Thinking Type 6: “The Skeptic”
Expression: Acting and Feeling
Subordinate: own Thinking
Short circuits in storm state:
Thinking – Thinking
Feeling – Acting
TT FA AF
As with the other thinking types, the childhood distress for the “skeptic” was a lack of safety. The environment of the child was full of uncertainty. Their caregivers oftentimes acted in frighteningly unpredictable ways and the infant could not depend on them. Promises were broken, knowledge withheld and their perceptions unvalidated. On the factual level there was no stability and his arguments were rejected and twisted by “the powerful ones” – logic was no safe place. Thus, the development of their own identity was in threatened. Thinking type 6 is the one whose psyche dealt with this problem by suppressing this level – he distanced himself from thinking (TT). The problem of endangered identity was solved, but with a side effect: the lost sense of identity. To compensate this lack of self-confidence, the two other short circuits came to aid: The empowerment of acting (FA) and the control over feelings (AF). 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, Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network” (2010) will serve as an example of a thinking type 6 with storm warning.
With his primary short circuit, thinking Type 6 distances himself from thinking (TT). This may seem paradoxical as he’s the one with the most “brainy” appearance of all. But just like feeling type 3 who because of his distance towards his inner feelings powerfully emphasizes on the external level of feeling as a way to compensate the inner loss, thinking type 6 does not speak about his inner personal thoughts but about “sampled” external ones: He talks about things and information, quotes social critics and gets lost in narratives and lamentations about important turning points in world history.
But when it comes to his own history, it’s not like that. In conversation with him it seems as if one would speak to a person without a past. It’s this area – the one of his identity – from which he distances himself. The loss of his sense of identity is compensated with an extraordinarily active protective layer which is composed of thousands of complex external thoughts. Thus, thinking type 6 in storm state becomes intangible and core-less.
It’s not only his inner Logic from which he distances himself but also from potentially personal thoughts that are expressed towards him. By default he’s doubtful about the sincerity of his interlocutors. At times this is expressed as a direct questioning of motives, at other times as an arrogant “whatever”-attitude in which he doesn’t listen to what is said.
Thinking Type 6 is the one with the strongest gender differences. The reason for this lies in the side-effect of identity-loss in his primary short circuit. This lost identity now is re-assembled differently in men and women: men tend to compensate it more via the area of action – competition, work, achievements; women via the area of emotions – sexual attractiveness, “collecting” prospects, social status.
Thus, of the following short circuits, the first one is more dominant in men (FA), the second in women (AF).
“Threatened identity? i don’t care. And anyway, we’ll see in the future” said the psyche of the child and threw themselves into acting. And so does the adult 6 in storm state: He amplifies his actions and own will, his assertiveness and identifies with his accomplishments. He enforces the competitive spirit to the extent necessary to restore the lost feeling of self-confidence.
Thinking type 6 in storm state treats relationships and feelings like things. He compulsively needs to establish control over them which he exercises in a sometimes unscrupulous manner. He actively adapts his relations to other people to his addiction for self-confidence and uses his friends as means to this end.
This is how a thinking type 6 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 shows no identity and thus denies their children the needed orientation. Instead, they withdraw into an elitist expert-world and views them as business cards whose job is it to serve their self-confidence by representing their intellectual greatness.
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 keeps his identity out of the relationship and distrusts everyone? To someone who depends on maintaining his sense of self-confidence by constantly competing with you intellectually? Someone who’s not able to relax unless he controls the feelings in a relationship and treats people as tools? 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: Asperger Syndrome, Autism, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
All clips shown in this post are quotations from the movie “The Social Network” (2010) and are used for the purpose of illustration only. The copyrights for this movie and its film poster belong to: Columbia Pictures