Enneagram Series: Type Seven
~converting vice to virtue on the path of personal transformation
The Enthusiast or The Need to Avoid Pain
“. . . their search for experience takes them, characteristically, from an insufficient here to a promising there. The insatiability of the glutton is, however, veiled over by an apparent satisfaction . . . frustration is hidden behind enthusiasm.”
(Naranjo, 1990, p. 115)
Claudio Naranjo named type Seven, “Opportunistic Idealism,” and Oscar Ichazo called this disposition, “Ego-Plan[ning].” Sevens are spontaneous, optimistic, versatile, busy, productive, and excellent data synthesizers. Their social calendars are typically full; they just want to have fun. Sevens have an eye for adventure, like the proverbial Peter Pan who doesn’t want to grow up. They are hungry, and life is a buffet to be sampled in the search for the tastiest morsels. Impulsiveness and superficiality are often challenges for Sevens. A type Seven may say, “You’re okay, and I’m okay. Don’t let the world drag you down. Go out and grab what you want with gusto.”
When aligned with Essence, Sevens exude joy and gratitude, investing their skills in tangible objectives which yield valuable accomplishments. The invitation for Sevens is to find joy in the present moment and to extend their happiness to others. The holy idea or inherent truth of type Seven is Holy Work/Holy Plan, which states that there is a basic, universal design, and it is manifested in work in the present moment.
Sevens are part of the head triad who try to manage thoughts and most readily feel fear in the form of anxiety or insecurity. Being on the edge of the instinctual triad, Sevens can easily drop into anger or rage. According to Riso and Hudson, in childhood, Sevens, “most wanted security: to know that their environment was safe and stable” (1999, p. 63). Having a sense of support and inner guidance is important in the head triad, and Sevens respond to fear by bustling forward with enthusiasm and displaying fearlessness.
Seven’s core temptation is gluttony (craving the high of consumption), and their mental fixation is planning or the desire to have the best experience and avoid discomfort. Helen Palmer described the Seven’s focus of attention as a preoccupation with options and how they will someday fit together. Sevens typically have a hard time choosing one thing in the fear that they are missing out on something better. According to Riso and Hudson, the internalized message is, “It’s not okay to depend on anyone for anything” (Riso & Hudson, 1999, p. 31). In pathological terms, Naranjo correlated unhealthy Sevens with narcissistic personality disorder, hedonistic permissiveness, and the defense mechanisms of rationalization, sublimation, and idealization.
Seven’s basic fear is of deprivation and being painfully confined, and their basic desire is to be content, which can devolve into perpetual fantasizing and desperate distraction. Sevens identify with a self-image of being exuberant, energetic, and excited about the future and most need to hear that they will be cared for. They resist acknowledging their own anxiety and painful emotions; wanting, instead, to be seen as cheerful, free-spirited, vigorous, and impassioned.
Sevens attempt to solve inner conflict by being assertive. They react to stress by ego-inflation and maintaining their position. Sevens defend against loss and disappointment by maintaining a positive outlook and creating a favorable reframe of life circumstances. They want to make themselves feel good and to bolster the mood of others. Sevens prioritize positivity and fun activities and minimize feelings of emptiness and pain, especially failing to notice how their own self-absorption may negatively impact others. The thought is, “There may be a problem, but I’m fine” (Riso & Hudson, 1999, p. 68).
When Sevens handle stress unskillfully, they can become rigid, judgmental, and critical, like the unhealthy One. Their frustration gets vented through sarcasm, fault-finding, and criticism. When Sevens respond maturely, they become more focused, like healthy Fives. They experience the quiet of a calm mind and relax enough to allow themselves to be affected by the present moment. At their most mature, Sevens embrace the virtue of sobriety (the ability to be present with both pain and pleasure in the moment) and embody joy.
The path of growth for Sevens is to consume and digest experiences through commitment and follow-through. Sevens must learn to find joy in the ordinary, letting go of the need to seek spectacular experiences and releasing a preoccupation with the future. Ultimately, Sevens must learn to release the pursuit of satiation and allow themselves to be fully present in each moment with an open-heart that is willing to experience both pain and pleasure.
Coming soon: Enneagram Type Eight
Almaas, A. H. (2000). Facets of unity: The enneagram of holy ideas. Shambhala Publications.
Chestnut, B. (2013). The complete Enneagram: 27 paths to greater self-knowledge. She Writes Press.
Hudson, R. (2021). The enneagram: Nine gateways to presence [Audiobook]. Sounds True. https://www.amazon.com/Enneagram-Nine-Gateways-Presence/dp/1683645790#:~:text=With%20The%20Enneagram%3A%20Nine%20Gateways,self%2Dknowledge%20and%20spiritual%20attunement.
Lilly, J. C., & Hart, J. E. (1975). The Arica Training. In C. Tart (Ed.), Transpersonal psychologies, (pp. 329–351). Harper & Row.
Naranjo, C. (1994). Character and neurosis: An integrative view. Gateways/IDHHB.
Naranjo, C. (1990). Ennea-type structures: Self-analysis for the seeker. Gateways/IDHHB Incorporated.
Palmer, H. (1988). The enneagram: Understanding yourself and the others in your life. Harper & Row.
Riso, D. R., & Hudson, R. (1999). The wisdom of the Enneagram: The complete guide to psychological and spiritual growth for the nine personality types. Bantam.
May your mind be peaceful and calm, may your body be relaxed and comfortable, and may your heart be filled with love.
Thank you for reading.
Blessings and gratitude, Ani