An Overview of the Three (pg 78-79)
The United States is fast becoming a "Three" culture: narcissistic, image-oriented, emphasizing style over substance, symbols over reality. The pursuit of excellence is being replaced by the celebration of the artificial as everything is treated like a commodity - packaged, advertised, and marketed. Politics is becoming less concerned with display of personalities. Politics serves public relations, selling candidates with their calculated positions to a public which can no longer tell a clone from a real person.
The communications media, particularly television, are primarily concerned with attracting attention so that the public can be sold something. The shallow values and the beguiling glitter of show biz have become the norms by which everything is measured and in demand has value. People are so seduced by the slick package that they often do not realize that there is nothing in it. To paraphrase McLuhan, the package is the message. Calculated images successfully masquerade as reality, from the programmed friendliness of television personalities to the rehearsed sincerity of beauty contestants to the hard fluff of "evening magazine" shows.
Exhibitionism and self-promotion are becoming acceptable as people do whatever it takes to be noticed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The ideal is to be a winner - to be successful, famous, and celebrated. The quest for success and prestige is everywhere. Every day, a new book tells us how to dress for success, eat for success, or network for success. We are being sold a narcissitic fantasy: that we will be "somebody" if we are likely everybody else, only better. If you manage your image properly, you tooo, can become a star - or a god.
The personality type Three exemplifies the search for the affirmation of the self, a self which becomes more empty as its apparant perfaction bids for more attention.
The Major Subtypes of the Three (pgs 101-103)
The Three with a Two-Wing
In general, the Three's traits and those of a Two-wing reinforce each other. Threes with a Two-wing have extraordinary social skills: they like to be among people and enjoy being the center of attention; they are often extremely charming, sociable, and highly popular. They are also among the most physically attractive of the types, something which adds considerably to their social desirability, as well as to their stimulating effect on others. Noteworthy examples of theThree with a Two-wing include Burt Reynolds, Elvis Presley, Prince Andrew, Jack Kemp, Brooke Shields, Christopher Reeve, Cybill Sherpherd, Vanna White, Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner, Mary Lou Retton, Jane Pauley, Richard Gere, Philip Michael Thomas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Bundy, Gary Gilmore, Hedda Gabler, and Lady Macbeth.
Depending on how much Two-wing is operative, healthy Three of this subtype possess some degree of warmth and positive feelings for people - Threes are not completely affectless, of course. They care about those few people they are close to. They can encourage and appreciate others, and their feelings can be touched and hurt. Threes with a Two-wing usually want a particular kind of affirmation from others: besides receiving attention, they want to be loved. This encourages them to be more responsive to the needs and desires of others.
Average Threes of this subtype are able to project their feelings, or the illusion of feelings, as the case may be. Actors, models, and singers are frequently of this subtype. Besides there being a histronic quality here, elements of possessiveness, the desire to control others, and self-importance begin to emerge. People of this subtype care a great deal about what others think of them: competitveness, comparing themselves to others, and success in their relationship are particularly important. They not only desire an enviable relationship with a spouse, they want the spouse to be a catch, sexually and socially desirable, one who reflects well on them. Children are also typically narcissitic extensions of the self, as are the home, hobbies, vacation spots, and other values in their lives. The narcissism of this subtype is more open than that of Threes with a Four-wing. Exhibitionism and seductiveness are also more pronounced in people of this subtype.
Unhealthy Threes of this subtype are not only deceptive about getting what they want from others; they can be deceptive about getting what they want from others; they can be self-deceptive as well. They can be manipulative and feel entitled, which whets their appetite for revenge against those who do not give them the attention and love they demand. Both the Three and the Two-wing have a problem with aggression: Twos feel aggressive when others do not appreciate them, and Threes are hostile when there is any slight to their narcissism. The combination produces particularly hostile people if they are not on top. The jealousy we see in unhealthy Threes is also present in unhealthy Twos, motivating these people to coerce others to give them what they want. Threes with a Two-wing become malicious toward others, even psychopathically destructive. They are charming psychopaths, attractive men and women who seem to have everything going for them until they suddenly become violent, usually toward those with whom they are closest, but who, for whatever reason, have frustrated their narcissistic needs.
The Three with a Four-Wing
The traits of the Three and those of a Four-wing produce a complex subtype whose traits often conflict with each other. The Three is essentially an "interpersonal" type, whereas the Four withdraws from contact with others. To the degree that the Four-wing is operative, some persons of this subtype seems more like Fours than Threes: they can be quiet, rather private, subdued in demeanor, and have artistic interests and aesthetic sensibilities. Noteworthy examples of the Three with a Four-wing include Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Bryant Gumbel, Chris Wallace, Sting, Mick Jagger, Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Michael Tilson Thomas, Dick Cavett, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Somerset Maugham, and Iago.
Healthy Threes with a Four-wing have some amount of intution which they can direct both toward themselves and others. Beacause some self-awareness is also part of the picture, people of this subtype have more potential for gaining self-knowledge and developing their emotional lives than Threes with a Two-wing. They may have artistic sensibilities, although these will more likely be in service of their personalities than in creativity for its own sake. People of this subtype are self-assured and outstanding in some way, and yet also introspective and sensitive.
Since Three is the basic type, however, average Threes with a Four-wing will still be competitive with others and interested in success and prestige, although in more subtle ways than the other subtype. Their imaginations will play a more active role and their feelings, such as they are, will likely be focused on aesthetic objects rather than persons. Since threes with a Four-wing are usually less attractive physically than those with a Two-wing, intelligence will typically be emphasized in their self-iomages and social dealings. People ofthis subtype tend to be more pretentious than the other subtype, putting great stock in their ideas and demanding that others do likewise. The are also more aloof and conscious of how others treat them. Narcissitic feelings of superiority and arrogance mingle with the Four's feelings of exemption and self-indulgence. They can be subtle show-offs, but show-offs nonetheless.
Unhealthy threes of this subtype alternate between the narcissism of the Three and the self-doubt of the Four. Since Three is basic, narcissim and grandiose fantasies are the rule. When they are disappointed, persons of this subtype react with the Four's depression and self-contempt, although their periods of self-accusation will be relatively brief. (People of this subtype may be misidentified as manic-depressives since their moods may change rapidly, an element which Threes with Four-wings have in common with the manic-depressive disorder. However, the underlying problem here is not anxiety but narcissim and the lack of fulfillment of their grandiose expectations.) It is possible that people of this subtype will also be self-destructive and suicidal if constantly frustrated by reality.
Excerpts are taken from Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by
Don Richard Riso