Type 4 vs. "Self-Revealing"

I'm seeing something that keeps popping up in the enneagram community that I wanted to address. I'm writing this on the fly (like I do everything) so forgive me if it's not perfectly worded.

People seem to equate self-revealing honesty about trauma to 4. I'm seeing lots of people talk about trauma they've suffered and typing as 4. Or I'm seeing people try to use said brutal honesty as proof that they are 4 or 4-fixed. First of all, anyone who can talk about their trauma in such an honest way is BRAVE, because I certainly couldn't. It's difficult for any type to talk about deeply traumatic experiences especially to a group of almost strangers.

However, this is not type 4. Type 4 is an image type, and image types are concerned with looking at themselves in the mirror and seeing a person they like or that they want to be. For 4, that's an addiction to being frustrated about not being able to have something that would make you complete (among other things http://www.theenneagramuniverse.com/type-4.html). But this is not the true heart centre, the types are a crafted image, an ego, a personality problem. There are 4's that lived the easiest, most privileged lives that are still 4's. 4 is a reactive type, but they are also withdrawn. It's a lot more likely for a big bold type like 7 or 8 to come into a space and be able to speak candidly about trauma, or anything truly personal really.

4's like to think they are self-revealing and authentic, but TRUE authenticity is terrifying for a 4. The truth of what really hurts us, the things that have really damaged us, truly putting ourselves on the line, that is completely terrifying just as much as it is for any type. The kind of bravery I've seen from people in this group is not the same as the crafted image of brokenness that the 4 point lives at in the heart centre. You will find me complaining, being bitchy, being negative, making myself separate, pulling away, but you will never see me talk about the things that truly cut me deeply in this group, because that's too scary and it also threatens my self-image of being somehow separate. If anything, I withhold my weakest spots more than others. If everyone is self-revealing, then I can't be because I need to hold onto my separateness. If I just splat myself on the table for everyone to see then I'm going to have to shatter my own type ego which wants me to believe that I'm an alien. I can boldly throw my own self-image at others, but to actually discuss trauma, I won't. This isn't to say that all 4's will think like me, but I just need it to be understood that talking about trauma you've experienced does not make you a 4, it just makes you brave. 4's will often have certain "problems" that they are comfortable using as their broken self-image, but these are often not TRULY traumatic issues, but rather ways to feed the type 4 ego (see, I'm broken, see I created a problem, but it's not something that truly matters).

If you have been through trauma, you can use the enneagram to figure out how you've dealt with and processed the trauma. Reading type 4 might give you some sense of feeling like "oh that's why I'm so upset all the time." You are upset because you have a right to be. Suffering comes with trauma no matter what type you are. It's often the more positive types like 2, 7 (or some 6's) that take issue with that negative piece inside them and the ego can try to use type 4 as a way to explain why they have such a dark side. Type 4 becomes a way for the ego to say "It's not my fault I'm sad because I'm just a 4." But trauma is never your fault. And truly dark experiences are not the same as the gold-trimmed royally-crafted painting that 4's want to see when they look in the mirror.


Joseph Simone