At Best: Fours show Equanimity (balanced engagement) with respect to their emotions and their assessment of happenings, embodying the Higher Quality of Holy Source (all-pervasive extraordinariness). Fours detect emotional meaning under appearances, and they can be one-of-a-kind, fascinating individuals.
Habits: When driven by Envy (comparing and longing), Fours start Differentiating: idealizing self or others as too distinct and special or too mundane and ordinary and then reacting intensely. Focus of Attention: what's absent or lacking; the best in what's missing, the worst in what's here.
Fours Forget: Reality has its own self-existing meaning. Fours strive to create meaning, especially a uniquely individual ‘self.’ Fours do this by passionately embellishing their feelings and absorbing the admired qualities of others. Fours Believe: I lost connection long ago—I was abandoned; I must be special to attract the connection others seem to have already. Fours attend to what is missing in any situation. They idealize self and others as overly meaningful or overly superficial. Fours magnetize others’ attention, yet frustrate connection: it undermines their specialness & outside help reinforces feelings of lack. Fours can resist structure (“my genius should be free!”). Fours can be The (Too) Exceptional One: showing haughty superiority over superficial others. Fours Excel: at identifying with others' suffering and offering compassionate care. Fours tend to be emotionally deep and display distinct aesthetic sensibilities.
If I have not the power to put myself in the place of other people, but must be continually burrowing inward, I shall never be the magnanimous creative person I wish to be. Yet I am hypnotized by the workings of the individual, alone, and am continually using myself as a specimen.
- Sylvia Plath
Type Four Personality Reflections
There is a paradox concerning the Oneness of Reality: it is filled with infinite Difference. Somehow each of us is wholly connected and inseparable with the whole, and yet is, also, radically unique, beautiful, and meaningful.
Those running the Four ennea-type struggle with fabricating authenticity. They create a unique, special, extraordinary ‘self.’ Rather than remaining with bare emotion, they embellish emotions as way of understanding – and creating – themselves, and then they seek validation of these states.
Artful identity making creates a push-pull dynamic. Fours yearn to connect through being different (“my uniqueness will draw you to me”). Once connection is established, however, it can feel like losing one’s specialness...aka the ‘self.’ The Four feels too ordinary, normal and longs to recapture the sense of difference – the new ‘missing piece’ – by breaking the connection thru rejection. A renewed feeling of being hopelessly lost and deficient then prompts the Four to re-connect, and so on.
Some Fours differentiate themselves by showcasing an image of the ‘long-sufferer’ – the one who bears all suffering and works hard to get their own basic needs. One such Four exploded in irritation when his parents were alerted by another to his medical condition and offered to help. “It’s none of your business,” he told them, “I have to face this alone. Everyone bears their own cross, and this cross is mine!’”
Other Fours differentiate themselves by displaying their suffering and lack in order to invite rescue: “Nobody in my family gets me!” Still other Fours differentiate themselves by using an image of extra-ordinariness with which to compete and tear others down. One such Four excoriated a friend on social media for not “feeling deeply enough” about a national tragedy.
Fours gift the collective consciousness with a rich sense of the content and importance of our personal stories and contributions. We are on a journey of infinite differentiation within this mystery of Presence.
Paradox only resolves by holding the integrity of both sides. The Four in all of us relinquishes the push-pull ‘self’ striving to create connection thru difference (specialness) while striving to push away unity (normalness). With relinquishment comes the realization that Unity includes Difference without Separation – which is only known by the truly authentic, awakening heart.
Type Four Interview
This clip is from an interview with a representative Type Four. For the full set of interviews with all 9 types (about 20 minutes each), along with downloadable charts, check out this online course: Enneagram Interviews.