Mike Hill: Thank you very much. Can you guys hear me okay?
Audience members: Yeah.
Mike Hill: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for the applause, the introduction, and the welcome from Marc. I am awful with online communication. I avoid all communication as much as possible, in general.
Being on stage isn’t necessarily my natural environment but I do enjoy sharing ideas, so I’m hoping that tonight is going to be about that.
Why? What? Why?
The other thing as well. This isn’t going to be the funnest talk ever, so I thought maybe we could have a drinking game where, every time I use the word “psychopathology,” we will drink.
[Audience laughs and cheers]
I can keep things galvanized.
My background, I’m a designer, a multidisciplinary designer. I’ve worked on a lot of different things in different industries from Horizon Zero Dawn as a world builder, Call of Duty as a level designer and production designer, Blade Runner where I was a concept designer for Danny Villeneuve, and then, more recently, for Netflix Love, Death, + Robots.
I work for a range of different organizations ranging from things like entertainment like Netflix, Warner Bros., Sony, Microsoft, through to NASA. What I’m hired for is kind of a bit abstract but, effectively, I get hired to solve problems is the gist of it.
Sometimes, the way I solve problems is by drawing pictures, making models, or making animations. This is some stuff I did for Blade Runner.
It involves designing sets, making visualizations of how things should look, but it also moves into 3D animation in order to help the director visualize what his world should look like and how you can communicate the story. I’m really interested in psychology, and I try and bring psychology into a lot of my design work.
It’s design-based, but it’s about systems, mainly. The systems I’m interested in vary from how things are built with industrial design through to how big architectural spaces are constructed. Underlying this is basically an interest in how things relate to each other. Recently, I started to--when I say recently, maybe about five years ago--became really fascinated with psychology and how the mind works because it was a useful thing to know when trying to tell stories.
Tonight, I’m going to talk about something which is that I believe deeply that understanding ourselves and each other would improve the world. I’ve briefly tapped in occasionally to the online community in political circumstances and it’s a bit of a mess at the moment. Part of the reason, I think, is because we don’t fully understand how we end up forming our personalities and our beliefs. I think some level of self-understanding would help that conversation.
The talk is about, why do we believe the way we do? There are a lot of studies that delve into why we are motivated in how we do the things that we do.
Disclaimer: I am not qualified in anything.
So, I have no degree. I have no higher education. Everything I’m saying is provisional and it’s something that I have generalized from things I’ve read. I’m not claiming to be an authority in anything I talk about, so please don’t assume that I’m saying that this is the holy grail of anything.
I’m interested by how we go from this as children to this as adults. Why is that happening and why are people getting to a point where they have mental health issues and what is the cause of that? There are many, many variables that can lead to us being unhappy and it doesn’t seem like it’s the natural way that we should exist.
One way to understand how we end up like that is to look into different psychological types. The best way to think about psychology is it’s like maps. Maps are not right. They’re not true. They’re just pragmatic. If you need to navigate the world from a global perspective, this is a useful map. But it’s no use if you want to navigate at the street level. If you don’t know where you are and you have no point of reference--let’s say that you’re in the ocean--a map is no good at all. What you need is a compass.
The psychology system I’m going to talk about tonight is like a compass. I got it from this guy. David Fincher is one of the best directors in Hollywood. He’s also widely accepted as one of the smartest guys pretty much in the entire industry. He’s a very smart human being but also very high in emotional intelligence. He’s worked on or he’s created films like Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac and, more recently, Mindhunter, the television series, and House of Cards.
The system that he’s invested in is this. If your response while looking at that is, “That looks like bullshit”--
--I share your emotional response. [Laughter] When I found out that this was a system that he subscribes to, I was kind of gobsmacked. I went and looked into it and you start hearing things like energies and spirituality and wisdom. Then when you look for literature on the subject, you get books that look like this.
[Laughter] Which I have with me tonight.
But I was like, “Damn. This guy is like a personal hero of mine and he’s not an idiot.” Why would someone so rational subscribe to something that looks so irrational? I was kind of thinking--
--he can’t be this. Before we kind of go into the enneagram, I’m going to kind of give a little overview of psychology in general. But, to introduce the enneagram, I’m actually going to let someone else introduce it. This is Rooney Mara. She was the actress in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She worked closely with David Fincher. This is her talking about how she was introduced to it through Fincher for their kind of collaboration on Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Mike Hill: Ah, bear with me.
Mike Hill: All right, so we have Rooney Mara now, I think. Okay.
Let me close this down.
Rooney Mara: This -- I want to talk about this. Everyone else thinks it sounds like a cult, like, it’s like the new Scientology or something. It’s not. It’s this thing called the enneagram. It’s sort of like a Myers-Briggs. It’s a personality sort of categorization.
Right before we started shooting Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, David started talking to me about it. He made me take the test so that I could find out what number I was. He assigns each character whatever number they are. I found it to be super helpful. I became sort of obsessed with it for a while. I made everyone I know take it.
Rooney Mara: [Laughter] It’s really, it’s very interesting, especially for an actor to have as a tool and for a director.
Joe McGovern: You know you told me to take it and I did.
Rooney Mara: Oh, what number are you?
Joe McGovern: Oh, I don’t want to say. I’m -- that’s--
Rooney Mara: You’re a three? You’re not a three?
Joe McGovern: No, actually that’s--
Rooney Mara: [Laughter]
Joe McGovern: You tell me yours; I’ll tell you mine.
Rooney Mara: I’m a five with a four or sometimes a four with a five, but--
Joe McGovern: I’m a nine.
Rooney Mara: Oh, really?!
Rooney Mara: Do you know if you’re an eight wing or a one wing?
Joe McGovern: No, I haven’t gotten that deep.
Rooney Mara: I bet it’s a one. The nine is the peacemaker.
Joe McGovern: Yeah.
Rooney Mara: So, you’re probably--
Joe McGovern: That’s why I’m a moderator, I think.
Rooney Mara: Right.
Rooney Mara: (Indiscernible)
Joe McGovern: But actually, when I read the description of the personality, it was frightening how accurate it was.
Rooney Mara: Yeah.
Joe McGovern: It terrified me, actually, just to see how it was basically looking into a mirror.
Rooney Mara: Yeah. Okay, this is good. I feel like now I can--
Joe McGovern: The enneagram.
Rooney Mara: I’m going to know how to relate to you better now.
Joe McGovern: Oh, good. A five.
Mike Hill: So, that quote kind of says it all about the enneagram. That’s the reason I love it. It’s, “I’m going to know how to relate to you better now.” Not just to others, but to yourself because the enneagram will give you insights about your unconscious motivations that will hit home pretty hard when you get into it. In order to understand the enneagram, which is kind of an amalgamation of a lot of different schools of psychology that just get bolted together, I’m going to go through a quick run-through of basic psychology.
I’m sure you guys have heard of this dude, Sigmund Freud. He was like the godfather of modern psychiatry. He came up with a thing called Structural Theory. Structural Theory was the first real attempt to understand how our brain is organized and it kind of looks like this.
If your brain is an iceberg, 95% of it is underwater. Most neuroscientists agree that between 90% and 95% of your cognitive processing is running unconscious operations, things you’re not even aware of. In this iceberg, there are three things. There’s the “id” which is effectively your animal instincts and then there’s the “superego,” which is your social rules, and then there’s the “ego,” which is basically moderating between the two. You really want to have something but it’s going to hurt someone else, so your ego says, “Let’s compromise.”
Beyond Freud, Carl Jung was kind of a partner and student of Freud until he kind of went his own way. One of the major things just to note, one of Sigmund Freud’s major theories was that everything we do is ultimately motivated by sex. That actually everything we do, we rationalize it, but we just want to have sex with stuff, especially your mom.
Carl Jung was like, “Well, wait a minute. This seems a bit of a simplification, and I also don’t believe that the unconscious and dreams are just masking sexual drives.” He introduced a whole new set of concepts into lexicon: extraversion, which we still use today and every type system refers to it because it’s a very pragmatic understanding of how people are motivated; the collective unconscious, which is the idea that we actually have a shared library that we tap into when we sleep and dream; and archetypes, which is effectively the way that the symbols that we all understand intuitively are kept in that collective unconscious.
From Carl Jung, the first -- well, it wasn’t the first, but one of the kind of most successful type systems that is in the world today is what’s called the MBTI, which I imagine some of you may have taken. A lot of companies use the MBTI system. The MBTI system takes theories from Jung.
Jung, by the way, did not sanction or authorize this interpretation of his model. This was a model that was developed by two ladies called Myers and Briggs. It’s a really interesting system. Scientifically, a lot of scientists think that it’s invalid but, at the same time, it’s a very interesting self-reflection tool.
I really like the MBTI. I’ve learned a lot about myself through it. I’ll tell you how it’s organized, roughly speaking.
Introversion and extraversion, it works on these polarized kinds of ideas about how people expose themselves to the world. Basically, this is, are you outwardly or inwardly focused? Introverts spend a lot of time in their own minds and they get energized by that. Extraverts spend a lot of time with other people and they get energized by that. It’s a very simplified distinction, but it kind of works.
The next thing is intuition or sensation. It’s on a spectrum, but whether you’re somebody that’s primarily sensation-based or intuition-based defines how you effectively take in information. People who are intuitive, they can be exposed to a very small amount of stimulus and they can extrapolate huge interpretations from it. These are people that, generally speaking, discover things and sensation-based people are more locked into reality. They receive a lot more data. They can process a lot more amounts of information through their bodies. They’re more in the moment. Quite often, more creative as well.
Thinking and feeling is how do you make decisions. Some people make their decisions on their gut on how they feel in the moment and some people exclusively make their decisions with thinking. Well, not exclusively. It’s always going to be some level of blend.
The last is judging or perceiving. People who judge, this is how they evaluate the world. They come to conclusions about the way the world is and then they are interested in forming the data that they can have access to, to basically summarize what they’ve already concluded. Perceiving people are always looking at the world and looking for variables. They’re looking for new ways to look at the world.
You get 16 types from this system. I’ve just put this up there. This is a pretty good resource if you’re interested in checking it out, 16personalities.com. You can get some pretty cool insights into how you perceive the world. It’s not a perfect system, but it is a system.
The scientifically kind of validated model, which is what a lot of scientific studies believe is the most pragmatic model, is called the Five-Factor Model. The reason it’s kind of accepted across the scientific community is because it doesn’t fail between cultures. The MBTI reflects the culture of the people that created that system. When you export it to different cultures, quite often it doesn’t really resonate with the people that are taking the test. The Five-Factor Model relates to five kind of factors that are pretty much universal and the way that you kind of relate to them affects the way that you see the world.
The first is called openness to experience. Openness to experience does not mean, “I want to jump out of a plane and maybe see if the parachute works.” Openness to experience is your capacity to effectively play with ideas that are either unconventional or unacceptable. It’s how willing you are to expose yourself to unconventional things.
Conscientiousness is effectively how hard you work or how much you feel an obligation to work on behalf of something outside of yourself.
Extraversion is what we already talked about. How much energy you give to the world outside of your psyche.
Agreeableness is whether you’re willing to get into a fight over things. This is a really major one.
All of these things, by the way, have negatives and positives. Agreeableness sounds like a really good thing, right? Actually, people who are excessively high in agreeableness, they get walked over. They can’t stand up for themselves and, if you have a high level of agreeableness across an entire culture, you can basically push the majority of people towards doing heinous things.
Then there’s neuroticism.
Ignore that at the bottom.
Neuroticism is a really complex one but it’s basically how far -- it’s how much you are concerned about the nature of the world and whether what you think of the world is actually stable, true, and real. People who are highly neurotic are willing to experiment with or are unwilling to accept the narrative that we all accept as being common sense.
Then there’s enneagram. Now, the first thing is that it’s a provisional system, which means that it’s integrating different schools and it’s constantly willing to change. It’s not trying to power you into its belief system.
I’m going to kind of introduce you to it by first introducing you to one of David Fincher’s projects, which is Mindhunter. Mindhunter is a show. Has anyone here seen Mindhunter? Okay, cool.
If anyone has the time to watch a show on Netflix in the next couple of weeks, I highly recommend it. It’s amazing. It’s the best form of entertainment. It’s educational, it’s engaging, and it will help you understand all sorts of things.
It focusses on psycho, well, serial killers but it concludes things about how the human race works by looking at the extreme cases of when it goes wrong. It’s about a department of the FBI called Quantico which, during the ‘70s, began to try to transfer their understanding of serial killers and criminal pathology.
It tried to understand or integrate lessons from sociology in order to interpret why criminals do the things they do. To kind of give you a sort of taster, I’m just going to show you some clips from the show that will introduce you to what they’re basically tackling by describing the history of Quantico.
Bill Tench: Motive, means, opportunity: the three pillars of criminal investigation for the last century. But it’s 1977 and, suddenly, motive is elusive.
What, why, who: What happened? Why did it happen that way? Which should lead to who did it.
A person is murdered, not sexually assaulted, not robbed, but the body is mutilated posthumously. The question is not only why did the killer do it but why did the killer do it this way? We are now talking about psychology.
Mike Hill: Now, it’s kind of crazy to think this in the modern age but, for the longest time, crimefighters and criminal, you know, the police didn’t even consider psychology as a tool to understand criminals. They just thought, if you steal something or you do something wrong it’s because you had a very simple mean, you had a simple opportunity to do so.
Then in the ‘70s, sociology was taking off and then what began to happen was the FBI began to try and learn about how people are motivated outside of just wanting to get something. What they started to question, which is important for each of us, is the relationship between nature and nurture, whether criminals are born criminals, whether you’re born a monster, or whether actually your experience as a child and as a growing adult makes you become a monster. It’s a very important question.
Every single person that has eventually become a monster was, at some point, a child. I think it’s fair to say that this guy looks like he’s naturally going to become a monster. [Laughter]
But who knows? It’s nature versus nurture and what psychologists began to try and inquire about is, if we can understand how these monsters are formed, maybe we can prevent it, which is a pretty good way to approach dealing with monsters.
This is a clip which taps into the same scene from Mindhunter because it does a great job of explaining this principle theatrically.
[Police officers gasp]
Holden Ford: Monster. Right? I think we can all agree. But what do you really know about him? Did you know that his mother was a jailbird and a prostitute? Do you know, when he was ten years old, she pawned him off onto a sadistic, Bible-thumping uncle who beat him within an inch of his life and taunted him to act like a man?
Charles responded to that by becoming a pimp and an armed robber and was incarcerated for other 20 years where he continued to be brutalized. In 1967, he was paroled during the Summer of Love and our nightmare began.
[Police officers gasp]
Male: Oh, come on!
Holden Ford: Here we have a child who was unwanted, unloved, regularly beaten and repeatedly institutionalized. Now, might this not have had some sort of an effect on him?
Male: He was born that way.
Holden Ford: What way?
Male: Just bad.
Holden Ford: Can we be a little bit more specific? Technically, he didn’t kill anybody.
[Police officers mumble]
Male: Look at those eyes. How can you not say that dude is evil?
Holden Ford: That’s a little bit Old Testament, don’t you think? Good. Evil. Black. White. It’s easy, but who in this room has a life that’s easy? Circumstances affect behavior. When we look at Manson’s background, the real question is, how could we not have seen this coming?
Mike Hill: What they began to realize is, like, well, when you look at people that have really horrible behavior as adults, if you dig into their past, they’ve, generally speaking, on some level, been traumatized. Trauma is a word that we throw around a lot these days.
I’ve kind of tried to look into as many different schools of psychology as I can and I found it really interesting to see the importance of differentiating capital T Trauma, which is when people experience shit that we shouldn’t even have to try and imagine versus lower case trauma, which is small things that accumulate over your life that affect the way you think. As an example of the difference between those two types, it’s worth noting that one of the worst forms of torture that is available in trying to get information out of people is Chinese water torture, which is just one drop of water repeatedly being dropped on the forehead, and sensory deprivation. It has a stronger effect than getting a hacksaw to someone’s leg.
it’s interesting to note that accumulated trauma can also lead to personality deficiencies.
I’m really interested in how Fincher sees the world because I’m going to show you a clip from him because it kind of illustrates why he decided to make this show and it taps into the methodology of the enneagram.
David Fincher: When we were doing the rounds at Quantico and kind of trying to indoctrinate ourselves and sort of look at what it had to offer, you round a corner, you know, under the library and there’s a life-sized rendering of Hannibal Lecter.
David Fincher: And, obviously, John Doe from Seven, you know, those movies came out around the same time.
David Fincher: And they were both sort of in the mold of the serial killer as, you know, Wile E. Coyote - Super Genius, you know. And I think, and as I was talking to the woman who was giving us the tour, she said, you know, “Is this show going to be like Silence of the Lambs,” and I thought, “No.”
I kind of want to take that back. To me, it’s -- these are very sad people under -- who’ve, you know, grown-up under horrendous circumstances. This is not -- this is not to, you know, overstate how much empathy or sympathy we should have for them. It’s just simply a fact.
Mike Hill: So, I’ve put that in there mainly because I need you guys to recognize that I’m not suggesting that we have empathy or sympathy for psycho killers. This is not about saying that we should feel sorry for psycho killers. It’s about recognizing that if we can understand them, they might teach us something about ourselves because pathology is on a scale.
Now, it’s summed up by an African proverb, which I think is really fitting. “The child who isn’t embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” That’s a basic principle of psychological development.
It’s true. It’s like, who the fuck wants to feel rejected and feel outed by society or their family or their group? This is where I find political discourse right now becoming more and more traumatizing - lower case traumatizing.
This is the enneagram. There are a lot of lines and I’m going to take you through, briefly, how it works. There are three triads and there are nine types. There’s a specific reason there are nine types. It’s not arbitrary. It’s very logical and it’s based in metaphysics, believe it or not.
- One is called the perfectionist.
- Two is called the helper.
- Three is the achiever.
- Four is the individualist.
- Five, the investigator.
- Six, the loyalist.
- Seven, the enthusiast.
- Eight, the challenger.
- Nine, the peacemaker.
I’m going to unpack why they are called that and what they mean by going through it at the base level. What the enneagram assumes is that our personality is “character armor” and this was first kind of suggested by a guy called Wilhelm Reich. He was a student of Freud. He basically suggested that our personality is actually a defensive mechanism that we’ve developed from our early childhood experiences.
“Character armor” is our habitual demeanor. It’s our stand. It’s our attitude. Defenses that have been developing since way before we could think or talk, which is why we don’t honestly understand our own motivations a lot of the time.
Each of these types is effectively a shield that we’ve created. It’s a simplification but it’s a way to generalize how we interact in situations where we feel challenged. Now, it sounds simplified. It goes into subtypes. There are variants. It gets more and more complicated. Truth be told; the more complicated it gets the less accurate it gets. This is a good, top level … psychology system. After this, you’ve got to go to depth psychology because it doesn’t work all the way down.
How it’s anchored, it’s anchored to neuroscience. In the ‘60s, a guy called Paul MacLean came up with a theory of neuroscience, which prevails today called Triune Brain Theory. It’s based in the way that our brain has effectively evolved and what the different parts of our brain are trying to achieve in their function. That’s why the coloring and the triatic system of the enneagram is based in the same distribution.
The reptilian complex is the part of the brain that effectively evolved to keep your body alive. It’s fight, flight, freeze. It’s a system that reflectively keeps you alive and in the enneagram it’s called the instinctive triad.
Now, something to keep in mind is that your lizard brain is effectively very, very good at a lot of different things and it has way more value than you believe. In your gut, which is where those feelings emerge when you feel threatened is what’s known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system has 100 million neurons. It’s a second brain, effectively. It’s a brain that works completely independently of the main brain.
If you imagine a nerve going between the main brain in your head and your gut and there are nine lanes or ten lanes, sorry, like a highway, nine of the lanes go from your gut to your brain and one lane goes from your brain to your gut. In other words, this system doesn’t need your brain. Your brain needs this system. It will survive with brain damage. The brain will not survive with enteric nervous system damage. It’s a very wise, old system. Also, it’s where 95% of your serotonin is produced, which is what allows you to feel well.
This next triad is called the feeling triad and it’s connected to what’s called the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that evolved so that we could all be a community. It allows you to feel empathy. It allows you to mirror other people and understand how they’re feeling. It’s the part of you that allows yourself to understand how to limit what you want in service of what’s good for everyone else.
The last triad is called the thinking triad, which is the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex we developed in order to have the executive function of mediating between what the group needs and what you need. The thinking triad works by trying to understand how to plan for the future and how to negotiate complex abstraction.
It’s worth noting; it’s a real side note but these different parts of the brain also trade in different currencies, but they also trade in different focus on time. This part of the brain deals exclusively in the now, the present, which is why, in meditation, they suggest that you try and go back to your body. This is your emotional system and it deals in the past because it’s thinking about how things have gone with social situations in the past. This is dealing almost exclusively with trying to plan for the future.
The currencies that these different parts of the brain produce for you as a person is the instinct, is responding to emotions or gives you an emotional experience when things are going wrong. That emotional experience is anger. You’re designed to freak out when you feel like you’re being limited, you’re being threatened, or you feel like something is going wrong that prohibits the survival of your body and your body is giving you an emergency system, which is anger. If you’re in this triad, it means that you have problems either processing anger or handling anger in a constructive way.
The second part, which is your feeling center, has a core emotion that overrides that particular part of your brain, which is shame. When you get negative feedback from people around you, the negative emotion that your body sends to you or your brain sends to you is, “Damn. You fucked that up. You’re possibly going to be ejected from the social group.” No one wants to feel that and we try to handle that emotion by developing strategies.
The third is the thinking triad. The thinking triad is trying to solve the problem of keeping you secure and alive. It worries about the future and that gives you anxiety. Now, depending on where you are and, in theory, you should if you’re actually a fully functioning human, be able to have access to all of these.
Psychopaths don’t have access to anxiety and sociopaths don’t have access to shame. We’ll come to that with Trump in a minute.
[Laughter] So, this triad wants, more than anything else, it desires autonomy. It doesn’t want to be limited. It doesn’t want to be constricted. It doesn’t want to be caged. This triad wants attention, not in the sense of narcissism, but in the sense of validation and approval from the social group. This triad wants security. It wants to make sure that you’re not going to die in the future. These three desires, as they’re known, they drive how you strategize for the future without you even realizing it.
Balanced armor looks like this, which is where you’re not completely neurotic. The further out towards the end of their circle you are, the more you are becoming pathological. If you fall off the edge of the circle, you are pathological.
This is balanced. This is healthy. This is a nice, moderated, safe level of self-protection. That’s kind of what it looks like in real life. It’s, “I’m going to ride a bike. I’ll wear a helmet because I want to keep my brain alive.”
If you start to move towards protecting specific emotion that overwhelms you and you do that repeatedly, it will become what’s known as a type. If you feel too much shame and you try to protect yourself from shame, it becomes a type in that triad. Or anxiety, it becomes a type, and it all relates to how you were brought up.
If you are rigid and unhealthy with how you distribute your armor, then life becomes pretty miserable. It’s difficult to live a productive life if you are constantly wearing an armor that you’re not even conscious of. It means that basic activities become difficult and no one really wants to live like this.
I think we’ve all experienced this kind of armor when we’re typing an email that’s potentially confrontational or work-based or where there’s some kind of disagreeable content. We all feel that, “Oh, Jesus. I’m anxious about what this could lead to. What if they misinterpret what I’m saying? Oh, God, but I’m still fucking angry,” so you go through these different flurries of emotions.
The reason that there’s nine is really, really logical. It’s more logical than I’ve noticed with the other systems. It’s based on what’s called Hornevian Triads, which is the strategy that your armor uses.
It just so happens there are only three strategies that you can use. That was kind of discovered by a German psychotherapist or psychologist called Karen Horney. She was also a student of Freud. She recognized that, actually, when you’ve got a neurotic need and you’ve got a strategy to try and solve that need, there are only three ways that you can solve it in a social situation.
The first is that you can asset yourself. You move against others. This type takes the stance of, “Okay, I’m feeling threatened. I’m going to need to control the group in order to get what I need.”
The second is withdrawal, which is, “I’m going to move away from others. This group threatens me. I need to avoid social groups that I have some self-control.”
The third should say compliance, is compliance, and it’s to move toward others, which is where you become compliant to whatever is the existing social system. That’s a need for validation from social groups.
There are three basic ways that you can approach a problem, which is assert, withdraw, or comply. It’s the social evolution from fight, flight, or freeze.
Now, everything you ever do fits into those categories. It’s one of those really nice reductionist things that are really useful.
There are three types that are in the assertive and, as you will notice, they’re in each one of the triads: withdraw, compliance. You’ve got three emotions, three strategies, nine types. The way that those three ingredients mix up gives you your personality.
I’m going to go through them individually but, first, I’m going to say pathology.
The two is what’s known as the help. By the way, like, while I’m saying this, there’s something that’s really important to point out. None of this is a criticism of any particular type. It’s what I kind of want to instill in this room is that we’re all basically victims to our vulnerabilities. We don’t want to feel vulnerable. Who does? We all come up with ways to handle that vulnerability.
While I’m talking about these things, keep in mind that every single one of these types has both positive and negative applications and, depending on how much you fall into the pathology of it, you will either be healthy in that type. If you’re healthy, there’s a thing called levels of integration which I won’t cover but I’ll briefly touch upon it. You move to another type. There’s a logic to the way that you move around the types.
The type two is called the helper. The type two, at a young age, was given a message that made them feel like they didn’t have any personal value. Then, because they’re afraid they have no personal value, they feel they need to comply with an authority or someone that they respect and they need to help that person to get validated. They feel a need to be validated because they feel ashamed.
The three is called the achiever and they’re assertive. They feel the same emotion but their way of strategizing is to say, “Well, no one seems to value me so I’m going to win at every single thing that other people value and, by doing so, no one can ever criticize me and, therefore, I’ll escape shame.” It makes sense.
The fourth is the individualist. A lot of artists are individualists. It’s a feature that’s really, really useful because, when somebody withdraws from society and comes up with their own creativity, they often come up with something that they bring back to society that changes the way we function. A lot of good stuff comes from negative stuff. That’s really important to note.
The fourth is the individualist and their logic is quite sensible. It’s, “Whenever I participate in a social game, I always lose, so I’m not going to participate. I’m going to make sure that everyone knows I’m not playing this stupid game.” They withdraw in order to protect themselves from ever being judged as losing. Losing and winning is a big feature of your ego.
The type five is called the investigator. I imagine that a large percentage of people in the community of coding will be type fives. The type five has childhood experiences that lead them to feel a compulsion to understand how the world works on an abstract level in order to give them a sense of control. It’s a way of saying, “Well, the world is threatening,” because the world is threatening, “and I’m going to learn how the world works, learn about it, and then I’ll return to the world with a sense of mastery over it.” They withdraw in order to master the abstract rule systems.
The sixth is called the loyalist. The loyalist is compliant to authorities that offer them security but they’re very empathic. They’re very supportive emotionally but what they feel is that they don’t have the ability. They were taught at a young age that they don’t necessarily have the ability to look after themselves. Therefore, they must stay and remain under the protection of parents, family, a company, or whatever will give them a sense of security.
The enthusiast is the assertive. This is somebody -- this was quite an interesting one. If you meet somebody that is super enthusiastic about everything all the time, feels a compulsion to consume, maybe experience excessive drugs, excessive alcohol, it’s a coping strategy to deal with a feeling that they’re not going to be provided for and, therefore, they need to taste everything.
The type seven is generally somebody who has experienced a childhood where the nurturing figure which is, generally speaking, the mother, didn’t necessarily provide the necessary inputs for the child to feel secure in their future so they become obsessed with just sampling everything before the world ends.
The type eight is called the challenger. These are people that feel the need to lead. They feel the need to organize groups. They feel the need to provide protective structure. They assert themselves because they’re angry that the world is not organized correctly and they become this way because of an ambivalence towards either authority figures or to their parents.
Type eights are quite often defined by having parents that didn’t provide them with necessary structure and that made them feel like they either weren’t cared for or that they had to look after themselves. Their annoyance and resentment of that makes them want to fix it by becoming the leader of their own self-selected family. Type eight challengers basically want to select the family instead of being stuck with the one that they were given, which they felt failed them.
The type nine is the peacemaker. The peacemaker is somebody who withdraws but they’re angry. You will never really know it with a peacemaker because they suppress their anger because they feel guilty about it. They feel that anger is a bad emotion and, quite often, you will find that people who are really good mediators, people who are really good peacemakers, they’ve experienced, in their family life at a young age, that they needed to be constantly empathic to other people’s needs and mediate between different relationships.
For example, if you’ve got parents that don’t necessarily get along very well and there’s always an undercurrent of tension, then the type nine learns to empathize with both sides and then create, like, an interlocking kind of connection between the two. It makes them great at socializing. It makes them really good at reading empathy. But it also means they suppress a lot of anger. That’s a challenge for them to understand that they are actually angry about stuff.
The type one is called the perfectionist. The perfectionist has the same sense of anger that the world is not quite right and that it needs to be organized better. They’re quite often called the reformer. They actually want to follow the rules. They just get pissed off when the rules are stupid. They think the world would be a better place if there was somebody responsible to fix the broken stuff because they’ve experienced at a young age that something is not quite right in the world whether that’s because the world sucks or because your parents suck or because your friends suck or whatever.
Now, it goes into more and more subtypes and I really encourage you guys to look into this. I’m going to give you some references at the end because you’ll learn a lot about potentially how you see the world. How this happens is through six stages of development which, if you understand those six stages, it gives you a little bit of a breadcrumb trail to go and find out what your childhood experience was.
Stage one is, you’re this. This is a pretty rosy point in life, right? Everything is fine. You’re connected; hopefully, you’re connected with a protective mother, a protective father. Ideally, there’s somebody there to look after you.
But what quite a lot of people don’t necessarily realize is just how significant this first few months is. Experiments were done in the ‘50s with rhesus monkeys, which are our closest genetic cousins. They did an experiment where a baby monkey was taken away from its mom, which is a pretty sick experiment. Then they were given a box. In the box were two kind of objects, as it were. One was meant to represent something soft and furry that would mimic the sort of feeling of touching a mother figure and one was a cage that was metallic and very uncomfortable. But, in the cage, was milk.
The monkey, the rhesus monkey would not even try and drink the milk. He would cling to the mother even to the point where he would die because our need for connection at that age is really excessively strong. If it’s not provided, it causes all sorts of abandonment issues in the psychology of the nervous system.
To show you how far that goes with humans--
To show you how far that goes with humans, these tanks that you see in ICU units, in intensive care, there are these access points for hands to go in. Those access points aren’t for any practical purpose. Well, they are for some practical purpose but, primarily, they’re there because if you don’t touch a child between the age of zero and six months, if you don’t give it physical stimulus, it dies. It doesn’t matter if you give it oxygen, give it food, you give it everything it needs. If it doesn’t get some sort of physical contact, the nervous system shuts down. It’s so important that you’re looked after in those first few months and, if you’re not, it has a radical effect on how your brain develops.
In the ‘80s when communism collapsed, there were orphanages all across parts of the collapsed regions that became inundated with excess levels of orphans. I think 170,000, which is a pretty good pool of things for scientific measurement. There were so many orphans that the orphanages couldn’t look after the children because they didn’t have enough staff, so they had to introduce new protocols and procedures in order to limit the amount of work they had to do.
One of them was these children who were between the age of one and three, they weren’t to be given any kind of touch or care or nurturing. They weren’t to be given any emotional inputs because if you give emotional inputs to one, then all the other children are going to want emotional inputs and that means that your staff are going to be inundated.
Of the 170,000, almost all of them came out with an IQ lower than 60. The brain simply doesn’t develop unless it’s given what’s called mirroring, which is being given emotional mirroring, being given kind of stimulus for the nervous system that allows the brain to develop. Even before a child has the ability to make any decisions, they’ll be getting pretty fucked up.
This period of life, you’ve got no fear; you’ve got no shame; you’ve got no anger; you’ve got no memory. If it goes well and you’re looked after, that’s great. But then the next stage is socialization and this is where things start to get a bit messy.
You do everything that you’re supposed to do. The society you’re in, your family, your peers, schools, they tell you to do stuff. You do it. Wonderful. You get rewarded. Your ego loves being rewarded. This is what’s known as, “You are good if…” and it’s a very important word, “if,” and it’s very important for the next stage.
You are good if you behave politely. You are good if you win. You are good if you are right. You are good if others like you.
Now, between cultures, there’ll be different “ifs.” Some cultures don’t necessarily have the same ones, but there’s something implicit about this particular way of dealing with children that’s quite damaging. It’s called attribution, which is that the child starts to see that these statements actually reflect them as human beings.
You get rewarded and you get told to do things but, at the same time, something pretty insidious is happening. The superego integrates that and the superego is the self-critical conscious that reflects social standards learned from authority figures. That’s stage one.
Stage two is, if there’s good there’s bad. Now, the child will do stuff that their impulses want to do because human beings, and children especially, are impulsive. They do stuff that just feels right, so they go and make a mess of things. That leads to punishment.
When you’re a child, when you have someone that is an authority figure that has complete control over your life, being punished is traumatic because these are people you’re supposed to trust and, for some reason, that as far as you’re concerned, is totally arbitrary, you’re being punished. That’s pretty damaging to the developing ego. It’s necessary, but there are various ways that you can do punishment without it being traumatic to trust.
This is where fear, shame, and anger start to emerge. Anxiety for the future, whether you can trust these people. Fear about just life in general, shame because you’ve been told that you’re wrong, and anger because you’re like, “What the hell is this for?” You see that in children. They go through that turmoil.
“You are good if…,” what does “if” mean? Well, “if” is conditional. “If” means that there’s something wrong with you unless you perform.
- “If” means if you behave politely, that means you’re an embarrassment because why do I have to perform politely?
- You win. Well, fuck, am I a loser?
- You are clean. Does that mean I’m dirty?
- Others like you. You’re unlikeable.
The enneagram says that for every positive message you get that’s poorly delivered, it bleeds into you an idea that there’s something corrupt about you, which leads and feeds into these fears.
These are the two stages. The third stage is not something you receive directly. It’s something you don’t receive, which is that while your parents are grilling into you or your school is grilling into you what they think is important, there’s an element to your personal uniqueness that isn’t being rewarded. You are unique and you are idiosyncratic and you have your own personal positive things that you want the world to recognize as you grow up. Maybe that’s not happening. That’s called the lost childhood message.
At this point, your ego goes into overdrive. This is where your personality starts to form. Your ego wants to succeed by mediating between what you’re told to do versus what you want to do. It’s also mediating all these emotions. The stronger the emotion of shame, anxiety, or anger, the more your ego will channel in on that space.
The ego fixation, which is this one, is when the ego’s anxiety that something is missing due to a childhood messaging, it starts to get panicked and it starts to, like a machine, try and offer up solutions. It creates for itself an ego desire, which is what the need the ego identifies to defend itself against the ego’s fixation. It starts to think, “Oh, Jesus. When we did that last time, it completely ruined us. What are we going to do to avoid this in the future?”
This is where coping strategies come in. If those things go through a rapid cycle enough repeatedly, so if you’re in a family environment where you get the wrong messaging constantly, you will become pathologic or neurotic. That will lead to a pathological personality.
Now, most people aren’t pathological. Psychopaths make up about 1% of the population. Sociopaths make up about 5% of the population, which means, statistically speaking, probably someone in this room is a bit mental.
It might be me.
So, pathological personality is when your ego, which is mechanical and it’s very mission-oriented, starts to take over. This is what’s known as ego identification. This is what Jung recognized is that when someone loses sense of their own inner self, they start to become attached to the strategy their ego developed for them.
That’s going to bring us our case study. So, Trump -- I’m not going to make a joke out of this. I don’t want to -- it’s so easy because he’s such a joke, but it’s interesting to try and understand--not empathize, not sympathize, but understand--whether this sad little man is predictable, whether his outcome as a grown man that still acts like a child, whether it has some foundation in psychology.
The first thing to keep in mind is that your culture dictates a large amount about how you see the world. Now, “you are good if…” comes from your parents. Your parents come from the culture. The culture comes from the country you’re in or the nation, or the company.
“You are good if…” statements are specific to the culture. If you’re in Scandinavia, you’ll get a different “you are good if…” than America. In America, the predominant message is, “You are good if you win. You are good if you succeed.” The basic principle of America is the pursuit of personal profit, the pursuit of freedom, the pursuit of winning. When you’ve got that message drilled into you and you are born into a family that’s already thinking that winning is everything, it’s already going to be a bad start for a child.
What we’ve got with Trump is statements like this. “I would bet if you took a poll in the FBI, I would win that poll by more than anybody’s won a poll.”
“We got more money. We got more brains. We got better houses, apartments. We’ve got nicer boats. We’re smarter than they are. And they say, ‘The elite.’”
And, “The only reason to vote for a Democrat is if you’re tired of winning.”
Now, he’s most known as the type three achiever, which what it effectively means is that, at some point in his young life, he got the simple message that him as a person is unimportant and winning is important. He spent so many circuits being told that and also being congratulated for that that he’s now no longer really a human being. He doesn’t necessarily tap into his human emotions anymore. He’s a machine in his responses.
The wings, I mentioned the wings before about how the wings operate. The wings is when you start to blend between types. The wing of the type three is when they start to push towards the helper and the helper wants to help everyone or wants to at least appear like they’re helping everyone if they’re unhealthy. That’s called the charmer, which is similar to what Trump is.
The wing in the other direction is called the professional. He blends between these wings depending on what he needs at that moment in time, but it’s completely pathological and he’ll change it on script.
If we look at what the enneagram says will lead to this personality, these are the steps. At a young age, you’re told you are good if you are successful and others think well of you. Does he really want everyone to think well of him? Does he want to look successful? He’s obsessed with approval. He’s obsessed with ratings. He’s obsessed with constantly being loved.
The next stage for this process is, it’s not okay to have your own feelings and identity. He was taught at a young age that even acknowledging your own feelings is pointless. Just fucking win.
Third, the last childhood message, you are loved for yourself. He doesn’t even feel like he has a center anymore because he’s a machine to win.
The ego fear then kicks in, the fixation. The fixation for the type three is fear of being worthless and without any inherent value. That you are nothing unless you perform. That leads to an ego desire, to feel worthwhile, accepted, or approved of--approval ratings--and desirable.
Interestingly, as well, it’s not okay to have your own feelings and identity. This is a man who acts on stage in things like The Apprentice where he’s performing as a role of himself that’s not real.
Then the next thing that leads to this is neurotic compulsion, which is obsessively chasing success. Now, this is Trump as a child. At some point, if we just cut between the first stage and the sixth stage and then we look at how it manifests, the message is, you are good if you are successful and others think well of you. That leads to pathologically chasing success.
What I’m now going to show, which is really weird--it’s an experiment but I’m really interested to run it with you--is what psychology says is that we are unconsciously trying to break free of the prison that we are in. There is some small nugget of what was left of you as a child that is screaming to basically be let out of the prison of your own strategies. I want you to now watch a video with Donald Trump and I want you to look at it not as an adult but imagine a child that is still basically stuck inside of a body that’s been growing old for 70 years that’s trying to convince itself that its own strategy is going to pay off.
Donald Trump: All right. Look. You’re going to be so proud of your country if I get in. You’re going to be so proud of your president and I don’t care about that, but you are going to be so proud of your country because we’re going to turn it around and we’re going to start winning again.
We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at every level. We’re going to win economically. We’re going to win with the economy. We’re going to win with military. We’re going to win with healthcare and for our veterans. We’re going to win with every single facet.
We’re going to win so much, you may even get tired of winning and you’ll say, “Please, please, it’s too much winning. We can’t take it anymore. Mr. President, it’s too much.” And I’ll say, “No, it isn’t. We have to keep winning. We have to win more. We’re going to win more. We’re going to win so much.”
I love you, Albany. Get out and vote. You will be so happy.
Mike Hill: So, it’s basically a very broken human being shouting at himself trying to convince himself with a lot of statements. He even fumbles at some point by saying, “You’re going to be so proud of your president.” It’s like he’s talking to, basically, a parent. It’s like, “I’m going to do everything you told me to do. I’m going to do everything. You’re going to love it. I’m going to win. I’m going to win. I’m going to win.”
I’m not suggesting empathy or sympathy for Donald Trump. What I’m suggesting is that there is a relationship between the poor bastard he was as a child and the horrible human being he is as an adult. Every child is not a monster. If you even start to toy with the idea that someone’s born a monster, then the conclusions you have to draw are pretty disgusting in what the consequences are. In fact, some ideological systems have already toyed with the idea and it leads to pretty shitty things. At least have understanding if not empathy.
With the different types, I’m going to not take you through six stages. I’m just going to summarize the types and maybe you guys might feel something about the messaging and the conclusion. Maybe you might start to see some aspect of your own behavior and what it suggests.
As a child, the type two, the helper, they were given the message, “You are good if you are loved by others and are close to them.” Now, this leads to behavior of a need to be needed. People that go out of their way to constantly try and get affirmation from somebody that they believe is more valuable than they are. Of course, that person isn’t more valuable than they are but they don’t see it that way because they’ve been conditioned to not feel that they’re valuable.
The type four is, “You are good if you are true to yourself.” This type is given messaging that if they in any way comply to social systems that they’re a failure, so they actually start to feel a need to be unique. Being unique has the cost that you are not compatible with other people. The more you press your individuality, the more you can lose connection with groups and other people. This can deteriorate into self-indulgence. If you take it to the extreme, you become so dismissive of collective mythologies that you become an island to yourself.
Five, the investigator, “You are good if you have mastered something.” This is what happens to children. This message, by the way, isn’t necessarily the words that come out of a parent’s mouth. It’s what they implicitly suggest in their behavior.
Say for example a parent doesn’t acknowledge a child unless they do something really impressively. They might learn that it’s important to find their own security by doing something impressively, and that can lead to deteriorating into useless specialization because if you overmilk that one particular strategy, you’re going to lose a connection to other things. All of these things are natural to us. You may move between these types as well. It’s important to know.
I mentioned earlier, Fincher makes his actors and actresses take this test. He even makes some crewmembers take the test because he wants to know about their compatibility with him. The thing enneagram does which is really cool, it actually tells you how different types will interact.
[Laughter] I have experienced the accuracy of this first-hand. The last studio I went to work with, in L.A., I had to work there for a year. I actually showed the studio manager, a really nice lady. We went for lunch and I took us through the enneagram, which she was really interested because she knows Fincher. We went through what was going to happen with our relationship, working relationship over the year. I swear to God when I left 12 months later, everything the enneagram said would happen happened. The reason it happened was because neither of us were self-aware enough to stop ourselves from falling into bad habits.
With the actresses, he makes actors and actresses take the test for a simple reason. It’s very, very logical. If you get a character or an actress that is the same type as the character, they’re not acting. They’re bringing themselves to the part. Wilhelm Reich, the guy at the beginning, recognized that your physiology is a reflection of how you see the world.
Some interesting things that he noticed that have been validated like people that habitually leave their mouths open. Think about when you’re a child or when you’re feeding a child in a chair. You do the little dipper thing and some children close their mouths. They’re not interested. Some children open.
Now, when people have different muscular features in their personalities as adults, it’s a reflection of something that was either missing or something that was broken in their childhood. Some people go into adulthood still with the anticipatory kind of mode of, who is going to feed me? Whereas, some people go with clenched mouths and they are actually anally retentive. They don’t want anyone to be intruding on their space and that leads to different facial configurations, which is why some people simply look like they’re built for the role.
Now, Rooney Mara, who is the actress that plays Lisbeth Salander, she’s what’s known as a type five with a four-wing, which means that she’s a blend between the investigator and the individualist. She’s a mixture in real life of anxiety and shame. That leads to what’s known as the subtype of the five with a four-wing called the iconoclast. This is somebody that’s learned about complex systems, is very observant, wants to know how the world works, and also resents social systems because they’re arbitrary. This is somebody who celebrates their individuality by not participating in social games.
These are people that become punks. They become rebels. They become antiestablishment at the same time as becoming very interested in things like coding or programming or chemistry or data analysis or anything that gives a sense of control. The growth pattern of these characteristics, I’ll touch upon briefly because I’m running out of time.
These people have the same type and, if you just look at Rooney Mara, she fits the character completely. Imagine Reese Witherspoon trying to act as Lisbeth Salander. It just wouldn’t work because her entire life experience has brought a physicality to her that doesn’t fit with the character.
The six, which is the loyalist, you are told as a young child you are good if you do what is expected of you. You’re told that you don’t have enough ability to look after yourself, which makes you feel insecure, so you clean to authority figures. This deteriorates into an attachment to beliefs. It’s really worth keeping in mind that, as an observation, that as cultures start to lean into fear-mongering, people move to six because, once you start to feel anxious, you start to look for any system that will provide you with some kind of protection.
The more extreme it gets, the most pathological is when you get religious ideologs. Why? Because the systems that they attend to offer them security in the afterlife. Sweet! Never going to have to worry about my security. I’m going to be looked after when I die.
Seven, enthusiasts. These people are given the implicit message as children, “You are good if you get what you need.” That’s quite often because the nurturing mother figure might not necessarily be not good at motherhood, but she might actually think that the child is more independent than they are.
Then the child learns that if they don’t go out and get stuff for themselves, they won’t get fed, they won’t get looked after, so they start to build a mechanism of, “Well, shit. Where’s mom? Is she going to feed me? I better go to the fridge myself.” That can manifest into adulthood addictions because it’s about trying to fill the absence of faith in people around you looking after you. It deteriorates into frenetic escapism, which is drug abuse, quite commonly with the seven.
The eight, “You are good if you are strong and in control of your situation.” These are people that didn’t have parental figures that looked after them enough, so they decide to make their own parental figure of themselves. This can deteriorate into constant fighting because they distrust all authorities.
The nine is the peacemaker. These people were given the message that they have no personal significance in relationships. This is the people that start to learn to look after relationships of parents or siblings but, in the act of managing everyone else’s relationships, they become highly empathic, highly socially skilled, but they lose a sense that they have any feelings because if your cognitive framework is constantly focused on everyone else’s feelings, you don’t know how you feel because mirror neurons hijack your emotional system.
This could deteriorate into stubborn neglectfulness because, if type nines feel like they have no feeling or consequence in the world, they feel the world is out of their control. They start to ignore problems in life because they feel like they can’t fix them anyway and they start to become complacent.
The one is the perfectionist. They’re told at a young age, “You are good if you do what is right,” and they become obsessed that there’s something immoral or unethical about them or defective unless they’re really, really right and really, really good all the time. This deteriorates into critical perfectionism.
These are the types. They’re gross simplifications because all generalizations are, but they’re a start point and I guarantee you, if you find this wonderful bible here, there’s a promise for you in the afterlife.
This all sounds pretty negative and fixed. The next thing, which I can’t explain now because there’s not enough time, is these lines, which make it look like a pentagram, are very, very logical lines called levels of integration and disintegration. Each type has levels of health. The more you become pathological, the more unhealthy you become. When you drop out of the bottom of one type, you actually start to take on the negative aspects of another type.
It’s really quite staggering how predictable your ego is and what it does when its coping strategy fails and what your real personality does once it escapes and liberates itself from the process of living by coping strategies. The way you start that process is by becoming at least aware of your coping strategies so that you can avoid doing them.
This is an introduction to the system. I hope -- I really hope that, if nothing else, if this just as a first pass gets you engaged with the idea of looking into it, I think you’ll find a huge amount of value in it.
Some good websites to check out: This is called the Enneagram Institute. Don’t pay for it. Just get the free information. Then take the test at the free website, which looks really, really crappy but gives you basically the same start point.
It won’t give you a type. It will give you a score across all the types. That allows you to see patterns of behavior because no one is a perfect type. You are a mixture of things, but the more you focus towards one type, the more you can understand how to get out of your own pathological patterns.
Joking aside, it’s a really good book. I didn’t think it would be. It’s really good. If you really are interested in learning about yourself, your family members, your friends, understand why they do the things they do and actually have some empathy for what you know is really annoying and weird behavior, this is a good start point.
The thing that I would like to suggest you take away from this is that your ego and what it does to protect you and your vulnerabilities is not you. It’s a mechanism. It’s actually quite procedural in the way that it behaves. It only has certain strategies and if you overmilk them, you’ll become deeply unhappy. Keep that in mind.
I said at the beginning, understanding ourselves and each other would improve the world. I really do believe that because this can help you understand yourself, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and solve interpersonal problems. It’s really useful. I hope that was useful, and I know it was way more depressing than a night talk should be so, to end with that, I’m going to say -- pathology! Yeah!
[Audience applause and cheers]