The Enneagram symbol is a map of archetypal energies. It describes the various ways these energies manifest, and also how they move and transform. Any observable phenomenon in the world (or the universe for that matter) can be mapped onto the Enneagram symbol. The Enneagram of Personality speaks to the way that psychological energy manifests, moves, and transforms within human beings. There are 9 different psychological types, each with their own core concerns and unique ways of navigating through life. While we can’t say exactly how addictive patterns will play out in any given individual, and all rules come with exceptions, there are certain kinds of addictive patterns that commonly show up in each type.
Type 1: The Perfectionist
Perfectionists are concerned with being good and getting things right. They seek to improve their surrounding environment, correct errors, and meet their own high standards of behavior. They are often principled, idealistic, and self-controlled. Addictive patterns in Type 1s are tied to their high personal standards, and fear of being seen as bad or corrupt. They want to avoid others criticizing them—so they repress their impulses and base instincts, in order to be seen as good. This means that addictive patterns play out when others aren’t watching. It’s common for 1s to have a sort of “alter ego” which privately acts out their repressed impulses; this is how they escape the pressure of perfectionism. Any variety of mood-altering substances and risky behaviors may be a part of the picture, as long as they relieve the stress of having to “be good” all the time. Superego by day, Id by night.
Type 2: The Giver
Givers are concerned with being selfless and helpful. They want to show their affection to others and foster warm and loving connections. 2s are often pleasing, generous, and demonstrative. Giving is (subconsciously) motivated by a feeling that they’re not loved for who they are, and won’t receive love unless it’s earned. Addictive patterns in Type 2s are related to this nagging feeling of being unloved, and a fear of being seen as selfish. When generosity and helpfulness don’t lead to the connection they crave, it leaves them feeling empty. They also feel that it’s wrong to address their own personal needs directly (thinking of this as selfish)—so those needs may go entirely unmet. This can lead 2s into a pattern of “need replacement,” where they over-indulge in substances, sweet foods, or anything that lessens the pain of feeling unloved. They attempt to fill a hole in the heart with some dopamine-stimulating alternatives.
Type 3: The Performer
Performers are concerned with tasks, achievement, and having a good image. They seek to excel in everything they do, garner success, and inspire others to do the same. They are often driven, goal-oriented, and highly adaptable to different contexts/settings. 3s commonly believe “they are what they do,” or in other words, that their value comes from their accomplishments. This leads to an extremely busy lifestyle, a long task list, and not much time for rest. Workaholism is typically a problem. Addictive patterns in Type 3s are related to the need to always be busy conquering their next goal. They tend towards the use of stimulants: commonly caffeine, but perhaps including anything from nicotine to cocaine, steroids, and beyond. Regardless of what they use to get their “boost,” addictive patterns tend to revolve around their desire to accomplish more—to work harder, faster, and longer. It’s all about increasing efficiency and achieving more highly. Cultures which value productivity may actually end up affirming these less-than-healthy patterns in Type 3s.
Type 4: The Individualist
Individualists are concerned with depth of experience and finding personal identity/significance. They strive to be original and live a meaningful life outside of the mainstream. They are often introspective, expressive, and creative. Type 4s are known for having a rich/evocative inner world, with lots of intense feelings. They commonly report a life of “emotional highs and lows.” Individualists may fall into addictive patterns when the emotional rollercoaster ride becomes too much. Depressants may be used to mute feelings of shame or anxiety. Alternatively, stimulants may be used to push through painful feelings in order to maintain performance at work or keep up with family duties. Type 4s often report that depressive episodes are a regular part of life. Sometimes they find a certain kind of solace in melancholy. But other times, not so much. When melancholy evolves into full-blown depression, the picture may include the use of whatever substances ameliorate feelings of hopelessness and low self-worth.
Type 5: The Observer
Observers are concerned with privacy, managing personal energy, and collecting information. They like to be self-sufficient, carefully study other people, and take deep dives on topics of interest. They are often perceptive, analytical, and objective. For Type 5s, there are two particular avenues that may lead to addictive patterns. The first avenue is privacy concerns. Observers might be attracted to substances that offer an excuse to withdraw from social situations, or allow them to “hide in plain sight.” The cigarette smoker who disappears into a cloud of smoke comes to mind. The other avenue towards addictive patterns has to do with Type 5s placing a high value on their mental landscape. They often have a thirst to understand the inner workings of things—human behavior, ecological process, or the cosmos. So they may be attracted to mind-expanding substances that allow for “knowingness beyond logic.” Also, they might use stimulants to keep themselves energized through long hours spent reading and researching without food or sleep.
You may feel identified to one Type in particular, and it can help you understand yourself at a different level. The key factor here is to use this information wisely and always direct all of your energies to become a better version of yourself. You can get to know yourself by practicing mindfulness, by self-reflection and by opening to others. If you are smoking and you want to stop, or even if you already became a non-smoker, you can try MindCotine and dive deep into your personality.
*The information in this post comes from a wide variety of sources, but extra special credit goes to Don Riso, Russ Hudson, and Helen Palmer.
Noah Gray, MA, Wellness Coach
Noah Gray Wellness Coaching
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