Thinking Type 7: “The Enthusiast”
Subordinate: own Feeling
Short circuits in storm state:
Acting – Thinking
Feeling – Feeling
AT TA FF
Thinking Type 7 is the last one of the “thinkers” and thus the last one whose childhood distress lied in lacking security. They didn’t feel held enough by their caregivers, especially when they were going through emotionally difficult times as a child – maybe because their parents were emotionally unstable and therefore only could deal with their child when it was in a good mood. In any case, the child experienced a loss of support as soon as they were in a bad mood, and even more when they felt hurt by something. Like this, the child developed the self perception of being “unbearable” when in pain. A feeling of happiness on the other hand meant security and thus the solution to their childhood distress.
In order to protect itself, their psyche found a way of self-supplying this feeling of happiness. With the primary short circuit Acting – Thinking (AT) he took control of the threatened area of security: He controlled his thinking and and thus self-supplied the feelings of happiness through preplanning. This self stimulation was supported by his secondary short circuits, the distancing from responsibility (TA) and the empowerment of feeling (FF).
As soon as this pattern exceeds its function of childhood self-protection and a person gets triggered back into it as an adult, there is storm warning. And if a person is permanently trapped in it, it is considered a personality disorder. In the following, Leonadro DiCaprio playing Frank Abagnale in “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) will serve as an example of a thinking type 7 with storm warning.
Thinking type 7 manipulates the thinking. In this state, he compulsively controls his thoughts and he does it in a way that creates a feeling of happiness – and thus security:
– Planning: His thoughts are directed at compiling an exiting schedule full of happiness stimulating highlights. This makes unhealthy 7 a restless organizer for colorful, extraordinary group activities, which he simultaneously runs and “enjoys”.
– Situational: He compulsively sets his focus to things that bring him instant gratification: bright, loud, beautiful, exiting and new things. Thereby, it becomes apparent that his attention serves this purpose in an exclusive way: concentrating on constant and trivial things out of necessity is not only hard but very stressful to him. The reason for this is that he feels like his security is in jeopardy (keyword: ADD).
-Inspiration: In order to maintain a constant flow of new enjoyable experiences, he’s always on the prowl for inspiration and scans his environment for for sources of it.
Because a type 7 in storm state depends on stimulation with happy thoughts, he not only manipulates his own thoughts but also acts as a charming thought-policeman towards others. Happiness-stimulating thoughts are good, are being thought and encouraged in others – with missionary zeal. On the other hand, thoughts concerning the more “boring”, earnest or even darker aspects of life are attacked instantly. Unhealthy type 7 uses them to prove his ability to change them into something “positive”.
The bandwidth of impacts on others thereby ranges from somewhat exhausting encounters, in which one gets coached unasked with attitude correcting success-thoughts, over the many rather harmless books on “positive thinking” to more serious situations where sick sevens manage to gather large crowds of followers by indoctrinating them with a unique but short-sighted success ideology.
Thinking type 7 in storm state distances himself from the consequences of his actions, from responsibility. Especially, this comes to light in committed relationships, where it comes down to be there for each other in good times as in bad. As this is perceived as very stressful by the unhealthy seven, they take flight as soon as the relationship seems to demand for commitment. The following wedding scene depicts in an exaggerated way, what happens as a literal flight in romantic relationships and as a flight into work – oftentimes resulting in workaholism.
Type 7 amplifies feelings of happiness and identifies with them. Therefore, he approaches others in an exceptionally charming and endearing way. In his unhealthy state, this is done only to the degree in which it serves his hedonism. Therefore his accented emotionality reveals to be of strikingly egoistic character in the long run.
The interpersonal motto of an unhealthy seven: flirting yes, because it means thrilling instant gratification; commitment no, because the needs of another person interfere with his sophisticated excitement schedule.
This is how a feeling type 7 with storm warning functions.
Why is this dangerous to families?
Because children depend on parents who are there for them. A person who functions like this restlessly jumps from event to event, and if they happen to be there physically, their thoughts are already with the next spectacle instead of with the life of their children. These kids feel their impassive flight from responsibility and get manipulated to support this parent’s excitement addiction as means to this end.
Why is this unsatisfactory in relationships?
For the same reasons. Although as an adult, one is not as dependent on the partner as a child is but the mutual happiness relies on the functionality of both. How can one relate to someone who’s never really there? To someone who checks out as soon commitment is required? Someone whose emotionality is all about his own instant self gratification at the bottom line? It is possible. But it’s unsatisfactory.
For Families: Family-Systems Therapy
For Couples: Couples Therapy
This description with the aid of the enneagram is not meant to serve diagnostically. This should by done by professionals alone. And there is also no key with which the types of the enneagram can be translated to the DSM definitions. At best, some hints can be made in which directions to seek: ADD/ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
All clips shown in this post are quotations from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) and are used for the purpose of illustration only. The copyrights for this movie and its film poster belong to: DreamWorks Pictures