I’m on vacation. The best Enneagram-revealing line of the trip came from a style Five: “My body’s job is to get my brain to the job.”
In 1830, the Romantic movement in music was in full swing. Hector Berlioz wrote his Symphony Fantastique and his program notes describe the symphony as a musical expression of his inner feelings – quintessential Romanticism, and so like a style 4. His notes reveal several important things about a Four’s inner workings. I include some of his actual program notes. Then I’ll explain why it is so “fourish.” (He is, at that time, madly, hopelessly in love with an actress he has yet to meet).
The author imagines that a young musician, afflicted with that moral disease that a well known writer calls a “wave of passion,” sees for the first time a woman who embodies all charms of the ideal being he has imagined in his dreams, and he falls desperately in love with her. Through an odd whim, whenever the beloved image appears before the mind’s eye of the artist, it is linked with a musical thought, passionate but at the same time noble and shy, he attributes to his beloved. The image and the model it reflects pursue him incessantly like an idee fixe. That is the reason for the constant appearance, in every movement of the symphony of the melody that begins the first allegro. The passage from the state of melancholy reverie, interrupted by a few fits of groundless joy, to one of frenzied passion, with its moments of fury, of jealousy, its return of tenderness, its tears, its religious consolations–this is the subject of the first movement.
This passage illustrates a number of Four characteristics: the intense emotional inner life, the dramatic mood swings, something we technically call “synesthesia”–the sensory expression in more than one sense of an emotion, seeing an object or idea and hearing a sound or even getting a taste of the object. I think only (or at least mainly) Fours do this.
Berlioz was in despair over his unrequited love (He hadn’t MET her yet!) but like a good Four, he turned his suffering into art, in this case, a glorious symphony.
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” Bertrand Russell
Eights, Nines and Ones, when in a defense mode, have the habit of doing black and white, either/or, toggle switch thinking. This gives them a kind of security — a One told me that “I go right to the heart of things” — but it is the security achieved by having excluded any information that would cloud the issue. Remember– it is better to be vaguely right than clearly wrong.
This is slightly different from the general principle of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The Dunning-Kruger effect is that “incompetent people don’t know they are incompetent,” that explains the certitude of the members of the Tea Party. These can be any Enneagram style. Santorum and Bachmann are Sixes, for example.
What lawyers in trials and geeks mining data know intimately is a habit of thinking they call “confirmation bias.” This just means that you find what you are looking for and the real task is to see everything that is there, not just what you are looking for. We see what, and sometimes only what, we are looking for.
This cuts several ways that relate to the Enneagram. First, we tend to habitually look for — and therefore find — what our style usually looks for. Fives look for data, Twos look for whom to serve and Threes look for what will be appreciated in some currency or other.
And if your friends know the Enneagram then the danger is that they will see your Enneagram style motivation everywhere –because they are looking for it. Twos can’t give flowers to their mother without some friend thinking and perhaps remarking on how Twos “always” give gifts. And Threes can’t do a good job without a friend noting how they want recognition for a job well done.
It requires relaxed discipline to discern when an action fits the circumstance without any subterranean motives explaining it and when an action stems directly from an inner state that is internally generated and has little to do with what you, in your clarity, see as reality.