Enneagram Type Six

The world of the Six

Sixes seem to be everywhere. They are. As the most numerous type, they make up about one person in six or seven. It’s natural, for they are Everyman. Even though the USA is thought to be a Three culture, our institutions reflect Sixness in many ways: in its fraternal groups, its political parties, its sports teams, its conspiracy theory and Peace Corps.

The two Six subtypes, 6/5 and 6/7, roughly correspond to the core constituencies of the Republican and Democratic parties. Sixes in general are social conservatives who enjoy nesting within a tradition. They draw strength and a feeling of identity and belonging from the roles they have in their family, community, and country. There is probably no better public example of the 6/5 than President George W. Bush. And there is probably no better public example of the 6/7 than Tom Hanks. It would be hard to come up with two more “American” celebrities.

What motivates them

Sixes are pushed and pulled by sets of opposing traits: conviction and ambivalence, self-assurance and doubt, trust and suspicion. They can be impossible to figure out and exasperating to deal with. Further, Sixes, especially the 6/5 subtype, can alternate between thinking without emotions (when emotions would be useful) and emoting without thinking, often from minute to minute.

Sixes are said to be the most fearful type, and their actions can be motivated by fears. They are said to fall into two classes, the Phobic Sixes (think of any Woody Allen character) and Counter-phobic Sixes, (think of any Bruce Willis character) who charge head-on into their fears to confront them face to face.

Sixes strongly identify with the roles they occupy and undertake - none more strongly than sexual and family rolls. They derive a special comfort from fitting into the grooves assigned to them by gender or circumstance or predilection.

What professions appeal to them

I have never seen a policeman or fireman who was not a Six. There is no other profession and type correlation that is so absolute. Healthy Sixes overcome their fear to act on behalf of their families, community, and country, and not a few die for them. We have name for them: heroes. A hero is not somebody without fear, but someone who goes on in spite of it.
Both subtypes appears in all sorts of jobs. There are many journalists of both subtypes. Sixes are also defense attorneys sticking up for the underdog, the little guy, while the finger-pointing One prosecutor is zealously assigning blame. But Sixes are everywhere, in all professions, in the arts, sciences, and administration.

Talents and Traps

Sixes work well together, pulling for the team. It’s almost impossible to imagine an army made up of Ones arguing over the right way to attack, or Eights trying to boss each other around, but nothing is more natural than an army of Sixes. They look for authority to lead the way. Not surprisingly, Sixes are thought to be the type most positively identified with their fathers.
The trap in such group involvement is that they can get swept up in group goals and activity, even if the group’s motivations are questionable. The Six faculty of thinking without feeling and feeling without thinking can cause a group to degenerate into a mob with little warning. When the villagers are brandishing torches and pitchforks and chasing the Frankenstein’s monster through the forest, it’s Sixes chasing a Four.

Sixes make up a high percentage of individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. They also constitute the majority of those who suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder.

What they avoid

Because of Sixish ambivalence, they may go toward unpleasant situations or withdraw from them. They can be difficult to predict. In general, they will avoid situations where they might be called on to betray trusts, or to act against the interests of whatever group they identify with. Some Sixes have an aggressive anti-intellectual air about them; like Sevens, Sixes are often prefer working with their hands in the physical world, and this can make them uncomfortable with those they consider intellectuals.

What they seek out

Likewise, they may have mixed feelings about what to pursue. You can count on them to have strong feelings about their families, community, and country, either positive or negative, or switching between the two. Counterphobic Sixes will challenge themselves with their fears - many rock climbers fall into this subtype.

How they deal with fear and greed

We’ve already touched on the Six’s fears. As far as greed goes, they fall in the middle of the spectrum.

How they handle money and resources

Nothing could be more natural than for Sixes to share the risk to lessen its threat to them, so they are naturals for insurance salesmen. Sixes dive into team sports, so they can be sold sports equipment, tickets to games and team memorabilia, and betting on sports events. The also can be found testing themselves rock climbing and hiking and doing other outdoors activities, so those sales do well too.

Sixes will also spend to fit in with the pack. They will buy fashionable items, such as the latest clothes, or the brand of makeup performers on MTV wear, or special accoutrements needed to make their way into a group - from getting their hair dyed green to getting a BMW for the country club.

How you can spot them

For some strange reason, the 6/5 subtype is often quite good-looking, with regular, symmetrical features. There are 6/5 movie stars, such as Tom Selleck, Bridget Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Gary Cooper. Many police officials, like the past LAPD chief Darryl Gates, are also 6/5s. Robert Kennedy, Pat Buchanan, Donald Rumsfeld, and Robert Mitchum are 6/5s.

Where 6/5s often have a “flinty” quality of strength and taciturnity, 6/7s show more animation from the Seven influence. They can be downright giddy or flighty or nervous or manic. Some examples of 6/7s are actors Terry Garr, Bruce Boxleitner, Sean Penn, and Richard Dreyfuss.

Some (more) famous examples of the type

John Cougar Mellencamp, Abraham, Bruce Springsteen, Jesse Jackson, Muhammad, Melinda Dillon, David Duchovny, Russell Crowe, Whoopie Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, and George H. W. Bush.

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