2: Pride and the Histrionic Personality

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The Enneagram 2

Giving in the service of both seduction (out of a desire to gain love) and self-elevation is fundamental to the strategy of the Enneagram 2. It is a complex blend of self-absorption and seeming generosity. The 2 is given not only to flattery but also disdain, flattering those whom through nearness gratify his pride, but disdains most of the rest in haughty superiority. Their arrogance comes from automatically assuming themselves to be at the center of all things and a prideful intent of making themselves visible.

The 2 shares some things in common with the 7 in that both are gentle, sweet, and warm people; both are said to be seductive; and both are narcissistic in the general sense of being delighted with themselves; both are impulsive, and use seductiveness in the service of their impulsiveness, yet they do this in different ways; the 2 seduces emotionally and the 7 intellectually.

The main contrast is that while the 7 can be amiable and diplomatic, the 2 can be either sweet or aggressive (their motto may as well be “make love and war”). The 2 may develop an attitude of being so good as to not need to compete with others in their arrogance, in contrast to the 7’s competitive, visible arrogance.

The 2 tends to fall in love with itself, an emotional process of self-loving through identification with their glorified self-image as generous, helpful, and loving. They base this on what the culture deems valuable. They are always striving to “seem to be more than what they are.” The more the 2 develops this theatrical quality, the less aware they are of or capable of true emotions. If this goes too far, the 2 becomes unable to experience genuine emotion, and instead becomes false and shallow. In this state, there is only a stage of theatrical and imitative experiences, rather than genuine emotion.

Taken to its extremes, the 2 most resembles the “histrionic” personality. At its worst, this can manifest self absorption, excessive exhibitionism, coldness, being sexually provocative, and emotionally stinted. Such 2s are prone to romantic fantasies about their lovers, followed by disillusionment and dissatisfaction when this person does not live up to the idealized individual in their head.

Traits shared with Histrionic Personality Disorder:

  1. Behavior that is overly dramatic, reactive, and intensely expressed by at least three of the following: self dramatics, exaggerated expressions of emotions; incessant drawing of attention to oneself; craving for activity and excitement; over reaction to minor events; irrational, angry outbursts or childish tantrums.
  2. Characteristic disturbances in interpersonal relationships as indicated by at least two of the following: perceived by others as shallow and lacking genuineness, even when superficially warm and charming; egocentric, self-indulgent, and inconsiderate of others; vain and demanding; dependent, helpless, constantly seeking reassurance; prone to manipulative suicidal threats, gestures, or attempts.

2s possess a sense of social shyness and apprehension, contrasted with their active social involvement; they fear humiliation and the shame of others’ rejection above all else. They receive pleasure in entertaining others and assuming the role of host/hostess… as long as they hold center stage.

2s are dependent upon others for attention and affection but take the initiative in securing them. They actively solicit others’ interest through a series of seductive ploys intended to gain the admiration and esteem they need. They develop an exquisite sensitivity to the moods and thoughts of those they wish to please, which enables them to attain their desired ends.

This extreme other-directness creates a pattern of fickle behaviors and emotions. The 2 is forthcoming in their emotional openness and extravagant in their dramatics. The 2 child loves to be fussed over, and gives love, attention, and compliments to those whose affections she desires to receive; as the child matures, that 2ish need for love turns to attracting potential sexual partners.

The 2 is marked by fluctuation, self-pity, and sentimentality, prone to capricious and ever-changing moods. They operate in a highly personal mode, and interpret generalities and abstractions in the light of their own thoughts, feelings, or preferences.

Identifiable Traits:

Love Need: 2s desperately need love, approval, and affection. Though proud, they do not feel fulfilled in life without a great love, and can have an excessively romantic disposition. After all, the love of another proves to the 2 they are special by being “chosen.” They desperately seek and need emotional intensity and physical closeness. They are a “touchy-feely” type, which leads to an intolerance of limits and invasiveness. Their pride causes them to get “over-involved” in their relationships and makes them possessive of “their” people.

Hedonism: 2s equate being loved with being pleased; they need to be loved erotically or through delicate expressions of tenderness. The affectionate and tender 2 can become infuriated when not indulged; they love to be made to feel loved through pampering. They have a compulsive pursuit of pleasure, and a low tolerance for routine, discipline, and other obstacles to their desired indulgent, playful life.

Seductiveness: their own attractiveness is of the utmost importance to the 2. They work hard at it, by being affectionate, warm, supportive, sensitive, empathetic, and out-reaching. They love to offer emotional or moral support, yet may not prove as helpful a friend as they suggest through their vivid expression of feeling. This can lead the 2 to failing to deliver what they appear to promise others, in a sense, “giving to get.” They may employ flattery to appeal to those they deem worthy enough to be seduced.

Assertiveness: the 2 gets their wishes fulfilled through daring assertiveness. They have a rare combination of tenderness and pugnacity (a quarrelsome nature). The 2 will “have to have their own way” even at the expense of an emotional “scene” or broken dishes.

Nurturing and False Abundance: out of pride, the 2 represses their own neediness. Though always pursuing excitement and high drama, the 2 is typically unaware of their own neediness or the reasons they feel compelled to please and be extraordinary. They insist out of pride they are “okay,” but nothing is less “okay” than to be in need of love. The 2 develops a sense of themselves as a “giver” rather than a receiver; one who is filled with satisfaction to the point of generous overflowing. Instead of admitting to their needs, the 2 over-focuses on the neediness of others, and extends them sympathy, empathy and nurturing. The 2 is especially drawn to children, who “need” their love, support, and protection. Children give love easily, which enables them to satisfy their love need covertly.

Histrionic: 2s conceal their less attractive feelings behind a façade of happiness and satisfaction. To express dissatisfaction would break the illusion that they need nothing, and reveal their codependency. 2s avoid having to submit to anyone else’s power, rules, or constraints. They are rebellious to authority (in a mischievous and humorous way). Their intensity attracts much attention (which feeds their pursuit of pleasure) and creates a larger than life self-image.

Impressionable Emotionalism: 2 is the most directly “emotional” of the 9 Enneagram types (it shares this with 4, but the 4 channels this into intellectual interests) and the most willing to use it in their favor.

Defense Mechanisms:

The 2 acts on their impulses without directly acknowledging them and deny to themselves that they even exist. The 2 is characteristically impulsive, with a need for satisfaction and a childlike inability to defer gratification. They are unaware these impulses are not meeting their true need for satisfaction, which only comes from love. Without it, they develop an insatiable need for intensity and “more.” What they really crave is love and acceptance, yet they may attempt to fulfill it through other ‘pleasures.’

Their own unawareness of their needs (especially of love) supports their pride. If made aware of their own neediness, they feel compelled to hide it from others, for that might reveal their generosity for what it is… a “giving to get,” or a giving out of a personal need to identify oneself with the position and role of a giver.

The 2 transforms envy through repression into direct action to fulfill a love need; they avoid nothing more than the “love thirst.”

What forged them:  either the 2 was a much-caressed, much loved, much favored child who learned to become dependent on such constant attentions (“mama’s prince” or “daddy’s princess”), or one who desired to be held by a tender parent. The 2 child could never receive enough proof of love. Parental rejection transformed into a 2ish pride and a desire to make oneself the center of the universe, through rebellion if necessary. Often they became a “helper” with their siblings as a way to earn approval; as the “little mother/father” of the house, they strove to keep their parents happy so they received love and attention.

A compulsive search for freedom characterizes this character’s intolerance for rules and boundaries; the demand for beautiful things from a sense of former deprivation. Their love-wish becomes a search for intimacy and the expression of tender feelings through words and caressing. Their pride comes from an early love frustration they equated with “worthlessness.” Their pride is a compensation for a perceived lack of value in simply being oneself.

Beneath their flamboyance, false elation, and energetic vitality lurks a secret recognition of emptiness. To avoid this, the 2 clings to love relationships and performs for a select group of people.

2s most need to embrace self-realization and the deep satisfaction that comes from an authentic inner experience, not one aimed at impressing others or denying their own needs through belittling them.

Enneagram 2 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.

2w1: The Servant

Healthy: These 2w1s combine warmth with seriousness of purpose, as they strive after personal goodness and selfless service. The combination of the morality of the 1 and the empathy of the 2 lead to a strong desire to relieve human suffering. These people are often Good Samaritans, willing to take on thankless and unglamorous tasks that others generally avoid. They are more-serious minded than 2w3s, more overt caretakers, often found in teaching, public service, healing professions, the ministry, and working with the disenfranchised or the physically or mentally challenged.

Average: These 2w1s feel obligated to struggle against their “selfish” attitude and feelings; they feel responsible for others’ welfare and are typically dutiful, proper, and severe with themselves. They are emotional but tend to be strained in their emotional expressions because they feel awkward about drawing attention to themselves. They prefer working in the background, yet they want to feel significant in others’ lives. 2w1s feel conflicted between their emotional needs and their principles, often leading them to get involved in moral or religious teachings. They can become extremely self-critical and neglectful of their health, denying their personal needs and tending to play the martyr.

2w3: The Host/Hostess

Healthy: 2w3s are more outgoing; they seek love through the creation of a personal connection and by making others feel good. Their self-esteem is tied to personal qualities rather than the quality of service to others. They are sociable and talkative, charming and adaptable, with much “personality” in evidence. They enjoy bestowing whatever talents and resources they possess on friends and family—cooking, entertaining, singing, and listening—all as ways of sharing their inner bounty.

Average: They are friendly and good-humored, although focused and ambitious. They are not typically into overt care-taking; more often they consider their friendship and the quality of their attention to be a sufficient gift to others. There can be a seductive aspect to them, as well as more of a focus on relationships, excessive friendliness, exaggerated sentimentality, and histrionic displays, the result of the 3’s desire for acceptance blending with the 2’s drive for intimacy. Les serious and more task-driven than the 2w1, they are also less likely to engage in self-questioning or self-criticism. They are direct about what they want, and draw attention to the services they provide. They can be self-important, high-handed, and sometimes arrogant.

Social Variants:

Read through each to determine which resonates the most with you.

The Self-Preservation 2: Entitlement

These 2s repress their own self-preservation instincts while focusing on taking care of the needs of others. They are most likely to wear themselves out for others while ignoring their own needs, often failing to get adequate rest or time for themselves. They often enjoy cooking or entertaining, but they may not eat well themselves or allow themselves to enjoy the events they host. Subconsciously, they expect others to take care of their own needs, but seldom are able to ask for help directly.  Thus they are especially prone to feelings of martyrdom. They feel others “owe” them for their services, as if to say, “I’m entitled to whatever I need because of how much I’ve done for everyone else.”

As their anxiety increases, self-preservation 2s have to find more indirect ways of meeting their needs, while their own tendency to repress their feelings and impulses distorts this. They feel self-important, taking pride in their sacrifices and increasingly feeling entitled to indulge themselves in whatever they feel will compensate for their suffering. Demands for special privileges and repayment for their sacrifices coexist with overeating and medicating to suppress aggressive feelings. Denials of their problems alternate with complaints. Either “I don’t need help” or “nobody notices my needs.” They increasingly rely on emotional manipulation of others—guilt trips—to get their needs met.

In the unhealthy range, these 2s become trapped in delusional self-importance and gross neglect or abuse of their own physical well-being. Obsessions with food and medical symptoms and syndromes are common, as are somatic disorders and hypochondria. Suppression of emotional needs or aggressive feelings, however, can create real health problems.

The self-preservation 2can look like a self-preservation 6 in that they are fearful and ambivalent about relationships, but in the 6 the emphasis is on a more generalized fear, while this 2’s fear mainly manifests in relationships. This 2 can also resemble a 4 in that they express more emotionalism and a longing for love, but they repress their needs and feelings and focus on others more than 4 do.

The Social 2: Everybody’s Friend

In the average range, the social 2 has a powerful desire to be liked and approved of by everyone in their social sphere. They usually maintain a busy social calendar and enjoy introducing people, networking, and hosting get-togethers. Others are amazed that they seem to be on a first-name basis with almost everyone. They like being the hub, the center of their social arena. They have a strong need to be noticed, remembered, and are driven by fears of being left out or overlooked.

As their need for love and attention increases, they start to seek validation through popularity or by having closer contact with people who are successful or especially valued in their group. Social 2s may have ambitions of their own, but these are mostly unconscious and indirect. They maneuver to become the indispensable supporters of those they see as successful (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”). If they are insecure about their social desirability, they may cultivate talents to enhance their value and have more to offer. They attempt to impress people by dispensing advice (be it spiritual, financial, or medical) or name-dropping. This can get them into trouble, because their desire to let others know they are friends with important people often leads them to be indiscreet and reveal confidences.

Lower-average 2s can also create frustration for their partners because they scatter themselves among a wide range of social contacts, while not giving much real attention to any one of them. They may pursue anyone who offers them even a hint of approval and attention. In the unhealthy range, these 2s can be highly patronizing, constantly drawing attention to their “good deeds” and calling in their favors (“where would you be without me?”). They may become classic enablers, covering up the misdeeds or dysfunctions of their valued others in order to keep them around and in their debt.

The social 2 can resemble a 3 or an 8. Like 3s, these 2s tend to be goal-oriented, competitive, and successful in their work. They typically get a lot done and have a reputation as powerful people who can lead the group. However, 2s have a softer presence and can show more vulnerability, warmth, or emotion on the way to achieving their goals, especially if such demonstrations support their larger aims, whereas 3 tend not to express vulnerable feelings as much. Like 8s, these 2s can be powerful, influential, protective of others, and oriented to the big picture. Unlike 8s, however, 2s can display vulnerability more (or use a show of vulnerability to their advantage), and can more readily access their emotions in supporting others or establishing control.

The Sexual 2: Craving Intimacy

Sexual 2s are the intimacy junkies of the Enneagram. They are driven to get closer to others, both emotionally and physically. They like to win over people who are attractive to them, especially if they present a challenge or seem initially uninterested. They want to want to be one person’s best friend; they focus on a few individuals and like to see themselves as their friends’ number-one intimate, their closest confidante. They enjoy private time with the other person, sharing secrets and talking about “the relationship.” They like to learn about whatever subjects their partner values and may even research them in order to be closer.

These 2s “seduce” others by giving them lots of attention. They offer to talk about the other’s problems to draw them closer, and can display sexual behaviors or overt sexual activity to attract others to them. As their anxiety about their desirability escalates, they begin to pursue the other person. They fall prey to fears that others would not spend time with them if they did not make the extra effort to go after them. Lower-average 2s become increasingly pushy and demanding and cannot take no for an answer. Even if they have the affections of someone, they feel they cannot get close enough. While social 2s want to network and introduce people to each other, sexual 2s want to keep their friends apart, lest they discover one another and cut the sexual 2 out of the relationship.

In the unhealthy range, these 2s become increasingly jealous, possessive, and hovering, fearing to let their partner out of their sight or telephone reach. They obsess over them, compulsively “check in” on them, cannot accept rejection, and dislike inadequate responses from the object of their desire. They may stalk the person they are romantically obsessed with, or prey on those who cannot refuse their overtures.

Spiritual Growth Suggestions

As 2s work on themselves and become more self-aware, they learn to risk being themselves and open up to being loved for who they are (as opposed to the false images they create to get approval). They realize the freedom of being themselves unapologetically and not having to conform to the needs and preferences of others.

Notice when you are…

Denying needs and repressing feelings as a way to connect more easily with others. Notice when you don’t know what you are feeling or needing. Keep an eye out for what happens when these repressed feelings arise. Rising anger or feeling hurt can be important clues that you are repressing your needs while unconsciously expecting others to meet them anyway.

Adapting, merging, helping, pleasing, and shape-shifting to engineer connections with specific individuals. Notice when you start to help or flatter people even when you don’t want to or you find it exhausting. Look for ways you rationalize pleasing others even if it means doing something you’d rather not. Observe your tendency to merge with or take on others’ feelings and preferences while downplaying or talking yourself out of your own experiences. Do you avoid expressing different opinions with others you’d like to connect with? Is it hard for you to stop analyzing your perceived mistakes with others?

Avoiding rejection and separation through your maintained image of yourself, avoiding conflicts and boundaries, and managing your self-presentation (including lying and being inauthentic). Notice when you say “yes” when you want to say “no”; when you tell little white lies to maintain your image; when you create a false impression to engineer a connection. Look for the ways you rationalize making promises you’d rather not keep, or be false to others to earn their approval. Work to surface any underground assumptions you are making that creating an appropriate boundary will automatically lead to rejection, separation, or disapproval.

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?

Self-Development:

To counter-act denying needs and repressing feelings as a way to connect more easily with others.

  • Inquire frequently into the presence of your needs and feelings. Ask yourself often what you really need and how you are feeling. Tolerate “not knowing” as a step to developing inner-awareness.
  •  Real feelings create and enhance, rather than thwart, connections. Seek out support from those who love and want you to prosper, in order to find a save haven and recipients for your true feelings. Learn also that working through emotional difficulties by sharing your real feelings is what makes good relationships happen.
  • Learn to accept feelings and the emotional growth process. Realize all your feelings are valid and not “right or wrong.” Create space to understand, learn about, and work with expressing your emotions. When you first start to feel your anger, you may express it in childish, explosive ways. It’s important to see it as a normal part of learning to own and express your feelings and not make yourself feel “bad.”

To counter-act merging, adapting, helping, pleasing, and shape-shifting to engineer connections with specific individuals.

  • Liberate yourself through healthy separation. Make time to be alone. Focus your attention inside yourself when you are with other people. If you are attention wanders, bring it back to yourself. Notice when you are merged with someone or trying to achieve a connection and shift your attention two feet behind you so you can disengage and find your separateness again. Recognizing that merging disguises a fear of intimacy.
  •  Say “maybe” on the way from “yes” to “no.” Say “maybe” when you want to say “no” but are inclined to say “yes” to buy yourself time to think of a polite way to decline. Look for and dwell on your real experience of not wanting to help. Let that be okay. Notice if it feels like a relief. Remember, others can do it without you.
  • Accept but manage and contain your emotions. They are important and valid. Value them as expressions of your true self. Notice if you use your emotions to manipulate others. Recognize this as part of your coping strategy and work against it. Challenge yourself to own your needs and feelings and find ways to self-soothe when you are courageous enough to feel your pain.
  • Open up to receiving from others by living more from your real self. By noticing the assumptions you have about reciprocal giving, you can work against “giving to get” and learn to give without expectations and receive without feeling indebted. This frees you up to enjoy relationships rather than viewing them as a survival route.

To counter-act avoiding rejection and separation through maintaining an idealized image of yourself, avoiding conflicts and boundaries, and managing your self-presentation (including lying and being inauthentic).

  • Focus on the freedom that boundaries provide. They make us freer to express ourselves safely in a relationship and allow for better, closer connections to others. Remember that “no” is a valid answer.
  • Find the sweet spot between inflation and deflection. Notice your tendency to deflate or inflate yourself and let yourself feel relieved by being your true self. Note when you fantasize about being the ideal partner, friend, etc., and ask yourself if this is really desirable or possible. Realize it’s okay to not align with others.
  • Allow constructive criticism to enliven your relationships and strengthen your sense of self. Tell others what you really think, especially when you disagree or don’t want to help. Try not to promise more than you can deliver. Realize this makes your relationships deeper and more authentic.
  • Face your pain so you can let it go. Allow yourself to feel the pain of neglect or rejection and realize you can survive it. Realizing growing a thicker skin doesn’t mean your hurt doesn’t matter. Learn to love and accept yourself as you are. Consider that if someone doesn’t like you, it may be about them more than you.

Using your integration and disintegration numbers for self-growth:

Move to 8 by learning to own your power and authority, allowing yourself more access to anger, and handling conflict and confrontation more consciously. Initiate more and take the risk of leading and being proactive. Learn to be more direct and assertive, rather than sugarcoating things. This will teach you greater self-value and confidence and give you greater freedom in your interaction with others. You may even learn to see conflict as a good thing, and a strengthener of relationships.

Move to 4 by expanding your access to authentic emotions; learn to grasp your own feelings and needs and honor and support those feelings, as a way to form positive relationships. Establish a healthy balance between focusing on oneself and focusing on others, between expressing sadness and hurt, and cultivating a sense of lightness, and between meeting others needs and asking for what you need. Remind yourself that while it’s important to empathize with others, your feelings are also valid.

Sources:

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.