PREVIOUS: Enneagram Basics (#3)
‘DEFECTS’ / Defenses: In trying to identify our own Type, most people will choose the number that makes us look good & reject the one that indicates our Shadow side. However, the ‘normal’ defense of each number is the most direct indicator of our True Number, so it’s best to start with the list of the 9 Grand Passions. Even though we share a portion of all nine qualities with everyone else, determining our type will depend on the main motivation for our behavior, & the Passion gives us that.
The PASSIONS/VICES are the characteristic defensive styles each Type is born with to cope with life’s stressors. Each VICE/Passion with its accompanying Fixation – the opposite of the 7 Virtues (+ 2) – can also be called character defects, main Emotional Issues, Mental Habits, defensive styles, used here interchangeably.
Our Enneagram Number tells us who we are (Nature),
along with our basic reactive style (Nurture),
shown by how we habitually react (Es) & what we do (As) – especially when stressed. CHART —>
◆ The Passion is the form of self-protection which we automatically gravitate to, based on our fundamental personality – originally a positive way of Being we can call our gift. This gift is a necessary & effective strategy for our survival as children, used to cope specifically with an unhealthy/unsafe upbringing, & in general with the universal difficulties of growing up.
• For most people the Passion gradually becomes a warped version of our Basic Self, exaggerating & twisting the very quality that is supposed to be our cushion & shield.
Instead, prolonged childhood damage turns the gift into a burden. It becomes a chronic internal preoccupation & counter-productive driving force, putting us in a ‘type trance’, with limited & distorted ways of understanding & dealing with reality.
EXP: The Passion of #1 is Perfection, the emotion is Resentment, & the Mental Fixation is Judging.
Enneatype & Fixations
The Enneatype is the tool for human expression free of longing & searching. It can be described as an imaginary membrane between fixation & freedom, the basic energetic pattern of human potential before it becomes perverted.
Fixation is being stuck in a Freudian psycho-sexual stage of development (oral, anal…), as a result of the child feeling ‘not enough’, incomplete, & therefore separate, not connected. This separated self is a physical/mental contraction which tightens up into the Type’s fixation, creating all inauthentic or unnatural behaviors, driven by desperate longing, & a search for the impossible. (Fixation CHART)
The Passion develops in a 3-stage process:
a. IDEAL: Karen Horney, in Neurosis and Human Growth says that “gradually & unconsciously we create an idealized image of ourselves, which entails self-glorification, & gives us the much-needed feeling of significance & superiority over others.” This eventually leads to type-specific character defects.
EXP of Types uncomfortable with the Enneagram:
— 4s, the romantics who don’t want to look at the negative side of others
— 7s, the narcissists who never want to see their own negative side
b. LIFE STANCE: Our preoccupation with this self-image prevents us from allowing anything to seep into our awareness which would contradict or negate it. According to Horney, if we only look at the world thru ‘idealized glasses’, then our primary concern is not about what we truly feel, but whether or not we are safe.
To feel safe – from being discovered as imperfect – and be able to stay inside the idealized bubble, we develop strategic but artificial ways to cope with life that override & bury our genuine emotions, wishes & thoughts.
c. UNDER STRESS: In addition to our ‘regular’ in-authentic mode, when we have to deal with stressful situations, especially in the long-term, our fixation gets darker, turning into the negative Passion/Vice. We act out a twisted version of our self-image, adding to our burden. Over-reacting may be a temporary but characteristic flare-up, or the way we usually deal with people-places-things, even when not directly faced with a problem. Either way it separates us from others instead of drawing us closer together – causing more stress!
NEXT: Ennea “Defects” (Part 2)