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.


Mary Beth said...

Mine is sloth.

I can see why everybody chose lust, though; do you think they read right over "biggest failing" and chose the one that was the most fun? I wonder if that high a percentage really feels that lust is their biggest failing and if so, are they acting on it or just thinking it about it?

rusnash said...

I think everyone has lustful feelings that they can easily recognize as such. Lustful feelings intrude into your normal thought stream in a way that greedy thoughts or envious thoughts don't. So to many people they are more threatening.

Also, because of societal taboos, I think lustful feelings are felt to be more socially disruptive than the other sins. Overeating or sloth may cause a fight within a relationship, but acting on a lustful impulse is generally seen as grounds to end a relationship.

For both of these reasons I think lust gets weighted as a more important problem.

Mary Beth said...

Hey everybody. I am receiving your emails but am not able to send any out from Tallahassee. Earlier in the week I was emailing everybody but have stopped now that I've noticed from the content of your follow-up emails that nobody was getting them! (Off-topic comment.)

Cindi said...

Mary Beth, we wondered. If you haven't already talked to Steve today, he has a question about whether or not you are available to go to some sort of meeting.
Now, back to the topic. I agree that greed and envy are hard to peg. I wasn't very aware of mine before I satarted studying the e-gram. But sloth, that's an easy one. Who are these people who do not, daily, struggle w/ the "here is some stuff I really need to do, but I'd rather just lie around" dilemna. I am stunned that sloth didn't do better in the poll.
My interpretation is also informed here by an aquaintance who immediately typed himself an 8 (I personally don't think he is an 8) on the basis that 8s are lustful, and seemed to be pretty proud of it.

joseph said...

Mine is also SLOTH. Coincidentally, so is my Golden Compass companion animal.

Marjorie said...

That Riso-Hudson lust description makes me feel far more 8-ish than I usually do. The quest for continually raising the stakes of engagement is very familiar. Though, on an average day, I think I fluctuate between greed and pride. I find it ironic that I don't identify with lust, particularly, given my perpetual obsessions. Wiccan orgies or otherwise.

rusnash said...

I agree with you Cindi. There is an attitude, predominantly among men but maybe not exclusively, where they project this "I'm a lusty bad boy" image that I suspect would lead to a tendancy to choose lust as their "biggest failing." It's kind of like the "Why are men so proud of eating meat?" post that MB had up on HAG. To the extent that these attitudes seem to be mainly associated with men, I think they are at least partially an instinctive male attraction strategy. They are trying to project an "I'm always ready" vibe, and since it is largely subconscious it even shows up on polls like these.

Mary Beth said...

To Joseph: Is that a joke about your animal, the Sloth, being a "coincidence?"

I, too, am surprised that Sloth didn't have more of a showing in the poll. Sloth is very compelling. Lust is compelling when it appears but just isn't the ever-present problem and burden that sloth is!

Cindi said...

Wiccan orgies: the OTHER white meat!