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.

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