Each Enneagram type possess archetypes that correspond to the type's psychic structure. There is typically a dominant archetype and supporting archetypes. Some people may relate to one or all of the archetypes. Nonetheless these are universal roles that human beings play regardless of culture, and seem to encompass both an energetic and anthropological pattern that can help us to understand ourselves on a deeper and more holistic level.
Type Four Archetypes
Any of the Enneagram styles can be artists, but the Four identifies most strongly with the artist archetype. The artist is not only a creator of beauty, but sees the world through aesthetic eyes. Thus the artist seeks to dramatize and record the world through a particular lens.
Seeing the world through the lens of the artist is the proverbial “set point” for the type Four and becomes an unconscious way of filtering experience. The artist seeks to explain the world beyond the five senses and incorporates the range of emotions present within the human being in order to help with their explanation.
Passion and intensity exemplify the artistic temperament and the Four is an intense and passionate type and wants to maintain a high level of emotional connection with the world in order to prevent feeling flat or mundane. However, the shadow aspect of the artist can create problems for the Four who may wish to remain in a state of emotional intensity at all times making practical living difficult. Carolyn Myss writes:
“The shadow artist comprises many clichés, including an eccentric nature and the madness that often accompanies genius. The starving artist represents the fear of financial ruin or the belief that fame and fortune come only after death, which often causes artists to suppress their talents”(Myss, 2002 p. 369)
Fours may often suppress their talents for a fear of success or failure whilst simultaneously dreaming of notoriety for their contributions. In accordance with the archetype mental illness or at best emotional turmoil are romanticized because they are true markers of suffering. Thus the Four will often idolize those who suffer due to their identification with suffering for the sake of beauty or art.
The Four, or those with Four in the Tritype or as a wing, will identify with some aspect of the wounded child. For the Four the inability to let go of past hurts and traumas is a source of comfort when they are seeking to explain their apparent sense of difference from others. The Four believes that surely it must be because of some tragic flaw or Divine oversight that they were not seen for who they were as children.
Holding onto the ignored child aspect of themselves gives thus gives them permission to continue to harbor feelings of abandonment, exemption and sadness. It may be that the Four very much internalized some past childhood hurt, but it is the identification with the pain as part of the core identity that creates such a strong identification with this archetype. Fours may stay stuck in this wounded child state for too long and thus experience a strong split between feeling like an autonomous adult and still feeling like others should nurture and acknowledge the wounded child they harbor inside.
Any type can be a mystic, but the Four exemplifies this archetype quite strongly. The mystic seeks to understand the metaphysical or spiritual world as a way to explain a level of reality felt on an intuitive level. The Four is often very much in tune with their intuitive voice and identifies this voice as integral to their self-conception.
The mystical aspect of the universe helps the Four to feel that there is something more interesting or at least more vibrant outside of the five senses. The mystic also seeks to embark on a spiritual path (whether that is through a traditional religion, through artistic expression or deep shadow work) in an effort to come through transformed by the experience.
There is an attraction to suffering with the mystic and the shadow aspects of this archetype will preference the shadow over the light because it seems to promise the most work. The Four may get stuck in a morass of self-examination and enamored with the winding path of mysticism and forget to look up and see the sun every once in a while.
In addition, the mystic may renounce physical life in favor of a purely spiritual or emotionally resonant experience and thus become highly ineffectual with balancing the physical world with spiritual world. Fours may become so enamored with naval gazing they forgot the value of service, Caroline Myss writes about the shadow aspect of the mystic “The shadow mystic manifests as an egocentric concern for one’s own spiritual progress to the exclusion of others, and an attendant sense of self importance at having achieved “higher” states of consciousness” (Myss, 2002, p. 402)
Closely related to the mystic but decidedly different is the archetypal role of the seeker. The seeker is always searching for that which will complete them; an explanation, a mate, a philosophy, a religion or spiritual tradition, a friend, etc. The key point for those who seek is that there is never any real destination. The Four relishes in self discovery (and on the low side self-obsession), thus seeking serves to meet the need to continually discover oneself through self-examination.
Fours are thus archetypally always on a search for something and the point is to never really find what that is (although all Fours believe they want to find it). Seeking serves to keep the Four's hunger for loss alive as well as reinforces a sense of being proverbially lost at sea. Feeling lost is both terrifying and exciting for the Four because one can then embark on a journey to find the road home. However, home for the Four is true equilibrium between their practical and emotional selves, but this equilibrium seems hollow and dry compared to their fever pitch of their emotional lives.
The vampire occupies a very interesting space in the archetypal cannon as they serve as both monster and savior. Sucking the blood of its victims the vampire can only sustain life by draining the life from another. They are creatures of the night and have been condemned, in most mythological traditions, to spend eternity longing to see the light again.
The longing associated with the vampire closely aligns them with the Four personality style. The Four often feels a sense of tragic abandonment (much like the vampire who feels abandoned by God or human beings) and thus becomes the archetypal representation of the shadow. The vampire is a highly erotic character who longs for closeness with regular human beings but only finds themselves sucking them dry for vital sustenance.
Anne Rice, popular vampire writer of Interview With The Vampire, is a likely Four who wrote about these creatures in a way that both highlights their emotional longing and their supernatural pull. The vampire is both alluring and terrifying and the Four can represent the same dichotomy for those who find themselves in close personal relationships with them.
The vampire represents our shadow erotic desires and the human tendency to feed off of the energy of others. The Four, through the act of introjection can often take in the characteristics of those they admire and use them to create an identity. This act can be seen as a draining of sorts but serves both to construct a stable identity for the Four and keep the other tied to them through emotional or psychic connection.
Stay tuned for "Deeper Into Type Four Part III" next week!