. Deprivation is not a big part of 2 thinking. Neither is following a set of rigid or even objective guidelines. I see 2s who have the ability to go without lunch and go without breakfast in the service of work or in the service of dieting; unfortunately, studies show that this does not actually help one lose weight. I do know a 2 who has been able to follow a diet and exercise plan for over a year; he looks great. Perhaps significantly, though, he is an INTJ, atypical of 2s. Also, as Cindi mentioned two days ago in her New Year's Resolutions for 1s and 2s post, getting enough sleep is often an issue for 2s; I've also read that getting enough sleep is good for keeping one's weight in line.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Self Help with a Sense of Humor

So, I was in Borders today, spending my post-Christmas madly turning gift cards into actual gifts, when I saw a new magazine -- Going Bonkers?. I conceded that maybe I was, so I sat down with my cold-brewed marble mocha to give it a read. (Oh, how I long for the days of the simple, yet elegant, mocha freeze!)
Going Bonkers? styles itself "the self-help magazine with a sense of humor." And it does have a sense of humor, too. It has New Yorker-style cartoons (one pictured a patient on a therapist's couch saying, "Actually, I just came here to lie down. I can't get any rest at home") and Reader's Digest-style reader-submitted jokes. You can submit your own at the Going Bonkers? site.
Oh, and there are self-help articles, too. The basic formula is that they lay out a common problem -- your kids are too demanding, you have low self-esteem, you have a crush on a friend -- and then give you some not-too-specific, common sense solutions. For instance, "The Radical Cure for Self-Deception" is, you guessed it, honesty.
Speaking of self-deception versus honesty, an excellent self-help book dealing with that topic is Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star. Its theme is letting go of the false, socially constructed self and the life it has built for you, in order to embrace the true self and the life you crave. It's also really funny. For instance, early on in the book, Beck is talking about encouraging people to quit jobs they hate, and she realizes that her readers might feel some resistance to this idea. So, in the voice of that resistance, she writes, "Thanks for sharing, Yoda, but I have a real life. I have to pay my rent. I have a cat to feed."
To see how she responds, you'll just have to read the rest of the book. I suspect that Martha Beck is a 3. Her body of work (including a wonderful memoir, Expecting Adam, about giving up a success-driven lifestyle in order to find bliss in raising a child with Down syndrome) pretty much constitutes a recovery manual for 3s (and anyone with type 3 issues).
Click here to read Beck's columns for O Magazine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

New Year's Resolutions for 1s and 2s

Christmas is (almost) behind us, and our next major holiday stop is New Year's Eve. While drinking champagne and desperately searching for someone to kiss at midnight are certainly fine traditions, my favorite is the annual taking stock that is the New Year's resolution. In that spirit, I am going to offer some type-specific suggestions for how you might make things go better in the coming year. 2008 is a blank slate! These are adapted from the "Recommendations" chapter of Riso and Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram.

Type 1:

1. Practice a relaxation technique, any relaxation technique. Try meditation or get a massage.
2. Be more patient with others.
3. Lead by example, not by lecture.
4. Speak more kindly to yourself and others.
5. Keep a journal in which you are totally honest about your feelings and impulses.
6. Join a group that will allow you to talk about your feelings without passing judgement.
7. Pay attention to how you are coming across to others; if you seem angry, they will probably get defensive and resist your advice.
8. Take measures to prevent or treat high blood pressure, ulcers, and other health problems.
9. Reflect on this quote: "The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." (Lady Dorothy Nevill)
10. Listen more.
11. Be more aware of the ways in which perfect is often the enemy of good.
12. Every day, pick a rule that doesn't really matter -- and break it.
13. When you feel annoyed by something petty, ask yourself about the underlying issue -- and address that instead.

Type 2:

1. Put yourself first sometimes.
2. Make sure you get enough sleep every night.
3. Eat three good meals a day.
4. Examine your own motives for helping.
5. If you are in a codependent relationship, get support and change that dynamic.
6. Communicate more directly.
7. Be willing to take "no" for an answer.
8. Let your own good deeds go unrewarded sometimes.
9. Give others positive reinforcement, but only if they're actually doing something good.
10. Teach a man to fish.
11. Honor your close relationships by not spreading your time and energy too thin.
12. Appreciate the affection you are given, even if it does not come in the form you would most like.
13. Let go of being possessive.
14. No more fixer-upper boyfriends or girlfriends!

Stay tuned. Resolutions for the other types are coming soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Enneagram Worldwide 2008 Schedule

Enneagram Worldwide just sent me their workshop schedule for the upcoming year. This organization was founded by Helen Palmer (author of The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and Others in Your Life) and David Daniels (author of The Essential Enneagram) and is apparently celebrating 20 years of "integrating psychology and spirituality."
Enneagram Worldwide workshops are taught in the "narrative tradition". This means they use panels of people representing certain types, speaking about their life experiences in their own words, to illustrate points about the Enneagram.
The very first workshop of the year is "Intimate Relationships: The Power of Presence, Spirit and Eros." It is on January 5th in Palo Alto, California and will be taught by David Daniels.
Another workshop, "A Spiritual Strategy for People in Relationships" will be taught by Helen Palmer on April 5th and 6th in Detroit, Michigan. Mary Beth and I took this one a couple of years back. The famous "narrative tradition" panels were in evidence, but Palmer also used guided meditation, lecture (she talked a lot about Evagrius that weekend) and small group and one-on-one discussions to teach.
That workshop has the distinction of curing me of the delusion that the world would be a better place if everyone were more like me. Sitting with a group of 5s and attempting to discuss feelings was not the rockin' sci-fi convention I had dreamed of. Mary Beth also thought the other 6s kind of sucked.
Anyway, you can get lots more info about Enneagram Worldwide workshops at

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What is the best Enneagram type for me to date?

I try to introduce the enneagram to new people often, and one of the most commonly asked questions is whether the enneagram tells us which other type we should date or marry. Riso and Hudson's answer is "a healthy type." The conventional wisdom is that while there are predictable patterns to relationships between two types, only you can decide which constellation of joys and problems you'd rather take on. However, today at the Hickory Public Library, I came across an enneagram author who has gone out on a limb and given a list of best and worst matches. The book is The Ultimate Personality Guide by Jennifer Freed, M.A.. M.F.T. and Debra Birnbaum. The chapter headings are: 1. Western Astrology 2. Birth Order 3. Myers-Briggs-Inspired Typology 4. The Enneagram 5. Ayurveda 6. Chinese Astrology 7. Numerology and 8. All the Rest, so you can see that Freed is not an enneagram writer, per se. She is founder of Astrological Counseling Seminars, an institute for astrological psychology.

Here is Freed's list of Best and Worst matches:

Best Match: Seven
Worst Match: Four, Eight

Best Match: Four
Worst Match: Eight

Best Match: Six
Worst Match: Nine

Best Match: One
Worst Match: Two, Five

Best Match: Eight
Worst Match: Seven

Best Match: Nine
Worst Match: Three

Best Match: Five
Worst Match: One

Best Match: Two
Worst Match: Five

Best Match: Three
Worst Match: Six

I am a 6, and when I first looked at this chart in the library I only looked at what she said about 6 -- Best Match 9, Worst Match 3. I have trouble with 3s, and who doesn't like 9s? So I thought maybe there was something to this.The discerning enneagram student, though, will have already caught on to the pattern that the best match for each type is that type's security point and the worst is the stress type. (With two exceptions, the addition of type 8 as a bad match for the 1 and type 5 as a bad match for the 4.)

I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw with a gay girl chasing a straight girl who was chasing a gay man who was chasing a straight man who was chasing the original gay girl, thus forming a circle. I picture the 1 chasing the 7 chasing the 5 chasing the 8 chasing the 2... well, you get the picture. Seriously, though, a world in which you are always the worst type for the best type for you is the world she is positing.


This was originally posted on The Half-Assed Game (my other blog.) I've moved it here, as it is all about the Enneagram.

Friday, December 21, 2007

TV Round-up

As Cindi has mentioned previously, we gather with friends each Monday night for the ongoing project of watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series in its entirety. We're now about halfway through season 4. One common thread that runs through a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes is metaphor made flesh; for example, a female teacher who preys sexually on teenage male students turns into a human-size praying mantis, and a mother who pushes too hard for her daughter to succeed is portrayed as literally a witch. (Thanks to our friend Rick, both for making this observation when we were way back in Season 1 and also for organizing the Buffyfest in the first place.) Our most recent episode, Superstar, reifies the narcissism of the unhealthy 3. The split between the two parts of the personality (the idealized image and the impoverished and rejected true self within) are acted out a la The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and Forbidden Planet. Superstar may have been my favorite episode so far; it's certainly one of my top few. And Cindi has written about the episode in detail here.

Another show I've been watching a lot of lately is Monk, and I've seen some Enneagram styles portrayed in that. In case you're not familiar, Monk is a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was thrown off the police force for psychiatric problems, but is still a great detective, maintains a warm relationship with the force, works as a consultant for them, and hopes to be reinstated one day. He's riddled with fears: of germs, heights, glaciers, spiders, and, as is often mentioned, milk, among many others. His 1-ishness is portrayed as giving him an edge because he's able to walk into a crime scene, survey it, and see what "doesn't fit," i.e., inconsistencies. At the same time, his germophobia, hand-washing, and compulsive need for order are played for laughs. It is my impression that a real-life person with as many of the unhealthy 1 traits as Monk has would in no way be as sheerly LOVABLE as Mr. Monk is. (I have very little expertise or experience with OCD, so read the last comment with a grain of salt.) I read Monk's character more as an amalgam of 1-ish obsession with order and 5-ish avoidance than as straight 1. Judith Searle discusses The Police Story as an example of a 1 narrative in this excellent essay on Story Genres and Enneagram Types. She writes: "Related One genres are ... the police story, in which the law enforcement professional is the hero who tries to restore the moral order to society. Examples of the police story include The Silence of the Lambs, The French Connection, Serpico, and Prince of the City." There's also a Great Detective archetype who's 5-ish (Sherlock Holmes) and 6-ish (Columbo): a head-type figuring things out. (Many Monk episodes even start by showing the viewer how the crime was done, borrowing a page from the Columbo playbook.) Returning to Monk: two other characters represent clear Enneagram styles: the Captain, Leland Stottlemeyer is an average-to-healthy 8 (gruff and forthright), while another homicide detective, Randy, is a phobic 6 (self-doubting, insecure, submissive) and plays a typical 6 role, the sidekick. [In one episode, Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist, Randy drops off the force because the Captain doesn't believe he actually witnessed a murder while under sedation in the dentist's office. Randy goes back to playing in the band (The Randy Disher Project) he formed in seventh grade and makes a music video of the song Don't Need a Badge. In the video, you can see Randy acting counterphobically, singing "I don't need a gun to make me feel strong; I don't need a captain shooting me down all day long; I don't need your mustache, don't you condescend to me; I don't need a badge, cause baby, I am free." In that same episode, the Captain tells someone on the phone that Randy is the single most annoying human being he knows... then he sees Monk walk by gargling because of his fear of the dentist, and says "except, of course, for him."] The other main character, Monk's assistant Natalie, has no apparent Enneagram type. She plays an Everywoman role.

One thing I like about this time of year is the End-of-Year Best-of Lists. In the TV category of MY End-of-Year Best-of List, one show would have crushed all competition, had there been any competition to speak of. That show is Mad Men, an AMC original series that aired for 13 episodes over the summer. It's been renewed for a second season that will start next summer (or that was the plan before the writer's strike, anyway.) It's set in 1960 in a Madison Avenue ad agency. Each episode is set in a different month of 1960. (It occurs to me that that's impossible since there are 13 episodes and 12 months but... close enough.) There are two MAJOR themes in the show: one is how different life was in 1960. Everybody smokes constantly, and they drink at work, and all the married men fool around and chase women, and sex roles are very rigid, and the sexism is extremely overt, and all black characters are in subsurvient roles. The other major theme is character, and specifically, the mysteriousness of character. Our main character (both hero and villain), Don Draper, is a 3, and not just any 3, but an imposter literally pretending to be someone he's not. Another of the main characters, Pete, is also a 3, and in fact, even the characters who aren't 3s have a 3-ish feel, partially because surface traits are very valued in this world (that they're in advertising is no accident.) I don't know the Enneatypes of the two main female characters, Peggy (Don's secretary) and Betty (Don's wife), but neither is healthy and both are very internally contradictory. (Peggy is sympathetic and the viewer roots for her, but we don't feel that we understand her. There are some seriously odd behaviors there, including a huge chunk of denial. Betty is a little less sympathetic: she's a Seven Sisters grad, a former model, a beauty, and a housewife to philandering imposter Don. Personality-wise, she's in despair: a regressed little girl inside a brittle shell. She undergoes Freudian analysis, which is doing her no good whatsoever, especially since her analyst tells her husband Don what she talks about in therapy! Both characters are poised for big change as we move more deeply into the 60s: they are about to encounter Sex and the Single Girl and The Feminine Mystique, respectively.) The big boss, Bertram Cooper, is an Ayn Rand-loving 8; Roger Sterling, the other partner in the Sterling-Cooper ad agency, is another 3; Salvatore (the closeted gay creative director) is most likely a 4; Harry (my sweet, straightforward Mad Men tv boyfriend) might be a 6 (or could be 9, or 5 -- he doesn't get a lot of screen time). It's an ensemble show: episodes focus on various characters, and minor characters are developed with specific details, and great writing and costumes and set design support the whole thing. And Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" plays in all the ads for the show. I imagine AMC is still showing it to build an audience for season 2; yes, the website says it's still being shown Thursday nights at 10 Eastern, 9 Central. Check it out!

The archetypal 3 narrative is the social climbing and imposter narrative (for example, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Vanity Fair, Gone With the Wind). I love the 3 imposter narrative (it's no wonder we root for Don Draper in Mad Men -- don't we always root for this character when he's the protagonist?), and I also love the story of the narcissistic 3 who starts to get in touch with real feeling (Groundhog Day, Tom Cruise's role in Rain Man.) To read more about enneatypes in movies and books, see Tom Condon's The Enneagram Movie and Video Guide and Judith Searle's The Literary Enneagram: Characters from the Inside Out. I highly recommend them both.

I said Mad Men had little competition for show of the year, and you'll really see what I mean when I tell you that my second favorite show of the year was VH1's The Pick-Up Artist. Even I admit that it wasn't all that good. Didn't matter; I liked it anyway. It's an imposter-by-proxy story; instead of watching a 3 acting like something he's not for personal gain and/or kicks, you're watching a 3 (Mystery) who's broken his technique down into a set of rules in order to teach it to a bunch of head types. (They weren't literally all head types; I'm speaking archetypally.) You can watch all episodes online at VH-1's site. I would also recommend the book The Game by Neil Strauss, in which our hero Neil Strauss, aka "Style," a journalist, poses as a civilian, infiltrates the pick-up community, learns to pick up girls, moves in with Mystery and a bunch of fellow pick-up artists, observes a lot of dysfunctional behavior including more than one breakdown by Mystery, becomes disenchanted with the whole thing and quits the community, then ends the book, but the story doesn't end there --because he now teaches pick-up himself here.

I have a few more tv shows to discuss, but am going to save them for another post or posts.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We are not Alone

At first, Mary Beth and I thought we were the only people on Blogger blogging about the Enneagram. We checked out, but it's just a blank page.
Still, it turns out we're not alone. The aptly named "The Enneagram Blogspot" is, in its own words, "a compilation of several different Enneagram personality theory resources."
The material there does seem to be compiled from various Enneagram books and websites, so it doesn't have the, ahem, charm of two gals yakking about the Enneagram and whatever else catches their attention every single day, but still, there is a wealth of good info there.
I especially like the article "Enneagram and Terry Pratchett", which has pictures and gives the types of various characters from the Discworld novels.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"It's a Lie": 3-ish Themes in an episode of Buffy

Studying the Enneagram is not the only hobby Mary Beth and I have in common; we are also watching the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on dvd. This post concerns the 3-sh themes in the 4th season episode "Superstar" (click here for a thorough synopsis), which aired in 2000.

As the episode opens, Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Anya are fighting vampires. When they discover there are five them, Buffy asserts that maybe she could take on two, but the others tell her that the remaining three would kill her. The gang decides they need help. As a viewer, I think this is odd, because Buffy has saved the world from much worse many times before.

The group goes to a mansion. Once inside, they approach a huge, intimidating desk. The chair behind the desk is turned way from the camera so we can't see the occupant. Buffy says something like, "We need your help." The chair turns, and we see that it's Jonathan, who is, basically, this dude that Buffy went to high school with, only now he's looking all James Bond suave/ Dr. Evil smug. He agrees to help.

They all meet up at Giles' place. Willow is on her laptop, studying an image of the crypt where the vampires stay. She is having trouble finding a good way for the gang to sneak in, but Jonathan immediately sees one, and it is agreed that he and Buffy will go to fight the vamps together. As the meeting adjourns, Jonathan passes a chessboard, moves a piece, and announces that he has checkmated Giles (again).

Jonathan and Buffy proceed to kick vampire butt. A vampire gets by Buffy, but Jonathan takes it out. Buffy is a little upset that one got by her, but Jonathan consoles her by telling her she did her best. Buffy expresses doubt, saying it didn't feel like her best at all. Then, paparazzi appear to take pictures of Jonathan, who is, apparently, a huge celebrity.

As the episode goes on, we see various pieces of evidence -- like a poster of Jonathan as a professional basketball player and Willow and Tara making a huge shrine to Jonathan -- that Jonathan is, in fact, simply the best human being, in all categories, that there is. Coincidentally, this was also my (as yet unrealized) childhood ambition. It also resonates strongly with Enneagram type 3, who at their best, "often become outstanding, a kind of human ideal, embodying widely admired qualities." (Riso and Hudson, Personality Types, 95) At their worst, of course, they only mimic these qualities by creating a false image.

Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley are having trouble in their relationship because Buffy is still upset that he slept with Faith (albeit when Faith was in Buffy's body.) Jonathan advises her to forgive him and says that she and Riley have a special relationship that is worth the hard work they will have to put into it. He goes on to say, "If you really want it, you can make anything happen." 3s are often described as "pragmatic and calculating... able to get what they want." (PT, 99) Later on, Jonathan will also advise Riley to make amends with Buffy by assuring her that she is the only one for him.

Back at initiative headquarters, the soldiers are being debriefed about their mission to destroy Adam. Jonathan is introduced as the group's new tactical consultant.

There is also a new monster in town. It has a strange symbol on its forehead and attacks a girl.

That night, at the Bronze, Jonathan is on stage, singing with a jazz band. Our heroes are there to watch the show, and they are enthralled. Xander accuses Anya of calling out Jonathan's name while they were having sex. Jonathan dedicates a song to Buffy and Riley. As they dance together, they sort of make up. Then, the girl who was attacked by the monster comes in and tells Jonathan what happened.

Everybody goes to Jonathan's mansion. There, the girl describes the monster and draws the symbol that was on its forehead. Seeing it, Jonathan dismisses the group's concern and compares the monster to a scared animal, assuring them that it's nothing to worry about. Buffy thinks she should patrol, but Jonathan says it's not necessary.

Next, we see Adam and one of his minions looking at several television monitors. Jonathan is on all of them, being fabulous in various capacities. Adam asks, "Who is that?" and the minion is like, "Are you kidding me?" and then Adam cuts right to the heart of everything, saying, "It's a lie." (Deceit is the passion, or sin, associated with type 3.)

Back at Jonathan's place, we see two blonde twins beckoning Jonathan to come to bed. While no one is trying to track down the monster, it attacks Tara. When Willow finds out, she is very confused because she had total faith in Jonathan, who said the monster wasn't dangerous. "But, Jonathan said it," she states.

Buffy drops by Xander's to look at his collection of Jonathan-themed comics and trading cards. Anya is there, reading Jonathan's autobiography. She is right at the part where he "invents the internet." This is a reference to a rather famous alleged lie/ exaggeration. Describing a 3's descent into unhealthy behaviors, Riso and Hudson write, "Threes begin to oversell themselves, making extraordinary claims about their achievements." (PT, 116) But, of course, in the world of this episode, to paraphrase Michael Jackson, the lie has become the truth.

When the group next meets at Giles' apartment, Buffy, putting her type 6 skepticism to good use (I see her as a type 6 reluctant hero, whereas this page types her as a 4), alleges that Jonathan is just a little too perfect. After all, he's better at slaying than she is, and she's the Slayer, and isn't that supposed to mean something? She also points out some logical flaws -- like, how could Jonathan have graduated from medical school while he was still in high school? As Riso and Hudson say of some Threes, "although they are desperate to convince themselves and others that they are outstanding, others may begin to sense that they are too good to be true: much of what they say about themselves just does not add up." (PT, 116)

To counter Buffy's remarks, Xander asserts that Jonathan is just perfect enough. Buffy asks if Giles has a Jonathan swimsuit calendar. When he produces it, the gang flips through it and sees that Jonathan's shoulder bears the same mark as the monster's forehead.

Just then, Jonathan arrives. He explains that there is a connection between him and the monster. He has fought it before and becomes confused in its presence. He had its mark put on his shoulder as a reminder not to underestimate it. Buffy and Jonathan agree to track down the monster together.

When they go, the rest of the gang looks up the symbol in one of their fabulous reference books. They find out that it is part of a spell that can be used to turn a person into "a paragon -- the best of everything, everyone's ideal."

The only caveat is that using the spell also creates a counterbalance -- "everyone's worst nightmare." That's what the monster is.

By this time, Buffy and Jonathan are searching a cave. Suddenly the monster jumps out at them and knocks Jonathan out.

Back at Giles' place, everyone is speculating about how the world would change if Buffy kills the monster and Jonathan returns to normal. Clearly, they are not wholeheartedly in favor of the change. Giles says that the only thing that would really change is Jonathan. The rest is real.

In truth, though, even though only Jonathan is any different from how things usually are, his change has changed everything for the worst. He has displaced everyone from their roles -- by being the smartest one, he has taken Willow's place as researcher and Giles' place as strategist. He has displaced Buffy as the natural leader of the group, destroying her confidence and stunting her potential. By being the most attractive man, he has eroded the intimacy between Xander and Anya. By being a paragon, he has brought about the worst kind of misplacement of faith -- in Xander, who misguidedly looks up to him, and in Willow, who trusts him so much that she doesn't protect her friend. But Jonathan doesn't really care who gets hurt; his lie that the monster was not a threat is a lie that is "far from insignificant, causing others enormous harm." (PT, 122)

When Jonathan comes to, he sees the monster starting to overpower Buffy. He rushes to help, but doesn't seem to be able to hurt it. Buffy asks Jonathan what she should do, but he says she is going to have to handle it by herself. She seems afraid, but manages to fight valiantly against the creature. The monster knocks Buffy down near the edge of an open pit and it seems like it's going to push her in, but Jonathan tackles it, and he and the monster fall in instead. Buffy grabs Jonathan's foot, saving him, but the monster falls to its death.

On campus, the next day, Buffy spots Jonathan, who is now back to normal. He says everyone seems to be forgetting about what happened, but some people are still mad. He reveals that, after his suicide attempt (a 3's narcissism is fueled by feelings of worthlessness), he met a kid in counseling who taught him how to do the spell. He says the kid really downplayed the evil monster part.

Buffy tells him that that's not the only reason people are angry with him. They didn't like "being sock puppets in his world," she says. People don't like being manipulated. They didn't like living a lie.

Jonathan counters, untruthfully, although he may really believe it, that they weren't sock puppets; they were friends. Here we see the unhealthy 3's difficulty with real relationships. As Riso and Hudson write in Personality Types, "Unhealthy Threes are unable... to have empathy for others. Because they do not see other people as real or as having value without reference to themselves, others become merely providers of attention and admiration, what are called 'narcissistic suppliers', as objects to be used to aggrandize themselves." We saw this tendency toward one-sided, shallow "relationships" in Jonathan also in his choice to have a sexual relationship with a pair of twins, rather than a real girlfriend, when he could presumably have any woman he wants.

Jonathan then remembers the bit of advice he gave Buffy about a relationship taking hard work, and he says that he thinks the advice was right. This shows growth for Jonathan, because it is in direct contrast to the 3's tendency to "begin to coast through life, relying on sex appeal and charm", and, as they become less healthy, to have "whatever energy they may have extended in cultivating relationships stop." (PT, 118)

And yes, I realize that Oz (pictured above) isn't even in this episode, but his was the only action figure I could readily locate. Plus, a little birdie ( tells me we haven't quite seen the last of him yet.

On Maturity

Ben Casnocha writes on what emotional maturity and intellectual maturity mean. Very impressive take on maturity, coming from a 19-year-old. The only point at which I disagree with him is when he states that he hasn't seen adults become less emotionally mature over time. Here's the post, and he writes about many other interesting topics on his blog, such as the New Kings of Nonfiction, A Church for Athiests, The World According to Americans, etc.

Merry Disordered Christmas

My mom sent me this. It's one of those email forwards that go around.


1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

5. Manic - Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and.....

6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - - - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells , Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jing le Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Obama's character

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on Election '08:

David Brooks discusses Obama's character in today's New York Times, here. He doesn't make him sound like a One OR a Three. I don't know what he does sound like -- some healthy type.

I find it interesting what Brooks says about the presidency as a bacterium. I've observed something similar at my workplace. There is a certain position of power that several people have filled over the years, and more often than not, that person has become much less healthy upon taking the job. Cindi and I call that job the ONE RING, because only a person with humility and character can take it on and stay good. I've learned a lot about the Enneagram from observing that position over the years!

Edited: Now to veer completely and utterly off-topic from the Enneagram, but staying related to Obama... One of my favorite blogs, the excellent Baby Name Wizard Blog, announced today its Name of the Year 2007: Barack.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Election '08!

Writing yesterday's post made my brain hurt and wore out my typing fingers, so let's have something lighter for today (although I suppose that you might not find this lighter, depending on what you take seriously.) It's Election '08, Typing the Candidates!

Unfortunately, I don't have a great deal of insight to offer, but maybe together, over time, we can figure some of them out. So, if you've hit this post through a web search, look in the comments section for what people have to say.

Politicians are actually not the easiest celebrities to type, because on top of not knowing them personally, you also have to try to see through a lot of image management.

Let's start with the most well-known example: Hillary Clinton is often given as an example of an Enneagram One.

I think John Edwards seems like a Three, and so does Mitt Romney.

Ron Paul seems like a One, with his focus on principle.

Fred Thompson: I've never watched any of his shows (whatever they were.) From the one debate I saw (the Republican YouTube debate), he struck me as potentially an 8, a 5, or a 9w8.

Huckabee interests me. He seems 2ish to me. Does pardoning all those people make any sense at all in the absence of a 2 energy? He's being viewed as (and seems like) a compassionate conservative who really means it. Would a 2 have been able to keep all that weight off? Would a 2 have accepted all those gifts? He might be a 3w2 or a 1w2. I'm going with 3w2.

Mike Gravel seems like a 1. Principle again.

Giuliani? No idea. I searched and got a few hits saying One. Tom Condon said Seven.

Obama. Condon said One. Me, no idea. (Like I said, I have only watched one debate so far and it was Republican.)

McCain: Absolutely no idea.

OK, now you. Any ideas?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

We are not aMUSEd

The Enneagram muse seems to have temporarily left me, so I'll just pass on this link to personality type related humor. Most of it is Myers-Briggs related, but there is some Enneagram stuff at the top and bottom of the page. I especially like the top 10 lists at the bottom, and I can verify that the one for type 5 is 100% accurate.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great Minds Think Similar?

There are quite a few personality tests you can take on the Similar Minds personality tests page. All the ones that I looked at had a similar setup -- you rank a list of statements on a five-point scale from "very inaccurate" to "very accurate", according to how well they describe you. I took the "Short Test" under the "Percentile Tests" category. One of the statements was "I am ambivalent", so I marked the midpoint of the scale, meaning "it's about 50/50." I don't think the testing instrument got the joke, though.
There is also a category devoted to Enneagram tests. Similar minds defines the Enneagram as "a nine factor personality system that is sort of a historical mutt, many different influences. The nine factors are - orderliness, helpfulness, image focus, hypersensitivity, detachment, caution, adventurousness, strength, and calmness. " Needless to say, I find the reduction of each of our nine types to a single "factor" a bit, well, reductive.
One interesting test is the Enneagram "Word Test", which reminded me of the WEPSS.
There are also some Enneagram tests under the "Compatibility Tests" category. The multi user test requires you to coordinate with a friend, so, since Mary Beth is out of town, I put the two of us into the self-reporting test. It correctly pegged us as a 5 and a 6, and said we are 73% similar and 73% complementary, which, as you may remember from geometry class, are not the same thing. No word yet as to our actual compatibility as friends.
When Mary Beth returns, I have a proposal regarding how to create a holistic Enneagram test. I figure there is about a 73% chance she will want to work on it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Principles of Lust

The White Stone Journal has this interesting article on the seven deadly sins. It says, in part:

"An online poll displayed the following results:
Of the seven deadly sins, this ONE is my biggest failing:
Lust 35%
Anger 18%
Pride 12%
Sloth 10%
Envy 10%
Gluttony 9%
Greed 6% "

When I read this, I began to wonder why lust was such a popular choice. I figured that, since lust is associated with sex, people think it's, well, sexy.
In Enneagrammatic terms, the sin of lust is associated with personality type 8. While this sin may play out literally as an addiction to sex, just as a 7's sin of gluttony may play out literally (I have certainly been at restaurants with many a 7 who ordered practically everything on the menu), it is more fruitful to understand both sins more metaphorically.
In Riso and Hudson's Understanding the Enneagram, lust is described thusly:

"Lustful intensity arises in response to the loss of the Virtue of Innocence. When we are relaxed, open, and present, we feel a natural vitality and experience our 'realness' and freedom directly. When we are gripped by the passion of lust, however, we attempt to gain this sense of aliveness and freedom through the intensity of our interactions with the environment and with others. We do not want to have a discussion: we want to have a discussion, or even an argument. Becoming agitated gives us a false feeling of being strong and real. But to the extent that Eights are blocked from relaxation and presence, they will need to be worked up all the time.
Thus, lustful Eights are not interested in lukewarm responses to life and particularly do not want weak responses to themselves... The more insecure Eights become, the greater their need for intensity, excess, struggle, and control. The need to assert themselves can turn into the desire to dominate their environment and the people in it. Ironically, when we have succumbed to the Passion of Lust, we are quite out of control. The objects of our lust, positive or negative, dominate and control us."

So what we have with a fixated type 8 is a character who, like the neighboring type 7 who chases more and more shallow experiences without delving into any of them deeply enough to feel "full", needs stronger and stronger stimuli in order to feel anything at all.
Not very sexy, in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Susan Rhodes on a More Positive Enneagram

What follows is Susan Rhodes' email response to my blog post "The Power of Negative Thinking." My comments on her comments appear in brackets. -- Cindi

"I enjoyed reading your article and agree with you wholeheartedly that negative thinking is extremely powerful. The problem, as I see it, is that it's a little too powerful. Yes, the enneagram is more powerful than the MBTI, which I believe is due to its esoteric origins, particularly its geometry. This is why the enneagram can so powerfully penetrate someone's defenses and create an opportunity to experience a life-changing shift in perspective."

[I am certain that you know more about the origins and geometry of the enneagram than we do and would love to have you elaborate on what you mean. Mary Beth and I both find that, when we try to read up on that stuff, our minds just sort of slide right off the page. ;-) Although... Mary Beth is working on an article on Gurdjieff. - C]

"However, when a tool has this kind of power, a little bit of insight goes a long ways. In other words, it's really easy for people to get overloaded with information, and when that info is mainly negative, it can potentially act like a powerful (and psychically destabilizing) drug. That's the short-term problem with studying the enneagram from a negative perspective.
I see the long-term problem as more serious. It's the problem of negative framing. Negative framing is what happens when we encounter a system that is intrinsically negative in orientation. If the system is powerful, and we if use it a lot in our daily lives, it will tend to make us look at things from a negative perspective. Take the example of "fire and brimstone" preachers--their attention is so oriented toward (avoiding) hell that they never seem to get around to embracing heaven. They might believe in heaven, but how can they make it a living reality, so long as hell is their primary focus?"

[A good metaphor. I agree with that. - C]

"I got the idea of advocating a more positive approach after I met so many experienced enneagram users and teachers who seemed disheartened about their type. Whatever breakthroughs they had made when they initially encountered the system, after years of working with it, many seemed to arrived at a place of rueful resignation. They still appreciated the system, but from my perspective, it no longer seemed to be helping them find greater freedom in their lives."

[Understood. I think some of the differences in our perspectives stem from the differences in the people we discuss the enneagram with. You seem to be surrounded with enneagram teachers and long-term users, but most of the people I speak to about the enneagram are beginners. They haven't become disheartened yet, because they might still be in denial of their type, or embracing their type in an ego-driven "I'm an 8, so of course I'm gonna be like such-and-such" way that doesn't take the type's pitfalls seriously. - C]

"And that's the whole problem with an approach that has a negative orientation: Where do you go after the first big breakthrough? Once you know the shortcomings of type, what do you do next? How do you proceed?"

[I will say that, for myself, reminding myself of the shortcomings of my type (5) has been enormously beneficial. Once I became sufficiently cognizant of the 5's lack of generosity, I was able to remember more and more often to be just a beat more generous -- with my time, my energy, my attention, my help, and my knowledge -- than I would be as a default. This simple move has paid off richly in vastly improved relationships. There's a lot to be said for "catching oneself in the act", and then stopping it. -- C]

"In my articles, I like to cite one of my favorite Sufi quotes: 'First remember your faults, then forget them.' Yes, knowing the shortcomings of the type can be helpful. But dwelling on them is not. ( How well I know this as a Four!) If we start with a value-neutral framework--one in which we can look at both positives and negatives--then we can look at type in many different ways, depending on the need of the moment."

[I can see that, as a 4, you might not need anyone to draw your attention to the negative! The negative aspects of truth are pretty difficult for the positive outlook types -- 2, 7, and 9 -- to see, though.
I agree that there is definitely value in looking at positive aspects of type. Knowing the healthy attributes of your particular type helps you "know which way is up", as Mary Beth would say. And seeing the positive attributes of the other types reminds you that you can borrow a strategy that works when your preferred strategy does not. -- C]

"I'd like to briefly comment on the idea of using positive type info to initially attract peoples' interest (in your words, to 'lure' them) and then hitting them with the stuff that's not so positive: I would not recommend this approach, because it does not respect the free will of those we are trying to attract. I think that each of us has to decide for himself whether he is ready for a big change in life. Why should I want to try to trick another person into changing? This is their responsibility, not mine. It's hard enough for people to change when they are already highly motivated.

[Perhaps "lure" was a poorly chosen word -- but that's how it seemed to happen to me! I first encountered the enneagram through Baron and Wagele's The Enneagram Made Easy, which definitely puts a positive spin on things. Then I proceeded to Helen Palmer's writings. Palmer also draws her anecdotes from mostly high-functioning people. At that point, I found the enneagram fun, accurate, and interesting, but not much of an impetus for change. I saw some of the Riso/Hudson material and Margaret Keyes' book Emotions and the Enneagram, but those works struck me as real downers. It wasn't until I reached a really low point in my life that I started to look at the enneagram from a "Gee, maybe I'm doing something wrong here" perspective. I swam with that hook in my mouth for nearly a decade!
That said, I would never advocate purposefully presenting positive only, and then suddenly hitting up a prospective enneagram student with the negative. My experience is that people hear what they need to hear, when they're ready to hear it. On this blog, we present a balance of fun and serious, light and dark. People are free to take what they want and leave the rest.
Thanks for your comments, Susan.
Everyone -- Please visit Susan's website: -- C]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Steven Pinker vs. Whatshisname Update

Some of you may have already noticed that the poll on "Who is more famous: Steven ('Mega famous Author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works') Pinker or Edwin [sic] ('Oh, What Have You Done for Me Lately?") Wilson?" has closed.
"Edwin Wilson"'s actual name is Edward Wilson, by the way. Despite our gaffe, he still won the poll.
Now, I have been researching how to calculate a statistical margin of error, and for this poll, ours is around 38%, and that's a best case scenario that assumes we took a random sampling of the population, which we did not.
Nonetheless, the folks at Ocean Moonshine have officially changed their opinion on the relative fames of Pinker and Wilson and removed the discussion of them referenced here.
I would also like to give a special shout-out to the one other person who voted for Steven Pinker. You really know what's what and who's who.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Still think Steve Martin is a 7?

Slate review of Steve Martin's new autobiography, Born Standing Up. The review's name is A Shy and Brainy Guy.

Handwriting Samples Needed

Would you be willing to submit a handwriting sample in the service of Enneagram research? Claudio Garibaldi is collecting handwriting samples from people who know their Enneagram type. He has plenty of samples from Europeans (he lives in Genoa, Italy), but he only has 150 from Americans and needs more, because handwriting is taught differently here than in Europe. You can email him at, and he will send you the instructions on writing the sample. One catch: you will have to send it to him in Italy. If you know Cindi or me you can give it to us because we are collecting them for one big shipment; also, once we establish a P.O. Box, you can send your sample to us there.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mark Your Calendars!

If you live in middle Tennessee, mark your calendar. Mary Beth and I will be teaching a class on Enneagram autobiography on Wednesday nights, starting January 16th and going through February 20th.
Participants will use journaling, discussion, and guided meditations to explore the ways in which their lives fit (or do not fit) patterns described by the Enneagram of personality. The class is free and open to the public. It will be a highly personalized take on the Enneagram, appropriate for anyone from the Enneagram novice to the Enneagram expert. We will use The Wisdom of the Enneagram as our primary textbook.
The class is being offered as part of the adult religious education program at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, located at 1808 Woodmont Boulevard. Classes start at 7:00 pm and wrap up at 8:30 pm.
We will post more information, including a class syllabus, soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Animal Companions -- Real and Imagined

Shown here are our real-life animal companions. (I have cats like normal people; Mary Beth keeps a pair of green anole lizards.)
However, in the world of The Golden Compass, I'd be going around with a lion and Mary Beth would be accompanied by a whippet.
How do we know? It's because we visited the Golden Compass movie website. It lets you generate a "daemon" in the form of an animal, based on questions you answer about your personality.
The movie opens nationwide this Friday. Mary Beth saw a sneak preview last night, and she says it's good.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Katherine Chernick Fauvre on Type 6

I am pleased to note that Katherine Chernick Fauvre has made her way to our humble blog. (Granted, I pointed it out to her, but still...) Here's what she had to say about the blog, the difficulty of typing 6s, and her Enneacards Tests:

"Thank you, I appreciate your reference. Typing is an intriguing process. I I loved the 6 observation. Friendly, funny and nervous certainly is 6 from the outside...... I'm sure that is why 6s make great comedians. In my experience, the phobic 6 tends to know that they are a 6 earlier that the counter-phobic 6. [From the Enneagram Institute website: "Sixes tend to use two different methods of coping with their anxiety: a phobic response or a counterphobic response. Sixes who are more phobic often deal with their fears through a dependent stance. They are more aware of their anxiety and turn quickly to others, particularly authority figures, for support...Sixes who are more counterphobic are much more likely to question, or even rebel against authorities. They are quicker to confront others and are more prone to suspiciousness than phobic Sixes. They are more determined to be independent and resist turning to others for support. " -- Cindi] The one that has the most difficulty is the social 6."

[If you don't know what a "social 6" is, check out this link on instincts. -- C]

More from Katherine:

"Both 6 and 9 struggle with identifying themselves in testing instruments as doubt is built into the defense strategy. As you know, 6s seek certainty and 9s have the believer/doubter dichotomy. They also both tend to seek balance. In the complete Enneacards Test, only the 6 (and sometimes 9) will choose one card in one selection and another in the second sort. When interviewed they say that they are trying to be fair and it depends on the situation, knowing that they can be either. They do best taking the sampler test 3 times as they relax and feel more comfortable choosing the 6 cards. Since it is free, I recommend it to everyone as it is a process in and of itself.
I have found that the 6 might relate to the responsibility of the type 1, the helpfulness and giving of type 2, the professionalism of type 3, the romantic nature of the type 4, the reserve of the 5, the flexibility and optimism of type 7, the fight for justice of the type 8, and the humbleness of type 9 with the cautiousness and/or rebelliousness type 6. The social 6 is the only type that uses all of these words. The social 6 also has tremendous difficulty confirming their type as they can be any of these qualities... because for them, it truly does depend of the situation.
The 9 tends to identify with aspects of many of the types as well. I find that 3, 6 and 9 all seek this balance as they are the primary types [central types of each emotional triad -- C] and out of touch with the focus of their center i.e., the 3 modulates feeling to keep doing, the 6 doubts what they know and the 9 is passive-aggressive rather than showing their anger. The 3 seeks balance by trying to adapt to people and situations so as to be seen in a positive light. The 3, however, is strongly identified with being successful so they do not struggle as much as the 6 and the 9 in confirming their type.
The Enneagram is a wonderful system and I never tire of learning more about the subtle distinctions within type. The Trifix [according to the Enneagram Explorations site, a person's trifix is his or her "dominant Enneagram type in each of the three centers: head, heart, and gut." -- C] research has yielded incredible data about out we see ourselves. Since the potential Trifix is given in the complete Enneacards Test, I am able to correlate the data with the Enneaspread. It is in the Enneaspread that we can see the 6 even if they do not choose 6 as their final card. In all fairness to the 6s, their defense strategy is to be evasive to stay safe. The 6 Enneaspread will have a 'poker' hand of cards that are consistently inconsistent. The inconsistency is the pattern. For example, their last two cards may be 5 and 7 which are their wings. The Enneaspread and Trifix will have the 6 in it but not necessarily as their first choices. Usually, in the Trifix it is the third choice. The combination of information is very revealing. For example, a 6 that has the 694 Trifix tends to be even more doubting and reserved as a 6 than the 683 which is more assertive and confident. The social 694 is often shy even if extroverted. And, if they are a ENFP they are often quite romantic and 7ish, the INTJ is more 5ish and withdrawn. Add the instincts and it yields a lot of information.
Good luck with your blog,
Katherine Chernick Fauvre"

[If you are interested in more correlations between the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs typology, check out "The Enneagram and the MBTI: an Electronic Journal." There is a wealth of info available there. -- C]