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Pseudolonewolf
5 years ago

The Trees and the Forest

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: EnneagramPersonality
I am interested in personality models. Had you noticed?!?

Anyway, apparently I am so interested in them that I'm always eager to share what I know and understand with others... but it's difficult, especially when I write a long post like the one about the 9 Enneagram types, and barely anyone shows signs of having read it, instead leaving comments that say "a test said I was X but I think I might be Y anyway because I have [specific trait of Y]! But I also have [trait of Z], so the system is too limited to contain my wondrous versatility!"

I've tried to reply to a lot of these comments to explain the concepts to the best of my ability, to guide people in the right direction towards finding their types and so on... but I find myself repeating the same things over and over, so I felt that I should include them in a blog post so then I don't have to keep repeating myself.

The main, most important concept behind using any personality system is that you need to learn how to think 'generally'. It's almost an art form in itself, perhaps, and my practised ability to think in this way leads to me getting consistent results on personality tests, and being able to understand concepts like the Enneagram on an intuitive level very quickly.

A good metaphor that I think explains this concept is how many people, when looking at the descriptions of personality types, see the trees and not the forest.

What I mean by that is that they focus on specific traits... which is missing the point, because personality types aren't about traits. They're about patterns, a deep 'essence' of sorts that exists at the core of any type and which merely manifests as traits.
The traits are emergent in this way, and as such they're not mutually exclusive; any type could produce any trait, I'd say, but for different underlying reasons.

It's like how birds and bats and insects all fly, but their mechanics are very different. The result is the same - they can move in any direction through the air in order to travel from one place to another - but they all evolved separately and the wings of one aren't like the wings of the others.
If you were to see an animal, and to try to explain it to someone by saying that it was 'flying', would they be right to come to the conclusion that it MUST be a bat, because it flies? Of course not; it could be any number of things, and you'd need to look at the whole rather than this specific trait to find out what it is.

It's like how type 2 from the Enneagram 'helps people'. This one seemed to come up a few times; people thought they were 2s because they enjoy helping people.
2s do naturally help people, but to say that by itself is useless oversimplification, and you can't say that someone is a 2 simply because they like helping in the same way that you can't say that a creature is a bird because it flies.
The manner in which 2s 'help' is assertive and coloured by entitlement and the fear of being worthless - particularly in 'unhealthy' individuals (a concept I'll get to in a minute) - whereas other types - ANY type - could be helpful either out of duty, loyalty, empathy, expectation, morals, upbringing, or any number of varied factors.
The result is the same - the trait 'helps people' - but the fundamental base and motivation - the part that actually matters when determining type - is different in each case.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you read about a personality type, what you should do is see each trait as a 'dot', yes... but then connect the dots in your mind and see the overall image that they form. It's like connecting jigsaw pieces to form one whole that represents that type. A jigsaw of the ocean and one of the sky will both have blue pieces, and many of them, but it's only really when they're assembled into the whole that it's clear what they are. Looking at the pieces in isolation is misleading and generally useless.

Is this making any sense...?!?

Another thing I want to say about the Enneagram in particular is that each type seems to have various levels of 'health' that alters their manifestation significantly... Some people are a lot more mentally 'healthy' than others.
For example, a very unhealthy 2 might become manipulative and downright abusive, while a very healthy 2 would be truly selfless and an expert at making others happy. Entirely different traits that manifest from the same core at different levels of health.
(An abusive boyfriend who threatens to commit suicide because his suffering girlfriend doesn't tell him she loves him often enough could be an extremely unhealthy 2, while a little old woman who opens her house for feeding beggars off the street and devotes all her time to that while asking nothing in return might be a very healthy 2. But only maybe; both of these things could arise from entirely different types as well!)

I'd like to talk about each of these levels for each type in detail at some point... but this thing is long enough as it is at the moment.
I have a tendency to focus on the negative, neurotic, unhealthy aspects of each type in my descriptions, I'm afraid; this is surely partly due to being far from mentally healthy myself, but also because as a 4, I am drawn to dwelling in melancholy, to focusing on the negatives, and to being very 'honest' with feelings and weaknesses. I relate to others through weakness, so I suppose I write in a way that would be convincing and relatable to myself... which is regrettably not as useful for everyone. A shame!

Anyway, I just wanted to make this point since I seem to be trying to make it over and over in comments to individuals, and thought it'd be useful to have one thing to link to rather than spending loads of time repeating myself.

If you have read this all the way through and you want to leave a comment, please tell me that you've read it, otherwise I'll assume that you haven't and will be rather cross at you!!1!1

I do wonder whether people write replies without actually reading the thing they're commenting on. Hmm.
31 Comments

on 12 Roots

31 Comments

Vauge
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Vauge 24 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic INFJ 6w5 22C
Um although I suppose to be pefectly honest I do not exactly know much about the earagram, I did get a six with a five wing... But please forgive me if I am being off topic, but is it common to outwardly seem one type in general but is really is another? I understand that it is highly recommended to be general and not specific, but I have been confused by some personality inventories but not specifically this since I do not know much on it so far... No offense to anyone by the way
Dirdle
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Patterns, be they made of dots or trees, require a pattern-seeker. The pattern isn't real; there's nothing about the trees that causes a 'forest' to exist when some specific critical threshold is reached. If I look at dots on a map and see leylines, the pattern has come from me, not from the dots. If I look at blotches on Mars and see a face, the pattern has come from me, not from Mars.

So yes, this post makes sense. It explains a lot, actually. Thankyou.
Curious
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Curious 18 Latvia PhlegmaticSanguine INTJ 853 4C
Um... Hey! I've read all the posts, except the "Enneagram 2 (Edit)" (I clicked on the links, though) and those tests all gave me different results ( o.O ) - 3, 8 and 9... Thanks to your blog post "Understanding the 9 Enneagram Types!" (I can't believe that you wrote it all at once. So much effort!) I found out that 9 would suit me best as I don't like negative emotions and conflicts, but I like discussions about things that are different (the sort "which is that the best and why is it the best"). Also none other Enneagram was "absolutely me" as I have a bit of all of them (I think).
  Spoiler:


I didn't answer to the last post because of 2 reasons:
1) I don't usually answer to blog posts (as you might have noticed)
2) I understand that you wrote a very long blog post, but in my small comprehension about blog posts I think you usually write very long posts (with the exception that you have something urgent to mention), so that was no exception.?
Altemeus
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Altemeus 30 United States PhlegmaticCholeric INTP 9w1 166C
I don't think 9w8 folk are your typical leaders, either. As the 9's profile goes, you would still look up to others as being more ideal, and still crave self-peace over conflict, you merely have a more brash way of seeking such a goal, should it come under fire. A 9w1 "Dreamer" might intervene with his own snippets designed to break the conflicts and heal issues when they arise rather than do what a 9w8 "Referee" would do, and latch onto the conflict actively, ensuring a fair assessment by all watching, and pick a side if he has to. In both cases, however, a 9 will usually not seek a leadership position, he would just take the initiative if things were getting out of line and he felt he could cure the conflict. I would honestly see myself as a 9w8 personality more than 9w1 in this regard, but I have scored much higher in my 1 area than my 8, for whatever reason.
Curious
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Curious 18 Latvia PhlegmaticSanguine INTJ 853 4C
Well, if it's as you wrote it, I'm a 9w1 definitely. :D
Aetheren
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I haven't done any further reading on the Enneagram (other than your last few blog posts), but I have some things to say anyway.
Firstly, in relation to the last few comments, I feel that knowing yourself is more important than feeling good about yourself. Sure, feeling good about yourself obviously makes you happier, but putting it before knowing yourself is basically the same thing as saying 'ignorance is bliss' - which is true, but not particularly constructive. I'm not saying that those who aspire to be something they aren't are necessarily living a delusion, I'm simply stating my views on the subject.
Secondly, on the subject of conflict, I don't believe it to necessarily be a bad thing - in fact, with the absence of anger a conflict of views can be highly beneficial to one or all parties involved... but, yes, I agree that having anger involved in conflict is almost always a bad thing - in an argument for example, when people start interrupting each other, shouting at each other or similar such things, the conversation becomes much less constructive as destructive because those sorts of things are generally clear indications that the participants have stopped *listening* to each other, and are now only interested in proving themselves right.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. And yes, I did read the post.
Astarael
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Astarael 24 Bosnia and Herzegovina MelancholicSanguine INFP 9w1 41C
I suppose my issue is that I got a type I'd never expect. I'd expect 3, 4 or 5, and I wouldn't look at 9 twice. It's like your whole life you believe you're a bird and they tell you you're a cat.
Altemeus
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Altemeus 30 United States PhlegmaticCholeric INTP 9w1 166C
I think you're over-thinking being a cat. First off, there are more than 18 personalities in this world, they are just assumed to be more manageable in this configuration of 18. Even folks with the exact same wings could possibly go about their lives with it in completely different ways, as environment and social standing will give you a unique flavor to your personality. Unlike most cats, maybe you can jump from tree to tree, giving the illusion you can fly.

Also, 3s, 4s, and 5s are all three your semi-social types that usually require a comfort level before they interact with others, to my understanding. I would argue that 9s might actually have it worse, because they not only idealize others to make themselves not feel they fit in, but a comfort level is fairly difficult to obtain of any value since they live the bulk of their lives in comfort. It largely helps to have boredom from the bulk of your life to make a new experience feel comforting.
quiznossubs92
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I think that in taking any sort of personality test, most people have certain expectations going in to it and their subconscious will always somewhat skew the results based on how they WANT to be seen by others.
That being said, reading the descriptions of the different traits and whatnot I knew immediately that 2 most fit my personality. Actually taking the test yielded a 2w3 result for myself.

The whole unhealthy-healthy spectrum was an interesting point though I'm honestly not sure where I fall on the continuum. Looking at just the aspect I identify with the most (2), I genuinely feel pleasure when I help other people. I can go out of my way to please others, do them a favor, or just try and make their day better. At the same time, I have an extremely difficult time motivating myself do do anything to improve my own situation in life. This has been a real problem for me over the years to be quite honest.

Lastly, I'm not sure I really identify with what you classified as the driving emotions behind each type. Using my own as an example, I've never really felt especially driven by shame or fear of not being cared about. To me, helping people out isn't about myself. If I'm doing it for myself, then I feel like it isn't really a sincere gesture to another person.

Anyways, I'm still reading more about personality type things on a regular basis and trying to figure out my own life. Oh and obligatory "I read the blog post" statement.
mmagee
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mmagee 31 Canada CholericSanguine ENFP 297 21C
I've read through all of your recent posts about the Enneagrams and I find it to much more interesting than the temperments or the MBTI.

I've had some difficulty pinning down exactly where I fit in though. I don't necessarily feel attached to any one of the types but I do feel like most are definitely not in my character. As far as the tests go I scored a 9w8 on the first test from the energies site and a 2w3 on their seconnd test. Then, on the RHTI site I scored a tie between 2 and 8.

I think that the roles of the The Helper and The Challenger play a key role in my day to day life and the way that I manage my personal and profesional duties but I think it's The Peacemaker that really runs as an undercurrent directing everything when I consider a big picture sort idea.

The description of type 9 is somewhat appealing but then there are parts where I just completely shake my head and think it's ridiculous.
Pseudolonewolf
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9w8 seems such an odd combination to me, and I can imagine that it could result in quite a lot of cancelling out of traits because they're so very different!

All the 'passive and peaceful' stuff of the 9 contrasts so much with the 'assertive and forceful' stuff of the 8... so if that is your type, perhaps that's why there are significant bits of each that don't really seem to fit you?
mmagee
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mmagee 31 Canada CholericSanguine ENFP 297 21C
From what I understand, a 9 by itself is the sort of person who just kind of just finds a place where they're comfortable, keeps that and it kind of becomes them. I can feel that and relate to that. I'm real laid back and I'd love to just have a peachy keen sort of life but when when things aren't jiving or somethings out of sync with what I expect or what I want, I will go out of my way to make it right.
NewAgeOfPower
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I haven't been here in... over half a year. Yeah, I wrote what you wrote.

If you check youtube, you will see a significant percentage of the internets (and by derivative, humanity) does not care about knowing the subject they are about to open their mouths on.

Yeah, tests such as the Enneagram system and the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator simply describe HOW you go around living day to day life- despite being a strong ENTJ (56/50/62/56 percents, respectively), I will try to sense specific details for detail-work, empathize with others when necessary, etc.

Still, the test is of critical importance in inter-personal relations- it will tell exactly how likely you are able to relate and understand a person, outside factors (such as talent, physical attractiveness, inherent qualities) excluded.

@Astarael You can do what you want, and achieve your true desires no matter what your personality is; and personalities can change. I have incredibly strong, difficult to control emotions, and was also highly introverted, growing up in an low-income... Off topic now.

I was first introduced to the MBTI by my best friend so she could help explain why someone I was seeing on and off for 3 years was not such... Oh, rambling again...

Apologies. Enjoy, everyone.
Kyzak
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I read the post!

Your analogies make a lot of sense to me; I don't know if I'm part of the problem or the solution, as per my comment on the last Enneagram post, but this is certainly a good resource if it's the former.

2w1 resonated with me in a similar way to what you described, I think, but especially 2 being my main type. I've always felt a desire for positive company-as in, one that fits my needs-- but never quite knew what that entailed, only that I'd eventually get it if I was personable enough to attract others. I noticed this the more discontent I grew with the friendships I had-not that they were pleasant people anyway--, and it's relieving to know that my feelings and the behavior derived from them are normal. I feel that it also serves as healthy direction to aid in growth; knowing general patterns that one could easily fall into, the best and the worst of them, is indispensable. I wouldn't want my ego to get in the way of that!

edit: Since posting this roughly ten hours ago, I have done some pondering on the "see the forest, not the trees" analogy. I don't think I've ever been good at imagining the big picture-having focused more on detail--, and I feel that partially stems from a lack of understanding the concept *entirely*. The idiom indeed goes "The whole is greater than the sum of its' parts", and doing my own research certainly made me feel it is a foreign one; I understand "this synergizes with this", but my thought process leads me to believe that if you put together the parts of a machine, you get that machine. Indeed, what if one of those parts is broken or makeshift? You'd get something different-even in the tiniest of ways--, but how does this relate to the other parts as a whole and, in general, what do those relations create? Is this even the place to be looking for such recourse?

I feel quite silly writing this with the intent of showing it to others, but it is better to be humble and learned than proud and ignorant. Please forgive me if I'm presumptuous in thinking I'd find recourse here, though; I'd rather not be so eager to quench a thirst for knowledge that I fail to think for myself.
Enochlord
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I must say I am impressed, and now I consider you a genius. You have an extreme in depth understanding of the world, leading to your use of similes and old proverbs, such as seeing the trees and not the forest, and piecing together the sky and the water.
Altemeus
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Altemeus 30 United States PhlegmaticCholeric INTP 9w1 166C
Yeah, I'm trying to identify myself as a tree in the forest of 9s, but I'm not sure. Everything sounds highly accurate and toward my tempo, but is that relating to me because I see myself as one of those trees? Or am I simply a mushroom feeling related because I have a stem, and my cap appears relatively similar?

My post on the other blog was shorter than I wanted because I didn't have a lot of time to look anything up, but felt certain I had read something about 9s being quite spritely when stirred, it's just that it isn't all that easy to stir them. They'd rather work around the issue and call it "naturally good, so don't mess with it", but when people drag in chaotic thoughts about it, 9s are quite adamant that the chaos is simply one over-thinking good chaos, or something that still fits in line within the processes at hand. I could swear I read about 9s living in their own perfect world, only concerned about keeping it perfect instead of dragging in new ideas, and that they would become quite brash when someone suggests something that wrecks my ideal view (somewhat like that tree-hugger that ties himself to a tree because that is HIS tree, and no one is going to take that down.)

Anyways, I could swear I saw that concept, but I'm having trouble finding it again within the 9 profile, so I'm somewhat unsure of where I belong, once again. I am no "doormat" as you referred to 9's as, and I think it's that view that makes me not believe your description of 9s. I can appear doormat-like at times because I don't hop onto every issue that's out there and spawn ideas, but when I have a view, I will see that view to its end. If I can find that statement that cements this better, I'm going to place it here, but for whatever reason, I'm just not finding it at the moment.

The "Health" concept bugged me a bit. I read a few of the healthy/unhealthy tiers that were explained, and it seemed like the qualities of a healthy individual were those of the type, and the qualities of a non-healthy individual are the exact opposite in many ways. To try to relate to this, I'm not good at art. However, I don't think of myself as an "unhealthy artist" because I am that way. I think of myself NOT being an artist, so I don't understand where it's giving opposing identities to unhealthy people within a type. It works completely against my logical reasoning.
Pseudolonewolf
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Interesting that you saw the unhealthy states as 'opposites' of the healthier ones, because I didn't... I saw them as very different results, of course, but caused by the same underlying motive gone astray.

Like an unhealthy 6 becoming obsessed with insecurity to the point of becoming paranoid and aggressive to anyone before they could become a threat, and a healthy one using this same concern for security for productive ends, becoming an exceptional guardian for others by looking out for their wellbeing, and sticking with them loyally to protect them from any threats.
One is destructive, the other is helpful, but they both arise from the same 'fear', at their heart. Or that's how I see it, anyway.

Anyway, I still need to read more about those health level things myself, but I think that they're the key to being sure about your type if the basic descriptions don't seem to fit you!
Altemeus
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Altemeus 30 United States PhlegmaticCholeric INTP 9w1 166C
Yeah, I give up. I've been annoyed for days trying to find the words to prove what I'm saying, and I simply can't find them, though I'm sure I read them. The overall message fits between 9s and myself, but I can't find the points of 9's aggression anywhere, which would only make sense when having the options of 1 and 8 wings. The worst aggression I am finding within Type 9 would be random acts of aggression followed with a "no, I didn't do that" mentality you'd see from children, plus defending their own trivial activities fiercely, and it's hard for me to chew that. It's hard to chew it because of the looming 1 and 8 wings, but also because they do have a crazy positive outlook on the world as a whole, so a 9, at very least a healthy one, would defend that outlook fervently in order to maintain their peaceful outlook. I don't know if I'm looking at the self-help 9s profile more than the overall outlook, but I feel like I own this type, yet it appears to describe aggression less than other areas, possibly because aggression is rarely an area 9s feel they need improvement.

I will add that all of my tests show some gravitation toward Type 5 as well, but until now I thought 9's message was more to my wavelength. I'm going to have to check out 5s once again, I think.

Yeah, I'm not a 5. I don't go seeking knowledge by any means, or anything really, for that matter, because being laxed is virtuous in my outlook. It really is.