I start this thread in reaction to a message that Elfboy posted on my wall, asking about the differences between 6 and 7. This is from the Helen Palmer's book. It's not the original version, I translated from the french version.
The dilemma of Type 6
6s lost truth in authority when they were children. They remind that they feared thoses who held some power on them, and are frustrated that they couldn't act on their own. Theses memories have persist during their adulthood in the form of a misgiving against the intentions of others peoples.They try to mitigate that insecurity either seeking a strong protector either opposing themselves to the authority taking the position of the "Devil's Advocate". They have at the same time the desire to find a boss, to be loyal toward a protectress organisation like the Church, a large compagny or an association, and an as much strong misgiving toward an authoritarian hierarchy.
Fearful to act on thier own, 6s have a hard time to do things until the end. With them, thought replace action, because their attention pass from the impulse to act following an idea, to the questioning of that idea. The origin of that invading doubt, is the need to avoid the intervention of powerfull peoples. Its consequence is procrastination, related to the fear of the punishment inflicted on the Type 6 child when he dared to rebel against the authority.
Since they have a mental habit of "yes, but..." toward their own ideas, 6s forward by sudden. We usually find, in their story, professionals changes and unachieved projects. Their anxiety is at max when their goals are materializing. Their lack of self-confidence, and their leaning to procrastination increase when they are about to prove that they are able to win. They hesitate, not because they don't see clearly what they need to do, but because they question their abilities, and are convinced that a success will attract the sight of some hostile authorities, who will attempt to ruin their efforts.
The anti-authoritarian attitude of 6s rive them to rally the cause of the oppressed. They push temselves forward when circonstances are against them, and can heroically sacrify themselves for a cause or a friend in need. They are extremely loyal in the "Us against them" position, becaue duty implies a clear cut action and, once that each one has choosed his camp, the goals of the autority become perfectly clear.
6s are convinced that they can see through the elaborated images, and the misleading presentations. Fearing to be destabilized by other peoples, they are careful to not let them bamboozle by compliments or manipulated by fakes praises. Often, they are even more vigilant when they are flattered, because they remind situations where, while they trusted and were off their guard, they have been wounded. Their attention mode is to scrutinize the environment to detect signs showing something negative and to monitor peoples to have indications about what's happening in their minds. The need to be alerted and prepared, which rives them to find what's happening behind a mask or a charming smile. They are often able to bring out the weak points in an argumentation, and to detect the games of power.
When 6s are anxious, or internally feel threatened, their habit to look outside is intensified. The more they feel their distress inside, the more they look outside, with the result that they are easily mistaken about the origin of their anxiety. There's always scary things: thoses who associate the causes of their faintess with the intentions of peoples tend to hear insinuations in inocents conversations, or to believe that they know the reals goals of peoples despite everything thoses can tell. The folowing statement, done by an extremely anxious 6, describe that intention mode:
"I find hard to work with peoples that I don't know. I'm a waitress since I left high school, but I still can't stand to feel the eyes behind my back. Customers scroll on by one, and I wonder about what they're thinking about me.
If I raise my head to look at them, I'm damned. They all seem to be thinking something or to keep for themselves what they would like to say. I have to persuade me that everything is OK, that they are not thinking mean things about me. But I'm so troubled by what I see in them that I lose focus on what I'am doing. The beer overflows, or I forget to center the glass under the tap."
It's obvious that the waitress attributes to the customers ideas that they probably don't have. She's not interested with the physical reality of the restaurant, with the conversations and the beer. She focuses more on the thoughts of the customers and their intentions. She believes she can deduce that subjective reality from what she see on the face of a customer. With a such anxious mindset, it's probable that the waitress will interpret people's intentions in a wrong way. Actually, she has probably developped an acute sensibility to each kind of little informations which maintain her anxious neurotism. She always had that habit to seek the hidden negatives intentions of peoples and, among that little part of the reality, she has perhaps found some ways to detect the dissonance between what people show, and what they truly feel. Unfortunately, the search for theses little dissonances risk to worry her at the point to dominate her perceptions, like if it was an etablished fact.
Phobic type and counterphobic type
There's two sorts of 6, that is to say two paranoid vision of the world. A phobic 6 looks afraid to life. Like Woody Allen performed by himself, a phobic type will hesitate, replace action by analysis, be full of contradictions and doubts. The waitress is a phobic 6, because she plays low profile instead of face her fears. If she was counter-phobic, she would ratherr enter in contact with the customers to talk with them, test them, and mitigate her anxiety ensuring to be liked by them.
A counterphobic 6 will put te customers unconfortable by testing their real intentions. People often find them misunderstood when they find them the target of such a insistant gaze and, if they start to get worked up, the 6 will "know" that they were untrustworthy from the beginning.
When the waitress divede her attention between her work and her fears, she sometimes make mistakes. Being of the phobic type, she will probably continue to wonder about what the customers think about her, without daring to verify if she's not wrong. A counterphobic 6, as much inhabited by fear, tells that he jumped against it: he became a champion of parachutism to master her vertigo. The two types, phobic and counterphobic, have the same psychological roots.
Among the usual concerns of Type 6:
-Procrastination: thought replace action.
-Problems with achievement of realizations.
-An amnesia of pleasure and success.
-Problems with authority: submission or rebellion.
-Misginving toward people's intentions, authorities in particulary.
-Identification with the cause of the oppressed.
-Loyalty and respect for the opressed and the powerful leader.
-The fear for of the direct anger. The attribution of his own anger to the others.
-Skepticism and doubt.
-An attenton which consist to scrutinize the environment, seeking for clues which can explain his internal feeling of threatening.
-A form of attention based on a powerful imagination, and an attention focused on one only point.
The dilemmas of Type 7
The points 5, 6 and 7, grouped on the left side of the Enneagram, represent three strategies to deal with the fear of childhood. The 6, central point of Fear, prepare himslef scrutinizing her environment and the 5 withdrawns from everything he redoubts. The 7, who doesn't seem anxious at all, will choose to reach peoples to charm them and disarm them joking. Confronted with fear during their early childhood, they mitigated it escaping in the endless possibilities of imagination.
7s don't let their anxiety reflect, they don't seem afraid. Usually happy, or even radiant, they can't stop to make project and play. The doubt of their neighbor (6) is not apparent as long as they can canalize their thought in the vision of their futur success.
It's the point of Peter Pan, from Puer (of the Puella) aeternus, the eternal child. It's also the point of Narcisse, the adolescent fallen in love with his image reflected by water. Narcisse was loved by the nymph Echo but, absorbed by the image of his own splendor, he didn't hear her call him by his name. He was too much focused on himself to answer, at the point that the voice of the nymph was reduced to an echo.
We all need to have a bit of sane narcissism, to recognize our value and our dignity, which are unique. Difficulties arise when, so much convinced of our own qualities, we forget to listen the remarks of thoses who send us the objective truth. The Epicures are convinced of their excellence. They seek people and environment which will confirm their value. They have a constitution built for the most intense experiences, like if champagne, and not blood, flowed into their veins.
On a sociologic point of view, the Type 7's vision of the world have been predominating during the cultural revolution of the 60s. Their ideals have widespread during the "Hippies" era, or flower-children. Confronted with war, and the perspective of an absurd work, thoses marginalized them and grouped them, trying to install between them an ideal lifestyle.
As that revolution progressed, the shadow side of the Type 7's vision appeared. Hanging to an ideal reality, but unable to give it a form, they changed their behavior to pass from a radical subjectivity, valorising what was unique in the individual, to a narcissic self-preocupation.
The situation deteriorated until it reached a burning level of introspection: "Uh, waaaaah" and "I'am happy to be what I'am". The internal universe of drug substituted to the desire for an external change. The psychological jargon and the fascination for flight replaced the notions of work and effort.
7s are suppported by the belief that life offers endless possiblities. They always have interesting things to do. If life is not adventurous, why live it? Why to stand there when we can go forward? Their optimism, related to the trust in the opportunities of life, is even more amplified by their habit to keep multiples options opened and to engage only with fallbacks.
Their engagment are always tempered by such solutions. An agreement is "What we feel just at a given moment". If the plan A is canceled, let's go for B, contingency plan. If B looks hard, we still have C. If A is annuled and that C becomes too much boring, we still have B, which can possibly drive to D. The injunction of the 60s, "go with the current" have been revised to become an organisation of the attention which makes the negative options fall into oblivions.
Actually, it's a defense strategy. The planification of the future, in fonction of the various opportunities, have for goal to amplify the pleasures of life eliminating problems like boredom or suffering. A 7 working in a choose shop, for example, could plan to open a concurent store at the other side of the street. Such kind of project will seem perfectly natural to him, because he will be focused on the similarities of the goals and the nature of theses two activities, without see that the two shops risk strongly to oppose to each other.
On the positive side, that focus of attention allow the Epicure to find particulary creatives solutions, and to find commons elements in apparently contradictory point of views. They have the most optimistic of all the positions because, for them, a great project will be concrete the day when all the conditions for a perfectly satisfactory life will finally be together
Among the usual concerns of Type 7:
-The need to maintain an high level of excitation: many activities, many interesting things to do, the will to feel good at an emotional level.
-The maintaning of multiples options, which is a way to temporize the engagment in only one directon.
-The leaning to prefer enjoable intelectual alternatves to a deep contact. To speak, to make projects, to intelectualize.
-Charm, as first lign of defense. Fearful personality who reach the contact with peoples. The avoidance of direct conflicts by the joke. The leaning to talk to solve problems.
-A form of attention made of informations related between them. For example, engagments mandatory include escape and fallback. That form of attention can lead to:
-the flight from the difficulties and the limiting tasks
-the ability to synthesise relationships and associations of idea between point of view which seemed antagonist or without any link between them.