Friday, March 6, 2009

enneagram and politics

Christmas 2007 Eric gave me a book about the enneagram (for a description of the enneagram go to Christmas 2007 was also when I went on bedrest with Oona because I was having five minute contractions. They weren't strong but at 22 weeks pregnant, I wasn't taking any chances. I read everything I could about the enneagram, eventually getting four more books to read. And I couldn't for the life of me decide what number I was. I narrowed it down to 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, or 9 which isn't saying much since I only eliminated three of the nine numbers. I especially didn't want to be a 9. Eric, on reading the descriptions thought 9's were the most annoying kind of people and I agreed. I couldn't see any good in being a 9. Have you guessed it? Yep, I'm a 9. I've read it's pretty typical not to like a lot about your own number, though I've come to accept that 9's have some redeeming traits. I really wanted to be a 4. They seem so deep and in touch with their emotions and their creativity. So I'm a 9 and a 4-wanna-be. And how is it being married to someone who finds your personality type annoying? Let's just say the enneagram shed some light on some of our recurring conflicts.

I finally knew I was a 9 when I read in Helen Palmer's book "The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life" that 9's will read everything they can about a subject and try to integrate and smooth out any conflicting points of view within that subject. Wasn't that exactly what I was doing with reading so many books about the enneagram?

I met with Fr. Egan, a Jesuit priest at Gonzaga who studied with Naranjo when the enneagram was first introduced in the United States. He also helped me see that I was a 9 and not a 4. And he talked about how he feels the nine different personality types relate to God in different ways - fascinating to contemplate. I also feel that political views - being truly in the sphere of ego - are also different for each type. I'm not going to address all types but have been thinking about my own political views (or non-views) and how that fits with being a 9.

A 9 will do one of the following politically.
  • Nothing.
  • Believe what their parents (or somebody else important to them in their environment) believed and that's that - no real thought, contemplation and also no arguing with them. Their mind is already made up. They will be loyal to their chosen party and they will know all the little arguments to say. These arguments give them comfort because they show that they've made the right decision on what party to be loyal to. They can be activists but usually only if others around them are activists. 9's won't usually take the initiative themselves. (this used to be me, though I never was an activist.)
  • Hate the conflict in politics (this is me now) because there is no way to make the different points of view work together. Part of the point in politics seems to take a very strong position (stronger than you actually feel) because you don't want to be pushed from it from the evil other side. So 9's decide neither to agree or disagree with either side and you keep your head in the sand and hope for the best outcome.
My 14 year old is a 3 (I think) and is interested in politics. I especially hate political arguments with him. Part of the trouble is I grew up in a left-leaning family and now find myself in a right-leaning family and I want to agree with both of them because I love both of them but both think the other are unthinking idiots so it is impossible to agree with both so my political views are stuck in limbo-land. A more 9-ish statement never there was! Ultimately, though, I don't think politics are the most important and interesting thing in the world so part of not deciding what I think about them is doing my very best to ignore them. This will, of course, shock anybody who's life is centered around politics and they will say I'm being an irresponsible citizen. Oh well.


  1. I was a firm 4 a few years ago, but feel like more of a 2 now. Or maybe I was always a 2 that just wanted to be a 4. Heh.

  2. What the H happened with my username up there?

  3. well, welcome to wanna-be 4 land, if that's what you are. lol. i didn't know you knew about the enneagram. isn't it fascinating?

  4. Sounds neat but I have no idea what i am , oh a virgo.. :) lol and a water dog... but no numbers, not yet :)Is 8 a nice number to be? I like the number 8 it has always been lucky for me :)

  5. Well said! As a 9 myself, I see these exact patterns in my own life. I had trouble figuring out which type I was (with very similar scores on types 4, 5, 6, and 9).

    I, too, like to read everything I can about a subject so I can parse, digest, understand, and re-state it.

    And I absolutely detest politics because of the ubiquitous conflict that seems built into the core of the system. For that reason I resolutely choose options 1 and 3 in regards to politics: I avoid conflict by ignoring it and I do nothing.

    Of course, that's the problem with 9's, isn't it? This very conflict avoidance by sticking one's head in the sand can eventually let the specific circumstances of the 9's life build up into something that truly is a problem which must be dealt with.

    But I don't want to think about that right now ;)