Enneagram and Attachment Theory

Enneagram and Attachment Theory

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This is a discussion on Enneagram and Attachment Theory within the Enneagram Personality Theory Forum forums, part of the Personality Type Forums category; It's seems likely that attachment in childhood and development of enneagram type are intertwined. If you're unfamiliar with attachment theory, ...

  1. #1
    Unknown

    Enneagram and Attachment Theory

    It's seems likely that attachment in childhood and development of enneagram type are intertwined. If you're unfamiliar with attachment theory, here's an overview of the types.

    Secure Attachment

    The secure attachment style is categorized by a positive view of self and a positive view of others. These individuals are described as having a sense of confidence, a positive approach to others, and high intimacy in their relationships. While their relationships may not be perfect, they are able to cope, be flexible, and adapt with what life may throw at them. They can therefore continue to grow and foster intimacy. Securely attached individuals show suitable amounts of emotional expression and vulnerability, and feel safe enough in their relationships to have reasonable levels of disclosure. Furthermore, securely attached individuals are able to depend and count on their partners, but also express an understanding for the need of some autonomy and independence in their relationships. These individuals can step back and objectively make realistic appraisals of their partner and the issues in their relationship, and also have the coping skills and the resilience to work on these issues.
    Avoidant Attachment

    Also known as the island, someone with avoidant attachment style highly values self-sufficiency and independence. In childhood one or more of their parents (or caregivers) was completely rejecting or unresponsive to their needs. Alternatively they suffered from enmeshment and were forced to take on a more adult role thereby being used as an emotional crutch. They have learned that others are not reliable and uninterested in their needs, therefore they decided that it is safer not to need anyone else. They had to switch of feelings of having needs, being unloved and unwanted to survive.
    Anxious Attachment

    In childhood their emotional needs where inconsistently satisfied or conditional upon pleasing the caregiver. They where often dealing with emotionally immature caregivers that required them to take on a parental or emotional crutch type role. This leads to the child's independence being impeded on as the caregiver interferes with decisions or imposes their will on the child. The unpredictability leads to a confused child that doubts their own self worth of being deserving of unconditional love. They will learn to be highly tuned in to others moods as they where required to constantly monitor their caregivers to try and find a way to work out what behaviour would bring them love. The low sense of self they feel will even be reflected in dreams. People with anxious attachment reported having more dreams where they were the bad guy, being chased by police, committing crimes and trying to run away etc.
    Fearful Avoidant Attachment

    Fearful-avoidant attachment (also called disorganized) is an insecure form of relationship attachment which affects around 7% of the population. It is a combination of dismissive-avoidant and preoccupied-anxious attachment styles. Those with fearful-avoidant attachment believe that they do not deserve or are unworthy of love. However, equally, they do not trust needing another person for fear that they will be rejected. Fearful-avoidant attachment is the result of severe childhood trauma, emotional neglect or abuse. Scientific research illustrates that the first 18 months of a child's life impacts the brains development. Exposure to severe trauma can cause long-term damaging effects, which changes the sensitivity and emotional regulation of the brain.
    If you're interested, here's a mini-questionnaire:

    1. What is your enneagram type?
    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    3. Attachment styles can change. It's not uncommon for a person with insecure attachment in childhood to develop into the secure type as an adult. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood? How would you characterize it now?
    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    7. Friendships?
    8. Siblings and extended family?
    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    10. Any other thoughts?
    Bad Bunny and Jaune Cena thanked this post.



  2. #2
    Type 4w3

    Quote Originally Posted by lokasenna View Post
    1. What is your enneagram type?
    4w3

    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    I've related more to avoidant attachment before, but now I see more of myself in fearful avoidant attachment now.

    3. Attachment styles can change. It's not uncommon for a person with insecure attachment in childhood to develop into the secure type as an adult. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    As mentioned in my previous answer, I've changed from one insecure attachment to another. I was very avoidant as a child, mistrusting of anyone and unable to form new relationships with anyone. Now, I feel like I swing between that extreme, and a strong desire to forge close connections with other people that I didn't feel before. I'm fearful of being hated for opening up, so I simply avoid getting to know others.

    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood? How would you characterize it now?
    Strangely enough, I've had a good relationship with my parents during my childhood and now. I could talk to my mother about most things, just not about mental health. My father was like a friend. Both have been supportive of me and not abusive. Most of my issues come from school.

    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    I was homeschooled up until fourth grade and when I got sent to public school I was an outcast with no social skills. I had no idea how to fit in and had no real friends. Any "friends" I had would simply betray me. I was ostracized and bullied. These experiences taught me that I cannot trust anyone outside of my immediate family and that anyone who would get to know me would simply hate me. I internalized the peer abuse and still feel those wounds today.

    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    Nonexistent. I've never had a romantic relationship. I used to attribute it to me being ugly and disgusting, but now I realize that it is at least partly because I refuse to open up to others. I don't know how to. I'm too scared to do so now because I feel like the only outcome is rejection. And that just leaves me lonely.

    7. Friendships?
    I can't trust any possible friends, at least not fully, because I've convinced myself that they will only end up betraying me. Or if they haven't betrayed me, that they're only hanging out with me out of pity. No one could actually like me. I know I may be delusional, but I can't deal with the possibility that it is true I disgust everyone so I feel the need to mentally prepare for it and shut myself away.

    8. Siblings and extended family?
    My relationship with my siblings is much like with my parents. They are kind and supportive of me, but I can't talk with them about the deep stuff like shame or depression.

    I dislike being around my extended family. I feel like they do nothing but judge me for never having had a significant other. They probably think I'm defective.

    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    I'm deeply afraid of exposing my true self and having it completely rejected and ridiculed by the other people.

    10. Any other thoughts?
    I don't know what else to say but would answer followup questions.

  3. #3
    Type 8w7

    1. What is your enneagram type?
    -8w7 Sx/Sp

    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    -Avoidant. Go figure.

    3. Attachment styles can change. It's not uncommon for a person with insecure attachment in childhood to develop into the secure type as an adult. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    -I've noticed an increased gravitation towards the secure archetype in the past year. There's been quite a few "damages" that I've sustained that I'm now leveraging as strengths.

    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood? How would you characterize it now?
    -Rubbish. The fault's part my own and part theirs. It's improved through me learning to communicate and stand up for myself. The other party (my parents) have taken steps to improve too.

    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    -Being a total hermit as a boy. Being incapable of articulating or understanding that which I wanted. The usual heartbreak that a teen faces. Seeing that therapists did nothing and that my problems were my own to fix. Accepting God as my savior. Reassembling my selfhood several times. Weaning myself off the need for approval from others.

    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    -Two parties masquerading as each other's ideal match until the illusion fades. Then you get kicked to the curb as though nothing was there to begin with. You're diminished at first, with a black hole eating away at you where your heart once was. Then you replace them (the quick fix) or leave yourself to heal more organically. I've only ever had "love" for a few people, and it was never paired with romantic interest. We're all out for our own ends when it comes to romantic relationships.

    7. Friendships?
    -You'll never really belong unless you limit yourself. I never find anyone who's after the same things and on the same wavelength as me. Everyone who I've ever tried to connect so deeply with abandoned me....or I them. I couldn't stand them knowing too much; I don't think I was made to be figured out and this sort of sanctity about me that I have to protect. They'll also drag you down. It's a revolving door with me. Some are in when I need them to be, and others will vanish when they need to go; I don't stop them and they certainly don't stop me. When I was a child, I didn't care too much for them, nor did I really understand them.

    8. Siblings and extended family?
    -My siblings don't take after me, but they're close nonetheless we smash our heads and we clink our glasses. So be it.

    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    -"Did I not get what I want out of them?" I'll wonder if they think of me the way I'd like them to and how I could have done better. I also don't want most people to know too much. Prying eyes are the ones that prey upon me, so to speak.

    10. Any other thoughts?
    -Great survey that you're conducting. I didn't expect to type down all that I did, so it's extremely insightful. All of the aforementioned may just be common to the human experience though, considering the correlations between my response and that of @JVal , who provided a very fascinating post as well.

    Keep the questions coming @lokasenna as I'm finding a great deal of value out of them.
    Aridela and lokasenna thanked this post.

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  5. #4
    Type 5w4

    1. What is your enneagram type?
    5w4 sx/sp (513, health range 2-4)

    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    With whom? :) As studies have shown, people don't have a single attachment style towards all people. This is why I prefer enneagram instinct theory to attachment theory (or even Big 5 agreeableness) -- it better allows for the possibility of different relationship style preferences within one person.

    With my bf I have a secure attachment. Then again, of course I do, given I'm an "intimacy junkie" sx dominant.

    The secure attachment style is categorized by a positive view of self and a positive view of others. These individuals are described as having a sense of confidence, a positive approach to others, and high intimacy in their relationships. While their relationships may not be perfect, they are able to cope, be flexible, and adapt with what life may throw at them. They can therefore continue to grow and foster intimacy. Securely attached individuals show suitable amounts of emotional expression and vulnerability, and feel safe enough in their relationships to have reasonable levels of disclosure...
    3. Attachment styles can change. It's not uncommon for a person with insecure attachment in childhood to develop into the secure type as an adult. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    Put me in a room with an asshole and I'll be avoidant...

    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood? How would you characterize it now?
    Secure attachment with primary caregiver mother. Became increasingly avoidant towards my increasingly unreliable father as I got older (see above). Mother now deceased. Cut off ties to my narcissistic father (as you're meant to).

    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    I was easily liked as a child (other children wanted to play with me) but I was a lot more interested in books & nature than people. I expect this looks avoidant to people (who take a people-centric view of the universe) but I was actually always relaxed/secure/easy going with people as a child (with the exception of my father who I thought was the only 'off' person in the world at the time -- lol). People just weren't that interesting to me then.

    Ironically I think I'm more interested in people now (psychology fascinates me) but I've learned to be more (initially) cautious of people I don't know, which I consider to be a realistic/less naive position. I still trust until I'm given reason not to but I save the rose colored glasses for later.

    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    I'm super fussy (for compatibility) but then it's smooth sailing.

    7. Friendships?
    When it clicks, easy (apart from not enough time in my day to spend with them). I had the same best friend all through my teen years (daily interaction -- never a single problem in the 7 years). I have remarkably stable/functional relationships overall.

    8. Siblings and extended family?
    N/A (only child, changed country etc)

    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    My deepest fear with people generally is probably some nebulous irrational fear that I won't be able to get enough space from them (physically, intellectually, emotionally & a sense of privacy). I only like things to be tight with my SO. With friends I need some space (easier with fellow introverts).

    With others, more broadly, I just feel a need for a lot of space (and for me to control the distance). I need space to relax, recharge, think. I value my time more than people and feel more positive towards them when there is sufficient distance. I'm anxious about the mandatory dorm share in my freshman year at college. Hello 5, I know.

    10. Any other thoughts?
    Just to suggest taking caution with any 'blank slate' and/or 'here's the one way to be' and/or old/disproven theories. There is a lot of that going on around here...

    At least enneagram attempts to divide between social vs intimate vs non relational and approximate priority (within 'the stack'). I haven't found a better quick & dirty descriptor/predictor for likely relationship style yet.
    lokasenna thanked this post.

  6. #5
    Type 6w5

    1. What is your enneagram type?
    6w5


    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    Probably anxious preoccupied but only slightly

    3. Attachment styles can change. It's not uncommon for a person with insecure attachment in childhood to develop into the secure type as an adult. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    I'm actually doubtful they change after you become an adult but i've heard people say it before so who knows. Mine hasn't changed over time, but i've come to realize that my attachment wasn't healthy enough to be secure.


    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood? How would you characterize it now?
    They divorced and my mum was neglectful because she had too much on her plate and a lot of kids. She was temperamental and unpredictable sometimes.

    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    Both of course.

    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    7. Friendships?
    8. Siblings and extended family?
    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    10. Any other thoughts?
    They were always stressful, like an emotional rollarcoaster - until I met my boyfriend, and that all minimised.
    I don't have any friendships because i can't be bothered tbh xD Or not close ones. I don't regularly contact my friends.
    Depends which one but most of them are reasonably okay.
    Being ignored and dismissed.

    I think a person who is enneagram 6 is definitely going to be anxious preoccupied the majority of the time. Same with 5 actually.
    lokasenna thanked this post.

  7. #6
    Unknown

    Quote Originally Posted by Dare View Post
    With whom? :) As studies have shown, people don't have a single attachment style towards all people. This is why I prefer enneagram instinct theory to attachment theory (or even Big 5 agreeableness) -- it better allows for the possibility of different relationship style preferences within one person.
    There does tend to be an overarching style of relational interaction generally speaking. Of course people are going to avoid those they don't like and crave the company of those they do. Attachment style is just the overall pattern of a person's interactions and the motivation behind that pattern.

    From your answers, I'd say your attachment style is secure. You said you have secure attachment with your boyfriend, secure attachment with your primary caregiver, were popular as a child, tend to have smooth romantic relations once over the hurdle of getting to know someone, are able to maintain friendships long term, and have "remarkably stable/functional relationships overall."

    You said you became increasingly avoidant toward your narcissistic father as you got older, but that seems like a normal and reasonable response to the situation and something that, though undoubtedly traumatic and difficult in its own way, doesn't seem to've caused you to view most current or potential relationships through the lens of never getting close enough to actually maintain or invest in them.

    The way you wrote about being more interested in books than people as a child and needing space to recharge seems like normal thinking and introversion traits, respectively, rather than characteristics of an avoidant personality.

    On the other hand, I'm fearful avoidant. I do have one secure relationship, the only relationship I've ever had, and I never intended to have it. My childhood was turbulent and it was impossible to predict my dad's anger. My mom had problems with emotional regulation in other ways. People often consider me a friend while I consider them an acquaintance. Not because I don't care about them, but because they don't know me while I know them. I actually care about them too much.

    I have a tendency of disappearing out of people's lives with no notice and without saying goodbye when it gets to be too much to handle. Paradoxically, I strongly crave connection and true friendship. There are times where I have overshared due to this need, freaked out, and then cut all ties permanently.

    Growing up, I would boundary test, particularly with authority figures, so I would know in advance how much they would hurt me and how much leeway I had before they did. When I do withdraw, it's usually not because I'm dismissive. It's because I'm "afraid" or giving up and cutting my losses in advance.

    That's the overarching pattern for me. It doesn't mean every single relationship has to be like that, just that most are. That's what patterns are. Generalities, not specifics.
    Last edited by lokasenna; 09-19-2019 at 07:40 PM.
    Dare thanked this post.

  8. #7
    Unknown

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Bunny View Post
    I think a person who is enneagram 6 is definitely going to be anxious preoccupied the majority of the time. Same with 5 actually.
    Personally I'd guess anxious for phobic 6, fearful avoidant for counterphobic, and avoidant for 5.

  9. #8
    Unknown

    Quote Originally Posted by JVal View Post
    I don't know what else to say but would answer followup questions.
    No need to remark on any of this if it's too off base or personal, but I'm curious about how old you are. Time heals a lot of people who had difficult experiences in high school or middle school, especially as they integrate into adult social dynamics and (ideally) realize that adults are usually less interested in being exclusive jerks and more interested in getting whatever job they're responsible for done. Also, that horrible adolescent self consciousness tends to fade. If you're young I'd be optimistic, as it's likely you'll find a small group of friends, if not a larger community, that you can feel secure in, and that positive experience will allow you to put more on the table and take more risks in trusting and opening up as you go along.

    I think it's possible your family not being able to adequately validate whatever mental health problems you struggle with has made the rejection from your peers sting more, as that would mean no one at all is acting to validate that one specific and very vulnerable part of you.
    Jaune Cena thanked this post.

  10. #9
    Unknown

    Quote Originally Posted by MonarK View Post
    Keep the questions coming @lokasenna as I'm finding a great deal of value out of them.
    Avoidant sx is interesting. I've found therapists to be utterly useless as well, to the point I occasionally wonder how some of them even remember to breathe. Weaning oneself off the need for approval is an important stepping stone into adulthood. If it's something you're forced to do too early though due to less than ideal parenting, it can be pretty damaging. Is that something you had to grapple with early on? It is interesting contrasting that statement with this one later on, your answer to question 9: "'Did I not get what I want out of them?' I'll wonder if they think of me the way I'd like them to and how I could have done better."

    Is this a contradiction to you or is there a difference between need for approval and getting people to see you the way you want them to?

  11. #10
    Type 2w3

    Quote Originally Posted by lokasenna View Post
    Oh, yeah. That's totally it.

    1. What is your enneagram type?
    2w3

    2. What do you believe your attachment style is?
    Anxious

    3. Has your attachment style changed over time. If yes, how so?
    Becoming more secure with every passing day! Certainly much more secure than I used to be...) It all starts with.....not giving a fuck.

    4. How would you characterize your relationship with your parents during your childhood?
    Overall, fairly tense because of the level of stress in that house with so many children and so. much. fighting. There were many occasions of real tenderness between us, however.

    How would you characterize it now?
    Excellent. Beyond excellent. I consider them two of my very best friends. I am utterly myself around both of them....turns out they like me more as me than any of the acts I put on in the past. Who woulda thunk it.

    5. What were formative experiences for you, positive or negative, in your childhood and adolescence?
    Constant fighting with siblings. Constant fighting between parents. Excelling at school and being teased relentlessly at home. Cleaning the house and taking care of younger siblings to make my overburdened mother happy. Cozying up to teachers and other mentors who adored me, which made my mother furiously jealous.

    6. What are romantic relationships usually like for you?
    Ill-advised? Precipitous? Embarrassing? Short-lived, except for when they were death traps.

    Good thing I'm married now. No more of that BS.

    7. Friendships?
    Grandfathered in. New friendships must remain quite surface-level by necessity. I am easily overwhelmed by too many relationships. I have a tendency to advertise myself as more extraverted than I really am. It's disappointing to always be disappointing people. I can handle talking to my friends on the phone once a year (maybe), sending or receiving the occasional random text, seeing them once every two years or so (maybe annually, if it works out). If people can't handle those terms, they can't be my friends. Period.

    8. Siblings and extended family?
    We never had much to do with extended family, even though we have tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins on my dad's side. Just wasn't part of our life (they all lived quite far away, but I'm sure that's not the only reason we never saw them).

    Siblings....le sigh. I have six. I feel myself grow more and more distant from them all the time.

    9. What would you consider to be your deepest fear when interacting with others?
    That I will hurt them somehow, simply by being myself.
    Bad Bunny, ultracrepidarian and lokasenna thanked this post.


     
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