The 9 Enneagram Personality Types as Children’s Books Series: Type 4 as Where The Wild Things Are

Enneagram Type 4: The Individualist = Where The Wild Things Are

Type 4: “The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental” as defined by the Enneagram Institute

One of the most beloved, and uniquely illustrated, of all children’s books is the only choice to represent the enigmatic and fascinating 4! Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, tells the story of Max. Max is a young boy who gets into trouble and is sent to bed without supper. He retreats to his imagination to regain control of his emotions by creating a world in which he rules. The Individualist’s basic fear is to have no identity or personal significance. This story is all about Max confirming and maintaining his identity; even the boat he takes to the land where the wild things are has his name painted on the side. Once he reaches the shores of his imaginary place he conquers his feelings(wild things) of otherness, frustration, loneliness, even rage, and becomes king of all wild things(ruler of his emotions).

“Fours typically have problems with a negative self-image and chronically low self-esteem. They attempt to compensate for this by cultivating a Fantasy Self—an idealized self-image which is built up primarily in their imaginations.” -the Enneagram Institute

“‘And now,’ cried Max, ‘let the wild rumpus start!'” is the metaphorical emotional battle within himself that he confronts, and conquers. Once his feelings of low self-esteem are vanquished, and his identity is confirmed, his Type 4 Basic Desire: to create an identity, is appeased. The wild things beg him to stay, but he bids the them farewell and returns to his home. Back in his very own room, from which he escaped, he finds his supper waiting for him, a symbol of his parents’ understanding of him and his need for an escape to his imagination as a way of dealing with his emotions. This validates Max in a real way, one that no imagining can replace. It is important for Fours, and many sensitive people, to receive this validation from those they love and trust.

While it is true that Fours often feel different from others, they do not really want to be alone. They may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, but they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings. The “romantics” of the Enneagram, they long for someone to come into their lives and appreciate the secret self that they have privately nurtured and hidden from the world. If, over time, such validation remains out of reach, Fours begin to build their identity around how unlike everyone else they are.” -the Enneagram Institute

And so just as Max discovers that his identity is rooted in his imagination and creativity, he realizes that love is what makes Fours feel real. To learn more about being a Four and the Enneagram in general, head to the the Enneagram Institute and pick up a curbside copy of Where the Wild Things Are from Book People!

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