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  • Writer's pictureClaire Bentley

ENNEAGRAM TYPE 2

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

FOR CREATIVITY AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT


INTRODUCTION

The Enneagram is a personality classification system which divides the human population into nine broad personality types based on their desires, fears, beliefs and behaviours. In this series of blog posts I will take you through each of the nine Enneagram personality types in detail, looking at how you can use them to improve your creative work patterns and to inform character development in your artwork.



Image showing the nine Enneagram personality types in a circle
The Enneagram circle

There is dispute about the validity of the system as applied to ‘real-world’ humans. I’m not going to enter that debate in this series. However, I believe the system is potentially useful for creatives as a way of framing and understanding both our characters and ourselves. It is important to remember that personality systems are broad tools to aid understanding: there is lots of nuance and individual variation, and people rarely fit perfectly into one category or another.


WHY ENNEAGRAM AND NOT MYERS-BRIGG?

The Myers-Brigg personality classification system is also useful for understanding our characters and ourselves. However, I find it more complex and less intuitive than the Enneagram system. For example, when studying well-written fictional characters I can usually identify their Enneagram type quickly and easily, but I would struggle to identify which of the sixteen Myers-Brigg categories they fall under without reference material and a little free time to work it out. In addition, unlike the Enneagram, the Myers-Brigg types are not evenly distributed through the population: I am an ‘Advocate’ (INFJ), the rarest category at 1% of the population. In the Enneagram system I am a Type Nine, so many more ‘like-minded’ people to learn from.


However, the main reason I prefer using the Enneagram to the Myers-Brigg for character development is because story structure and story theory revolve around identifying the desires, fears, motivations, and misbeliefs of your characters. The Enneagram has these baked in and, even more crucially, the descriptions of healthy and unhealthy versions of each type make it far easier to see how a character might grow or disintegrate during a story (depending on what type of character arc you are writing).


WHY THIS BLOG SERIES?

The Enneagram is useful for understanding your pattern of work and behaviour when it comes to your creative life, so you can work out your strengths and weaknesses, find out what works for you, and identify areas where you could improve.


I have been using the Enneagram to inform character development in my current work in progress and it has been invaluable for helping me shape and develop their personalities, beliefs, and change arcs. There is a lot of information about the Enneagram but very little in terms of how to practically apply the system to character development in creative work. Therefore, I created this series of blog posts to explore each of the nine types in detail, and to provide guidance and examples when it comes to using the Enneagram for character development and plotting their change arcs.


There is a huge amount of information out there regarding the Enneagram and these posts barely scratch the surface! Therefore, I have linked many references at the end of the posts (including the ones which informed this series) if you would like to explore the topic further.



WORKING OUT YOUR ENNEAGRAM TYPE

There are tests out there (both paid and free) which can help you identify your Enneagram type. However, (again unlike Myers-Brigg) you can probably work out your type from the descriptions.


A word of caution: study each of the types before deciding which one best describes yourself. It may not be the one you initially think! When reading through the descriptions I initially couldn’t find one that quite worked for me, then ‘decided’ I was a Type Three, even though there were parts of it that fit and parts that didn’t. However, when I reached the Type Nine description I had a moment of ‘oh s***, here I am’. If the description feels uncanny and makes you feel uncomfortable, you have likely found the right one for you!


It is worth saying again that people do not necessarily fit perfectly into categories. I had strong scores for multiple Types when I took a test (it turns out Type Nines are good at adopting the behaviours of other types!) I also later found out that healthy Type Nines behave like healthy Type Threes, which could explain why I felt an affinity for the Type Three description.


My point is, study the types first before deciding which one best describes you!


TYPE 2 OVERVIEW: THE HELPER

Zoomed-in drawing of Type 2 on the Enneagram

PERSONALITY TRAITS

· Caring

· Selfless

· Empathetic

· Interpersonal

· Generous

· Demonstrative

· People-pleasing

· Possessive


SUMMARY

(https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/)

“Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others”.


DESIRES

To feel loved and appreciated.


FEARS

Being unwanted, worthless, or unworthy of being loved.


MOTIVATIONS

· Be loved, needed or appreciated

· Express their feelings for others

· Vindicate their claims about themselves

· Get others to respond to them


WINGS

Two with a One-wing: the Servant

You are inclined to help people so long as the help aligns with your morals. You wish to be seen as reliable and responsible. You may be critical of yourself and have trouble expressing your needs.


Two with a Three-wing: the Host / Hostess

You are image-conscious and ambitious: you like to be seen as an expert. You are extroverted and inclined to connect with those around you. You are competitive and make a strong leader.


DIRECTION OF GROWTH

Take care of themselves and become more self-aware, like healthy Type Fours.


DIRECTION OF STRESS

May become needy, aggressive and dominating, like unhealthy Type Eights.


ARE YOU A TYPE 2 CREATIVE?

Do you recognise yourself in the description above?


If you are a Type 2 creative then you view the best things in life as being love, closeness, sharing, family and friendship. You genuinely wish to help other people, and go out of your way to do so, viewing this as the most meaningful way to live.

You are loving, helpful and generous. You bring warmth to others, helping them see their best qualities. You see others as they are, showing them compassion and understanding, and helping and encouraging them.


However, as a Type Two you are also prone to self-deception and pride, wishing to be seen as helpful by others, and wishing to receive love and appreciation in return. You may become over-involved in the lives of others, and may intentionally or unintentionally manipulate others to meet your own (unacknowledged) emotional needs.


You may believe you must be or do something extraordinary in order to ‘earn’ the love and acceptance of others. However, by always putting others first you may find yourself growing secretly angry and resentful, especially if others do not express care in the same way as yourself.


You may have experienced a childhood in which your emotional needs for acceptance and nurturing were not met.



A cup of coffee with heart-shaped latte art
Love, nurturing, and emotional closeness motivate Type 2 creatives

YOUR WORK PATTERN

You are naturally good at networking and building strong relationships with other creatives, being willing and eager to help others where you can, and enjoying the satisfaction this provides for you. However this can go too far if you are selflessly meeting the needs of others and disregarding your own needs and priorities. You may end up over-committing and stretching yourself too thin, which may be particularly galling if your help is not reciprocated.


YOUR STRENGTHS

· Warm: you are likeable and others find it easy to connect with you.

· Empathetic: you anticipate the needs of others and generously help them.

· People-centred: you are good at building relationships with others.

· Sacrificing: you put the needs and feelings of others before your own.

· Supportive: you are complementary and supportive of others, encouraging and helping them.

· Positive.

· Persistent.

· Sociable.


YOUR WEAKNESSES

· Needy: you depend on love from others rather than from yourself.

· Overbearing: others may think you do not respect personal boundaries.

· Self-neglect: you spend so much time and energy helping others that you may be blind towards, and neglectful of, your own needs.

· Sensitive: you may be easily offended if confronted with criticism or the possibility of being disliked.


RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GROWTH

· Address your own needs (as well as others’) and take care of yourself properly.

· If offering to help someone (e.g. another creative), be aware of your own motives for doing so: will you feel disappointed if they don’t reciprocate?

· Ask people what they really need before helping them, so you can work out how best to help.

· Do not call attention to yourself and your good deeds: they will thank you or they won’t.

· Learn to recognise the love and good wishes of others, even if it is in a form you do not recognise.

· You thrive when you are around others: bear this in mind, as creative careers can be extremely lonely.


TYPE 2 CHARACTERS IN YOUR ART

I will speak to writing because I am most familiar with this, but the lessons can be applied to other creative art forms.


WHERE MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER START?

The ‘average’ Type Two character may start with a desire to be closer to others, and have good intentions behind this desire. However, they may have fallen into ‘people pleasing’ patterns of behaviour, e.g. wearing themselves out for others.


They may be overly friendly, intimate and intrusive, hovering around others, wanting to be loved and needed. They expect this dependability to be reciprocated, meaning they might send mixed messages to others about their intentions. They may feel self-important and indispensable, becoming a martyr for others.


HOW MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER GROW?

Your character may become deeply compassionate, empathetic, unselfish, humble and generous. They feel it is a privilege to be in the lives of others. They see the good in others, and give unconditional care and love to both themselves and others. They accept they are worthy as they are, and do not need to gain validation from others.

A healthy Type Two character has an awareness of both their own limitations, and the ability and willingness of others to help them in return. They use this information to make fewer (but better) commitments and know when to say yes or no.


HOW MIGHT YOUR CHARACTER DISINTEGRATE?

A Type Two character may descend into uncharitable, manipulative and self-serving behaviour. They may patronise, undermine and belittle others. Other people become a means to an end rather than individuals who are deserving of kindness and help. They may remind others what they owe to the individual and make them suffer or feel guilty for it.


An unhealthy Type Two character may have low self-worth, and may become clingy and over-bearing in their quest for validation, leading to co-dependence and strained relationships.


The individual may become manipulative and use guilt to gain what they want. They only help to gain favours from others. They may be extremely self-deceptive about their motivations and about how selfish and aggressive their behaviour is. They may cite abuse and ‘victimisation’ by others to rationalise and justify their behaviour.

They may be prone to abusing food or other substances, e.g. from a lack of love and / or to gain sympathy, destroying their health to the point at which they fall apart and others need to care for them.


Prone to addiction, over-eating, and hypochondria.


DEVELOPING YOUR TYPE 2 CHARACTER: WORKED EXAMPLE


Let’s say the one-line theme of your story is ‘love is not borne from submission to another’. You could make your main character a Type Two because they desire love and acceptance. They begin the story with the misbelief ‘I must always submit to others to earn their love and acceptance’ (the ‘lie’, or the opposite of the story’s theme).


Tickets with different love messages written on them
The Type 2 character's attempts to win the other person's affection become stifling

In the beginning they may desire the love of another individual. They bend over backwards for this person, doing everything they can for them in the belief that this will be the way to earn their love. They spend a lot of time around this person, to the point that they become clingy and overbearing. Rather than winning the love of the other person, the protagonist becomes a source of suffocation and irritation. The protagonist must learn how to value themselves so they don’t enslave themselves to win affection from others.


If the protagonist is in a negative change arc then they may grow to resent the other person for not reciprocating their love and attention. They may descend into destructive health behaviour because they feel unloved and lonely, without realising that love and respect for themselves has to come from within themselves.


This is just one example. Your theme may not suggest an obvious Enneagram type that ‘fits’, but it could be interesting to ‘try out’ your theme with protagonists and antagonists of different Enneagram types to see how these dynamics could impact your story and plot. Remember: a protagonist or antagonist (or any side character) could be any of the Enneagram types, and could grow or disintegrate within their type (or stay the same) during the course of the story.


TYPE 2 CHARACTERS IN WELL-KNOWN STORIES


EXAMPLES FROM HARRY POTTER

I do not agree with or condone any form of transphobia, and have not given a single penny to She-who-must-not-be-named since she outed herself. However, the story of Harry Potter helped me a lot as a child, and its characters remain some of the best known in the literary world. That is why I have chosen Harry Potter characters as examples in my discussion of the Enneagram, so that hopefully you can appreciate how the Enneagram might be used to help create stronger, more unique and more conflicted characters. These categorisations are based on my own judgment and knowledge of the characters: please feel free to disagree (and let me know in the comments if you do!)


MOLLY WEASLEY

Molly is the proud matriarch of the Weasley family. She not only cares for her own seven children, but also takes Harry and Hermione (and others) under her wing, feeding, nurturing and sheltering them (despite the family not having much money). The close relationship that develops between Harry and Molly is one of the most wholesome in the series.


However, Molly can also be coercive and domineering when she wants to be or when she is under stress. For example, she uses guilt to try and prise information from the main trio about the mission Dumbledore left them, and when that fails she manipulates the situation to try and keep them apart and prevent them planning their mission.


EXAMPLES FROM ENCANTO

Encanto is one of my favourite films from recent times. The characters are unique and fascinating, and the arcs they undergo are powerful and relatable. Therefore, I have also used Encanto to provide examples of the different Enneagram types in character-based art.


JUILETA MADRIGAL

Although we don’t get to find out much about Julieta, her statements and behaviours suggest that she is a Type Two character. Even her magical gift implies this (healing others through food). She cares for and listens to others in the family, and defends Mirabel when Abuela criticises her. No matter what conflicts and divisions arise within the wider family, Julieta remains a healthy and stable Type Two character and confidant for Mirabel.


RESOURCES

I couldn’t find much that was geared specifically to fictional characters in writing (or other art forms). However, there is much more to explore within the Enneagram system, and I have listed some helpful resources below:

The Enneagram Institute: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

Don Riso and Russ Hudson have published multiple books on the Enneagram system

These resources provided a foundation for the blog posts in this series, which I then applied to understanding your creative work pattern and crafting fictional characters.


BEFORE YOU GO…

Are you an Enneagram Type 2? Are any of your characters Type 2? Please join in the discussion (contact details below).


Please feel free to comment on the article and/or contact me if you have any questions!


Socials: @cbentleywriter on most of them!




Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/clairebentley

I welcome respectful and friendly discussion on the topics I write about, including if your opinion differs from my own.


Disclaimer: generative AI

I do not use generative AI to produce or inform my blog, my images, or my fiction. All of my content is generated by the chaotic firing of my own (human) brain! (I have access to some images through my Wix subscription). I do not consent to the use of my content, images, or fiction to train generative AI models. Please contact me to discuss permission and compensation if you wish to use my content in this way.

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