Which Enneagram Type is Cynthia?

For almost thirty years the standing joke has been, “What enneagram type is Cynthia?” Leading teachers in all the various schools have typed me variously (frequently categorically) as a Four, Five, or Six. While I can see certain points of congruence (after all, my mom was a Four, my dad a Six, and most of my partners Fives, so I know these types well), none of them really resonated – and more important, none of them really captured my interest. They failed to paint for me any authentic description of where I was pinned, or the road to authentic freedom – more authentic, at least, than what I already knew in my own heart of hearts. And thus, I simply lost interest in the entire psychometric. When people ask me my type nowadays, I usually just smile and say, “I’m a Ten.”

On my very first encounter with this system nearly thirty years ago – through Helen Palmer’s book, The Enneagram – I initially self-identified as a Seven. The story starts out right: perceived lack of parental nurturance, Puer Aeternus (eternal youth), planning (gottcha!). But the narrative runs off the rails when it comes to the core passion (gluttony) and the reason behind it: self-distraction from pain, the need to maintain a cheery, spontaneous, excitement- and adventure-laden dance card. This simply never resonated; it still doesn’t. (Either I am totally un-self-aware or else the person who invented the Seven story was clearly not a Seven.) And so again and again I would approach the Seven story as intrinsically energetically congruent, only to be thrown back by the mountain of narrative evidence arguing against it.

I would add that in the various tests I’ve taken online (RHETI and otherwise), the Seven doesn’t usually come up as a strong contender. That’s because the choice points presented for discernment always feature “pleasure,” “excitement,” “fun-loving,” “spontaneous.” When these are set against responsibility, goal-orientedness, concern for others, capacity to face pain, and willingness to make and keep long-term commitments, I always wind up getting parceled out among more dutiful types. (As for the celebrated enneagram panels – forget them! All players know their scripts and simply arrange the evidence, and even their voice tone to confirm their prior self-identifications…)

But what if the Seven type were to prioritize restlessness, compulsive motion, fear of constriction, underlying existential anxiety? What then? When I asked Helen Palmer if there was any possibility that the type narrative was inaccurate or incomplete, she responded that that pretty much clenched the case that I was a Four (the need to be a special case).

Anyway, thirty years later – and spurred into action by a review copy of Christopher Heuertz’ new book, The Sacred Enneagram (which I found insightful but still basically recycling the old typologies) – I am finally getting around to taking that risk. If in trying to elucidate the deeper waters of the Seven I prove myself indubitably a Four, so be it. But I think there is something here that is still not being seen by enneagram afficionados, and if these deeper waters were better understood, a lot of people like myself, who still find themselves without a home base in the enneagram, might find a way in.

This is a first gambit, but see what you think. Over the course of the summer I’ve shared it privately with several of my enneagram colleagues including Richard Rohr, Russ Hudson, Jeanine Siler-Jones, and Leslie Hershberger, and their comments have been enormously helpful as I continue to fine-tune my observations.

So now, for all of you out there: in your experience, do you know any Sevens that work the way I’m laying out here? I’m mostly interested in whether you think there’s enough merit in what I’m suggesting here to warrant a more comprehensive re-evaluation of this particular personality type… 

(By the way, if my typology here is correct, I think there’s absolutely no doubt that Teilhard de Chardin was a Seven. Maybe that’s why he keeps pulling me in…)

Anyway, here’s my report, with a couple of short personal vignettes at the end to flesh things out. And yeah, after all these years, I’m finally claiming Seven as my home plate.

Enneagram Type Seven (Bourgeault Revision)

  • HOLY IDEA            Freedom
  • VIRTUE                   Presence
  • BASIC FEAR           Annihilation
  • BASIC DESIRE       Fullness of Being
  • FIXATION              Planning
  • PASSION                Accidie (existential restlessness, “the noonday demon”)

As children, sevens felt trapped, subject to the authority of caregivers who seemed unresponsive or even inexplicably hostile to their deepest being needs. While from the outside, the nurturing received during their childhood may have appeared stable and conventional, from the inside it registered as hollow, frequently duplicitous, and sometimes downright treacherous. An underlying sense of disconnection – between call and response, appearance and reality – became the filter through which the seven learned to view the world, leading to a chronic (and at times acute) sense of existential dread.

Resilient and inherently life-loving and optimistic, Sevens learned early on to become skilled self-nurturers – but always with that signature Seven wound: a restless addiction to forward motion and hyper-vigilance against any form of confinement that would appear to limit their options, cut off their escape routes, or impinge upon their ability to “help themselves.” Sevens need to “feel the wind whistling in their ears” to outrun a pervasive sense of existential dread and emptiness, an inability to rest comfortably in their own skins.

The Core Passion

The passion classically assigned to the Seven is gluttony, but I believe this assignation rests on a misunderstanding of the true motivation driving the Seven typology, plus a comparable misunderstanding of the true nature of the passion in question. The correct match-up is actually accidie, typically but incorrectly understood as sloth (and hence assigned to the Nine). Famously characterized by the early desert fathers as “the noonday demon,” accidie is not primarily sloth (i.e., passivity or sluggishness) but the sense of paralyzing dread called forth by the engulfing immediacy of the present where the egoic escape route of “flight into the future” is cut off and one is face to face with the inescapable reality of the NOW. It is against this noonday demon that Evagrius issued his counsel, “Sit in your cell and it will teach you everything.” But it is exactly this sitting in your cell that is so terrifying to the Seven, for it means sitting in that primal place of annihilation, where the child’s desperate cries for succor went unheard.

For many sevens, the profile of gluttony may indeed appear to fit – superficially, at least. Some do indeed wind up piling up a lifetime full of high living and endless exciting adventures. But the real driving motivation, I believe, is never the self-nurturing itself, but maintaining the freedom-of-motion which the Seven believes is required in order to perform these self-nurturing rituals. In the midst of a banquet, the Seven will already be mentally orchestrating the next banquet; what is missing is not the nurture but the NOW. The hollowness and emptiness of that primordial experience of neglect continues to replay itself endlessly as the Seven reaches for the stars – and comes up with only a hand full of stardust.

Sevens hide in time. It is in the relentless planning, orchestrating, designing, creating options and possibilities, that the Prospero’s castle that passes for their life is constructed and maintained. To deconstruct it appears to them like sure and certain death. But unfortunately, the fullness of Being that they so desperately seek can only be found in the Now. This is their great spiritual challenge.

The real pathology is not “distraction from their pain” and dissipation, as the classic Enneagram Seven story reads. Most sevens I know are actually intensely focused and have high levels of tolerance for personal pain and the painful inner scrutiny to be paid for self-knowledge. The core pathology is not distraction but flight. Cessation of motion – i.e., stillness – feels like death to them, and they are too adept, too wary, to die in an ambush, even by Infinite Love.

Transformation for the Seven: The Holy Idea and Virtue

“Sit in your cell and it will teach you everything.” This is indeed the terrifying eye of the needle the Seven will have to thread to move from “choice freedom” (as both Thomas Merton and Beatrice Bruteau call it) – i.e., freedom experienced as “keeping my options open,” to “spontaneity freedom:” freedom experienced as the capacity to say “yes” wholeheartedly to NOW; freedom to trust the primordial nurturing to be found only in the plenitude of presence. In such a way, and only in such a way, does the Seven finally come to rest – and in the simple immediacy of the presence there find, as St. Augustine (probably himself a Seven) so profoundly summarized: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

Two personal vignettes to illustrate the above points 


At the age of seven months I suffered a nearly fatal bout with pneumonia at the hands of my Christian Science mother, who refused on religious principle to call a doctor. When the doctor was finally summoned, at the insistence of my grandmother (herself a Christian Science practitioner), he examined me gravely and concluded that I was beyond help. “But you were simply too stubborn to die,” my Father recalls, as breath by breath I fought my way back to life.

I have no direct memory of this incident, of course. But the trauma still lives on in my body in a nervous swallow and residual anxiety around breathing. And even before I could think or speak, I already knew as a core datum of my life that my mother could not be counted on as my protector; I would have to “help myself.”

Hiding in Time

When I was three years old, I was formally enrolled in Christian Science Sunday school. The preschool class was intentionally located a bit out of earshot of the other groups, and after opening exercises, our small group of toddlers was led by the teacher up a narrow stairway to a tiny, closet-like classroom at the end of the hall. I panicked. Where were they taking me? Would I ever be released? I screamed in terror for my parents, but my cries elicited no response – neither from my parents (who were actually right on the other side of the classroom wall), nor from the teacher, who simply informed me that the longer I misbehaved, the longer it would take for the class to be over.

As I tried desperately to avoid a total meltdown, my attention fell on something that looked like a big dinner plate hanging on the wall, with numbers painted around the edge and two hands that moved in what seemed like a slow but regular way. And as I began to pay attention to this strange object over the next few weeks, I began to notice that when the big hand moved around the dial to the place where it pointed directly at the ceiling, then the teacher offered a closing prayer and we were led back downstairs.

So that was it! No more panic helplessness. I’d learned that all I had to do was to wait ’til the big hand pointed straight up at the ceiling, and my release would be assured. I’d learned the secret of their game, and knew that I could count on it to protect me.

Thus began my addiction to “tempus fugit” as a surrogate form of nurturing and an escape route from the existential terror I, by this time, knew only too well.

33 replies
  1. Beth Geense
    Beth Geense says:

    I was gratified, Cynthia, to read your dissatisfaction with how 7’s are portrayed. I wondered as I have read the “avoidance of pain” and “shallow party animal” depictions of a 7, if there was a seven out there who could really speak to the depth of a seven. Thank you for your insights!

    I feel secure in understanding my core point to be a social seven with a strong 6 wing. Restriction feels like death, I will sacrifice so others may have the opportunity to feel joy, I am loyal and carry a lot of anxiety about what could go wrong, and underneath it all I am basically hopeful. Spiritually I was inspired and attracted to the way of Brother Lawrence–noticing the Presence of the Sacred in every aspect of life here and now.

    A little history– As a child my mother was jealous of my father’s love of me. To have nonangry care by mom I had to let go of loving dad. In the end I had to let go of feeling loved by either parent. Thus the wound for me was the loss of knowing what love felt like. This feels different from lack of nurturance. And I wonder if other 7’s have had this double bind start to attachment.

    After years of self reflection and now nearly 70, I have been blessed with knowing the felt experience of self love and other love. Working with the Enneagram was key in noticing what blocked deeply felt connections.

  2. Jesse Burson
    Jesse Burson says:

    This post continues to haunt me in some dark, hidden void in my soul. I too am a reluctant 7. I too experienced death at a early age while being a Christian Science pre-schooler; the death of my little sister. My mother could not prevent this, which meant of course that she too might disappear at any moment, which meant I was either on my own or would have to submit to the mercy of God. It rings so true that my core pathology is not distraction, but flight. Literally. My escape in time and space manifested by becoming a pilot, the ultimate freedom. Though it feels like deliberately walking into the dark void of the NOW, centering prayer is the infinitely powerful path to move beyond, “…the sense of paralyzing dread called forth by the engulfing immediacy of the present where the egoic escape route of “flight into the future” is cut off…” and instead resting peacefully in the infinite love of God. Sevens who are able to wrestle their restlessness to a place of stillness will hear clearly the still small voice of liberation

  3. Nora Daniel
    Nora Daniel says:

    Thank you so much for your investigation and willingness to share. As a Seven, and for quite some time pretty certain about that, I resonate very much with what you are saying here. Reading this it caused me to say “yes” outloud, enthusiastically, a number of times. Very helpful.

  4. Karen Bailey
    Karen Bailey says:

    I have bounced back and forth from a 4 to a 7 as well, and for the same reasons as Cynthia. Every thing she is proposing to better characterize a 7 seems right on target for me. I hope these suggestions get taken up by Enneagram practitioners and authors!

  5. Jason Gosnell
    Jason Gosnell says:

    I guessed 4 based on the first book I read and watching you speak. But, 7-4-1 is a triad of sorts I think. I high functioning 7 would have aspects of 4 and 1.

    High functioning 9 tests out like a 3 typically due to the 9-3-6 triad. Some even look like a 6.

    I know one 7 like you. She has a fairly strong 6 wing…it creates that loyalty and dutiful tendency and tempers any moves towards gluttony.

  6. Roger
    Roger says:

    I’m a recent convert to the Bourgeault gestalt of spiritual awakening, having dabbled with myriad spiritual traditions throughout my life. Coming from a mostly Christian-averse viewpoint, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself excited and inspired by the mystical viewpoint Cynthia provides into the life teachings of JC. Thank you, Cynthia!

  7. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Dear Cynthia, thank you so much for this! I have a very similar trajectory to yours in terms of “finding my number,” in that I initially identified myself as a Seven but found that mainstream descriptions of the Seven did not take into account my desire to help others and make a difference in my work, and my fear of seeming selfish or frivolous. I became an entrepreneur at a young age because I was terrified of being “tied down” by a job, but I dedicated my career to social justice and helping as many people as I could through my work. For a while I vacillated between Two and Three, but neither of them seemed quite right. The first resource that seemed to describe me accurately was Beatrice Chestnut’s description of the Social Seven “Countertype” in her book The Complete Enneagram. I really like the way you’ve laid this out here, and I am grateful to know that someone I admire so much has these traits in common with me! Thank you for the gift of new understanding.

  8. Martie McMane
    Martie McMane says:

    Hi Cynthia,
    Thank you for sharing your thought process around being an Enneagram Seven, but not as most of the authors describe this type. I have been teaching the Enneagram for 23 years, having studied with all of the major schools of Enneagram understanding, and have read over thirty books on the Enneagram, and I would agree with you that most of the authors’ descriptions of the Seven Enneagram personality hit some of the notes, but generally miss the deeper aspect I have found in Sevens whom I have interviewed more deeply. When the words “escape from pain” are used by Enneagram authors, usually people think of the pain of loss or grief, which in fact some Sevens may be trying to avoid (David Richo says we are ALL always trying to avoid grieving). But I think the pain beneath the pain is truly an existential dread- a fear and anxiety of complete disconnection, or as you said, “annihilation.” I’m not sure the words have to be changed that are used for the passion and virtue (Gluttony and Sobriety) if we could be more clear and comprehensive about what these words could mean and look like in the Seven. The Gluttony for some Sevens is indeed “piling up a lifetime full of high living and endless exciting adventures.” But for others the “gluttony” is a continual need for mental stimulation and busyness to avoid the dread of disconnection. For Sevens, “focusing on sobriety means they work to let go of the never ending quest for stimulation in favor of being with the truth of their experience in the now, ” Beatrice Chestnut says in her excellent book The Complete Enneagram – pg. 179) “Sobriety inspires Sevens to let go seeking out the”highs” of pleasurable experiences, whether they are related to physical appetites, intellectual activity, or spiritual process.” Maitri quotes Ichazo as describing sobriety as giving the body “its sense of proportion,” and as being in a state “firmly grounded in the moment, in which you take in no more and no less than you need.” This, to me, is what you were saying in the blog using different language. One more thing. Bea Chestnut uses Claudio Naranjo’s insightful understanding of the three subtypes under each type. When you were saying that you come up as a more dutiful type on some of the tests, it would seem, according to the descriptions in The Complete Enneagram, that you are probably the counter-type, or Social Seven. This Seven is considered a counter-type, because this type expresses a kind of “counter-gluttony.” To quote Chestnut again, “Social Seven’s go against the Seven passion of gluttony in that they sacrifice their gluttony to become a better person and to work for a better world in which there is no pain or conflict. As Naranjo notes, these Sevens In striving for purity and anti-gluttony express a kind of ascetic (or Five-ish) ideal. They also take on a lot of responsibility in the group or the family. In doing this, they express a sacrifice of gluttony for the benefit of others. They postpone their own desires in order to enact an ideal of service.” She has four pages on this subtype, which being a counter-type “doesn’t look like a Seven.” Herein may be some of why you had so much confusion in identifying as a Seven. Just my thoughts. Thanks, for putting it out there for the rest of us to reflect upon. Wishing you many blessings on the journey.

  9. emma
    emma says:

    Thanks Cynthia for your post. I’m trusting from your share that ‘guesses’ on your type are welcome – and I certainly see the playful exuberance of the 7 in your energy and your posts, and I also see the depth, honesty and expressiveness of the 4. I wonder for all of us if considering a more tri-type version of of the Enneagram might take a lot of the pressure out of the search to try to nail everything down to one type alone. If one takes into account one’s ‘harmony’ ‘tri-type’ (as described by David Daniels and others), wings, arrows, and sub-types, it certainly allows one a much richer fit – though I don’t think any model is ever going ‘feel’ adequate to the complexity of each human being (and can you tell, my ‘main’ type is a 4!…). For example, whilst I have a 5 wing and some patterning across multiple types, I’d say I can identify strongly with the 4-1-7 of the ‘idealist/frustration’ triad – and so I expect to find myself moving amongst those key types depending on various factors.

    I do think it’s important to accurately understand our ‘chief feature’, but we can spend a lot of time thinking on this, and I wonder if at times unhelpfully. If it’s true that Gurdjieff only latterly confronted his advanced students with their main type’s issue or chief feature, and his students tended to write about a lot other than typology, then for me, the focus needs to be on those core teachings of the work – to an extent, I think much else may then fall into place. As Maurice Nicoll and others have delineated, we are a multitude of ‘I’s, and whilst we might have one chief feature, there is certainly not only one key psychological feature blocking our paths. Gurdjieff emphasised the need for ‘limbic’ balance and mastery across our thinking, feeling, and emotional centres, and I’ve therefore found it helpful to better understand the issues associated with each centre (in 7, 4, and 1 for me) and to see how I’ve spent more time in one-or-other centre at different stages in my life, or as a result of different situational or relational ‘triggers’. I also think if we neglect to understand ourselves in broader terms we run the risk of neglecting certain areas of personality development, or correctly diagnosing the needed ‘antidote’ on any given day. For example, if I’m ‘in’ 1 – the last prescription I need is to buckle down and do more work or take more responsibility – but if I’m in ‘7’ that’s exactly what’s needed!

    I work with the Enneagram typology a lot and think it’s extremely helpful. But like you I have a concern that too much focus on one’s type can unwittingly invite a downward fixation or the use of negative third-force, leading to a kind of madness, rather than an upward, widening integration.

    I think as others here have said, there is much more to be mined in understanding each of the types and their multiple, nuanced formations. And as a last note, I absolutely agree with your take on why the 7 thinks and acts as they do. It’s rather funny reading what I’ve written and hearing how like a ‘4’ I sound – but I still think it’s true!


  10. Joel Hubbard
    Joel Hubbard says:

    Hey Cynthia, I’m in the process of becoming certified to teach the Enneagram and found myself landing squarely in the 7. The journey of discovering this was pretty long and difficult because I too don’t fit the party animal description. I wasn’t perpetually seeking happy experiences. I have never been shallow or perceived that way by those who know me. I do avoid emotional pain and often rationalize them away but I am facing them and trying to solve the puzzle so that I don’t have to suffer. Your take feels much closer to home for me and, I think if this had been the description instead of this perpetual happy and party chaser I would have landed as a 7 years ago. Thanks so much for your contribution.

    • Joel Hubbard
      Joel Hubbard says:

      I have reread this a bunch of times and thought quite a bit about this since my last entry and know that it will follow me for years to come. I feel like you nailed it for me as a 7. It is motion. In fact, I sent this to my other 7 friends and they too feel like it fits them more. I have have always described the effect in my experience of being overwhelmed by the love of God as this stillness that comes over my body and mind. My first experience of the Divine was at 7 and my hyperactive little body was frozen on the love seat as my dad described the love of God. Way before knowing the Enneagram, I talked about that event as me being still which was so unusual. Sitting in my cell is my work. Thank you, Cynthia!

  11. Douglas Rosestone
    Douglas Rosestone says:

    The passion or as I prefer to call it the weakness has to have a psychological logic to the central motivation and ‘trap’ of a given Enneagram Archetypal Character Style.
    Take the Four for instance: The Four’s CM is for the ideal or romance. Because the Four’s ideal is along the lines of beauty or lyrical feelings and the World being what it is sets the stage for disenchantment, the trap for the Four. Disenchantment of ever attaining the ‘ideal’ leads to yearning and this building psychological momentum becomes envy. Envy the idea that someone else has what you have lost or failed to attain. There is no path in the Seven that leads to accidie which the Oxford dictionary defines as, literary
    Spiritual or mental sloth; apathy. Here’s why: The Seven Central Motivation is for gratification, in what ever form it might take it is still the thirst for experience. The trap, which is the egoic insistence of the CM is for more experience which is called hedonism. It follows must naturally when this becomes an all consuming passion that gluttony rules. I have counseled Fours who wished to be Sevens and Seven’s who wished to Fours. Inside every Four is a Seven screaming to get out. And outside every Seven is a Four screaming to get in. Alas it’s not possible.

  12. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Cynthia is and has been my Spiritual teacher and guide for over a decade now. All of her writings have had that mind-opening and heart-resonating quality that this post offers. Thank you. Reading this post encourages me to revisit the Enneagram and see if I can make more sense of it this time. I’ve read, and found useful, Rohr and Palmer but eventually gave up on really understanding all the connections and numbers and cross-overs. I have been identified both as a Four and a Five. Cynthia’s post offers insight, clarity and hope. Are there any books that approach the depth and redemptive analysis for the Four as Cynthia’s post has done for the Seven? Any title suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Jane Kroll
    Jane Kroll says:

    Please hold a bit of openness about panels. There are panels, and there are panels. I learned some of the depths of 7 while leading a panel of sevens. The question of limitations came up, and I asked, “So what is it like when your options are limited, you are in a very restricted place, and you can’t get away?” (a long pause, then) “I feel as if I am suffocating . . . suffocating, . . . I can’t breathe . . . and I will die.”
    In my handouts from then on I changed the Avoidance of Sevens from pain (way too generic–everyone avoids pain) to restriction. It seems more to the point of the seven dynamic.
    Thanks, also, for bringing in the range of Sevens’ experience. Stereotyping is such a huge problem in the Enneagram world. People with a dominant Social Subtype of Seven called “sacrifice” can be other-sensitive, responsible, more subdued, accepting of limitations and able to postpone their own gratification for the sake of a bigger goal. On the surface they appear energetically more restrained than other Sevens and are often mis-typed.

  14. vincent androsiglio
    vincent androsiglio says:

    Just want to tell you Dear Cynthia how warmly i feel towards you. i resonate more with your vulnerability that frees-at least it does for me as a FOUR.
    I experience you as a light in the world and have identified with your strenght and courage to SEE so creatively and Boldly at times. i also accidentally received communion by just following the line of people to the altar at 7 years old . Your work is SO CLEAR esp centering prayer dynamics and Christian non-duality. I also had the opportunity to be mentored by Fr Keating after my many 10 day solo meditation retreats at Snowmass.We made a connection when we realized that we both shared Mahamudra, then i realized that Centering was doing the same thing. You’re very busy and im committed to cultivating love with my african partner Joseph as my way to the Divine.Maybe we may meet-but we already have in the GREAT BELONGING, as David Steindl-Rast, my teacher for 25 years calls it.I wish you Great Blessings,

  15. Marty Schmidt
    Marty Schmidt says:

    Hi Cynthia,

    I always come from a teaching perspective on these matters…. I’m teaching the Enneagram to my senior high school students (like Jack!) and for more than half of them, it seems, the Enneagram is very insightful. It helps them gain self-understanding, and they then have some grounding for how spiritual practices can reshape their personalities in very specific ways. In class there is a bubbly excitement about self-discovery. Now I know you have called it “ego bait,” and it certainly can be seen that way, but for high school students who are generally adrift about so many things, to have a relatively simple tool that links psychological development to spiritual growth is brilliant, and certainly is far better than anything else I’ve seen in helping them navigate the plethora of decisions they need to make about themselves. The paradox that one needs to both find and lose themselves is far better than the message they get about how to make themselves attractive to the highest bidder in the marketplace of college acceptance. So, while I was always a bit confused with your reticence to the Enneagram, when I went to London to hear Russ two summers ago and brought it back to my students, the results spoke for themselves. I’m very happy to see you opening up dialogue between the Wisdom Tradition and the Enneagram because that’s the direction my teaching has taken in helping my teenagers get some some of discernment about fast-arriving decisions that they need to make.

    We are in the middle of individual presentations right now on their Enneagram types, and I have two students who are torn between 4 and 7. Both have a bit of a crazy external vibe, but both have a level of inner awareness typical of the 4. They both have asked me to help clarify, and I really didn’t know what to say, so I’m very pleased to see you addressing this question. It can only help us get a better understanding of these types.

    Thanks for work in this – personally very timely for me!

    Much affection,


  16. Sharon Weldon
    Sharon Weldon says:

    I find this blog fascinating. You so skillfully give witness to the “4” energy: from determining a different passion for the “7”, to recounting tragic personal childhood stories, to identifying with very “special” people (Teilhard de Chardin, St. Augustine, Thomas Merton and Evagrius). I have to agree with Helen Palmer, you continue to highlight the deep “knowingness” of the Four. That is, knowing that the creative, “originalness” of each of us is beyond a number type. Thank you.

  17. Barb Miller
    Barb Miller says:

    I at first self-identified as a 7 but I was confused by some of the same descriptions you outline here. Several Benedictine sisters suggested I was a partly redeemed 9. It felt better and I’ve stuck with that. But, your description and experience has caused me to again question my number. As long as I continue self-inquiry, the more honest I can be with myself, the less important landing on a particular number seems to be but the more important is understanding the whole enneagram and the relationships of the personalities. Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing this

  18. Jean Eichberg
    Jean Eichberg says:

    Dear Cynthia,
    Thank you, once again, for sharing your sensitivity, openness and self knowledge with such clarity. Humorous how folks tend to “bar code” themselves and others as “this” or “that” – and also how I have resisted claiming a specific number despite being “comfirmed as a Type 4 and needing to be “special” – the saving grace was that I could claim a “5 wing”! Somehow “Type 7” kept nudging my attention even after a conversation with Leslie Hershberger. I also question the Enneagram’s geometric icon having an open space between the fourth and fifth postion. The arrows of equilibrium and disequilbrium for numbers 1, 3, 6, 8, 9 include the trinity of body, mind, and spirit (heart) unlike the other numbers 2, 4, 5, 7 which do not. Just an observation. Your take, Cynthia, on a “seven” reads right with me – and opens a window of possibility where “either/or” thinking and choice is tested and perhaps points to a coming together of all and nothing at all. Stay well!


    Jean Eichberg

  19. Georgiana Cameron
    Georgiana Cameron says:

    Most interesting, Cynthia. I am a One – took me forever to determine that – and after taking the long test prior to a Suzanne Stabile workship and doing it quickly, my One came out clearly. which. I. did. not. like. I had been a Four, Seven, Six, but this time the results were two points above that other grouping. I finally owned my Oneness and am increasingly aware of the resentment, anger – and rather extreme idealism. However I notice the playfulness in me – my one daughter told me that I was basically a kid at heart….and another daughter has said that you “never act like that” when I just let go of another situation less than ideal. Now I wonder if possibly moving towards “integration” (at times), I am releasing my know it all – the correct way – attitude. and that is moving toward Seven. Yes, I am on the CAC site and respond most frequently there. I absolutely think that the combination serves me so well…..and I am 87.

  20. Nancy Burnett
    Nancy Burnett says:

    I so resonate with your insights and conclusions. The E. and I have mutually and recipracally resisted until now. Your early life vignettes seal the question as my own comparable examples would show. Thank you, thank you.

  21. Marje OBrien
    Marje OBrien says:

    I recognized the 4 in me but contested Envy. Later, I recognised that the allocation of Envy to a four is correct!
    -Encouraging envy in others delighted my ignorant self!
    What a revelation!, what a shock..brought me pain and tears and then tremendous relief..
    Thank you Cynthia, love and peace to you from the Holy Isle. .
    Marje OBrien

  22. Linda
    Linda says:

    Would 6 or 8 make sense to you as your wing? And the lines to 5 and 1, do these those connections seem right as well?

    I have thought of Teilhard as possibly being core 6 with a 7 wing, though in reading your analysis of the 7, the other way around – 7w6 – does feel right.

    To answer your question, yes I have met self-identified 7s who fit your description. Each time I found myself having to adjust what I thought a 7 “looked” like. In each case, I eventually came to see the rightness of this fit and it immeasurably expanded my awareness of the ways this point may be embodied.

    I agree with you about Enneagram panels!

    When we discover our core type, there’s a Goldilocks feel to it. Having tried out other “beds,” we find the one that is “just right.” There’s both the pleasure and also the (sometimes intense) discomfort of seeing ourselves more clearly.

    • Linda
      Linda says:

      I would also suggest looking at your dominant instinct in relation to point 7. Each type is expressed differently depending on our instinct “stack” – self preservation, sexual, and social (I’m sure you know this, I’m just mentioning it for others posting here). Re-listening to Russ’ recent teaching on point 7 and the instincts, and I’m seeing more clearly how my line to 7 from my core point of 1 gets expressed through my dominant instinct of social, and my secondary instinct of self pres. I was never able to clearly see the 7 in me until I heard Russ explain it. He also mentions the key reason and value of discovering our core type: “. . . finding our core point again is not a statement about our ultimate identity but it gives us a foundation from which we can do our inner work. It’s the part of the Enneagram material that can be leveraged into the development of our heart, our soul, our consciousness. . . “

  23. Faye Cox
    Faye Cox says:

    Thank you for the vulnerability and depth of exploration. As a pretty-sure 4, now I long for that type to be re-explored in the same depth!
    blessings, Faye

  24. Lanning
    Lanning says:

    As someone who also “lost interest in the entire psychometric” because none of it really fit, I hope your exploration will let me also find a way in.

  25. Ian D Brown
    Ian D Brown says:

    My Dear Cynthia,
    I love your courage to reveal yourself and your depth of self insight. Touched my heart.
    Ian Brown

  26. Katherine Holden
    Katherine Holden says:

    The depth added by your sharing showers me.
    I, too, am a Seven, once “diagnosed” as a Four.
    Your insights nail me to the door that demands the capacity to say
    yes wholeheartedly to NOW. It took seventy years to even
    register, then believe, that God saw me. Now, five years on,
    to rest in God is the demand. It’s only one nail in the door,
    but it holds everything.
    Loved your sharing on Buddha at the Gas Pump!

  27. Susan Barley
    Susan Barley says:

    Cynthia ,
    I am astounded by your vulnerability..
    Thank you for sharing.
    Susan Barley
    You would recognize me if you saw my face – Swans Island connection

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