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Thread: Health Levels for Enneagram Type 4

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    Haikus silke's Avatar
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    Default Health Levels for Enneagram Type 4

    Rather detailed description of type 4 progression, not sure who composed this but it seems like something different from Enneagram Institute health levels.

    Level 1: The Inspired Creator

    Of all the personality types, very healthy Fours are most in touch with impulses from their unconscious. They have learned to listen to their inner voices while remaining open to impressions from the environment. Most important, they are able to act without self-consciousness, and if they have the talent and training, are able to give their unconscious impulses an objective form in a work of art worthy of the name.

    Having transcended self-consciousness, very healthy Fours are free to become creative in the root sense of being able to bring something new into the world. Of course, profoundly creative moments come and go, because creativity is difficult to sustain. Nevertheless, at their best Fours are able to sustain creativity because they have transcended their self-consciousness, opening up the way to inspiration. They draw inspiration from the widest variety of sources, filtering the raw material of experience through the unconscious. In doing so, inspired Fours are like oysters, transforming all their experiences, even painful ones, into something beautiful. In their inspired creative work, healthy Fours become wellsprings of revelation for others, as if they were conduits through which the sublime passes into the world.

    Their creativity is paradoxical, because Fours are able to express the personal universally, in something that has resonance and meaning beyond what they intend when they create. By opening themselves to their hidden depths, Fours are able to express something true about themselves. Yet it is difficult for them to explain where their creativity has come from. Much of their knowledge about themselves and others has the quality of being an inspiration, something which comes to them spontaneously, completely, mysteriously, and beyond their conscious control.

    Being creative is not limited to artists, but is an important quality which everyone should try to awaken within themselves. The most important form of creativity is self-creation—renewing and redeeming the self by transcending the ego. It is the process of turning all your experiences, good and bad, into something more for your growth as a person. ("Be the kind of person on whom nothing is lost."—William James)

    [Otto] Rank did not glorify the artist as such, but rather the creative individual, whose expressions varied with the cultural conditions in which he found himself.... In fact, Rank argued, the creative artist is still seeking in art a refuge which it would be better to give up and return to real life. Once he does that, he becomes the new man whom psychoanalysis is seeking to create.(Reuben Fine, A History of Psychoanalysis, 271.)

    By acting in the moment of inspiration, which is not primarily a moment of feeling, Fours paradoxically create and discover themselves in what they bring into the world. The problem withtheir identities begins to be solved. Fours are "told" who they are not by their parents, but by what they discover in their creativity, and in the richness of the lives they live from day to day, from moment to moment. This is why Fours at their healthiest are not merely artists, as Rank indicates, but creative, life-enhancing individuals, who may also be artists. Fours at this Level embrace life profoundly: they are truly connected with their authentic selves and with the world. They stop restricting the kinds of experiences that they will allow themselves and learn to say "yes" to life. As they open to more of life's possibilities, they begin to experience themselves freshly in each moment—and their true identity is gradually but endlessly revealed. To be able to renew the self constantly is the highest form of creativity, a kind of "soul making," which requires a higher state of integration than making a painting or a book or a dance. This is the state the other personality types can learn from healthy Fours, and the state to which Fours constantly aspire.

    Level 2: The Self-Aware Intuitive

    Even relatively healthy Fours do not always live at such a high level of consciousness. When they draw back from the inspired, creative moment to reflect upon it, or to enjoy their creativity, they lose the unselfconsciousness that is necessary to sustain it. Inspired creativity can be maintained only in the act itself, by continuing to transcend self-consciousness. It requires a constant renewing of the self with each moment. In truth, the self is more like a process than like an object. Fours, however, begin to fear that they cannot find themselves in their constantly shifting feelings and impressions. They cannot locate their identity, so they begin to self-reflect rather than allow their experiences to flow freely. Thus, as soon as they try to grasp a specific identity, they become conscious of themselves and lose the spontaneous quality of inspiration. Fours become self-aware and introspective.

    As we saw in the Overview, one of their basic motivations is to understand who they are, since they were not mirrored by their parents in a way that felt real to them. ("Who am I? What is my life allabout?") To establish a self-image, a basic identity that they can rely on, Fours turn not to other people, but to their inner feelings and emotional responses. This provides healthy Fours with intuitive gifts and a rich inner life but also introduces a problem. Of all aspects of the human psyche, feelings are perhaps the most changeable and volatile. By trying to create a consistent identity from the world of feelings, Fours, like all other types, have embarked on a path that cannot provide what they are looking for. In fact, as we shall see, the more Fours identify with their feelings, the more confused they become about their identity. At this Level, Fours still have some objectivity about their feeling states and a high degree of emotional equilibrium. Still, this subtle shift from Level 1 will have profound consequences for Fours that can lead into the lower Levels of Development. They have stopped having their feelings and have begun to be their feelings.

    Awareness of their feelings also creates the problem of automatically distancing even healthy Fours from their environment. Life becomes a kind of theater in which, for better or worse, they are both spectators and actors. While this awareness allows healthy Fours to use the distance they sense between themselves and everything else as a framing device to understand themselves more clearly, it also makes it difficult for them to be self-assertive or sustain practical activities. Moreover, they realize that there is nowhere for them to hide. Fours are forced to acknowledge disquieting realities (about themselves, others, and life) because their awareness makes them sensitive both to the feelings of others and to their own subconscious impulses. Nevertheless, healthy Fours are not afraid of what their feelings are telling them, even though those feelings may be painful and disturbing.

    Fours are not only sensitive to themselves, they are sensitive to others because they are intuitive. Intuition gives Fours the ability to understand how others think and feel and see the world. Intuition is not some sort of useless sideshow telepathy but a means of perceiving reality by way of the unconscious. It is like receiving a message in a bottle which has washed up on the shore of consciousness.

    Self-awareness is the psychological basis of intuition. Fours are conscious of themselves, the world, and other people by way of the unconscious. And it is by seeing how their experiences affect them that Fours hope to discover their own dimensions. (Or more poetically, "I note the echo that each thing produces as it strikes my soul."—Stendhal)

    Fours correspond to Jung's introverted intuitive type. Introverted intuition is directed to the inner object, a term that might justly be applied to the contents of the unconscious....Although his intuition may be stimulated by external objects, it does not concern itself withexternal possibilities but with what the external object has released within him....In this way introverted intuition perceives all the background processes of consciousness with almost the same distinctness as extroverted sensation registers external objects. For intuition, therefore, unconscious images acquire the dignity of things. (C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, 398–399.)

    Because the richest part of their conscious life is outside their control, even healthy Fours are aware that they are not completely in control of themselves. Their intuitions come and go like ghosts which cannot be summoned at will. Moreover, their intuitions can be unsettling, making them aware of feelings which are difficult to identify or resolve. Intuitions are also difficult for Fours to express rationally—precisely because intuitions are irrational and have unconscious roots. For better or worse, their intuitions make them conscious of an endless stream of positive and negative feelings about themselves and the world. It therefore takes Fours time to identify and understand their intuitions, and courage for them to accept what their intuitions are telling them.

    Level 3: The Self-Revealing Individual

    Healthy Fours need to express what they feel so they can know what their intuitions are telling them about themselves. They are the most personal of the personality types, revealing themselves to others with directness and authenticity. They do not put on masks, hiding their doubts and weaknesses, nor do they deceive themselves about their feelings and impulses no matter how unseemly or unflattering these are. Healthy Fours willingly reveal their flaws and irrationalities to others, since they feel that these things are not merely incidental to who they are, but reflect their personal truth. It would be dishonest to communicate themselves to others if they did not communicate the whole of themselves, the bad along with the good, doubts along with certainties. There is something very human about this: theirs is a genuineness and depth of feeling, a willingness to be touched, even at the expense of pain, if that is the authentic thing to do.

    Healthy Fours are concerned with being true to themselves as individuals, even at the risk of being censured by those who value tradition or convention over self-actualization. The emotional honesty we find in healthy Fours may well antagonize, or sometimes embarrass, others, who may wish that Fours were not so candid about themselves. But what healthy Fours bring to society is the example of their humanity, the message that everyone is valuable because they are individuals.

    Thus, just as healthy Fours want to be true to themselves, they also want others to be true to themselves. ("This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, /Thou canst not then be false to any man."— Hamlet,I, iii, 78–80) They are respectful of the individuality of others, sensitive about their feelings, considerate of their privacy and their needs. Fours willingly allow others to find their own way in life without trying to control them, one reason why they make good parents, friends, listeners, and therapists. They see other people as "other," not as functions of themselves or as objects to be used for their own gratification.

    Healthy Fours are willing to be touched by the pains and feelings of others and are not easily thrown off balance by others' "revelations." Because they have been thoroughly engaged in exploring their own emotional terrain, they are able to listen to others in a way that is supportive and compassionate. There are few states of consciousness which healthy Fours have not entertained, so they can help others come to difficult truths which might otherwise overwhelm them. Others see in them a quiet, emotional strength which feels safe and well-grounded.

    Because healthy Fours are grounded in reality and interested in interacting with others, they can be quite astute in their observations and eloquent in their expression. If they have been blessed with creative talent, their work can be deeply affecting. By diving deep within their own subconscious and wrestling with the truths they find there, Fours emerge with works of art in which others can recognize feelings and impressions which they had not been able to articulate themselves.

    Fours at this Level are also acutely aware of themselves as individuals: they have a sharp sense of their unique otherness as well as the otherness of everything. Although they are not lonely, they understand that they are alone in life, an individual consciousness. From this point of view, healthy Fours are not merely individualists but existentialists, aware of their existence as individuals.

    While there is a certain seriousness about all of this, healthy Fours are not serious about everything. They have a rich sense of humor because they see the poignant absurdity of much of human behavior in the light of the larger questions of life. Healthy Fours have a kind of double vision on human nature: they can see the devil and the angel, the sordid and the noble in human beings, especially in themselves. The ironic juxtaposition of such opposites is as funny as it is deeply touching. The incongruities of the human condition are what make healthy Fours shake their heads in amusement, and nowhere are they more aware of human incongruities than in themselves.



    Level 4: The Imaginative Aesthete

    Average Fours fear that they will not be able to sustain the flow of feelings, impressions, and inspirations that are the basis of their identity. They believe that their creativity and, on a deeper level, their very sense of self, will not be sustained unless they feel them more intensely and more consistently. To this end, Fours begin to use their imaginations to stir up their feelings and to hold onto certain moods that they feel express who they really are. Whereas this can lead to a fertile fantasy life and is still relatively harmless, it marks a major shift away from interaction with life, and deeper into a potential morass of self-involvement.

    Average Fours still want to be creative, but their creativity becomes somewhat self-conscious and therefore less universal. We can see that healthy Fours are artistic whereas average Fours think of themselves as artistic. At Level 4, they pursue various outlets for their self-expression, but less spontaneously and less consistently. Since more of their energy is being used to create moods from which they believe they will be inspired, their work becomes sporadic. More of their creativity begins to occur only in the realm of their imaginations.

    Of course, not all average Fours are artists, and certainly not all artists are Fours. Nevertheless, since revealing their feelings remains essential to their emotional health, any artistic activity average Fours engage in is especially valued because art and beauty become a substitute for themselves, a means of expressing the self through a kind of proxy to the world.

    If they are professional artists, they must have discovered which medium is best suited for their talents; they also must have learned their craft so that they can express themselves adequately. If Fours are not professional artists, or are in professions that do not allow an artistic outlet for self-expression, they will typically regard their work merely as a way of supporting themselves while their real interest lies elsewhere—in beauty and some sort of
    aesthetic self-expression. If they were given a "magic wish," the vast majority of average Fours who are not artists would choose to become painters, singers, ballet dancers, poets, novelists, sculptors, filmmakers, designers, or some other kind of artist.

    If they do not have the ability to make works of art, average Fours try to make their environments more beautiful, for example, by decorating their apartments tastefully, by collecting art, or by dressing well. Fours are powerfully attracted to beauty, whether in people or in things, because aesthetic objects stimulate their feelings and reinforce their sense of self. Moreover, aesthetic objects symbolize the perfection and wholeness that Fours would like to find in themselves. Having sensed that something is missing in the self, they attempt to replace this inner loss by heightening the impact of beauty upon their emotions. They are romantics, idealizing beauty.

    Creating an aesthetic environment serves another important function: it helps average Fours hold on to certain feelings and moods that reinforce their sense of self. Atmosphere becomes important,and they are most at home when there is an air of mystery and romance. Certain music, lighting, color schemes, particular objects which have strong emotional associations, all become supports for the moods that average Fours want to sustain. Clothing, especially when it is in some way "tastefully different," becomes another means of indirectly expressing their identity. Little in the homes or the gardrobes of average Fours is casually selected. Everything is designed to support the Four's feelings and to announce quietly to the world, "This is who I am."

    However, because average Fours are using their imaginations to intensify their emotions, they are also increasingly shifting their attention away from reality as they rework the world in their fantasies. They want to be swept away by grand passions, lyrical longings, and stormy emotions which, by elating, keep the sense of self alive. The romantic imagination may dwell on nature, or God, or the self, or the idealized other, or some combination of these, looking for portents and meanings, fascinated with death and the passing of all things. But because average Fours use them so often, their imaginations become powerful and seductive, an endless source of solace and gratification.

    Fours are also strongly attracted to those who stimulate their feelings and sense of beauty. However, they begin to relate to people in their imaginations as if others were aesthetic objects, to be contemplated like works of art rather than as persons in their own right. Fours also become easily infatuated with others, holding long conversations with their lovers and friends in their imaginations. Scenes of love and longing, courtship and romance, possessing the other in sexual ecstasy, and the bitter sorrows of letting go of the beloved play themselves out.

    From this stage on, Fours long for a deep and intimate relationship with someone who will "recognize" them for who they are. They want someone to see them and validate their identity in the way they feel their parents did not. They are therefore always on the lookout for love. Fours spend a great deal of time recalling brief meetings with acquaintances or casual glances across a crowded street, searching for the potential meanings of these encounters and wondering if the other is the special person who will see them and accept them. Most Fours at this Level like to see themselves as loners, but actually, they are constantly looking to get into a relationship with whoever has engaged their feelings and sense of beauty.

    Unfortunately, the great part of their relationships takes place almost solely in their imaginations, without others ever being aware of their attention or the degree of their ardor. By using their imaginations, average Fours heighten the emotional impact of relationships, making them into something extremely exciting, while sparing themselves the problems of self-exposure and rejection. Naturally, this approach to people is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is that others inevitably turn out to be quite different from what Fours imagined them to be.

    While there is nothing wrong with being imaginative, once the desire to heighten emotions in fantasy takes root, things start to become imbalanced because average Fours relate to their fantasies instead of to reality. The intuition we saw in healthy Fours has deteriorated into the unlimited use of the imagination as a way of making up to themselves for experiences they do not actually have.

    Level 5: The Self-Absorbed Romantic

    As average Fours become more involved in cultivating their moods and romantic fantasies about themselves and others, they begin to believe that too much interaction with the world, and especially with other people, will cause the fragile self-image they are creating to fall apart. They control access to themselves because they fear that other people will shame them or point out all of the ways that they are not like the image of themselves they are forming in their imaginations. For example, they may imagine themselves to be great artists, but do not spend much time actually creating art or may have doubts about the quality of what they are producing. In their imaginations, however, anything is possible, and average Fours want to surround themselves only with those people and situations that will support their self-image.

    At this stage average Fours are reserved, shy, and extremely private—melancholy outsiders, painfully self-conscious. They want to let others know about who they believe they really are, but fear that they will be humiliated or laughed at. This is not an entirely unreasonable fear, because Fours probably have developed a persona which has little connection with their own background or experience (like the person from a small, Midwestern town who affects a British accent to feel more refined and sophisticated). Fours have now begun to reject themselves, but rather than trying to impress others with an idealized self-image, like Threes, Fours' self-doubt causes them to withhold their idealized self—including most of their authentic thoughts and feelings—from all but a few close confidants. Fours rationalize their withholding from others by viewing others as incapable of appreciating the subtlety of their feelings. ("There's no point throwing pearls before swine.")

    They begin to avoid many people rather than risk the emotional problems involved with communicating anything about themselves. Instead, they seek the company of individuals who they see as kindred souls and exclude those who do not share their sensibilities. When Fours do find someone who they feel understands them, they pour out their hearts in long conversations that can stretch late into the night. At last, they are not alone—someone has come to share their world.

    The ardor and excitement average Fours feel in encounters of these kinds is an indication of how deeply they long to be understood, and even rescued. They want to have someone in their lives who will alleviate their loneliness and, above all, be the good parent they are secretly seeking. However, if they are to continue eliciting the attention of a rescuer, average Fours must also continue to have problems and not allow themselves to become too functional. Although they typically see themselves as loners, they actually require "high maintenance" from other people. In fact, average Fours begin to evaluate how much they mean to others by how much others are willing to tolerate their emotional ups and downs and their neediness. They can be difficult and sometimes play "hard to get," but not to the extent of driving the other away, or so they hope.

    In any case, average Fours will only allow people who support their ephemeral self-image to be around them. They insist that others respect the delicacy of their feelings, and by being temperamental and emotionally volatile, may cause others to "walk on eggshells" so as not to upset their fragile equilibrium. While it is certainly true that average Fours are experiencing emotional confusion and doubts about their identity, they also use their vulnerability to get attention and to control others. They demand that others tolerate their peccadilloes and mannerisms while generally being highly impatient with the habits of others.

    Few people are willing to spend much time with average Fours because their relationships are often little more than long discussions about the Four's feelings and problems. While healthy Fours are stimulating company because they are attentive to others and are curious about the world, average Fours are uninterested in anything that does not immediately impact on their feelings and their quest for identity. They do not really want to know about other persons' experiences unless they relate directly to something they have been brooding about. Of course, the reasons for this are not difficult to understand. Fours are becoming worn out by their self-doubt and their frustrating search for a self-image that feels true to them. They feel that they simply do not have sufficient emotional resources to deal with other people's problems. Nonetheless, Fours are still self-aware enough to recognize the discrepancies between their fantasized ideal self and the realities of their life. This only adds further confusion and causes them to be more unsure of themselves. It is difficult for them to meet people, to make small talk, or to work with anyone else. Average Fours feel socially inept and uncomfortable around most people, not so much because they do not like people—quite the contrary, they long to have intimate, intense relationships, as we have seen—but because they are so self-conscious that they cannot function well. Naturally, social requirements and the needs of others become a burden to them. Thus, Fours do not go out of their way to meet others; rather, they secretly want people to seek them out. They project an aura of silence and aloofness, hoping that someone will notice them and take the trouble to approach them. While others may think that they are mysterious, or perhaps profound, Fours at this Level are simply attempting to disguise their growing emotional vulnerabilities behind the protective haze of exotic mystery. If someone has hurt their feelings and Fours have withdrawn to lick their wounds, their withdrawal is as aggressive an act as average Fours allow themselves, a denial of their presence to the other, although it annoys Fours greatly if the offender does not realize that they have done so.

    Many of their problems stem from the fact that average Fours take everything personally. Theymust interiorize their experiences—feel their feelings—for their experiences to have meaning to them.But by interiorizing everything, average Fours become vulnerable and uncomfortably self-conscious —"hypersensitive." For example, a curt reply by a cab driver can ruin their day, and a perceptively critical comment from a friend can become a thorn in their side for months. If anyone should tease them or prick at their defenses, average Fours feel "cut to the quick" and do not know how to respond.("What does so-and-so mean by that?") In many cases, Fours begin to hear negative reviews even in compliments. If a friend congratulates them on losing weight, they may spend hours feeling insulted that the person was actually commenting on how fat they had been. They simply cannot be easygoing or spontaneous, since their increasing self-absorption does not allow it.

    Because they internalize all their experiences, everything seems to be connected with everything else. Every new experience affects them, gathering associated meanings until everything becomes overloaded, full of private associations. If they are healthy, this richness of emotional connections feeds their creativity, because their internalized and augmented experiences become available as inspirations. But the ironic result of self-absorption is that average Fours begin to lose touch with their emotions. They feel confused, amorphous, unanchored to anything permanent in themselves.

    Rather than help to sort out their feelings, constant self-absorption makes average Fours feel more inadequate. They begin to doubt their ability to sustain contact with the environment, or to defend themselves adequately, since they feel so vulnerable and storm tossed. They become extremely conscious of not fitting into the environment as easily as others seem to and they begin to envy others and secretly resent them. It is a short step from "Why do I feel this way?" to "What is wrong with me?" Self-doubts assail them, as do problems with self-esteem and hostile feelings about others.

    While healthy Fours can be quite comfortable when they are alone, average Fours often feel lonely. They feel that, at best, they are only tolerated by others (seldom really liked), and any problems in their relationships will invariably result in rejection, something which will only confirm their worst fears about themselves. Their assessment of their social situation may or may not be accurate, but average Fours give themselves few opportunities to find out.

    This is not a satisfying way to live, even for Fours. To solve their problems, they begin to withdraw, feeling that they are being called away from the environment by something inside themselves, although they are not sure by what. It is as if they have been physically wounded and were bleeding to death. Before they can resume their lives, Fours feel they must obtain the first aid they need. Some inner disorder must be attended to before they can give their attention to anything else.

    They brood about themselves. And because they are emotionally vulnerable to real or imagined slights, they become extremely moody. This becomes the precondition for every action as average Fours constantly introspect on their feelings to see how they feel before they do anything. They put off writing letters, going to the grocery, or looking for a job until they are in the right mood. But since Fours never know when they are going to be in the right mood, things either do not get done, or they are done against internal resistance, producing no pleasure.

    This would not be as much of a problem for Fours if not for the fact that most of their moods are unpleasant. They dwell on their own shortcomings or simmer with resentment at the slights to their self-image from the "crude and insensitive" people in their lives. They may spend hours or even days rehashing old conversations and reliving their wounded feelings or endlessly imagining all the forms of revenge they will visit upon those who have frustrated them. More and more, Fours are frittering away their days in fantasy instead of taking constructive actions for themselves.

    Level 6: The Self-Indulgent "Exception"

    The longer they remain self-absorbed, the more practical and emotional difficulties Fours unwittingly create for themselves. They have not developed their social and professional skills, and their self-esteem has suffered from constant self-questioning. They feel vulnerable and unsure of themselves. In a word, average Fours feel different from others because by withdrawing to pursue their own private fantasies, they have become different. And because they are different, they feel they have needs that must be satisfied in unusual ways. They therefore want to compensate themselves for what they feel they lack by indulging their desires. They feel they are exceptions to the rule, exempt from expectations, totally free to "be themselves." The result is that they become completely undisciplined, luxuriating in whatever emotional and material pleasures they can afford.

    Fours have been trying to create a specific and consistent self-image, but at Level 6, it is so narrow that Fours have "painted themselves into a corner." Because they have defined themselves largely by all of the things they are not, by all of the things they dislike, they reject many of the normal day-to-day experiences that comprise a normal human life. They may be unwilling to hold down a regular job or even look for one, to cook or clean for themselves, or to involve themselves in any social or community affairs. They defend against their uncertainties about their identity by feeling contempt for "the rabble," the faceless herd of which they will never allow themselves to be a part. Their sense of aesthetics becomes a weapon, a way to insult and dismiss others who fail to appreciate what the Four appreciates.

    At the same time, while Fours have disdain for the lives of the common masses, they are filled with envy and resentment. Although they tell themselves that they want nothing to do with the pathetic lives of others, deep down the Four's self-awareness reveals the truth of whose life has become pathetic. They see the simple happiness of others in their "ordinary" jobs, marriages, and friendships, and realize the depth of their own unhappiness. Fours at Level 6 perceive others as shallow, lacking the real depth that they believe they possess, yet every instance of others' joy, unselfconsciousness, and spontaneity is like a slap in the face. If Fours could see that their "depth" has become a pretension and an illusion, that their self-absorption is costing them a real, meaningful life, they might discover a way out of their emotional quagmire. Unfortunately, many turn their back on the world and try to succor themselves for all that they believe they have been missing.

    Average Fours may once have attracted interest, and even some sympathy, from those who found their reserve and self-consciousness endearing, or at least intriguing. Others may have been touched by their shyness and vulnerability. But now the picture has changed. Self-indulgent Fours antagonize others because they are so perversely willful. They have no sense of social responsibility; they cannot be counted on for anything; and they resist all obligations, becoming petulant if anything is forced upon them either by events or by people. They take a special pride in maintaining the freedom to do things in their own way, in their own time, or not at all. ("I do what I want to do when I want to doit.")

    Because they feel different from others, they feel special and exempt from living as everyone else does, free from any obligation to follow the ordinary conventions of social life. They feel that everything is allowed because of their emotional needs: their time is their own, and they resent any intrusion whatsoever. They resist everything, from having a job to employing healthy self-discipline to cooperating with others, if they think that doing something else will make them feel better about themselves. But rather than being strengthened by their self-indulgences, average Fours are further weakened by them. By definition, self-indulgence does not satisfy real needs, only transient desires. However, because self-indulgent Fours often depend upon the support of others to maintain the freedom of their lifestyles, they do not want anyone to know the full extent of their indulgences or to call them to task for them.

    By insisting on the freedom to do as they please, they become increasingly precious and totally impractical, manifesting an effete disdain for reality. Affectations and mannerisms substitute for genuine self-expression, giving some Fours a certain dramatic "prima donna" quality. If they are still artists, their art becomes as self-indulgent and self-referential as they are. And because they are self-indulgent, they usually do not work seriously at much of anything, lapsing instead into eroticism and languorous, overwrought fantasies. Brilliant poetry, heart-rending music, and portentous winter novels pour from their imaginations—as long as they never try to write them down.

    At this stage, average Fours are still self-aware enough to know that they are missing out on many important aspects of life, particularly relationships. Consequently, they feel sorry for themselves. They may become minor hypochondriacs, worrying about themselves—since no one else does. Self-pity is among the least attractive of traits, yet average Fours indulge in it excessively because it allows them to rationalize whatever they want. It allows them to feel that life owes them something. They can revel in their tragic existence without trying to change or say no to themselves.

    Wallowing in their feelings gives self-indulgent Fours something to do, a way of occupying their time. The problem is, however, that their imaginary pleasures can never be satisfying because they are always unreal. The imagination is enticing nonetheless because it keeps their feelings at a fever pitch. By indulging their imaginations, their sense of self is kept alive, even as the life is being drained out of it.

    To make up for their lack of achievement, Fours at this stage typically give themselves over to sensuality as a way of deadening the too-sensitive self to its growing unhappiness. They may become sexually licentious, engaging in anonymous sexual activities for release, for fleeting human contact, and for excitement. Or they may lose themselves in sexual fantasies, sinking into erotic daydreams rather than making any real efforts at anything. They may masturbate frequently, virtually a symbol for their self-referential, ingrown way of life. They may become obsessed with those with whom they have fallen in love in their imaginations, providing themselves with an endless source of pain and pleasure, desire and frustration, violent and wasteful feelings. Or they may sleep excessively or abuse food, drugs, and alcohol.

    Their dependency on their imaginations has brought Fours to an overripe, unsavory state. Their emotions are too lush, as if they were rare orchids that have been kept in a hothouse all their lives—the hothouse of self-absorption. At this state, average Fours are decadent, at least in the estimation of others. Naturally, Fours do not see themselves this way—they are simply making up for their many deprivations.

    Of course, they cannot admit that they are deprived because they have deprived themselves of contact with reality. The sad fact is that by now they have abandoned the search for self, and have substituted self-gratification for the discovery of an identity which is growing ever more nebulous.



    Level 7: The Alienated Depressive

    As we have just seen, self-indulgent Fours consider themselves exempt, free to live in a world of self-gratification. In time this creates a new source of anxiety: the fear that they may lose the possibility of attaining their hopes and dreams, especially their hope of self-actualization. Actualizing themselves is what Fours have always wanted, but if something happens to make them feel that that dream has been lost, they suddenly feel cut off from themselves. Something they have done or failed to do now comes home to roost, and suddenly they "spiral in" to some core of themselves, both in shock and to protect themselves from even more loss.

    Unhealthy Fours are angry at themselves for what they have done to themselves. They realize that they have wasted precious time, missed opportunities, and have fallen behind others in almost every way—personally, socially, and professionally—and they feel acutely ashamed. They envy others— everyone else seems to be happy, accomplished, and successful in the many ways in which Fours feel they are not. They see, much to their sorrow, that withdrawal into self-absorption has not turned out to be a way of finding themselves. Instead, things have gone wrong: they are wasting their lives, and they know it. They feel terribly confused and racked with self-doubt. They feel like failures—they have not accomplished anything worthwhile, and fear that they never will.

    Unhealthy Fours unconsciously inhibit themselves from having any kind of meaningful desires because they do not want to be hint any more, especially by having desires and expectations for themselves. The result is a sudden total blockage of all feelings, as if life had suddenly been drained from them. Whatever fulfillment they may once have found in their creative work, whatever hopes they may have had suddenly vanish. They instantaneously become fatigued, apathetic, alienated from themselves and others, sinking into emotional paralysis, barely able to function.

    Exerting themselves in any way is extraordinarily difficult. They cannot bring themselves to sit in front of an easel or a typewriter until their creative juices begin to flow again; nor can they call friends or go to a movie. Looking for work or finding a therapist is out of the question. They feel like staying in bed all day, and often do. Ironically, unhealthy Fours can no longer be self-indulgent even if they wanted to, because they simply cannot bring themselves to get involved with anything.

    As angry at themselves as they are, unhealthy Fours fear expressing their anger lest it make things worse. If they are angry at someone else—a romantic interest, for example—for disappointing their expectations, unhealthy Fours are so enraged that they cannot stand being in the same room with the former beloved, the object of such recent erotic obsessions. They are so angry that they hold themselves back from showing reactions of any kind, insofar as it is possible. (Others, however, can see that they look desolate, sigh deeply, and are close to tears.)

    Fours at this Level often feel that everyone has let them down. They are furious with their families, their friends, the world, and themselves, and view their problems as, if not insurmountable, certainly worse than everyone else's. Fours have always wanted to see themselves as unique, but unhealthy Fours can find uniqueness only in the degree of their suffering: they suffer more than anyone else. (It often comes as a humiliating shock to Fours in therapy or recovery to discover that others have suffered as much as they have, and in some cases even more.) However, the fact that others are also suffering does not discount the fact that unhealthy Fours really are in a great deal of pain and cannot find ways to express it or release it. Their anger and grief feel too vast to experience in their entirety, so Fours use whatever energy they have left to hold it back.

    Unhealthy Fours are still self-aware, and they realize that they are depressed and on the verge of becoming even more depressed. They know that only with the greatest difficulty will they be able to keep themselves from going under emotionally. An inner light is going out, one which they fear may never be rekindled. Everything seems to be futile and dying.

    Level 8: The Emotionally Tormented Person

    Depressed and alienated from themselves and others, unhealthy Fours go from bad to worse. They fear that because of their depression and inability to function, they are doomed. Their disappointment with themselves intensifies into a consuming self-hatred. Neurotic Fours turn against themselves with an absolutely withering self-contempt, seeing only the worst in themselves. They excoriate themselves about everything: the mistakes they have made, the time they have wasted, their unworthiness to be loved by anyone, their worthlessness as human beings. They are caught in the grip of obsessionally negative thoughts, and their relentless self-reproaches become a form of delusional thinking into which no ray of hope can intrude.

    Morbid fantasies become obsessions. They are convinced that they are outcasts in life, sacrificial victims, endlessly suffering for what their parents have done to them and what they have done to themselves. They feel pathetic, rightly rejected by everyone. They also feel guilty for existing: they have contributed nothing, and people would be better off without them. Their self-hatred is like an electron accelerator whipping incidents of virtually no significance into formidable forces, smashing them into what little self-esteem remains. Not only are unhealthy Fours convinced that they are utterly and permanently defective, they are also convinced that others regard them as contemptuously as they regard themselves. They have absolutely no self-confidence, and no reason to hope that they will ever be able to acquire any. A chasm of inner darkness has opened inside them, like a black hole draining whatever life they have.

    They are extremely distraught, yet unable to shake themselves free of the self-accusations and feelings of hopelessness plaguing them. They may sit alone for hours, barely breathing and yet violently tormented. They may burst into tears and uncontrollable sobbing, then retreat once again into silence and intense inner suffering.

    They sabotage themselves in various ways, wrecking what few opportunities remain for them and hurling irrational accusations at their remaining friends and supporters. They still hope that someone will see their plight and rescue them, that the "good parent" may still appear, but that hope seems increasingly remote and eventually becomes another source of self-torture. If there has been drug or alcohol abuse it is rapidly escalated. Their fantasies, such as they are, become morbid and death-obsessed. Everything becomes a source of torment to them: the whole of life becomes an unbearable reminder of their alienation from it. If they were once artists, their unfinished work mocks them; if they were once in love with someone, their failure in love mocks them; if they once had a family or a job, their failures there mock them as well.

    Unfortunately, some of their self-accusations may have a basis in fact. Because of their self-absorption and self-indulgence, Fours may have missed many opportunities to do something positive with their lives. To some extent, they are responsible for bringing their anguish upon themselves, and they know it—which is why their self-accusations cut so deeply. But rather than truly expiate guilt by punishing themselves, their self-hatred only destroys whatever inner resources they still possess. The only way out is to do away with their tormented consciousness altogether.

    Level 9: The Self-Destructive Person

    If conditions do not change for the better, their despair becomes so deep that neurotic Fours will attempt to destroy themselves, one way or another. When they become hopeless, what remains to be seen is the form their despair will take—whether they will kill themselves directly or indirectly, through drugs or alcohol or some other means.

    It is difficult for other personality types to understand that because of their self-hatred, neurotic Fours feel cut off from life itself. Everything in the world—everything positive, beautiful, good, and worth living for—has become a rebuke to them, and they cannot bear the thought of living that way for the rest of their lives. They must do something to escape from their crushingly negative self-consciousness. In essence, neurotic Fours must rid themselves of themselves, since they feel defeated by life and see no way of coming to life again.

    While suicide attempts as a way of eliciting help are possible, many neurotic Fours believe that they are utterly hopeless, and so intend to have their suicide work. Despairing Fours may embrace death as the final solution to the ongoing problems of their lives. Death is a welcome chance to leave their sorrows, a hoped-for annihilation of their painful self-consciousness.

    Suicide is not only a way of escaping from their intense mental suffering, it is a rebuke to others for not helping them enough, for not understanding their needs, for not caring about them. From the Four's point of view, others' lack of love and understanding has driven them to take their own life. Suicide is the ultimate act of withdrawal, an aggressive act by which Fours inflict suffering on others without having to be aggressive, or guilty, or responsible.
    Although Fours are far more likely to destroy themselves, in their emotional torment they are also capable of murdering the people they feel are responsible for mining their lives. If a major disappointment in love played a role in the Four's descent, their jealousy may overwhelm them, causing them to impulsively commit a crime of passion, killing the object of their unrequited love before taking their own lives.

    Suicide also holds another attraction: it is the one thing in life over which despairing Fours still feel they have any control. By contemplating suicide, they feel that they remain the masters of something, even if it is only the possibility of saying no to life, of refusing to go on being tormented. The mere thought that, if they wished, they could put an end to themselves is a source of comfort.

    Before they have reached this stage, Fours have doubtless thought about suicide many times. The danger is that the more they think about it, the more they may become infatuated with death as a solution to their problems. When they are in despair, having rehearsed suicide so often in their imaginations, they may act without any more consideration or warning to others.

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