I'm seeing something that keeps popping up in the enneagram community that I wanted to address. I'm writing this on the fly (like I do everything) so forgive me if it's not perfectly worded.
People seem to equate self-revealing honesty about trauma to 4. I'm seeing lots of people talk about trauma they've suffered and typing as 4. Or I'm seeing people try to use said brutal honesty as proof that they are 4 or 4-fixed. First of all, anyone who can talk about their trauma in such an honest way is BRAVE, because I certainly couldn't. It's difficult for any type to talk about deeply traumatic experiences especially to a group of almost strangers.
However, this is not type 4. Type 4 is an image type, and image types are concerned with looking at themselves in the mirror and seeing a person they like or that they want to be. For 4, that's an addiction to being frustrated about not being able to have something that would make you complete (among other things http://www.theenneagramuniverse.com/type-4.html). But this is not the true heart centre, the types are a crafted image, an ego, a personality problem. There are 4's that lived the easiest, most privileged lives that are still 4's. 4 is a reactive type, but they are also withdrawn. It's a lot more likely for a big bold type like 7 or 8 to come into a space and be able to speak candidly about trauma, or anything truly personal really.
4's like to think they are self-revealing and authentic, but TRUE authenticity is terrifying for a 4. The truth of what really hurts us, the things that have really damaged us, truly putting ourselves on the line, that is completely terrifying just as much as it is for any type. The kind of bravery I've seen from people in this group is not the same as the crafted image of brokenness that the 4 point lives at in the heart centre. You will find me complaining, being bitchy, being negative, making myself separate, pulling away, but you will never see me talk about the things that truly cut me deeply in this group, because that's too scary and it also threatens my self-image of being somehow separate. If anything, I withhold my weakest spots more than others. If everyone is self-revealing, then I can't be because I need to hold onto my separateness. If I just splat myself on the table for everyone to see then I'm going to have to shatter my own type ego which wants me to believe that I'm an alien. I can boldly throw my own self-image at others, but to actually discuss trauma, I won't. This isn't to say that all 4's will think like me, but I just need it to be understood that talking about trauma you've experienced does not make you a 4, it just makes you brave. 4's will often have certain "problems" that they are comfortable using as their broken self-image, but these are often not TRULY traumatic issues, but rather ways to feed the type 4 ego (see, I'm broken, see I created a problem, but it's not something that truly matters).
If you have been through trauma, you can use the enneagram to figure out how you've dealt with and processed the trauma. Reading type 4 might give you some sense of feeling like "oh that's why I'm so upset all the time." You are upset because you have a right to be. Suffering comes with trauma no matter what type you are. It's often the more positive types like 2, 7 (or some 6's) that take issue with that negative piece inside them and the ego can try to use type 4 as a way to explain why they have such a dark side. Type 4 becomes a way for the ego to say "It's not my fault I'm sad because I'm just a 4." But trauma is never your fault. And truly dark experiences are not the same as the gold-trimmed royally-crafted painting that 4's want to see when they look in the mirror.
David Gray in response to a question on SO/SP vs. SO/SX 5, with distinctions between contra and syn flow:
I think so/sp is a certain 'blocking' energy unto itself, which could thwart social interaction in a particular way.
One truism I've noticed for the contraflows is that they weirdly somewhat work against their dominant instinct, unconsciously/intstinctually or subtly.... like sp/sx actually has this slow downward suck/attrition into 'death & decay', the literal opposite of *self-preservation*....even while it's an sp-first stacking.
So, so/sp has this sp wall between them and "personal nudity" (sx)....the latter being an important element in acutal sociability....ie- I'm really just putting the instincts in a straight row ... so/sp is then ....soc....sp ('wall')....sx.
All the stackings can be 'worked' (conceived of) this way. Like, a problem with sx/sp and romantic/sexual connection is that actual bonding is the Social instinct, and there's, again, an sp wall between sx and soc in that stacking (sx/sp/so). But again I think the contraflows are still more entrenched somehow in something that fundamentally works against their dominant instinct, even as its their central focus.
Your 'college major' issue, btw, would be a classic so/sx-ism -- self-dispersal, a certain kind of difficulty with the brick-by-brick building of 'foundation' underneath 'me'. In a way so/sx isn't 'sticking with yourself' (sp-blind), like there's a certain kind of 'loss of self-location', although tritype can be a huge factor there, and your having a 9 fix would intertwine with that in a certain way that could exacerbate the issue.
I'm thinking of Joseph as I'm saying that -- he's 478, which is like triple-individualistic or triple self-interested, etc. which partly balances the so/sx self-dispersion. 478 grounds the self in some degree, simply by how much heft of 'Personality' is part of its nature (in contrast to so/sx's 'scattered / up-in-the-air' energy)...ie- 'grounds the self' here not meaning anything spiritual, etc, but the 478 fixations, in combination, have an extra dose of 'Me being especially defined and important to Myself' to them.
I wanted to just give an anecdotal example of what it might feel like to be Social.
One of my major social 4 quirks has been that I don't dance in front of people. I do love to dance as much as anyone does. In fact I really love it as a musician. It's a natural response to loving music. But the extreme shame of wondering what I'd look like to others or the separation I feel when others are enjoying some kind of positive group solidarity to music that I think is crap also prevents me from letting loose in public.
Last night I was listening to one of my favourite old disco songs and I ended up dancing my heart out (after closing all my curtains) alone. Even though no one was watching, I felt that everyone was watching. I was crippled from even being able to enjoy my natural response to music because of the onslaught of questions I had to answer for in order to even do this alone: Is disco cool? Who's watching me dance like this? Where are we? What genre would I be if I like this song? Should I tell people I like this song? Maybe I'll post about how I like this song and change my look to be disco-flavoured. Now I need to readjust my entire sense of how other people see me to fit the fact that I like this song and dance this way. Okay I can make this work, I just need to integrate it into my image. Is disco gay? Are people going to see me as a stereotype if I like this? How can I make it seem like it's uniquely me? Which group of people should I present this too?
Then the realization that actually I'm alone and no one is watching at all sets in. SO/SX wants to be some exotic bird; and combined with withdrawn 4 it's like being a beautiful bird that just sits in the corner and is admired but disinterested hoping that its feathers are enough to make people approach it.
Throughout all of this, I had a precise picture in my head of exactly which people were watching me dance and where and how they were reacting. And with social adaptability, I had to readjust my entire sense of what my role was in the eyes of others before I could even just simply follow my gut enjoyment (being SP blind and gut last plays a role in this too).
I'm sure many people can relate to this brand of self-consciousness. However having high Social in your stacking can bring this consistent "mentalizing" or processing/adapting to your role as others perceive it. It took me years to be conscious of these thoughts.
Among other things, Nine-ness is a **selfishness** about maintaining my own inner sanctum of stillness and calm, and since I can "smell needs from a 100 miles away", I continually avoid being around people... in numerous ways.
Me, personally, I MUST have MANY hours of alone time. I'm 53 years old, live alone, never been married, made sure to never produce children, cannot imagine why anyone would ever have children or a spouse. Why would you ruin your life like that? [Note to future self: Next time, insert a smiley-face emoji at this point in the conversation so that the people know you're not a sociopath; you're actually a very kind and compassionate man, aren't you???]
On some level, I see 9-ness as hypersensitivity disorder -- I'm absorbing people at the level of my body, I'm sensing *too much* about them, I'm in some danger of being 'possessed,' so I'm also, especially as self-pres dom, making sure to say 'No' to all of that, because of the degree to which I can be 'taken.'
As a Gut type, very deep down, 9 is highly invested in maintaining autonomy/independence. The 9s who are more clearly 'giving themselves away' are somewhat engaging a 'management system' that (unconsciously) appears to them, at the onset of each connection or interaction, as 'serviceable enough' for the protection and soothing of the 9's own inner sanctum. This is the 9 motif of "If everyone around me is ok, then I'm ok."
I'm purposely, for the sake of some brevity, leaving out the 'human heart' element in the above (my heart, other 9's hearts), but of course all the above is complicated by the fact that I'm (me personally) also being affected by others often at the level of Feeling, compassion, empathy. Nonverbal emotional intelligence and insight is often an area of mastery for 9s, and the people in a given 9's life may have no idea about the depth to which the 9 is getting saturated by the emotional weight of the other person/people, an absorption which might often have its start in the heart and emotions, or some combination of heart and body-sensing of emotional content.
Again though, it can't be overstated ... a main concern with self-pres 9... the self-pres instinct's sensitivity and capacity for alarm and watchfulness about "what's happening to ME, RIGHT NOW", which can often amplify the Gut center's concern around boundary encroachment and sustained autonomy.
A given situation with another person has the potential to register, resonate, and reverberate loudly, though nonverbally, throughout the body, and can be experienced as something like a mortal threat, instinctually. Of course, ultimately (I mean, like, ultimately-ultimately), this concern, in most cases, is all an illusion -- there's no real mortal threat and there never was -- but try telling that to an animal instinct that has no verbal capacity.
Self-pres is also looking into the future, toward 'possible future time & energy expenditure' as it relates to this or that person or group situation. And since, as a 9, I so inadvertently tend to saturate with other people's stuff ('smell them 100 miles away' <--- By the way, imagine what that means in terms of what happens *up close* with you and other people), I *must* do 'No' or develop a capacity for 'No'.... otherwise the sacrosanct inner sanctum might imagine or sense that it's in danger of merging with the mess and perpetual agitation that is this other person or these other several human beings, a foundational shock that would never stop reverberating, making waves in the silent ripple-less pool of the sanctum.