Sunday, January 27, 2008

We Now Take a Break from Our Regularly Sceduled Programming to Recap Enneagram Autobiography Class 2

If you have been reading this blog, you have probably noticed that we have more or less abandoned our purported topic, the Enneagram, in favor of a new obsession -- Presidential politics. This is an example of what Mary Beth and I like to call "following the car." (For further explanation, see our first ever blog post.) If this is not your cup of tea, be patient; we will almost certainly turn our attentions back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or some such real soon.
Nonetheless, we have our responsibilities, so here's what happened in session 2 of the Enneagram Autobiography class:

1. Mary Beth and I both had diseases. In her case, it was pink eye. In mine, it was yakky-mouth-itis. As such, I proposed the following division of labor: I would hand out handouts and she would do the talking. Alas, there is no known cure for yakky-mouth-itis.
2. We went around the room sharing selected details from our autobiographies, which I will not post here. If you want to hear the juicy stuff, you have to attend the class. (Next session: Wednesday, January 30th, 7:00pm, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville.)
3. I attempted to answer all Enneagram-related "huh?" and "what?"-type questions with this handout.
4. We talked about why meditation is an important tool for observing one's own ego at work, recommended chapter 4, "Cultivating Awareness," of The Wisdom of the Enneagram, and did a lovingkindness meditation.
5. Mary Beth talked about the emotional issues of types 2 ("I can only give help; I can't accept help") and 3 ("I really am a doctor, but it's still like I'm playing one on tv.")
6. We suggested some journaling topics. Here are a few (all are from The Wisdom of the Enneagram):

"Explore the question, 'How do I know that I am loved?' What counts for love in your life? Whose love are you looking for? What are the signs that this person is giving you love? How do you know, or how would you know that you are loved?"

"What does success mean to you? What did it mean to your parents? What does it mean to your peers? Any connections?"

"Notice your tendency to automatically focus on your differences with people. What does this cost you in terms of your connectedness with others? Does it prevent you from taking up activities that might be beneficial to you?"

Next time:

We'll talk about the emotional issues of types 4, 5, and 6 and learn how to really look at things. To prepare, you might want to look over pages 178 - 259 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Also, please bring your journal to class.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chasing Hillary

Hillary Clinton will be speaking in Nashville tonight. Here are the details, from Tennessee for Hillary:

"Please join Hillary Clinton in Nashville for a Town Hall Event, Saturday, January 26th. The event will be at the Tennessee State University, Kean Hall Gymnasium (3500 John A. Merritt Blvd). Doors will open at 8:00pm. Click here to RSVP for the Nashville Town Hall with Hillary!The Tennessee Primary is only days away on February 5th. Join us for this exciting event and watch the momentum grow that will win Tennessee for Hillary.
Hillary Clinton Town Hall in Nashville
Tennessee State University, Kean Hall Gymnasium3500 John A. Merritt BlvdSaturday, January 26th Doors open at 8:00pm
With questions about the town hall or to RSVP, please email or call our Nashville Headquarters at 615-254-2200."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

That's What HE Said

Yesterday, I speculated that when Bill Clinton spoke at Nashville's Fisk University, he would likely talk about civil rights or race relations, as well as why his wife should be the next President.

Clinton very briefly acknowledged MLK day and that Fisk had played host to Martin Luther King back in the day, and then segued into stumping for Hillary. He said she should be the next President because she has the right vision and the right plan, and he made a pretty convincing case for it.

Promises made by Bill, on behalf of Hillary, for the citizens: truly affordable health care for everyone, job creation in the area of developing sustainable energy, taking global warming seriously, getting off of foreign oil, cheap electric cars, home mortgage interest rates staying the same for 5 years, a 90 day freeze on foreclosures, restoration of the Pell grant to its maximum level, withdrawal of troops from Iraq as soon as it's safe and possible.

Also, apparently, they like Hillary overseas and she has successfully worked with Republicans to pass bills in the Senate. She has been a real force for positive change in people's lives.

So basically, that's what he said.

The 3-ish thing he did was slip up a little and talk a lot about what "me" and "we" was gonna do, rather than what she was gonna do. It was in the air, though. One person in the crowd asked a question that started with, "If we elect you... um, Hillary..."

He also, apparently, did this 9-ish thing before arriving in Nashville. And yes, if you were wondering, he did seem well rested.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Politics Round-Up

We did not start this blog to talk about politics nor are either of us political junkies, but I am finding this year's race much more interesting than usual. Also, the two most common search hits this blog gets are What is Obama's Enneagram (or MBTI) type? and What types are compatible?

Here is a collection of articles and observations relating politics and the enneagram that I've collected over the past week.

Here is David Brooks on How Voters Think, which is about the tail wagging the dog (in this case, that we make emotional judgments then come up with rational reasons afterwards.) The article speaks to why personality is one of the big things we are looking for when we consider the candidates.

IF you live in or near Nashville, and IF you want to see Bill Clinton, he's speaking tomorrow night (Monday, Jan. 21) at Fisk University at 6:15. Call this number: (615) 254-2200. I'd call it now because I imagine it will fill up. You have to RSVP with your name. There's a web link to sign up, also, although when I tried it wasn't working yet. Here it is:

On the subject of Hillary Clinton, I saw a clip of her appearance on the Tyra Banks Show that highlighted her 1-ishness. Tyra (I'd say 3w2), on the subject of Hillary's role in the Lewinsky situation, asked "Were you embarassed? I would be embarassed." And Hillary said "Well, sure, all of that, but also, I was, I was praying so hard, and thinking so hard, about what was right to do." (This is one-ish because she's saying her primary reaction to the situation was a consideration of what was right.) Tyra asked her whether women who find their husbands are cheating ask H. Clinton for advice, and Hillary said, yes, all the time, and she tells them they have to do what is right for them. Which is a very healthy answer for a 1 (shows the focus on rightness without even a hint of black and white thinking or rigidity.)

In our very first blog post, Cindi predicted we'd rehash the Lewinsky scandal; it's only taken two months for the prediction to come true (ok, it's not a rehash per se.)

Which brings us to Bill Clinton. As you may know, while Riso and Hudson type him as a 3, others (Tom Condon, the Fauvres) consider him a 9. This article about his anger issues suggests 3. (The article discusses a Vesuvius of anger, and although the 9s anger is like lava underneath because it's so repressed and denied AND dissociated from, I haven't seen the 9s letting their anger out like a volcano, and I certainly have never known of a 9 who drove someone else to have to take antidepressants, which this article says happened with George Stephanopoulos as a reaction to Bill Clinton's anger.)

Mitt Romney's anger was also mentioned this week -- there is a clip of him expressing some anger towards a reporter who challenged Romney's rather legalistic (but correct) definition of whether any lobbyists "ran his campaign." There's been a lot of talking and writing about Romney's seeming fake -- he's not where most of the rest of us are on this continuum. Here's one from a guy who knows Romney personally and doesn't consider him fake; here's one speculating on what ABOUT Romney seems fake -- he suggests it might be, of all things, his hair. Nancy Giles wins the "not mincing words award" for just coming out with it and saying Romney seems like a sociopath. After calling Huckabee "freaky" (for trying to combine the Constitution and the Ten Commandments into the "Constimandments") and McCain "long in the tooth" and "frail," she is asked "Nancy, you admit that Mitt Romney looks pretty good right?" She responds "He does but I worry about him in deep ways; I almost think he's a sociopath; he flips with the wind. The only thing steady about Mitt Romney to me has been his faith; he believes in his faith but he's switched up on all his positions and staring people right in the face... I don't trust him farther than I can throw him." (I think she meant psychopath, at least in the way I usually think of it -- I think of psychopath as the very unhealthy 3, the American Psycho or Tom Ripley or Ted Bundy type, a really good faker, and the sociopath as more of the unhealthy 8, the antisocial type. These categories are confusing, not least because I don't think either of them is in the DSM-IV. Here is a discussion of the difference; good luck. I believe this is what qualifies as a "clear" discussion of the difference. That said, I don't think he's a psychopath, of course, and neither, really does Nancy Giles, I don't think. But I see what she means and I think most people do. Part of his problem is I think he's running on a message that he doesn't entirely believe. I don't think a person can be a popular governor of Massachusetts AND truly be conservative enough to win the Republican nomination. Or, maybe this year he could have, but too late, because he's already set his course.)

Still on politics but not about the candidates: Chris Matthews of Hardball. I've always loved him. He's a good example of a 6: the questioner or the devil's advocate. He loves asking questions and getting to the truth; and specifically, loves poking through any BS.

Also, and this is completely off-topic, but Ron Paul came in second in Nevada: completely unexpected, and yet it's getting no media attention that I can see.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Of Shapes and Intuition: Class 1 Recap

Having braved the sleet and, in some cases, potluck dining, a stalwart group of learners made it to session 1 of our Enneagram Autobiography class. We met in the broom closet (er, Emerson room) of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville.
Once we settled into the space, introductions ensued. I told my story and suggested that Mary Beth go last. We had a few participants who were too new to the Enneagram to know their types (including one who said she knew only that the Enneagram was about "shapes and intuition", which I wrote down, because I thought it was both apt and interesting), an 8, and a goodly number of 4s. I tried to skip Mary Beth, but she talked anyway.
Then, Mary Beth gave out this handout, which is about how to go about determining your type.
Wasting no time, I drew some shapes on the flip chart. The shapes were: a circle, a triangle, and a hexad, or figure made up of six lines. Together, they make up the Enneagram.
Mary Beth explained each of the nine personality types in turn. Celebrities that were mentioned included:

Type 1 -- Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart, Al Gore
Type 2 -- Mother Teresa, Kathy Bates' character in Misery
Type 3 -- Tom Cruise, Mitt Romney
Type 4 -- James Dean, Judy Garland, Moana from The Bachelor: Paris (Check out this article where she talks about starting a charity for struggling artists and creating her own line of jewelry!)
Type 5 -- Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Stephen King, me
Type 6 -- Woody Allen, Mel Gibson, Meg Ryan, Mary Beth
Type 7 -- Robin Williams, Jim Carrey
Type 8 -- Danny Devito, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Type 9 -- Did we mention any type 9 celebrities? Oh well, part of being a type 9 is being overlooked.

If you need a memory-refresher, you can find brief descriptions of the types on pages 10 - 12 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Next, we moved on to the real focus of the class, which is exploring our own lives. To start, we passed out sheets of paper and suggested that everyone write a "bare bones" biography of themselves, just covering the major events, concerns, and relationships of each decade of their lives -- one page per decade. Full instructions for this exercise are on pages 5 and 6 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Guiding questions for this exercise were:

--Where did I live during this decade?
-- What were my most important relationships?
-- What were the major events of this time period?
-- What was I doing in terms of career, job, or school?
-- What happened within my family?
-- What goals did I have?
-- What were my conflicts, worries, and concerns?
-- How did I typically spend my time and energy?

Then, we adjourned a bit early due to increasing snowfall.

Next week:

-- We'll check in and talk briefly about our bios and any self-typing revelations.
-- Since we didn't talk much about intuition (only shapes), I plan to bring in some Helen Palmer material. She writes about the Enneagram and intuition.
-- There will be a handout further explaining the triads and direction of integration and disintegration.
-- We will focus in on the heart triad and type 4 especially, and fill out our bios with issues of shame and self-image.
-- Rumor has it, we will be moving to the larger meditation (er, Thoreau) room.
-- There will be food from Chinatown restaurant in the social area stating at 6:00. Cost is $7 per person.

What you should be doing now:

-- Finishing up your "bare bones" bio
-- Looking at pages 125 - 205 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram. These pages cover the "heart triad" types, and will let you know what you're in for next session.
-- Making comments on this blog post.

What you should bring to the next session:

-- Your notebook with your bio.
-- Your copy of The Wisdom of the Enneagram, if you have one.
-- Your enthusiasm for learning.
-- An interested friend.

If you are following along from a remote location:

-- Feel free to keep up with the class by doing the exercises, reading the book, and posting your comments and questions.

If you are following along from a semi-remote location in middle Tennessee:

-- Please feel free to join us for the next session. We would love to have you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Your Greatest Weakness?

I'm happy to report that last night's debate went to suit me. Both Clinton and Obama seemed like great choices (and Edwards seemed pretty sharp some of the time, too.) They all stood together, were very collegial, and denied that there was any conflict between them about race. Read about it here and here.

I did see some evidence of enneagram type. For one thing, Obama may or may not be a 9, but he's clearly running on a 9 platform: bringing people together. Here's a quote:

"And what we really should be focusing on is, you know, who's got a vision for how we're going to move the country forward? And I believe that right now, the only way we're going to move the country forward is if we can bring the country together, not just Democrats but independents, Republicans who have also lost trust in government, and we are able to push aside the special interests and the lobbyists, and we are truthful to the American people and enlisting them in changing how our health care system works, how our economy works, what our tax code looks like. "

The most revealing point in the debate, Enneagram-wise, was when the three candidates were asked about their greatest strengths and weakness. Obama's strength sounds like a 9's strength, and echoes the quote above. He said: "My greatest strength, I think, is the ability to bring people together from different perspectives, to get them to recognize what they have in common and to move people in a different direction." This sounds like the peacemaker. In response to this, Clinton suggested that as a management model, setting a vision and bringing people together reminded her of George W. Bush's model, and she suggested she would be a more hands-on manager. Obama did my favorite thing, which is to not get defensive but to calmly say that that's not the issue: in this case, that George W.'s problem wasn't managerial efficiency, it was an inability to listen to differing perspectives:

"But I think that there -- there's something, if we're going to evaluate George Bush and his failures as president, that I think are much more important. He was very efficient. He was on time all the time and, you know, had -- (laughter) -- you know, I -- I'm sure he never lost a paper. I'm sure he knows where it is. (Laughter.) What -- what -- what he -- what he could not do -- what he could not do is to listen to perspectives that didn't agree with his ideological predispositions. What he could not do is to bring in different people with different perspectives and get them to work together."

So Clinton and Obama look at George W.'s management style, the 1 sees lack of a 1 strength, holding people accountable, and Obama, possible 9, sees lack of a 9 strength: the ability to listen to various perspectives.

What's even more revealing of enneagram type than people's strengths? Their weaknesses. Let's start with John Edwards. Edwards relied on the old interview stand-by, using what is actually a strength as your answer for greatest weakness. C'mon, Senator Edwards, even Michael Scott knows this trick.

"I think weakness -- I sometimes have a very powerful emotional response to pain that I see around me. When I see a man like Donnie Ingram, who I met a few months ago in South Carolina, who worked with for 33 years in the mill, reminded me very much of the kind of people that I grew up with, who's about to lose his job, has no idea where he's going to go, what he's going to do -- I mean, his dignity and self-respect is at issue, and I feel that in a really personal way and in a very emotional way. And I think sometimes that can undermine what you need to do."

So his greatest weakness is he's compassionate? Maybe if he'd said "I'm a weepy pansy-boy" I could have bought it as a weakness, or if he'd explained how empathy for others had gotten in the way of getting things done, but as presented, I can't see how this is a weakness.

Hillary, to her credit, gave a weakness that was really a weakness, and a 1-ish weakness at that: impatience and frustration. Here is the quote:

"I get impatient. I get, you know, really frustrated when people don't seem to understand that we can do so much more to help each other, and sometimes I come across that way. I admit that. I get very concerned about, you know, pushing further and faster than perhaps people are ready to go."

Hillary is a 1w2, and you can hear the 2-ish theme here as well. Impatience and frustration with other people not trying hard enough (very 1-ish), and not going far enough to help people (2.) Her strength was 2ish as well: she talked about her desire to help Americans, especially children, and her track record of doing so.

Now for Obama's weakness: He can't keep up with paperwork:

"And as I indicated before, my greatest weakness, I think, is when it comes to -- I'll give you a very good example. I ask my staff never to hand me paper until two seconds before I need it, because I will lose it. (Laughter.) You know. The -- you know. And my desk in my office doesn't look good. I've got to have somebody around me who is keeping track of that stuff. And that's not trivial. I need to have good people in place who can make sure that systems run. That's what I've always done. And that's why we've run not only a good campaign but a good U.S. Senate office. "

Now this quote doesn't prove he's a 9; it might indicate he's a Myers-Briggs N and maybe a P or at least not a strong J. But I find it to be something a 9 is more likely to say than a competence type (1, 3, or 5), for instance. I don't see a 3 as likely to be comfortable saying he can't keep track of a sheet of paper or keep his desk organized or that he needs a handler.

Obama reminds me of Bill Clinton. Some people consider B. Clinton a 3 (Riso and Hudson), others a 9 (Condon, Fauvre.) Clinton definitely has some markers of a 3 (called Slick Willie, the womanizing problem), but Obama lacks these. So until I see some evidence otherwise, my going theory is that Obama is a 9 who happens to have a very nice smile.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hillary Clinton not guilty of racism; Guilty only of being a 1

The most recent poltical tempest-in-a-teapot involves Hillary Clinton's statement that "Dr King’s dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.” Having seen Hillary Clinton this Sunday on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, I think she means to stress that it is hard work and wonkishness that actually get things done in government (rather than that MLK didn't do much, which she clearly doesn't really believe -- or, at least, seemed very convincing as she talked about how she didn't believe it.) Sen. Clinton's tactic on Meet the Press was to emphasize that she has more years of experience than Obama and to stress how hard she has worked in the Senate. This is a typical E1 line of reasoning. Russert kept trying to get her to say something negative about Obama (or even better, something racist) but she would not. Russert asked a question about Sen. Clinton having said she was a workhorse as opposed to a showhorse; he asked whether she was implying that Obama was a showhorse. She said no (I couldn't tell whether the truth was no or yes, but I didn't get the feeling she considered him a real workhorse like herself.) She said that within the culture of the Congress, Senators are considered either workhorses or showhorses, depending on whether they spend their time writing legislation, attending committee meetings, etc. or whether they spend their time going on talk shows. She said people expected her to be a showhorse (because she was famous and former First Lady), but she came to the Senate ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work (and she implied that everyone was pleasantly surprised.)

So this is how most 1's do, stress how hard they work. Hillary doesn't go on and on about how she works hard and others don't and either it's not fair or the others are morally wrong (which is how some 1's do), but it seems that she's chosen to position herself as a harder worker than Obama (sort of a Substance vs. Style comparison. And, of course, IF he's a 3, this makes perfect sense.) Another thing 1's often do is discuss principle; I didn't see Sen. Clinton do that, but I suspect that's because her principles and Sen. Obama's are really similar; if she wins the nomination, I would expect to hear about principle in the general election campaign. Tonight there will be the first debate between just Clinton, Obama and Edwards; it will also be the first Democratic debate I watch this election season and of course I will be on the lookout for any signs of Obama's Enneagram type.

To veer away from the Enneagram a bit and focus more on just politics, I am dismayed at the way race has entered the discussion in the past week. Questions on the table are: why did Clinton imply that MLK didn't do much but Lyndon Johnson did? Did Bill Clinton imply that Obama's White House hopes are a fairy tale? Was Bob Johnson wrong to refer to Obama's admitted youthful drug use?

I was lucky enough to be sent the YouTube video of Bill Clinton's supposed "rant" against Obama before I heard that it was supposedly "racially insensitive." I say lucky because I was able to see it fresh. My thoughts were that it wasn't a rant; that it was a collection of organized, thorough, convincing points spoken in an angry tone! It didn't seem to me to have anything to do with race. And yet, by the next day, Donna Brazile was saying B. Clinton's remarks were racially offensive. (I do admit that it would have been insulting had Bill Clinton referred to Obama as a "kid," which was one of Brazile's points, but I don't think he DID call Obama a "kid." If he did, please include a link to it, or a quotation, in the comments section below.) Bill Clinton's remarks have nothing to do with race; they are all about Obama running on a platform of having opposed the war since 2002, but in fact, he has not consistently opposed the war throughout those years. Here, judge for yourself: Bill Clinton on YouTube.

Obama has been quoted as saying that H. Clinton's remarks on MLK and LBJ are "unfortunate." (So does Edwards but I don't care about him; I am trying to decide between the other two.) Here's what Obama needs to do. DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM THIS. I mean, distance yourself from people who read racist remarks where none were intended. Even better, come out and say that the remarks don't seem racist. This will go a long way. It will not hurt you with black voters to do so. It will not hurt you with white voters. It will make you look high-minded. It will allow people to feel like maybe we're getting beyond some of this. On the other hand, if Obama buys into this AT ALL, many white people will start to feel threatened. Why? Because people don't like to feel like they can't say something negative about a black person without being accused of saying that negative thing BECAUSE that person is black. I feel like Obama is in a position to possibly win this election if he's able to come off as above this. It is no secret that the Republicans cannot find a really compelling candidate that they can all agree on, while most Democrats like both Clinton and Obama, and would be happy to vote for either. It's also no secret that many Republicans are not very happy with President Bush. I think Obama might be more liked by independents and Republicans than H. Clinton is, and the possibility is there of taking some votes from lots of independents and some Republicans. You know who is even more tired of identity politics than I am? The Republicans. America wants to like Obama. We haven't yet seen any reason NOT to like Obama. And I think many Americans (including some Republicans) feel embarassed by how America has been looking lately (because of President Bush, the common perception that we'll invade any country we feel like, the weakening of the dollar, among other reasons) and are looking for a way to show that America and the Bush administration's policies are not one and the same. I think there's the feeling that voting for an African American as our president would send the message to the rest of the world (many of whom are not white) that we are not so bad (while voting for a female president, while arguably even more progressive a step, might show part of the world that we're the secular devils they knew we were all along.) Unfortunately, having to hear comments unrelated to race called racist for four years is a reason not to vote for Obama, even if he's not the one making the comments. I want a president who is willing to give the other person's comments the benefit of the doubt when they seem generally well-intentioned. It will be interesting to see what Obama says on this issue in tonight's debate.

Back to the Enneagram: There has been some speculation that Obama might be a 9 rather than a 3 (or a 1.) I kind of hope so. History is usually kind to 9 presidents (Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan.) Ford, for example, was chosen because he was popular with members of Congress in both parties, and because it was thought that his presence would be healing (and I think it was.) I think our country could use some healing now.

Also? Tim Russert came off as kind of a jerk.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Video is the Way to go

When Mary Beth and I started teaching the Enneagram, we had the idea of using video clips from movies and interviews with celebrities to illustrate the different types. This wasn't just because we enjoy celebrity gossip, although obviously, we do. It was because we knew that observing how personality traits manifest in celebrities -- people we all know in common -- was a more effective way of conveying a holistic sense of the types than talking about people only a few of us know, or reading a type description from a book. Alas, we got about half way through Dances with Wolves (looking for examples of type 9 behavior) before falling asleep and giving up.
Luckily, some people, namely David and Katherine Fauvre of the Enneagram Explorations site, don't give up that easily. Their newly updated type descriptions include video clips. The descriptions themselves are "the culmination of over two years of effort and contain [the Fauvre's] very latest research into each Enneagram Type." Frankly, it shows; they're good. Let's take a look at an excerpt from the description of a type we hardly ever talk about on the blog, type 8:

"Your greatest strength is your sense of justice and desire to protect the weak, vulnerable, down-trodden and under-represented. Big hearted and generous by nature, you willingly protect others even at your own expense. A person of your word, you stand up for what you believe in and deliver what have you promised. You have the ability to quickly assess a situation, cut to the chase and ‘call a spade a spade’, simplifying what initially appears to be complex and confusing. This ability to instinctively see the truth in any given situation and act decisively makes you a natural born leader.
Your vice is excess and going to extremes. Whatever you like, you want more of and whatever you do, you overdo at full speed. Quick to respond, you can over react and come on too strong. You can be too much, too intense, and unwilling to self-limit. This can lead to escalating conflict due to an over reliance on your own truth and self-defined justice. Under stress you can become myopic, believing your truth as ‘The Truth’. Seeing life as a battlefield or a contest of wills, you can become confrontational and have difficulty backing down or admitting defeat. You have a tendency to push things to the edge and sometimes may run over others in the process."

In many cases, the Fauvres have chosen the same celebrities we would to illustrate the types. For instance, a video of Hillary Clinton illustrates type 1. Mary Beth called that spade a spade here. They also agree with Mary Beth and say Paula Abdul is a 2 (whereas I still think she has a 3-zoned-out-to-9 vibe.) Follow the discussion in the comments section here. In that same post, Mary Beth typed John Stewart as a 6, and he is used as a video exemplar of that type on the Enneagram Explorations site.
Another interesting exemplar is Kurt Cobain as a 4. Mary Beth and I think he is a 5, albeit with a heavy 4 wing. (See this post from Mary Beth's other blog, The Half-Assed Game.) The Fauvres also type gossip favorite Britney Spears as a 7.
See the type descriptions and video clips yourself at Simply click on the number of the type that interests you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Moral Instinct by Steven Pinker

This morning's New York Times features an article by Steven Pinker called The Moral Instinct. It does not relate to the Enneagram per se, but it does touch on individual differences in several places. Pinker:

- asks who is the most admirable, Mother Theresa (2w1), Bill Gates (5w6), or this other, way less famous dude, Norman Borlaug, who's apparently done a lot for humanity.
- mentions the agreeableness and conscientiousness scales on the Big 5 personality test, also known as the OCEAN (for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism),
- explains how and why there may be evolutionary niches for some of us to be high-minded self-sacrificers, some to be grudging reciprocators, and others to be outright cheaters.
- mentions that Hitler probably thought he was acting morally, which I consider enneagram-related -- look at the chart in the back of Personality Types by Riso and Hudson that shows how each type is trying to SOLVE a problem when they're spiraling down the levels. (In this case, type 6.)

I'm also guessing that people interested in the Enneagram are likely to be interested in psychology and morality generally, which is what the article is about.

But before you read it, you will want to go to and take the Moral Foundations questionnaire: Findings will be discussed in the Pinker article, so this is your last chance to take it before you are forever tainted by hearing what it's about. (The site also features many other tests you can take; most, if not all, are ongoing psychology experiments so if you take 'em, you're also helping some researcher.)

Also, you will want to take this test, the Moral Sense Test (also an actual research project. You will be helping out a researcher named Fiery Cushman, if that makes a difference. If you are like me, you are wondering whether Fiery is a man's name or a woman's; a foreign name or just some American whose mom and dad thought Fiery was underused as a first name. He is a man and looks to be a regular American; his brother's name is O'Neill and his sister's name is Holly. Here is a website that he and his wife Julie have started.) Again, findings from this research project (or a very similar one) are discussed in the article so here's your chance to take it fresh (although granted, the Moral Foundations test is sort of a spoiler for part of the Moral Sense test. So, like, half of y'all take this one first, ok?)

Now, here is the article:
The Moral Instinct by Steven Pinker

Some thoughts, randomly presented:

Who can explain the significance of the Adrian Tomine drawing of two women running to catch a cab?

I'm not sure I agree with Pinker about human cloning. In other words, I think this Kass fellow is onto something with his "wisdom of repugnance" as it relates to human cloning. A cursory web search shows that most writers agree that Kass's argument is bogus, and Wikipedia has it listed under fallacies here. (You might also want to check out some of the links; for example, the Uncanny Valley is pretty cool.) And yes, everybody's making really valid points that lots of other things like interracial marriage, homosexual sex, and in vitro fertilization either were once considered repugnant, (or still are, at least to some people, at least the homosexuality.) However, to me human cloning is more similar to murder in the sense that there should just be a line drawn there. For instance, let's say there are some good reasons to kill somebody -- ok, I don't have to think too hard, since I've been reading ethical dilemmas. You are a doctor, and you have five patients needing organs who will die if they don't get organs. And a pharmaceutical rep comes in, who happens to have matching versions of all five organs. And for whatever reason you would never be caught if you were to take them out of the pharmaceutical rep and put them in those five people, saving five people but killing one, and just a pharmaceutical salesman at that. Should you do it? Of course not, and you didn't even have to think hard about it. Should be the same with human cloning; a bright line should be drawn between things up to human cloning and human cloning itself.

As for the trolley problem: I've heard of it before, and I always wondered why most people say that yes, they would push the lever. (Note: here begin those spoilers I was talking about.) Because I said no. For the same reason as not harvesting the organs; you can't kill people even if you think it would help in a utilitarian sense. However, when I actually took Fiery Cushman's test (ok, it's not just his test), I said yes; why? Because what was asked was not whether you'd do it, but whether it is morally permissible, and I think it is: I can certainly see why someone else would do it. Also, in the version where you are actually DRIVING the train, of course I would turn down the track with only one person on it to avoid hitting five. Why is this different? This scenario doesn't posit an inanimate object barrelling down on those five as a fact of nature with me as a by-stander who has the option to not get involved (and not be hauled into court); it is me driving an out-of-control vehicle and I know when I am in that situation I will turn to avoid the worse obstacle to hit; that's just how driving is. Also, there is no question of being a criminal versus not; if there is a question of vehicular homicide it would apply in both cases here.

About a month ago we held a poll about who is more famous, Steven Pinker or E. O. Wilson. The (statistically meaningless) results were: Steven Pinker 2, E.O. Wilson 3, and I've never heard of either of them, 2. Our discussion of this "controversy" here and here. Well, this morning I woke up at 3:35 am, January 13th. This Pinker article came out on January 13th. I'm on Central time, so it had been out for about 4 and a half hours, assuming it comes out right at midnight. In that 4 1/2 hours in the middle of the night, enough people had emailed it around that it had already shot up to number one on the NYT's most emailed articles list. (New articles usually appear on the list after everybody's woken up and had time to look at them.) I think this speaks to Pinker's fame (and the quality of the article, and the appeal of the subject matter.) But don't count E.O. Wilson out! Because a brief web search also turns up this article, Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion, which is where I first encountered these ideas about the 5 strands of morality (harm, fairness, authority, purity, and ingroup loyalty) and the Trolley Problem. In it, the author states:

"Most people who study morality now read and write about emotions, the brain, chimpanzees, and evolution, as well as reasoning. This is exactly what E. O. Wilson predicted in Sociobiology: that the old approaches to morality, including Kohlberg's, would be swept away or merged into a new approach that focused on the emotive centers of the brain as biological adaptations. Wilson even said that these emotive centers give us moral intuitions, which the moral philosophers then justify while pretending that they are intuiting truths that are independent of the contingencies of our evolved minds."


"I think E. O. Wilson deserves more credit than he gets for seeing into the real nature of morality and for predicting the future of moral psychology so uncannily. He's in my pantheon, along with David Hume and Charles Darwin. All three were visionaries who urged us to focus on the moral emotions and their social utility. "

Incidentally, if you like articles like these, check out the blog, which is where I found this article initially.

Finally, one last link, the brain in a vat problem here. Hee.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Obama's Enneagram Type by Brad Spencer

Did you know that when you reach a website through an internet search, the site owner can see what you searched for (and what city the search came from)? Well, it's true, and we have our fingers on the pulse of the two main things people want to know about the Enneagram. Clocking in at a strong number 1, you want to know what type is compatible with yours, or whether a particular type is compatible with yours. Our number 2 most popular, and gaining, only started the day after the Iowa Caucuses: since then, there's been a steady stream of people who reach this site by searching for Barack Obama's personality type. I can see why; I wish I knew myself, as I expressed in this post, and this one. So when Brad Spencer who writes the website Enneagram Book contacted Cindi and me about swapping posts, one of topics we suggested was Obama. That's the topic Brad chose; more about his site after his artcle:


Obama's Enneagram Type

When Cindi and Mary Beth approached me with the idea of writing down my thoughts on Obama's Enneagram type, I thought that the idea of guessing about Obama would be fun. Even though I haven't kept up with the races too much, I have seen a bit of Obama, or at least enough to give me an idea of where he's coming from. Based on the speeches I've seen of Obama, I'm going to have to guess he is a 3w2 or 2w3. Now, of course you want me to back it up, so I'll give it my best shot:

Most people in politics are a Type 3. Having lived with many type 3's and known many 3's very closely, I can assure you that they are the type built for politics. The 3 is always making small talk, putting people together, and consulting their inner stylist. In order to make it to the top of the political totem-pole, you have to be concerned about how others perceive you and work to make people like you. Welcome to the world of the Enneagram Type 3.

So why a wing 2? Well, Obama has always come off to me as somewhat of an underdog. And I don't think that's a mistake. Often times, Obama has been heard saying things like, "This is all about the voters. I don't even want to be here, you've put me here." This is classic 2-speak. It's all about the other person, except that the other person is supposed to be forever indebted to the 2 for taking the role on.

Alright, so I'm aware that all of this sounds like I'm just beating up on the types. That's not my intent; not at all. But my tongue-in-cheek description of the types is because of the way I approach the Enneagram, which I discuss on my website, I think that each of the Enneagram types, which are also known as fixations, are just in the way of us being more open, free, and able to communicate with ourselves and others in a truer way. That's why we study the Enneagram, to break free of the shackles of our fixation.

My point is, although it might sound harsh toward Obama, I really like the guy and think he'd make a good President. Hell, I can't think of a better President than a 3 wing 2. And, I fear the day they put a 7 like me in office.

-Brad, A Columbus Ohio Web Design Firm, Musings on the Enneagram


Go check out Brad's site. Apparently, Brad is writing a book about the Enneagram, and is taking submissions of writings from people as representatives of their types, both for the book and for the website. He also has a list of good links for Enneagram beginners and various original articles, including one on the five most common objections to the Enneagram.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Long-Awaited Syllabus, etc.

If you have been following along, you probably already know that Mary Beth and I are teaching a class starting next Wednesday. The focus of the class will be applying the insights of the Enneagram to one's own life. There will be six sessions, Wednesday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville (located at 1808 Woodmont Blvd.) This is part of the adult religious education program at the church, by anyone is welcome to attend. There is no cost.

Here are some things you might not know:

1. What will be discussing during each class? Here it is:

1/16 -- introductions, an Enneagram overview, how to determine your type, an easy way to start writing about your life
1/23 -- issues of self-image and shame, lovingkindness meditation
1/30 -- open discussion, issues of fear and anxiety, group exercise ("reconnecting with the world")
2/6 -- more talk, issues of resistance and anger, proverbs and their opposites
2/13 -- talking about journaling, putting it all together, the Enneagram and spiritual practice
2/20 -- lingering questions, suggestions and next steps, handwriting analysis
At least, that's the plan for now.

2. How can you be a gold-star student?

Two suggestions:

a. Go ahead and get The Wisdom of the Enneagram , which we will be using throughout the class, and read as much of it as you can stand, particularly from "Part I: The Inward Journey", which we won't have much time to cover.
b. Bring a notebook and a pen to the first class.
These are just suggestions. All you really have to do is show up and we'll take care of you.

3. What's to eat?

Dinner is served in the social area of the church, starting at 6:00. Usually, it is a catered, vegetarian-friendly dinner from a local restaurant. Price is a reasonable $7. For the first session, though, it's potluck night, so there's no fee, but you have to bring a dish to share.

4. I don't live in middle Tennessee. How can I still benefit from this goodness?

Before every class, we will post, right here on this very blog, questions for your consideration and discussion. You are invited to comment and might even get to exchange ideas with actual class members.
After every class, we will post a recap so you can follow the discussion. We'll let you know what exercises we did, what questions we answered, which pages in the book we made reference to, etc.

I hope to see you all on Wednesday! If you still have questions, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Our Inner Conflicts by Karen Horney

Our Inner Conflicts is one of the best psychology books I've ever read (possibly the best.) I am going to summarize it now (and, of course, recommend it), and will have more to say about it and her other books later on.

Karen Horney was a Freudian psychoanalyst: she's actually classified as a neo-Freudian, because her ideas departed significantly from Freud's [for example, he felt the drives were more instinctual and universal (such as the libido), whereas she felt they formed in the person in response to the specifics of the early environment (i.e. the neurotic trends I am about to talk about.)] Most of her significant books were published in the 1940s. Her work is very significant to the enneagram of personality because the Hornevian triads (the compliant, "moving toward people" types, the aggressive, "moving against people" types, and the withdrawn, "moving away from people" types) are based on her classification of these three strategies (although in some cases, the specifics of who falls into these types may be different -- for instance, while reading Our Inner Conflicts, I got the feeling that Horney would classify the 1s, or at least some 1s, as moving against people. (So, incidentally, does the writer of this article.) In case you're not convinced how relevant she is to the enneagram, take a look at a brief list of the neurotic trends:

(This list is taken from a previous Karen Horney book, Self-Analysis.)

1. The neurotic need for affection and approval
2. The neurotic need for a "partner" who will take over one's life
3. The neurotic need to restrict one's life within narrow borders
4. The neurotic need for power
4a. The neurotic need to control self and others through reason and foresight
4b. The neurotic need to believe in the omnipotence of will
5. The neurotic need to exploit others and by hook or crook get the better of them
6. The neurotic need for social recognition or prestige
7. The neurotic need for personal admiration
8. The neurotic ambition for personal achievement
9. The neurotic need for self-sufficiency and independence
10. The neurotic need for perfection and unassailability

Horney theorizes that many people develop a number of these neurotic trends. Some, such as the first three, may fit really well together; however, what if someone has several of these that don't fit together all that well? Then the person will not be able to pursue one thing whole-heartedly, and may try and try yet flounder repeatedly in love and work. (Take as an example a person who has a strong need to depend on a partner AND a strong need for complete freedom.) Horney sees the personality as being composed of these trends as well as elaborate structures created to hold competing trends together in such a way that they make some kind of sense. She says these strategies are taken up by the personality to keep the person from flying to pieces.

The four main strategies are: moving towards/against people, moving away from people, identifying with an idealized image, and externalization. 1. If my strategy is moving towards people, I will express, possibly over-express, anything pro-social, and I will bend over backwards not to do, say, or even feel anything that could be construed as aggressive. My aggressive impulses will have to come out in veiled ways. Similarly, if my strategy is moving against people, I will be horrified at expressing any weakness, crying, etc, even though I may also have a need for affection as well as other hidden trends. 2. Moving away from people. This strategy is different, in that neither the aggressive side nor the compliant side needs to be repressed; instead, the person withdraws from others so that he can maintain his integrity. 3. Identification with an idealized image. The person creates an image, then tries to fit reality to the image, then likes or dislikes himself (deep down) depending upon how well he is able to truly fit the image. 4. Externalization. Other people and forces are making me do these things and therefore, they do not conflict (since I am not responsible for them.) Related to projection.

Now keep in mind that I am not doing the material complete justice. Her writing is elegant, easy to read, and very insightful throughout. (Amazon lets you read a random page; try it.) Additionally, I am summarizing the book from memory (I read it a month ago).

So in the next section of the book, Horney describes some of the effects of having warring neurotic trends. Some of the effects are fears, hopelessness, and the impoverishment of personality. Impoverishment of personality involves inertia, indecisiveness, and fatique.

The vast majority of the book is devoted to descriptions of the personality structures and effects of the structures and trends, and I was left wanting more about how the trends came about and what to do about them. (Enneagram literature's strength is often the descriptions, as well.) As for how the trends arise, I am reading her other books in order to find out. Horney also feels that what is most important is not how they arose but what benefits you are getting from them now. (I believe she developed this from her clinical experience, as she saw people try to avoid facing their current problems by dwelling on the past.) As for how to improve, I think for Horney the answer would have been psychoanalysis (or, in a pinch, self-analysis.) But she does describe the goal, which is (as we've heard many times before) to be flexible (i.e., can behave appropriately to the situation, can choose from many ways of behaving rather than being stuck in one way for all situations however inappropriate), but also, to be whole-hearted. In other words, your neurotic trends (through analysis, or possibly because they weren't that strong or warring to begin with) are not strongly at odds with one another.

If you are very interested in the enneagram, I think you should definitely read this book. I have warring trends so I found it really fascinating for that reason, and I think my enneagram studies have helped me understand the book. I suspect that some people will find this painful to read, while others would be resistant to the ideas or even not able to understand them because they are too threatening. As I said, I will be writing more about her ideas in the future.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Let This be a Lesson to Ya!

Mary Beth and I recently watched Metropolis, a 1927 science fiction film classic. We were both semi-impressed with its relatability to the Enneagram.
The film is, basically, about a labor-management dispute. Its tag line is: "There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator. "
Here, the hands are represented by the workers, who live underground and work 10 hour days doing things like turning the hands of a dial whenever spots on the dial light up -- and light up they do! Hoo boy! Plus, there's the constant threat of death from flood or explosion.
The brain is represented by the folks who live above ground. They thought up the dial machines and such, and now they want to think happy thoughts and let the money roll in... but due to the heart, it's just not that easy. The role of "heart" is played by Freder, a silly-looking guy in short pants who falls in love with the union leader.
The trio of hands, brain, heart reminded us of the three centers in Enneagram lore -- gut (body), head , heart. Check out this article; its section "Theory of the Enneagram: Centers of Intelligence" explains it all pretty well.
As for Metropolis, everything works out fine in the end, but not without a mad scientist losing a hand, a sexy robot doing the hootchie coo, and a rabble rouser getting kissed in the catacombs. Good, clean fun.
Check out this Youtube video entitled "Freder's Vision." Toward the end, you can see statues of the Seven Deadly Sins coming to life. This is the sort of thing that will happen if your centers become imbalanced.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dr. Phil Show, Part 2

This post is a follow-up to yesterday's post on the Dr. Phil Show (entitled The Island of Constant Talkers.) You will want to read it first (here) if you want to understand what I am writing about.

Read it? Ok, here's the continuation. So Dr. Phil sent Jeni out to watch a bank of three television screens each featuring her talking (specifically, a film of her interviewing for the show.) They sat her at conversational distance away from each of the screens so that she could feel what it was like to be in a conversation with her. She immediately said she got it, but Dr. Phil said "I don't think you do" and then left her to continue watching while he talked with the woman who feared birds, the man who feared vegetables and the teenager who was obsessively in love with Joel Madden (of the band Good Charlotte, and also Nicole Ritchie's boyfriend.) Then he brought Jeni back out and asked her how listening to herself had felt. She said it was, in fact, exhausting to listen to her talking, just as her friends (and, I'm sure, others) had always said. Dr. Phil said what he had done was a combination of immersion therapy and social sensitization. He then called one of Jeni's friends and asked her to be ready to answer some follow-up questions when he called to see whether Jeni was improving.

I don't know what immersion therapy or social sensitization are; do you? Let's go to the web.

OK, so immersion therapy turns out to be this (gradually increasing levels of exposure to a feared object; a way of overcoming phobias.) What he did with Jeni seems to be more the opposite; levels of exposure to something she WAS comfortable with with the goal of making her uncomfortable with it (and to have insights about it.)

As for social sensitization, a web search didn't turn up anything that seemed relevant.

I hope Jeni will be able to benefit from her experience. Once I read that if you feel that when you start talking to a group of people the party really gets started, consider for a moment that they may have been perfectly happily talking about something else before you came up to them, and that even though they are laughing with you, they might actually see you as imposing on them and interrupting them. I thought this was a good point -- because I have felt that way, and I hadn't previously considered it from that point of view.

Meanwhile, the other stories were pretty interesting, too. One thing I liked about this particular episode is that these people seemed a bit more functional that the average Dr. Phil guest, and they all wanted to change (in fact, these were their New Years' resolutions.) There was a guy who seemed otherwise really sane but he hates vegetables. As it turns out, his parents are farmers or work at the farmer's market or something, and in his youth he had had to stand near a container of rotting vegetables and take the bad vegetables out there to be disposed of, and when he sees his wife eat a salad, in his mind he sees her eating garbage. Anyway, he managed to eat half a circle of zucchini. This inspired me to want to overcome my phobia of mayonnaise; luckily, however, change is less imperative in my case because mayonnaise is a less significant food group than vegetables. This (and the bird fear lady) reminds me of my sister-in-law who told me she couldn't touch a worm but she could look at a worm... maybe. (She said this in such a focused, thoughtful way that I count it as the funniest thing she's ever said. She eventually touched a worm, too.)

I used to be terribly repulsed by slugs. Well, one time I poured myself some bath water, got into the tub, saw what was on the side of the tub, and screamed! The apartment people had removed some mildewed-looking caulk, and hadn't put new caulk on, and a baby slug had crawled through the gap into the tub! Well, this wasn't the end of the story, because every morning I'd get up to take a shower and look into the tub to see whether a slug had come in. My boyfriend was a really nice person, and I'd wake him up to get the slug out of the tub and go put it out on the grass for me. Eventually it dawned on me that I was at least 1000 times bigger than a baby slug (not to mention faster, smarter, and better-looking) and I was perfectly able to scoop a slug up on a piece of toilet paper myself. Later on, I was even able to touch one, and now I am not scared of them anymore.

I'm going to mention Britney Spears as an experiment to see if I get a lot of search hits, because Dr. Phil and Britney Spears are in the news right now (he visited her when she was hospitalized overnight after refusing to give the boys back to Kevin.)

If you found this discussion of overtalking relevant, you may also be interested in Cindi's list of New Year's resolutions for 7s here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Island of Constant Talkers

Yesterday's Dr. Phil was about New Year's resolutions. Link here.

The first guest was Jeni, whose problem is that she talks constantly. Her mom said Jeni's been doing it since she learned to talk, and that if Jeni had been her first child, she'd only have had one. (!) Jeni says she's lost a job and several promotions over her talkativeness, that she rarely goes on any second dates, and that she is often late for appointments because she stops to talk with strangers in the street. Dr. Phil timed how long it took her to answer questions during the interview and compared it to the average length of time taken; I don't remember the specifics but there was quite a difference.

Dr. Phil had set up a buzzer for the interview and would hit the buzzer ("aaanh") when he felt Jeni had gone on long enough/answered the question/made her point. (He was a little quick on the buzzer in my opinion, actually.) Have you ever wished you could do that to someone? He asked her whether she had any idea why she was this way, and she said she had several theories. He asked her to give the short version of her strongest theory; she said she had ADD. Dr. Phil said he wasn't sure she had ADD, but he was pretty sure she had anxiety. He asked her whether she felt compelled to fill up any empty spaces in the conversation and she said she did. Phil said he thought she didn't perceive how the talking seemed from the outside, so his crew had filmed her talking and he sent her backstage to watch some of the footage, and then come back later after some other guests had appeared.

Jeni is a classic 7 (and she also seemed like maybe an ENFP -- she is clearly an EP, anyway.) I think a big hurdle with learning enneagram typing is trying to get the Gestalt of a type from words on a page; it took me a long time to realize (through induction) how talkative 7s usually are. And I believe that the 7s' talkativeness is understressed in the enneagram literature. To test this, I looked at the 7 description in Margaret Frings Keyes' Emotions and the Enneagram; it includes the sentence "They enjoy talk and entertaining gossip," but that's the only mention. The 1990 version of Understanding the Enneagram by Don Riso says of the average 7: "Begin to be hyperactive, throwing themselves into constant activity, doing and saying whatever comes to mind." and "Uninhibited, 'flighty,' flamboyant, outrageous, outspoken, loud and brash -- constantly talking, wisecracking, joking and 'performing' to stay in high spirits." (Italics mine.) Although it's there, I think it's underplayed in terms of how much it's talked about versus how much it's part of the 7s personality (from my observation.) I suppose I say this because it's a characteristic that is very apparent from the outside of a person. That being said, 7s usually have this trait to some degree, but many aren't nearly as bad as Jeni. Also, I would imagine that compulsive talking would increase as one goes down the levels of health. A couple of movies which showcase the talkative nature of the 7 personality are My Dinner With Andre and Big Fish.

I don't think Jeni is all that unusual in having been passed over for promotions because of this characteristic: overtalking gets really old for other people. In my experience, Jeni's most unusual characteristic is that she is seeking help for it. Cindi and I just had a discussion about this, and she pointed out that with many vices and character flaws you often hear the individual at least nod at wanting to change. Not so with overtalking, to the point that in some cases very direct statements such as "Let's talk about something else" or "I am tired of listening now" do not work, and neither do little employee "counseling" sessions on the job. I believe that Dr. Phil is onto something when he says Jeni is not in touch with how her behavior appears from the outside. As a 6w7 (and ENFP) myself, I can relate to how it feels differently from the inside -- it seems to you like everybody's having fun. Especially in my younger days, I felt very invested in being "interesting," and felt that having a lot to say was a marker for how interesting a person was.

I hope Jeni can get some help from the Dr. Phil show; she seems like a nice, and certainly a friendly, person. Overtalking is, at least on the surface, a well-meaning vice. I haven't watched the end of the show, and I haven't yet found out what happens when Jeni watches the tapes. I'd like to see some good advice given because I truly do think this problem is holding some good people back. I believe the enneagram answer would be learning to calm down rather than to develop self-control per se; I think Dr. Phil might be headed in that direction as well with his statement about Jeni's anxiety and I look forard to seeing what he has to say (and will report tomorrow.)

The title of this post, The Island of Constant Talkers, refers to the reality show Cindi and I are pitching in which we put all these people on an island together. (Go ahead and steal this idea.) Cindi also shared an interesting anecdote from the life of Rod Serling (she read his biography.) Apparently, he was one of these non-stop talkers. His family (when he was a kid) got together and decided not to talk to Rod during the whole car ride. I guess they were trying out various strategies, and thought maybe talking back only encouraged him. The strategy failed, however, and he talked non-stop all the way up and all the way back, and very likely didn't notice that they weren't talking.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Flyer for Enneagram Autobiography Class

We created a flyer for the upcoming Enneagram Autobiography class today. This is more or less what it says:

9 Personality Types

Do you know which one you are?

1: The conscientious, perfectionistic type

2: The giving, other-focused type

3: The high-achieving, societal ideal type

4: The artistic, emotional type

5: The detached, cerebral type

6: The questioning, vigilant type

7: The adventurous, talkative type

8: The forceful, aggressive type

9: The relaxed, peaceful type

If you do, do you know how to use this information for personal growth?

The enneagram is a personality typing system that combines psychology with spiritual growth. Please join our

FREE 6-week Enneagram Autobiography class

which will be held from 7 to 8:30 pm every Wednesday night from January 16 through February 20 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville (1808 Woodmont Blvd.) This class is part of the church’s Adult Religious Education program and is suitable for beginners or advanced students of the enneagram.

Cindi Brown and Mary Beth Ross will lead participants in journaling, discussion, and guided meditation to explore the ways in which their lives fit (or do not fit) the patterns described by the enneagram. Please see for more information about the class and about the enneagram, to contact us, or to see the picture of the cookies we made for last year’s class on Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

GOP Candidates, Buffy Villains, and Enneagram Types

Check out the article "The GOP Primary Field in Buffy Villains" on this blog. It pairs the GOP candidates with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer villains they most resemble, and then explains why. Of course, I immediately wondered if this document could provide valuable clues to the personality types of the candidates (or the villains, if you prefer.)
Previously, in her article "Election 'o8", Mary Beth speculated about the Enneagram types of various political candidates. Mary Beth said she thought Fred Thompson might be a 5, an 8w9, or a 9w8. This article pairs Thompson with The Judge, and they really do sort of look alike. The article's description of the two as "a lethargic mess" who "didn't accomplish much" supports the theory that Thompson's personality has a 9-ish component. (Sloth is the vice associated with type 9.)
Mary Beth said Mitt Romney was a 3. The article pairs Romney with Mayor Richard Wilkins and says "They're both clever and generically slick politicians, programmed to appeal to middle America." If that's not type 3, I don't know what is.
Mary Beth said she didn't know what type Rudy Guliani was, but that various people were typing him as a 1 or a 7. This article pairs him with Angelus (the evil version of Angel), who is typed as a 3w4 on the Enneatrek site.
And last, but not least, I know you're dying for our insights on the personality type of Duncan Hunter. Mary Beth didn't speculate about him, and I don't know anything about him, but he is paired with Adam, who has a 5-ish/8-ish vibe to me. Seriously, when he walks up to a human boy, asks, "How do you work?" and then dissects him to find out, my heart just skips a beat. He is the only Buffy villain I have ever had a crush on.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Enneagram Autobiography Class Update

Starting January 16th, Mary Beth and I will be teaching a free class on the Enneagram on Wednesday nights. Classes will be at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville. There is a blurb about our class on page 7 of the church newsletter. For more info, see our previous post on the class. We will put up a syllabus and more info soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Key Defense Mechanisms for Type 6

Riso and Hudson, at the Enneagram Institute, have come out with a bunch of charts; some are free and some are for sale. Info here. Cindi and I have passed out copies of the first chart (the free one) at our class and our discussion group, and some people have commented that they have found the chart extremely helpful as a reference. Last night I noticed that the chart lists three key defense mechanisms for each type, and that I didn't know quite what they all meant. As we talked about yesterday, a suggestion for 6s is to figure out what cause you to project; so I thought this was a good time to research these defense mechanisms (I haven't eaten any candy today, and I have organized the pantry, too, by the way.)

The three for the 6 are identification, displacement, projection.

I have found a good website explaining them here.

Here is identification:
Similar to introjection, but of less intensity and completeness. The unconscious modeling of one's self upon another person. One may also identify with values and attitudes of a group. Examples: (1) without being aware that he is copying his teacher, a resident physician assumes a similar mode of dress and manner with patients. (2) a school girl wants her mother to buy her the same kind of shoes her classmates are wearing; she angrily rejects the idea that she is trying to be like the other girls and insists that the shoes are truly the best available and are the style she has always wanted. Conscious analogs of identification are intentional imitation of others and volitional efforts to conform to a group.

Here's displacement:
A change in the object by which an instinctual drive is to be satisfied; shifting the emotional component from one object or idea to another. Examples: (1) a woman is abandoned by her fiance’; she quickly finds another man about whom she develops the same feelings; (2) a salesman is angered by his superior but suppresses his anger; later, on return to his home, he punishes one of his children for misbehavior that would usually be tolerated or ignored.
Displacements are often quite satisfactory and workable mechanisms; if one cannot have steak, it is comforting to like hamburger equally well. As the March Hare observed, "I like what I have is the same as I have what I like." However, the example of displaced anger illustrates a situation which, if often repeated, could cause serious complications in the person’s life. Conscious acceptance of a substitute with full recognition that it is a substitute for something one wants is an analog of displacement

And here is projection:

Attributing one's thoughts or impulses to another person. In common use, this is limited to unacceptable or undesirable impulses. Examples: (1) a man, unable to accept that he has competitive or hostile feelings about an acquaintance, says, “He doesn’t like me.” (2) a woman, denying to herself that she has sexual feelings about a co-worker, accuses him, without basis, of flirt and described him as a “wolf.”
This defense mechanism is commonly over utilized by the paranoid.
A broader definition of projection includes certain operations that allow for empathy and understanding of others. Recognition that another person is lonely or sad may be based not upon having seen other examples of loneliness or sadness and learning the outward manifestations but upon having experienced the feelings and recognizing automatically that another person’s situation would evoke them. [projective identification]

OK. I can see, now, why identification for the 6 (taking on the attributes of a group) based on theories about 6s, although personally, that's not my thing. Identification is listed for the 2s, also.

Displacement? Well, I have noticed a pattern of 6s yelling at computers. Types 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 also have displacement listed.

Projection. This is considered a big one for the 6s: Hitler, for instance, is considered a 6. It's also listed under 3 and 5. I might be surprised by the association of projection with 3 had I not been the victim of this behavior from more than one 3. As for me, I recall a particular time where I engaged in project (I am not going to go into it on here though.) And I do think I've had a tendency to focus on the idea of people not liking me, when what I really meant was that I didn't like them.

While perusing the list, though, I found some other mechanisms that seem to fit the 6.

The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by turning to others for help or support. This involves sharing problems with others but does not imply trying to make someone else responsible for them.

Not very sinister; doesn't sound unconscious, but that's what I do when I have a problem.

Aim inhibition:
Placing a limitation upon instinctual demands; accepting partial or modified fulfillment of desires. Examples: (1) a person is conscious of sexual desire but if finding it frustrating, "decides" that all that is really wanted in the relationship is companionship. (2) a student who originally wanted to be a physician decides to become a physician's assistant.
Aim inhibition, like the other mechanisms, is neither healthful nor pathological, desirable nor undesirable, in itself. It may be better to have half a loaf than no bread, but an unnecessary aim inhibition may rob one of otherwise attainable satisfactions.

The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by experiencing emotional reactions in advance of, or anticipating consequences of, possible future events and considering realistic, alternative responses or solutions.

This one seem extremely 6-ish. The paragraph above makes it sound healthy; I don't think enneagram theory usually views this as healthy but as a problem for us.

Help-Rejecting Complaining:
The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by complaining or making repetitious requests for help that disguise covert feelings or hostility or reproach toward others, which are then expressed by rejecting the suggestions, advice, or help that others offer. The complaints or requests may involve physical or psychological symptoms or life problems.

This one's my favorite. (By which I mean, the one I love to hate.) I don't think I do too much of it myself, but I've observed other 6s doing this a lot.

The individual deals with emotional conflict or external stressors by emphasizing the amusing or ironic aspects of the conflict or stressors.

Humor's a healthy one that some 6s (ex. Steven Colbert) use to good effect.

The assimilation of the object into one's own ego and/or superego. This is one of the earliest mechanisms utilized. The parent becomes almost literally a part of the child. Parental values, preferences, and attitudes are acquired.

I suspect this one might be common for 6s (or maybe if it's one of the earliest mechanisms utilized it's common for everyone.) I feel this way at work sometime, like I am speaking for my boss' values. I think of the 6 who is just following orders. I also think that some people, including myself, have dated someone because we wanted to incorporate the other's values.

The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by the excessive use of abstract thinking or the making of generalizations to control or minimize disturbing feelings.

Passive Aggression:
The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by indirectly and unassertively expressing aggression toward others. There is a facade of overt compliance masking covert resistance, resentment, or hostility. Passive aggression often occurs in response to demands for independent action or performance or the lack of gratification of dependent wishes but may be adaptive for individuals in subordinate positions who have no other way to express assertiveness more avertly. (sic)

I've done this a lot, and seen it in other 6s, too.

Reaction Formation:
Going to the opposite extreme; overcompensation for unacceptable impulses.Examples: (1) a man violently dislikes an employee; without being aware of doing so, he "bends overbackwards" to not criticize the employee and gives him special privileges and advances. (2) a person with strong antisocial impulses leads a crusade against vice. (3) a married woman who is disturbed by feeling attracted to one of her husband's friends treats him rudely.
Intentional efforts to compensate for conscious dislikes and prejudices are sometimes analogous to this mechanism.

This is associated mainly with the 1, and the Riso/Hudson chart also ascribes it to the 2, but I as a 6 have done what the last sentence says, bending over backwards and promoting an employee dispite conscious dislike, in the interest of fairness.