Enneagram Type Seven Overview
What are Enneagram Type Sevens like? In this post, you’ll learn about a Seven’s childhood, wings and so much more!
If you’ve seen Clementine in the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” you’ve seen an Enneagram Type Seven in action. Constantly changing her hair color, she is a party girl with tons of energy and lots of ideas – fun to be around until the going gets tough. There’s a great scene where she’s very upset, and she suddenly blurts out to the person she’s with, “Let’s go dancing!” Clementine is fleeing into fun.
That is standard operating procedure for people with a Type Seven personality. A Fear type, the Seven looks the least fearful of the Head triad (5-6-7) because they always seem to be having such a good time. But underneath that façade of fun is a person deeply afraid that they will be trapped in deprivation or emotional pain. They will avoid conflict and other emotionally difficult events, and they don’t like to be around “downers” or “victims.” If they find themselves near these types, they will try to cheer them up and, failing that, they will walk away.
So, if you’re in a funk and just need to be heard, a Seven is not your best bet. If you’re in a funk and want to be cheered up, it’s on! Sevens have a positive outlook and tend to be natural entertainers; they can easily draw a crowd and are the life of the party.
Type 7 Fixation
The Seven fixation is anticipation. They literally can’t wait to do the next fascinating or entertaining thing. As a Type Seven myself, I remember not being able to enjoy a fun event I was at because I was preoccupied with thoughts about the fun event that I’d scheduled for immediately afterward. Sometimes Sevens will bail from one event if it’s not as stimulating as they’d hoped, or not show up at all, even after committing to it, if something more promising arises. This gives Sevens a reputation for being flighty and unreliable. They are driven by FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Something better is just around the bend, and the Seven wants to be there when it arrives.
In fact, Sevens want everything, all the time. I laugh when I see the tagline for Lowe’s: “More of Everything.” That is the Seven motto. The cardinal sin for Sevens is gluttony. It’s not necessarily about food; it can be anything – collections, shoes, books, wine, and so on. A close relative who is a Seven fills her multiple pantries to bursting with canned and dried goods. They typify well the concept of the Hungry Ghost with a swollen belly that can never be filled. Sevens are out to prove, unconsciously, that there is no lack. Then their Basic Fear (as discussed in The Wisdom of the Enneagram) – of being trapped in deprivation or pain – cannot come true, and they are safe.
Sevens believe that there is no one to rely on and that they must get their needs met on their own, which makes them inherently selfish. Sometimes that’s with things. In college, I would hide my cookies if a friend was coming over because I didn’t have a lot of money and those cookies weren’t easy to replace, and they were for ME. More often, it’s a general viewpoint of life. It’s hard to get your own needs met and avoid all unpleasant emotions if you actually have to consider others, so Sevens often don’t. This is not a choice; it is a way of being. They are following the Seven script.
Ironically, Sevens can be tremendous philanthropists and volunteers. I just saw in a news segment on that the late Joan Rivers, a Seven, was very involved with a charity called “God’s Love – We Deliver.” Sevens do have a desire to help people they perceive to be in real need, but it is usually because they are trying to deliver others from the horrible fate of being trapped in the deprivation and pain that they so fear.
On the other hand, it is also because Sevens are change agents, masters of their destiny, people who make things happen. I read The City of God in high school and immediately organized a collection to send money to lepers’ children in India. Though Sevens are known to start many projects and abandon them as soon as they aren’t thrilling anymore, if they find a cause or activity that they feel passionate about long-term, they will go the distance and make a difference.
Our Biblical example of Type Seven is King Solomon. It’s no accident he asked God for wisdom, as he was a Head type who was facing a lot of responsibility as leader and didn’t have a clear sense of how to go forward (the key question for Head types). Well, he got wisdom and everything else along with it – a Seven’s dream! 700 wives, 300 concubines, riches untold, fame, good food and wine. And ultimately, we see, none of it satisfied him. From the wisest man in the world we get the famous saying, “All is vanity.” He finally understood that all of the stuff of life was not really life. That’s a great lesson for the gluttonous Seven to learn.
Enneagram Type Seven Childhood
Young Sevens tend to be disconnected from the nurturing parent, usually the mother, though this is usually not conscious. It results in the Seven’s false yet foundational idea that they are without reliable help in the world and therefore must become their own nurturers and meet their own needs. I refer to this as “Winnebago Syndrome” – the idea that the Seven is fully self-contained and doesn’t need anyone else to cruise through life well-supplied and happy.
Many Sevens would report their childhood as happy. However, this often comes from the Seven’s ease with selective memory and the ability to reframe painful or negative situations. Some Sevens, though, admit that their early years were not all rosy. I have found that Self-Preservation Sevens, for instance, are quicker to remember negative events, and that may be due to the Self-Pres focus on material comfort and personal safety, which are easier to qualify than the more general Seven themes of fun and adventurousness.
The Building Blocks of Type Seven
Here are some of the various components that make up a Seven personality.
Center: Head/Thinking (underlying emotion is fear)
Hornevian Group: Assertive
Harmonic Group: Positive Outlook
Object Relation Group: Frustration
At one point in my late 20s, I had activities scheduled four work nights a week. Toastmasters, prayer meeting, and on and on. I would rush from work to each event, or stop at home just long enough to gobble some dinner. One day, I found myself triple-booked. When I got home, I thought, “All these things are supposed to be fun, but they’re wearing me out!” This is actually a moment of truth for the Seven, if they can recognize it.
Sevens believe that there is no to rely on to get their needs met; they’re on their own in the scary world. So, because they are Assertive, they go forth boldly into the world to get those needs met as quickly as possible. And they do it with gusto and joy, leading others in their train – and sometimes leaving others in their wake.
To be assertive is to move out into the world – to actively assert one’s position or agenda. Assertive types (3,7 and 8) make things happen. If Sevens are focused, they can complete projects and realize their big dreams. Otherwise, what Sevens make happen is a lot of interesting activity that doesn’t amount to much.
If you combine the Harmonic and Hornevian Group names, you get Assertive Positive Outlook. We could call this “aggressively happy.” Being positive is the Seven’s first line of defense, and a Seven will bulldoze over and minimize or altogether discount your pain in the relentless assertion that there’s always a brighter side. This, of course, ends up hurting people – which the Seven is typically oblivious to.
How can a person who is aggressively happy have Frustration as their Object Relation? Sevens, because they fear being trapped in deprivation or pain, want everything to be easy and pleasant. They want to skate through life—sometimes literally!—from one fun or fascinating thing to the next. Of course, this is not real life, so Sevens are constantly coming up against opposition to their positive attitude.
Herein lies their frustration. A Seven’s experiences never fully satisfy them, bringing up the realization that what they’re doing isn’t working and may, in fact, be causing their suffering (that’s what Riso & Hudson call the Red Flag Fear for the Seven). But they don’t know what else to do, so they keep following the Seven script, even doubling down if necessary by accelerating their activity.
Enneagram 7 Wings
As a Riso-Hudson Certified Enneagram teacher, I draw extensively from the work of Riso & Hudson, and particularly with respect to the wings and their names. You can get more information about Enneagram wings by reading The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
Enneagram Type Seven wing 6 (7w6): The Entertainer. These Sevens are witting, fast-talking and energetic; they entertain others without trying. They are productive but more distractible than the other type of Seven. Substance abuse can happen here due to anxiety and self-doubt (courtesy of the Six influence).
Enneagram Type Seven wing 8 (7w8): The Realist. With a strong Eightish willpower, Realists can be aggressive multi-taskers who meet their own needs. They can be workaholics in search of possessions and experiences. They would rather do and create than connect with people, and they are more jaded than the ever-hopeful Entertainers.
Enneagram type 7 careers
What kinds of work are Sevens suited for? Well, Sevens can be involved in many spheres of work – not just the entertainment industry (see the Celebrities section below) or travel journalism. But it’s likely that for Sevens to be satisfied – at least, in their natural state, before they become present and aware – they will need variety in their work. For a more detailed examination, I’ve written a whole blog post on this topic and made a surprisingly popular video.
Enneagram 7 relationships
What’s it like to be in love with the “fun-loving” type? Well, based on my husband’s feedback, it’s not always fun! I’ve also written a blog post dedicated to this topic, so you can get more in-depth information based on my personal experience here.
Enneagram 7 Celebrities
It’s helpful to see how personality plays out among well-known people, for two reasons. First, you get a glimpse of some of a certain Type’s behaviors in action, which helps you better understand the type. Second, you can see how different people can be while being the same type, which helps you realize that the Enneagram isn’t about putting people in boxes. Though patterns prevail, they do so within each person’s individuality.
So, here’s a list of celebrities that Riso & Hudson have identified as having a Type Seven personality: Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Steven Spielberg, Mozart, Goldie Hawn, Howard Stern, Jack Nicholson, Lucille Ball, Bette Midler.
Again, this and all of the posts in this series are not exhaustive or definitive; they are vignettes designed to encourage a deeper exploration of what’s going on beneath the surface of ourselves and of other human beings. I hope this gave you a better sense of what it’s like to be an Enneagram Type Seven.
Quick Start Guide to Centering Prayer
This short guide gives you the essentials for learning to be still and quiet before God so you can hear his voice and feel his love in a deeper way.