The Three Types To Worry About Not Voting

According to the 19th century psychoanalyst Karen Horney, there are three categories of people in the world, those who become more assertive under stress, those who become more dutiful to the Superego when stressed, and those who withdraw from the world.  The Enneagram, with its nine types, fits neatly into this model of human behavior, with three Enneagram types in each Hornevian category.  Types 3, 7, and 8 become more assertive, types 1, 2, and 6 become more compliant toward Superego demands, and types 4, 5, and 9 withdraw into themselves. 

As today is election day in America, and an incredibly high-stakes one at that, there is probably one category that political parties might want to focus on as they're calling their constituents- the withdrawing category of types 4, 5, and 9 - who might need a little nudging to be persuaded that their vote is important or just to be reminded to vote, as they are introverted types- being more comfortable with their inner world than what's happening on the outside, especially as things get heated on the outside.  As psychoanalyst Carl Jung perceived it (and Enneagrammers do too), extroverts make sense of reality from what they perceive outside themselves- in objects or people for instance- and spend most of their time out there, whereas introverts get their read on reality from within the contents of their thoughts and feelings and need a little nudging to come out of themselves and participate in what's happening around them.

As a side note, one episode that really brought the difference between introversion and extroversion home to me was when I, a Type 4, was dating a Type 8 and we went for a hike at the Delaware Water Gap, a beautiful mountainous park on the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with hiking trails that go up along two mountain ranges on either side of the Delaware River.  When you get to the top, you look down at a breathtaking view of the river flowing in the gap between the two states.  As an extroverted type, my boyfriend was interested in pointing everything out to me.  "Look at that view right there!  Watch out for these rocks!  Can you see that bird up there?  I'm thirsty, are you?  Is your backpack getting heavy?"  I, on the other hand, was more focused on staying on the inside, ruminating over my thoughts and feelings about the day, what we were seeing, and life in general, and every time I'd curl up like a cat within, he'd pull me out of myself to make me look at something and acknowledge that I'd seen it, or talk about something on our hike.  After maybe an hour of this back and forth pull between my inner world and the exterior world, I was exhausted and annoyed, as it takes energy to go continually between the two, and I eventually snapped at him and asked him if we could hike in silence, thankful as I was for his understanding.

So I'll start with Fours as being the first type that just wants to be left with their inner world and might accidentally neglect voting today.  Fours are one of Jung's introverted feeling types, and in Enneagram language, we would say that under stress, they retreat into the heart space.  Fours are particularly versed in the intelligence of the heart, or at least they spend most of their time in that particular centre of intelligence. 

Fours are the creative Individualists, as Riso and Hudson call them.  Individualists are concerned with their sense of identity- who am I?  What am I really feeling? - and they tend to mistake what they're feeling for who they are, ending up trying to hold on to certain feelings instead of letting them pass as emotions should.  Fours feel that they can only have an identity if they're doing something differently than the rest of the crowd- for them, to blend in is anathema; it feels like a complete disorientation from their core sense of self.  Their need to differentiate themselves constantly from others results in feelings of exclusion, and therefore low self-esteem.  But their low self-esteem is balanced with a sense of superiority in equal measure, and to them, it's an indignity and an insult to their deep identification with Source or Origin to be in lockstep with everyone else.  When everyone else is doing something, it's unoriginal and rather sheep-like to be doing it too, so a Four who doesn't feel completely secure in themselves will go out of their way to be different, in an effort to solidify a feeling within them of who they are.  I mentioned that Fours are creative, and they are often artists in some capacity, as they usually have a refined sense of aesthetics, bringing viewers and audiences on a journey toward their inner depths through their highly original works of art.

So Fours may make a lot of noise about the election, but on actual election day, they'll realize that the physical act of voting means stripping down into an average joe or jane, getting out of the house, and joining a sea of nameless faces doing the same thing at the same time in the same dimly lit gymnasium with aesthetically unaware voting workers, uncomfortable chairs and cheap pens, which feels like someone untethered them from the pole of their identity and sent them floating in lonelier and lonelier spiraling circles away from their grounding.  So getting in their car, finding out where their voting station is, and plugging it into their GPS (Fours often have a bad sense of direction) might slip their minds.  Remind them to vote. 

For the Five, we move from the heart space up to the head.  Fives are one of Jung's introverted thinking types, meaning that when Fives are stressed, they withdraw to their intellect to try to figure things out, to get a handle on reality by examining it from a distance and learning about it, "both to fit into the world, and, paradoxically, to defend themselves against it" (Personality Types, 177).  "Average Fives", say Riso and Hudson, "tend to have problems with insecurity because they fear that the environment is unpredictable and potentially threatening."  Riso and Hudson have called this type the Investigator, but I like the name Observer for Fives because the former implies going out into the world propelled by a sense of curiosity- which is definitely true of them, but Fives actually tend to hide psychically, if not physically from the world and study it from a distance, from books or the internet.   Either way, they are information gatherers, as Jung says, "collecting facts as evidence for their theories of the world" and as I mentioned before, to understand how the world works so they can one day join it.  Fives feel unprepared to join life and are unsure about how to participate like everyone else does so well, but they get their sense of solidity- and therefore courage and self-esteem- when they can substantiate their theories and learn about how the world works.  Thus, by disassociating themselves from the world and observing it from a distance, they are afforded an objective stance that helps them navigate the world.  They are sensitive to stimula, so too much feeling threatens to cloud to their dry intellect and overwhelm their nervous system, so if something is too rife with emotion, they check out, and therefore may need a little reminder to get out of their heads and into their bodies and vote at this insanely (and for them, paralyzingly) emotional time for Americans. 

So Fours withdraw into the heart, Fives into the head, and finally Nines withdraw into the body- we call it the gut in Enneagram language, but it's the seat of body intelligence- where our instincts fire.  However, of all the types in the body centre, Nines are most cut off from the body and least in touch with their instincts and all that hot instinctual energy like anger and the ability to say no to something that trespasses their boundaries.  Average Nines dislike conflict and want peace at all costs, and because the world isn't that peaceful, especially in America now, they spend most of their time floating on some inner celestial cloud, disassociated from the heated energy being laser-beamed around them, and smiling as if nothing is going on.  Because they spend so much time inside, escaping from the heated demands of the outside world, they tend to have really bad memories, so they, too may need a reminder to vote.  But more than just being absent-minded, they also don't feel like their voice is really important.  The reason they want peace so bad is because they fear separation from a primordial connection to the flow of energy around them.  When they're in the zone, it feels like getting cut off from the supply of life to assert oneself because having boundaries and edges would disrupt the flow that they're enjoying so much.  There is a deep fear that they're not worthy of their own opinions so they bury them in the unconscious, and it takes a lot of years of inner work to determine what their opinions even are, let alone assert them.  So Nines borrow boundaries and opinions from the people around them and rarely rock the boat.  So on election day, they might need a little reminder that they matter and should vote.