Contents: Please use these links to jump to the relevant sections.
- The Enneagram 7
- Identifiable Traits
- Defense Mechanisms
- Enneagram 7 Wings
- Social Variants
- Self-Preservation 7
- Social 7
- Sexual 7
- Spiritual Growth
The Enneagram 7
The gluttony of the 7 is a passion for pleasure and a deviation from their potential for self-actualization; the weakness for pleasure constitutes a general susceptibility to temptation. They are a selfish enjoyer with a love of explaining and generalization. 7s are “schemers” with an insatiable thirst for “more.”
The 7 approaches the world through the strategy of words and “good reasons” for their pursuits; they manipulate, through the intellect, others and themselves. They are dreamers who take their dreams as reality. They are charlatans in their expressiveness, being natural persuaders, and manipulators of words, and deviously overstepping the boundaries of their knowledge.
7s are not seekers of more of the same, but (romantically) seekers of the remote and the bizarre, variety, adventure, and surprise. 7s are sensitive, highly influenced by the outer world, and inclined to self-analysis, with occasional bouts of sadness and irritation. They are easily sated and quickly bored with things, restless, and novelty-seeking. They fear punishment and suffer from an “excess of optimism” that goes undaunted and untouched by reality; they are generous, bright, and sociable, with easy accessibility to new ideas and ambitions, along with cheerful expectations.
Besides their permanent longing to obtain everything, 7s have an obstinate urge to talk at length, connected to their feeling of overflowing excitement. They value what they say and have an inexhaustible resource of thoughts to share. 7s are independent and not easily overawed, full of personality, and a strong arm for others to lean upon. They are eager for leadership.
7s share a few narcissistic traits in their self-assured social behavior, and untroubled and self-satisfied air, which others may see as immodest, presumptuous, pretentious, haughty, or arrogant. These 7s can be self-centered, exploitive of others, and take them for granted, expecting others to serve them without giving much in return.
The 7 values their feelings of superiority, but hide or repress any feelings of inferiority. Their behavior may be objectionable or even irrational, but the 7 will still believe themselves superior or extra special people who are entitled to unusual rights and privileges. This is so fixed in their minds, the 7 rarely questions its validity. They view anyone who fails to respect them with conceit and scorn.
7s place few limits on their fantasies or rationalizations, and lets their imagination run free of the constraints of reality or the view of others. They exaggerate their powers and freely transform failures into successes, indulge in lengthy and intricate rationalizations for their selfish behaviors to inflate their self worth or justify what they feel is their due, quickly depreciating those who refuse to accept or enhance their self-image. Their focus on their optimistic imaginations makes them fanciful, believing themselves “okay” and in a constant state of positive well-being. They are cheerful and carefree. If anyone bursts this balloon, the 7 becomes irritable and annoyed, followed by bouts of dejection, humiliation, and inner emptiness.
7s possess high expectations and encouragements. They trust others and feel confident of positive outcomes. They may view the routine demands of daily life as demeaning or annoying chores, because they intrude upon the 7’s illusion of self as almost godlike. They easily muster reasons to avoid ‘pedestrian’ tasks. They run the risk of believing whatever they believe must be true, and what they wish must be right. 7s are talented in rationalizing their social inconsiderateness, but because they reflect so little on what others think, their defensive maneuvers are transparent to others.
Waiting for anything for a 7 is abhorrent, and they freely give in to their impulses, followed by refusing to take responsibility for their actions and rationalizations of ‘how it happened.’
7s have a keen awareness of anything new and in the making, and are always seeking out new possibilities. They feel suffocated in stable conditions. The 7 seizes on new objects or situations with great intensity and tremendous enthusiasm, only to abandon it cold-bloodedly. They may fritter away their life on things and people, never staying anywhere long enough to create an abundance upon which they can live.
The 7 is forever seeking strategies and tactics that will pay off. They may assume they know everything and do everything well, while in fact being lazy, confusing, and negligent. They cast an illusion of a superior intelligence with systems, techniques, synthesis, inventions, exuberant but erroneous theological imagination… all beautifully illustrated frauds.
Some 7s show a total lack of interest in material things or financial matters. They are not slow, but their heads are so far in the clouds, they are engrossed in thought while reality passes by unobserved. Some 7s are visible opportunists, others hide self-interest behind friendliness, and some are dreamers not of this world.
Gluttony: they are more than just open minded, but probing. 7s experience takes them from an insufficient here to a promising there. They hide their frustration with life behind enthusiasm, and bury it out of their consciousness. They are ‘gluttons’ for that which is remarkable or extraordinary, magical or mysterious. They are anti-conventional and idealistic, possessing a progressive outlook.
Hedonistic Permissiveness: 7s avoid suffering and embrace hedonism. They are permissive and self-indulgent. They have a laissez-faire attitude toward others, and may collaborate with them in pushing them toward their vices. They possess a spoiled attitude of entitlement to gratification, and have a “playboy” attitude toward life. They turn to hedonism and self-indulgence to avoid their pain; their optimism is to make themselves and everyone else okay, and the whole world a good place to live in. In the eyes of a 7, the world is a place of no good or evil, nor guilt, no should, no duties, and no need to make any efforts—for it is enough to enjoy.
Rebelliousness: you need rebelliousness to be self-indulgent. The 7 often finds a humorous side to conventional prejudices. They pair anti-conventional attitudes with intellectual rebellion and behavioral compliance. This makes them the idealists of revolutions, not their activists. They have a diplomatic rather than oppositional regard for authority, preferring a psychological environment and an equalitarian approach to others. 7s don’t take authority too seriously nor present themselves as authorities to others, except to impress beneath a veil of modesty.
Lack of Discipline: 7s pair this with instability and a lack of commitment. They are undisciplined because they are not interested in postponing pleasure, and perceive self-denial as loveless-ness.
Imaginary Wish-Fulfillment: they cling to fantasy and plans in a dull and frustrating world. To escape the harsh realities of life, the 7 embraces future potential and lives imaginatively in them rather than in reality.
Seductively Pleasing: the 7 experiences love through pleasure and enjoy fulfilling others’ pleasure-needs as a method of seduction. They please through helpfulness and a problem-free, cheerful contentedness. They are warm, helpful, friendly, obliging, selflessly ready to serve, and generous. They are excellent hosts and big spenders, buying love rather than truly giving it. But this ‘giving’ includes a catch; they are exploiters who feel entitled to care and affection in return. 7s are entertaining and humorous. They are good at making others feel light-hearted in their presence. Because this makes the 7 feel good, they may compulsively be the happiness ringleader. They do this by repressing and avoiding pain and unpleasant experiences, and bury their anxiety.
Narcissism: the 7 is an exhibitionist who considers themselves well-informed and intellectually superior. This can mean a compulsion to explain things. The 7 may adopt a saintly image, even while asserting their superiority, wisdom, and kindness. They mask this attitude by a non-assuming, appreciative, and equalitarian style. Secretly, however, the 7 may feel inferior and insecure. To combat this, the 7 clings to the grandiose self, rather than the less desirable truth. 7s are witty and charming, using the latter to seduce others and ensure they get what they want.
Persuasive: in order to pleasure-seek, the 7 must become a skillful explainer and good at rationalizations for their behaviors. They will use any excuse to avoid taking unpleasant responsibility or admitting their flaws. They convince themselves of their own wisdom, superiority, respectability, and goodness of intentions. Being pleasing to others serves their persuasion skills. They like to influence others through advice. They find satisfaction in being helpful. They are highly intelligent, loquacious, and good at ‘suggesting’ to others.
Fraudulence: the 7 may confuse reality with imagination, projects and accomplishments, potentialities and realizations. They are pleasing but primarily takers; they hide anxiety and aggression behind humor and self-indulgence; their generosity hides their exploitative nature.
Rationalization and denial. They learn early in life to excuse the indulgence of wants with “good reasons.” They invent a reason for an attitude or an action to which they do not acknowledge or admit their motives. It distracts them and the other person from the ‘real reason.’ In making their reasons good and noble, the 7 feeds the demands of the superego. The 7 denies guilt in favor of an idealized self, an idealized world, and an idealized existence. They suspend criticality and blaming for optimism and a belief there is no need to struggle. The 7 also uses the defense tactic of sublimation—or turning their mental energies toward their desired ends, and re-labeling their self-interest as altruistic motivation. They substitute the impulses by images, plans, and their own resourcefulness for their real goal.
7s have intellectual and spiritual interests along with social extroversion and an active, restless disposition. They are highly intuitive, with verbal tenacity and are often mentally gifted.
What formed them: many 7s possessed idyllic or happy childhoods that came to an abrupt end through a ‘fall from paradise,’ either through loss, unpleasant circumstances, or a change of situation. The 7 child may have gone from a warm, loving environment into a harsh school full of bullies or unpleasantness and sought refuge from the outer world in a fantasy world. A too-strict parent might cause mild, witty, but rationalizing rebelliousness in the 7 child, who does what they like and refuses to apologize for it. Or there is another 7 in the household, to whom the 7 child clings and idealizes.
7s tend to equate pleasure-seeking with love; to them, love means the indulging of their wishes, and they attract love by being funny, clever, ingenious, or witty. The 7 substitutes pleasure for love, which is an obstacle towards them having a satisfying love life. Their gluttony is an attempt to fill their emptiness. They perceive that they lack ‘inside’ something that others possess, and turn to pleasure instead, the joys of ‘false abundance.’
The avoidance of pain and the confusion between love and pleasure leads the 7 to fail to bring about a deeper meaningfulness than what is currently available. Seeking only what is pleasing means the 7 struggles to find their own depth. Their manipulations divorce them from a sense of community, and fail to mask their emptiness.
Until the 7 learns to find value in the present, and in reality, they will continue to live in a futuristic fantasy world. In developing ‘staying power’ and understanding true love does not mean always surrendering to one’s impulses, the 7 will come to know the fullness of life, and find themselves.
Enneagram 7 Wings
Enneagram types often have influences from the number on one side of them, more than the other. While it’s possible to have balanced wings, or no wing at all, most people can relate to one wing in particular.
7w6: The Entertainer
Healthy: 7w6s are productive and playful, retaining a belief in life’s goodness and the joy of existence. They are often curious and creative, with an excellent sense of humor and a more positive outlook than the 7w8. They have quick minds, a cooperative spirit, and organizational abilities—enabling them to accomplish a great deal, seemingly with little effort. They seek variety and have the ability to interact easily with people—show business, public relations, advertising, and the world of entertainment are naturals for them.
Average: Excited by new ideas, fast-talking, witty, and engaging, 7w6s have high energy and provide moments of high spirits for others. They are generally productive can easily lose focus, become scattered, and have less follow-through than 7w8s. To the extent that they are insecure, there can be a revved-up, manic, nervous quality to them. Looking for strong experiences, they are often either in a relationship or looking for one. They do not like to be left alone but have high requirements for intimates. They often have conflicts between a desire to move on to greener pastures and fear of losing connection. There is the possibility of substance abuse due to anxiety and hidden feelings of inferiority.
7w8: The Realist
Healthy: 7w8s truly enjoy the world and are materialistic in the broadest sense of the word. They combine quickness with drive, often leading to material success and positions of power and prominence. They are determined to get what they want from life; they think strategically and can rapidly organize their internal and external resources in pursuit of their desires. They are earthy, practical, and tough-minded. Their sense of humor expresses itself in a biting wit and a taste for the outrageous.
Average: They apply their energies in many directions, multitasking or even “multicareering.” They can be aggressive and have the willpower and drive to take care of their own needs. They are more workaholic-inclined than the 7w6, coming from a strong desire to accumulate possessions and experiences (“I’m worth it!”). Their focus is more on generating activities than on connecting with people. They tend to be pragmatic about relationships—looking for a partner, not a romantic fantasy figure. They are not afraid to be alone and are clear about their own expectations and how much they will tolerate. Directness can verge on bluntness and on pushing people out of the way to get what they want. They can be jaded and callous, in contrast to the hyper enthusiasm of the 7w6.
Read through each to determine which resonates the most with you.
The Self Preservation 7: Getting Mine
Average self-preservation 7s are determined, energetic people, driven to make sure their basic needs and comforts will always get met. Their attitudes and concerns tend to emphasize the practical and the material. They tend to be ambitious and work hard to insure that options will remain open to them.
They are classic consumers. They enjoy shopping, traveling, and pampering themselves, making it their business to gather information about potential sources of enjoyment (catalogues, movie listings, travel and restaurant guides, etc). They are especially on the lookout for sales and bargains, and like discussing such things with friends. While they enjoy socializing, they also fear developing dependencies on others and avoid having others depend on them.
Less healthy self-preservation 7s can feel impatient and panicky when their needs are not quickly met. They experience anxiety about the loss of comforts or material support and easily feel deprived. (Fears about going hungry are not uncommon.) They can be extremely demanding and cranky when frustrated, expecting others to meet their needs as soon as they are expressed—or even sooner. Unhealthy 7s can be extremely thoughtless and relentless in pursuit of their security and pleasure needs. They aggressively go after whatever they believe will make them feel more secure or to stave off their anxiety, and brook no interference. Recklessness with their finances and resources, spending out of control or gambling, they can be even more profligate with their own health and inner resources. They push themselves beyond reasonable limits, eating drinking, and indulging themselves to excess.
When self-preservation Sevens have the sexual instinct as their second most dominant instinct, they can look more like 6 (more isolated, overly careful, and strategic), and when they have the social instinct in second place, they may look more like magnanimous 8s (people-oriented and impulsive). However, unlike 6s, they tend to be relentlessly positive and to find security through pursuing their self-interest; and in contrast to 8s, they tend to be motivated by a survival fear or anxiety deeper down, even if they aren’t always aware of it.
The Social 7: Missing Out
Social Sevens experience an inner taboo on selfishness and want to be seen as the “good child” or the “good person.” They experience repressed guilt for hiding their self-interest in the guise of good, and they may project their disowned guilt for their unacknowledged gluttony onto others, then judge them for not being committed or dedicated enough. These Sevens may also distrust themselves because they know they mix up altruism and self-interest; they may judge their own deeper motivations as “bad” or “self-interested.”
Average social 7s cultivate a group of friends and “advisors” who share enthusiasms and interests with them. They keep the 7 informed of new possibilities and provide the stimulation and variety they enjoy. Idelaistic people, they like getting involved with social interactions and causes, finding these activities exciting. However, once involved in projects with others, they can become frustrated and feel bogged down by others’ slower pace. At such times, social responsibility begins to feel burdensome—they are caught in a conflict between the desire to fulfill their commitments and to go off and do their own thing.
They are always on the lookout for a more stimulating setting. They also resent authority, seeking it as arbitrary and unnecessary—yet another source of social restrictions. Less healthy 7s scatter their energy and resources and half-commit. They make sure to fill their calendars and ate books, but also pencil in backup plans so they are not trapped in any particular course of action. They tend to have many pokers in the fire, but are too distracted to get white-hot about any of them. They are friendly and engaging, even charming, but easily feel trapped and may cancel appointments or dates with little or no notice if anxiety or a more promising social engagement presents itself.
Unhealthy social 7s tend to dissipate their focus, force, and talent in endless succession of planning sessions never brought to fruition. They leave a trail of loose ends and broken hearts, never alighting anywhere for long. They are unsettled and unsettling since flight from anxiety renders them irresponsible and leads them into potentially dangerous and destructive “social scenes.”
Because of their enthusiasm and joyfulness, as well as their prominent desire to help and be of service, these 7s can resemble 2s—but while Twos focus primarily on others and don’t have as much of a connection with their own selves, 7s are primarily self-referencing, not other-referencing, so they will usually know what they need, even if they decide to sacrifice it. Their desire to help is born of the need to go against a sense of self-interest, not just a desire for approval, so they have a more direct experience of their own needs and wants despite their tendency to make efforts to serve others or a higher good. These are people who are very pure—and in this way they can also look 1ish—but theirs is a goodness for applause, a desire to reach an ideal of perfection or purity that’s based on social consensus (as opposed to 1’s internally generated sense of what is “right”).
The Sexual 7: The Neophile
Average Sexual 7s are always looking for something new and beyond the ordinary; like 4s, they reject the mundane. In all their interactions and activities, they want to experience the intense charge of being alive. They see life through heightened imagination, idealizing themselves, their relationships, and reality. They have a wide-raning curiosity and interest and are fascinated by new ideas and topics they see as being on the cutting edge. They are magnetized by people they find interesting or refreshing. When their sexual radar locks onto that person, they do not hesitate to approach them with charm and genuine interest. They feel temporarily dazzled and hypnotized by the object of their curiosity and may induce similar feelings in others.
These 7s enjoy the excitement of fantasizing about future interests and adventures with this new person. They love wild ideas, wit, and humor—their minds move quickly but this can cause restlessness with themselves and their relationships. Their heat burns fast and then abruptly dies. Less healthy sexual 7s become fickle with their interests and their affections. They fear commitment, preferring the intense feelings of infatuation that occur in the earliest stages of a relationship. (They love falling in love, not being in love.) They revel in the romance and the process of mutual discovery, but as soon as the feelings become familiar, they are ready to explore other possibilities. Their restlessness causes them to lack discernment. They may get involved in faddish or sensational ideas in glitzy packaging that are little more than temporary distractions. Disappointment soon follows.
Unhealthy sexual 7s become even more reckless in their pursuit of charged excitement. They may involve themselves in crazy schemes and unrealistic or dangerous love affairs. They become thrill-seekers, looking for more and more extraordinary sources of entertainment while being less and less affected by any of it. They become hardened and dissipated from living on the edge, often burning out or damaging themselves in some permanent way from their excesses.
Spiritual Growth Suggestions
As 7s work on themselves and become more self-aware, they learn to escape the trap of pursuing more superficial pleasures and avoiding the enjoyment of a deeper experience of themselves. They do this by slowing down and allowing themselves to be present, appreciating the value of their fear and their pain, and finding the joy in personal connections that comes when they connect with their own depths.
Notice when you are…
Focusing on pleasure as a way to escape pain. Observe what happens when you speed up and head toward an experiences that promises you pleasure. Get clearer about your motives when you feel driven toward a particular experience of pleasure. Ask yourself if you’re moving toward fun to avoid the threat of feeling uncomfortable. What are you getting away from? Notice if you change the subject during a conversation to avoid an unpleasant topic. Tune into the ways you may flee when painful feelings threaten to arise. Think about what motivates you when your search for fun intensifies or you distract yourself with stimulating ideas while trying to focus on something less interesting. Inquire into your feelings if something painful happens and notice your responses. Notice how you devalue specific experiences by framing them negatively, thereby rationalizing your avoidance of them.
Confusing indulgence and freedom from limits with love. Observe what happens when you engage in “soft rebellion.” Notice how you experience the “authorities” in your life. Notice how you respond to the constraints others place on you. What kinds of things do you feel limited by? How do you react to them? Tune into any fear or anxiety connected to these experiences. What do you imagine fuels your fear? Notice the ways you might indulge in pleasure when what you really want is love. Note if you equate limitation with a lack of love, and indulgence with love, and think about why. Consider what you really want from the people around you, and note if you substitute involving them in fun instead of love or attention.
Living for or in the future as a way of avoiding the present. Observe what is happening when you are focused on the future. Do you feel a compulsion to plan for future adventures? Notice what your visions of the future look like and how they might function as a way to escape the present. Think about what’s happening now instead of then. Do you tend to imagine excessively optimistic future scenarios? What motivates you at a deeper level to do this? Is there something you’re trying to get away from? Slow your pace and observe what happens, especially if any feelings or sensations arise.
Questions to ask yourself:
- How and why did these patterns develop?
- What emotions are these patterns designed to protect me from?
- Why am I doing this?
- How are these patterns operating in me?
- What are my blind spots, because of these patterns?
- What do they keep me from seeing?
- What are the consequences of continuing to be this way?
- How do my coping mechanisms trap me?
To counter-act focusing on pleasure as a way to escape pain.
- Make yourself more mindful of the movement from pleasure to pain. See your escape as an illusion. Slow down the process of escaping into fun and watch how it happens. The more you can watch yourself deny, avoid, or run away from pain, the more you can make a conscious choice to stay with hard things, survive them, and grow from them.
- Don’t mistake a bag of wind for a bag of treasure. You will create more pain for yourself when you focus only on pleasure. The pretty pictures you create in your mind might not amount to anything. If you really want to live, you have to experience occasional pain. As long as you believe escape is an option, through pleasure, fun, and planning, you will not make inner progress on your journey.
- Recognize the pleasure of your pain and the pain that comes from living only for pleasure. Allowing yourself to feel your fears and touch into your pain can lead to more pleasure in life and relationships. Too much of a good thing often leads to some kind of pain. Remind yourself of this, to help reverse the process of escapism.
To counter-act confusing indulgence and freedom from limits with love.
- Recognize anxiety as a side effect of liberation. Remind yourself that anxiety is an inherent part of being free, not something you escape by seeking unlimited freedom. Walking toward it instead of fleeing from it (and understanding its sources) can help you work through it and truly become free of it.
- Learn the difference between love and pleasure. Real love and relationships require bringing all of yourself to your experience with others, not just the happy or pleasurable parts. Notice when you are using pursing fun and pleasure as a substitute for love. It’s the quality of your contact with others that is important in your fulfillment, not pleasure.
- Reference others as a way of balancing freedom and connection. You tend to pay attention to and focus on your own needs, feelings, and desires. Learning to focus more consciously on others helps you balance out your compulsive need for freedom with a stronger ability to be present for and with other people. Learn to sink more deeply into your connections, not to find refuge through stimulation, but to bring the fulfillment of your own experience into more intimate contact with all of someone else. Often, this is fun and exciting. Sometimes, it isn’t. Stay. Be “with” your friends and family’s down moods and painful struggles as well as their joys.
To counter-act living for the future as a way of avoiding being present now.
- See all the ways you go to “then” to escape from “now.” Notice how you focus on the future as an escape from the present moment. Notice yourself becoming absorbed in futuristic fantasies. Try to see how you could bring what you are longing for into the present moment. Focus on today instead of tomorrow or next week. Realize the urge to plan a getaway is a sign you’re having trouble accepting the present. The present is the only place you can truly live. Learn to consciously live and love.
- Allow for a fuller experience of pain and other uncomfortable emotions. One aspect of your personality is the desire to avoid “growing up,” and to stay like Peter Pan, in childhood fun and indulgence. Make a concentrated effort to more fully engage with adulthood and pain, as part of the process to becoming all you can be. Use meditation, the support of others, or supportive practices, and reap the benefits of being awake to self.
- Risk living in the present. Practice being “here.” Come back into your body and ground yourself in your breath or check how you are feeling. Challenge yourself to see what’s wonderful in the moment. If you find this hard or boring, ask others to help you. Find support for the difficult feelings that may arise. Learn to see that it is the deeper experience of all their feelings in the “now” that provides you with a portal to your greater self.
Using your integration and disintegration numbers for self-growth:
Move to 1 by allowing for a clearer idea of what is good and right and seeking to serve a higher good. Move out of your dreams and fantasies into direct action, making something of your desire to create and actually finishing things. Moving through 1 discipline and follow-through will help you make the possibilities you imagine more practical, achievable, and polished. You will learn diligence, discipline, responsibility, and dedication to a higher social good. It will balance out self-interest with selflessness, and bring your dreams into reality through hard work. Blend your enthusiasm with practicality as a way of making things happen. The 1s objective, critical analysis can help you structure your visions.
Move to 5 by allowing yourself to become less social, less busy, and more thoughtful. Become more internal and involved in your thoughts in a less manic way. Recognize the need to rest, relax, and not have to manage the outside world through diplomacy or humor. Honor that part of yourself that might need to withdraw, hide out, and enjoy private pleasures. Remind yourself it’s okay to retreat once in awhile. Shift your attention from the external to the internal world and make more objective, thoughtful, considered decisions about how to spend your energy and more mindfully take care of yourself.
Main analysis from Claudio Naranjo: Character and Neurosis. Wings and Subtypes: Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Look-alike section of Subtypes and growth sections: Beatrice Chestnut, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge. Sections have been quoted but some are heavily edited. Please purchase the original books for more information.