Feeling Type 3: “The Achiever”
Expression: Thinking and Acting
Subordinate: own Feeling
Short circuits in storm state:
Thinking – Feeling
Acting – Acting
TF FT AA
Also feeling type 3’s childhood distress was coldness – the supply of emotional warmth was not guaranteed. Thus the childhood problem was on the emotional level. Feeling type 3’s internal solution to this problem was to distance himself from his feelings (TF). With this primary short circuit, a lot was lost: his sense of self. To compensate this loss, the two secondary short circuits did their part: the identification with thinking (FT) and aggressive dominance over the action realm (AA).
As soon as this pattern exceeds its function childhood self-protection and a person gets triggered back into it as an adult, there is storm warning. And if the person is permanently trapped in it, it is considered a personality disorder. As an example of a feeling type 3 with storm warning, let’s have a look at the character Carolyn Burnham in “American Beauty” (1999), played by Annette Bening.
Feeling type 3 in storm state seems paradox. On one side, he expresses himself in a remarkably emotional way. On the other hand, he is emotionally unavailable. He lacks the capacity to tune into deep feelings, be it their own or those of others. In his presence, you don’t feel seen and can’t see him. That’s because of his primary short circuit (TF) – because hi distances himself from feeling.
All you can see is a carricature-like mask that projects success. As long as you resonate with this mask and pretend not recognizing it, all is well. But as soon as you dare to expect humanity, you are in trouble.
In the following scene, Carolyn “comforts” her daughter Jane who has just withdrawn from a parental fight. But as Jane refuses to play along with the you-are-a-fantastic-mother script, the put-on “empathy” ends and daughter now has to comfort mom.
This self protection by distancing from the feelings comes with a high price: the sense of self. To compensate this loss, type 3 uses the two other functions, thinking and acting to acquire an artificial feeling of success. This emotional self-deceit becomes an addiction to which the other two short circuits cater.
Carolyn loves the thinking, amplifies and identifies herself with it. And because this short circuit serves to create a feeling of success, it is composed of thousands of groundbreaking success-thoughts, steps to certain triumph, which she compulsively tries to substantiate to herself and those around her. Type 3 in storm state loves success-mantras.
The second short circuit that serves to satisfy Carolyn’s addiction: she controls the level of action. Her own actions and those of others are things that have to be adapted to the goal – maximal felt success – at all times.
This is how a feeling type 3 with storm warning functions.
Why is this dangerous to families?
Because children depend on parents who are there. People who function like this, are emotionally dissociated from their children. Instead of caring for their feelings and inner worlds, They demand unaccomplisheably high standards and endanger the development of the child’s healthy autonomy by their control-addiction.
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 emotional world is locked? To someone who is addicted to permanently lecturing others on absurd recipes to success and controlling their behavior? 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: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Dissociative Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder.
All clips shown in this post are quotations from the movie “American Beauty” (1999) and are used for the purpose of illustration only. The copyrights for this movie and its film poster belong to: DreamWorks Pictures