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The Social Seven Enneagram Personality Subtype

Beatrice Chestnut (2013) calls this subtype “Sacrifice” in her portrait of the personality style. Like the Social Eight, Social Sevens are often seen as the countertype of the three personality subtypes of point Seven.

That’s to say that Social Sevens also value joy, enthusiasm, and variety, trying to avoid being limited, or having to face pain or suffering by focusing on making the world a more delightful place. They do this, as do most Sevens do by putting a positive spin on things, even when that is not the most helpful thing to do for the situation at hand.  But as this Seven is also as the countertype of the Archetypal Seven in some way, they can also expresses a kind of “counter-gluttony” when it comes to pursuing their lust for life. Social Sevens go against the Seven passion of gluttony in that they consciously avoid exploiting others. Naranjo says it’s as if they can sense the tendency within themselves toward gluttony and decide to instead define themselves as anti-gluttonous.

Wagner (2010) notes that when the Seven-ish “vice” of gluttony (for joy and fun and good times) leaks into the social arena, Sevens will sacrifice their options and limit their possibilities for the sake of their family or whatever community they belong to.

This is the SEVENS’ version of the Social SIXES’ sense of duty. Their obligations to others’ welfare place limits on their personal possibilities. This also curtails their gluttony, but only temporarily. For SEVENS hope that once everyone is happy or once their children are grown, they can get on with actualizing all their possibilities.
It’s nice to be with interesting and stimulating people who share the same vision and goals. Unfortunately sometimes group meetings can be tedious martyr-making events. Social SEVENS accept these social limitations in order to work with congenial groups. They are willing to give up or sacrifice certain personal freedoms to pursue their ideals within their family, political group, or religion—somewhat reminiscent of the ONES’ idealism.
The social philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth century political philosopher and writer, informs this subtype variation. Recall Rousseau’s belief and lament that society’s restrictions are the cause of human suffering and depravity. Once we remove civilization’s limits on our free self-expression and development, we revert to being the happy, benevolent, “noble savages” we really are. Humanistic psychology shares this optimistic air.

If gluttony is a wish for more, a wish for taking advantage of all you can get from a situation, there is a hint of exploitation in gluttony. But as the countertype, the Social subtype wants to be good and pure and not act on their gluttonous impulse. This is a person who wants to avoid being excessive or excessively opportunistic, and who works against any unconscious tendency they may have to exploit others.Gluttony may thus be difficult to recognize in Social Sevens because they strive to hide it in altruistic behavior. This purifies them of the guilt of feeling an attraction toward pleasure or toward acting in their own self-interest in ways that cause them to take advantage of others.

Social Sevens avoid focusing on their own self-interest or advantage by pursuing an ideal of themselves and the world. They sacrifice their gluttony to become a better person and to work for a better world in which there is no pain or conflict. As Naranjo explains, they defer their own desires in pursuit of an ideal.

In their efforts to work against gluttony, Social Sevens can actually be too pure. Their efforts to attain purity can extend to worrying about their diet, their health, and their spirit. Interestingly, Naranjo notes, these Sevens are often vegans.

In striving for purity and anti-gluttony, they express a kind of ascetic (or Five-ish) ideal. They make a virtue of getting by on less for themselves. In trying to prove their goodness, they typically give others more, and take less for themselves, as a way of going against their gluttonous desire for more. Even though they might want the biggest pieces of cake, they go against that impulse and take the smallest one instead, leaving the larger portions for others.

Social Sevens take on a lot of responsibility in the group or the family. In doing this, they express a sacrifice of gluttony for the benefit of others. They postpone their own desires in order to enact an ideal of service. As the name of this subtype suggests, “Sacrifice” means a willingness to be of service.

But where is the ego reward in this seemingly pure, unselfish personality strategy? Part of the ego strategy of this subtype is that they want-crave-to be seen as good for their sacrifice. They have a hidden gluttony for the acknowledgment of their sacrifice-are hungry for love and recognition-and this hunger can be insatiable. These Sevens use their sacrifice to cover up defects and shortcomings and to invite recognition and admiration or love, because they don’t feel right legitimizing and acting on their desires and whims. Their sacrifice and service is the price they pay for their neurotic need for admiration.

In addition to inspiring appreciation and recognition in others, Social Sevens want to have a good image, to reduce conflicts, and to create debts in others. However, these motivations can lead these Sevens to enter into relationships that are relatively superficial.

In line with their need for recognition of their sacrifices, there is a tendency in this Social subtype to adopt the role of helper, to be of service, and to be concerned with the alleviation of pain. But while they are drawn to alleviate others’ pain, they don’t like to feel it themselves, and so helping others may also be a way for them to project their pain somewhere outside themselves and try to relieve it at a safe distance. They are always “being” for the other. This is an indulgent and generous character capable of managing projects and mobilizing energies for a particular purpose. They tend to deliver the services they provide with a lot of dedication.

Social Sevens experience an inner taboo on selfishness and want to be seen as the “good child” or the “good person.” They experience repressed guilt for hiding their self-interest in the guise of good, and they may project their disowned guilt for their unacknowledged gluttony onto others, then judge them for not being committed or dedicated enough. These Sevens may also distrust themselves because they know they mix up altruism and self-interest; they many judge their own deeper motivations as “bad” or “self-interested.”

Social Sevens are very idealistic, but their idealism is a mix of illusion, good intentions, and ingenuity that function together as an “intellectual drug” that motivates action. They’re very active, moved in an ongoing way by the ideals they want to translate into life to improve the world, but they need their idealism to help them to activate-they invest a lot in altruism, idealism, dedication, and sacrifice to make them feel more acceptable. They also tend to use the defense of rationalization to support the things they do in the name of altruism and idealism. Their idealism is in part based on rationalizing ideologies so that if any of their beliefs are proved wrong, they can simply replace it with another rationale and then explain this change as evolution. Given this, they may have an underlying sense of panic about losing their idealism, as they fear that would ultimately lead to apathy and emptiness.

Social Sevens’ focus on motivating themselves through idealism can take the form of a feeling of being on a mission-they may want to be “The Savior.” They may at times criticize themselves for being naïve and unrealistic, for wanting too much of mankind-and the Social Seven does have some youthful or adolescent qualities: they are provocative, enlightened, can be simplistic, and can get lazy when the task becomes too demanding. And in addition to this, they may not be conscious of their own laziness, love of comfort, and narcissism.

Naranjo explains that enthusiasm, idealism, and social skills are the three pillars of the Social Seven personality. These Sevens are also visionaries: they imagine a better, freer, healthier, more peaceful world. (New Age culture is a Social Seven culture.) They often express excessive enthusiasm about their visions and may have fantasies of a perfect future. They have a tendency to manipulate through enthusiasm. On the surface, they appear very joyful, and they avoid dissonance and conflict.

In relationships, Social Sevens may feel challenged when they get caught between their strong desire not to cause another person pain and their fear of commitment. In keeping with their desire to be pure and maintain their idealistic stance, they look for a kind of romantic love that is pure and perfect. They unconsciously put themselves in an arrogant position of being “better” or more pure than their partners and then expecting them to evolve toward perfection. They may also have difficulty navigating the deeper emotions that get stirred up by intimate relationships.

Because of their enthusiasm and joyfulness, as well as their prominent desire to help and be of service, Social Sevens can look like Twos-but while Twos focus primarily on others and don’t have as much of a connection with their own selves, Social Sevens are still primarily self-referencing, so they will usually know what they need, even if they decide to sacrifice it. Their desire to help is born of the need to go against a sense of self-interest, not just a desire for approval, so they have a more direct experience of their own needs and wants despite their tendency to make efforts to serve others or a higher good. These are people who are very pure-and in this way they can also look One-ish-but theirs is a goodness for applause, a desire to reach an ideal of perfection or purity that’s based on social consensus (as opposed to Ones’ internally generated sense of what is “right”).

Chestnut introduces us to Rusty, a Social Seven who says:

“The easiest thing to forget about Sevens is that fear drives us and safety is what all the options are for. We are practiced at not showing our desperation on the surface. As a Social Seven, “Sacrifice” plays out without too much trouble for me, because in the vast array of possibilities, any treasure is expendable as long as there is some other nugget to gloat over. This goes for any cause or endeavor, no matter what the seemingly altruistic reason or the secret self-reward.

Idealism and the desire to be seen as a good person rather than a greedy person has led me to join a long series of philanthropic groups. I love the feeling of safety and certainty I get in groups, even though I generally join groups in which I don’t exactly belong. No matter how committed I was to breathing life into the touring theater company, in the final analysis it was the fact of hating to perform soliloquies that allowed me to leave that safe haven for something else. While we Social Sevens can look like Twos, my deep impulse to stop nodding and agreeing (along with not having a truly deep need-anchor of my own) is what has allowed me to leave just about as many groups as I have joined, no matter how devastating the wreckage left behind. Or how still the pond without a ripple.

Grappling to own the Four-ish/Seven-ish fact of narcissism, I balked until it clicked that seeing too much of both goodness, virtue, and beauty and wickedness, evil, and inadequacy in my reflection ultimately leads down the same rabbit hole of overexamining myself. So, in many efforts to get outside myself, for my own good, serially joining and leaving has put me on many peaks and in many corners. With myriad projects, plans, and escape hatches comes that ability to illuminate and stitch together odd similarities and unique insights, always from way out of left field: for instance, I have been the only person at the logging camp carrying a dulcimer, the guy fresh from Wyoming managing an A&D showroom on Madison Avenue in NYC, the Quaker in a Presbyterian church choir, the token straight man in a gay men’s chorus, and so on. I like to sneak in the side door, stir things up, make contributions large or small, grab several magpie points for virtue, and then I’ve gotta go.”

Specific Work For The Social Seven on the Path to Healthy Integration

Social Sevens travel the path from “gluttony” to “sobriety” or moderation, by making the motives behind the things they do more conscious. If you are a Social Seven, try to be more aware of the desire to be recognized for your sacrifice or helpfulness-for being “good”-without judging yourself for being selfish or self-centered. Observe and work with the glutton/anti-glutton polarity within you, and try to be open to seeing what fears and needs might underlie that internal dynamic. Watch out for feelings and motives you might not own that drive you, and support yourself in accepting all your needs and feelings as valid and important. Allow yourself to see how you might criminalize selfishness and avoid internal conflict and darker motives. Challenge yourself to be honest about the ways in which you may confuse altruism and self-interest. Surface the truth about your deeper motives while at the same time making an effort not to judge yourself as “bad” for any self-interest you uncover. Don’t let your fear about not being seen as “good” get in the way of being more conscious of what’s really true. Recognize how you may manipulate through enthusiasm and use your idealism as an intellectual drug. And allow yourself to see how you might cling to your idealism and your ideals of service to the group as a way of staving off an inner sense of emptiness. Support yourself in feeling and being with any fears you might have about your worth or your essential goodness. Give yourself credit for your good intentions, and make room to see all your intentions and your limitations with compassion.