Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Exploring Personality: Part Six -- "I'm special!"

"You are all individuals!"
"I'm not."
--If you don't know, you don't deserve to know

Preface: Enneagram types 2, 3, and 4 make up the emotional triad of the enneagram chart. These three types both act on and react to the world based on how they feel. Decisions are emotion-based and relationships are of primary importance. These three types also tend to be preoccupied with success and status or success as in how it relates to status. These are the romantic, love-is-all-you-need people.

The Individualist

The temptation when dealing with type Four is to think of that weird kid in high school who was striving to completely different from everyone else. Maybe it was the goth girl artist chick who glared at everyone and went on about how she was just "misunderstood" or, maybe, it was the kind of creepy guy who was always taking pictures of everyone for the school newspaper or the yearbook. In the workplace, it could be that guy who refuses to follow procedures and must do everything his own way because that's just who he is. That would be a limited way of viewing the Individualist, because it could also be your friend who is always going on about how one day her one, true love, the one who sees her for who she really is, will come and everything will be right in the world. You know, this person:

See, Fours are also known as the Romantics, but it's not because they're "romantic;" it's because they have this idealized view of a possible world. Sometimes, that idealized view of a possible world requires an idealized, perfect love, the person who will see through them to their real selfs and make the world right so that they are no longer tortured outsiders.

To say that Fours are complicated or that they make things complicated may well be an understatement. Fours both isolate themselves in their individuality and want to be rescued from it. They cling to their emotions, often especially the negative ones, while feeling like they  have something missing in them so become searchers. They sense that emotions are fluid and want to move along with them but have often locked themselves into one particular identity that they can't let go of. They can be aloof while lamenting that their different-ness keeps them separated from people. Because "people" will never be able to understand them.

Fours are the epitome of the tortured artist. And, just as an example (though this is something I will not normally do but am making an exception due to the writing nature of all of this), here are some notable Fours:
Edgar Allan Poe
Virginia Woolf
Tennessee Williams
J. D. Salinger
Anne Rice
Hank Williams
Judy Garland
Bob Dylan
Paul Simon
Angelina Jolie
Johnny Depp

Fours frequently focus on what they see in themselves as deficiencies or, basically, the things that separate them from others. This starts at a young age and they will hold onto these things and keep them secret, building up a "secret self" that no one else can understand or accept. What they want and long for, though, is for someone to come along who will accept and even appreciate this hidden self. As time passes and this fails to happen, the Four becomes  fiercely independent and individualistic, refusing help because the Four must do it all on his own. Even if it is detrimental to the Four which only increases the isolationism.

The biggest obstacle to growth for Fours can often be their resistance to letting go of past, painful experiences that they have incorporated into their "identity," things that strengthen their view of themselves as "unique" and "special" and "set apart." However, when they find that relationship or community that makes them feel accepted, they can become more objective with their feelings, processing them and moving past them more readily. This can open them up to creative freedom where they are willing to share very personal, even painful experiences, with the world.

When put into stressful situations or stuck in relationships where they feel they have to hide their "true" selves, Fours can abandon their individuality and become clingy, emotional sponges, unable to function on their own. They become ingratiating, trying to be noticed and liked, hoping that someone will see them for how special they are while in a place where any creative spark is buried as they push people away by chasing after favor.

One other thing of note: Fours often develop, secret, idealized fantasy selves that they believe is who they really are, if only that persona could get out. Think "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Fours tend to be introverts. Although they may desire acclaim, they are emotionally reclusive, looking for that one (or just a few) special relationship. Basically, they spend all of their time within themselves. They may be empathetic when at their best, but they rarely reach out to the masses.

I'm going to leave you with this song, which strikes me as rather a Four theme song. It's a song I really like by one of my favorite bands. Enjoy.

A last note: I am not a Four. Just to be clear.


  1. LOL! I don't think anyone could mistake you for a 4. Truthfully, all these personality tests and everything, I'm always somewhere in the mix, but never fit into one category. I begin to think that's the case with all of us, but I could totally be wrong. While in NYC I met people who fit totally into a stereo types I'd always believed were total bogaheesh.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  2. It will come as a shock to no one that I am a Four.

  3. I also believe all of us have some of the traits you have mentioned. Not necessarily for the whole of their lives but different aspects float to the top at different times of life.

  4. Crystal: Sure, people have lots of traits and behaviors, but they don't have lots of primary motivations, which is the key here.

    Tony: That makes so much sense.

    Jo: What I said to Crystal.

  5. Oh, I'm such a four. I'm sure it's why I write what I write.

  6. L.G.: I'm confused by that. Why would it have to do with what you write? Wouldn't that mean that all Fours would write about the same kinds of things?

  7. I feel like I could be a four except that I'm so ebullient most of the time.

  8. Briane: You seem much to rational to be a Four but, maybe, you're only rational online?