This blog series describes how the primary defense mechanism for each Enneagram type functions as a guardian of the type-based ego structure, and this particular blog focuses on Enneagram type 9. You’ll learn the following: how the type-based fixation and passion form a continuous loop that helps generate and sustain the type-based ego structure; what happens inside us when this loop contradicts the type-based ego ideal or idealized sense of self; how the ego does not like or know how to integrate this contradiction; and how the type-based primary defense mechanism then colludes with the type-based passion to lessen the dissonance created.
Below is a review of the major concepts: ego ideal; fixations and passions, and defense mechanisms:
Ego ideal is how a person wants to be perceived by self and others, an idealized self that seeks to be continuously reinforced. In a sense, the ego ideal is the aspirational self, whereas the ego-structure includes far more than only ego ideal, with additional elements such as the type-based fixations, passions, false reality, worldview, deepest longings and more.
Fixations and passions are the ongoing states of functioning (mental and emotional respectively) that continuously play and replay in our Mental Center and our Emotional Center, thus fueling our emotional response patterns. The specific fixations and passions that go with each type create a self-reinforcing loop that becomes a core element of each type’s ego structure.
Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies we use to deal with uncomfortable, difficult and anxiety producing situations. These mechanisms to reduce a person’s fear, sadness, and/or anger and to also maintain his or her self-concept and ego structure, appearing primarily when a person is either avoiding something or experiencing a threat of some sort. Although individuals of all Enneagram types use a variety of defense mechanisms at different times, there is one specific defense mechanisms that is most strongly associated with each type.
NINES’ Ego Ideal | The peaceful person | Always easygoing and accepting; never pushy or ambitious
NINES’ Fixation | Indolence | Mentally diffusing attention so that you forget what is important and refrain from stating opinions and positions, thereby minimizing tension and conflict within yourself and with others
NINES’ Passion | Laziness | A lethargy in paying attention to your own feeling, thoughts, and needs, thus disabling desired action
The NINES’ Primary Defense Mechanism | narcotization
Narcotization is a psychological defense mechanism in which Nines unconsciously numb themselves to avoid something that feels too large, complex, difficult, or uncomfortable to handle. Nines narcotize and distract themselves by engaging in prolonged rhythmic activities that are familiar, require very little attention, and provide comfort – for example, washing the dishes; working in the garden; continuous pleasure reading of books by the same author or within the same genre; going for a walk or a bike ride; engaging in frequent or extended casual conversations; or continuously changing channels on the TV. Nines also use daily routines such as morning or evening rituals to immunize themselves from being fully aware, and they feel agitated, irritated, or disoriented when these repetitive activities become disrupted. Most Nines engage in narcotizing activities on a regular basis, but they do this most often when they feel pressured, uncertain, angry, anxious about their capabilities to do something, discounted or overlooked, and more.
A Nine has an urgent and complex work assignment that needs to be completed today, but instead of focusing on this priority assignment, the Nine cleans up the office, files old expense reports, makes non-urgent phone calls, and works on some lower priority work that is unrelated to the project at hand, and has no looming deadline.
It can be difficult to determine if something or what is upsetting Nines when they engage in narcotizing behavior, because even they may not know for certain. However, when they engage in narcotizing behavior – especially when there is something else they should be doing or something they need to say – it is a clear indication that they have deadened themselves with something distracting and soothing. Additional examples of narcotization at work include the following: diffusing their attention by forgetting what they were discussing or not remembering something that was clearly stated; talking about nonessential topics for prolonged periods of time with people they feel comfortable with and like; displaying various forms of procrastination, such as chronic lateness for appointments, meetings, and task-related commitments; not completing required paperwork on a timely basis; and bringing the same work home night after night without ever completing it; following routines even more than normally and/or adding new ones; and engaging in comforting activities for extended periods of time such as watching TV, spending time on the computer, taking walks many times per day, doing crossword puzzles for hours on end, and more.
How narcotization serves as a guardian of the Type Nine Ego structure
The type Nine ego structure needs to maintain its idealized self of being the peaceful person, where everything is tranquil and copasetic, no one gets upset, differences are resolved in a respectful way, no one gets ignored, and everyone is included. Any of the prior examples generate tension and Nines , who are highly sensitive to tension more than most people, experience tensions in their bodies – whether the tension has an internal or external source. They dislike this experience so intensely, that their fixation of indolence (mental diffusion), passion of laziness (inattention to their own inner and particular emotional experience, not laziness in terms of being active) allow them to maintain the peace. Nines simply diffuse their attention – akin to spacing or numbing out – and are inattentive to their internal feelings and experiences, all to keep their idealized position as the peaceful person.
As if the above is not enough, the Nines’ defense mechanism of narcotization also supports their being distracted from their own inner thoughts, feelings and sensation. They simply start doing non-essential or routine things, narcotizing by cleaning the house, doing extensive internet searches, thoroughly washing the dishes, looking at and savoring their collections – books, purses, inanimate objects, shoes, etc.– and mission accomplished. Peace is restored!
Please note that fixations, passions, ego ideals and defense mechanisms are some, but not all, of the elements that comprise the 9 different ego structures. You can read and view more information about the components of ego structures for each type in my book, The Art of Typing, which you can purchase on amazon Here
Special note: the ego-ideal names and basic descriptions are from the work of Jerry Wagner PhD.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com |firstname.lastname@example.org
My hisband is narcotizing big time. I can’t get him to talk about what is causing him discomfort. It’s so bad I don’t know if i can continue in this marraige. What if anything can I do?
Hello Lynn. It sounds like your husband could benefit from discussing these issues with a pastor, counselor, or therapist. Wishing you well.