The Social Two

An Idealized Self-Image

Nancy Reagan, is a social Two. I read Kitty Kelly's book, but Nancy's own book, My Turn, also tells about her being a Two in a slightly different way.

In Nancy's own book, she says it is her turn, but the book is all about Ronald Reagan after the first chapter. That's symbolic. Twos are the classic co-dependents who, at the moment of the death, have someone else's life flash before their eyes!

Nancy is a Two with a Three Wing (more common among social subtypes, it seems) and her big concern is ambition. Many social Twos will attach themselves to someone in power and live through them. It looks like perhaps Nancy did.

In the early years her story is all about social climbing, getting into desired schools, clubs, social circles and getting recognized. The movies, of course, are a wonderful way "to be seen and recognized," (the goal of much social ambition) and Nancy gravitated to them. According to Kitty Kelly, she slept with the producers to get her parts and if that is true, it would be in character for the seductive part of Twoishness. All Twos, regardless of their subtype, have a certain seductiveness about them. It isn't necessarily sexual. (I know a receptionist, an ex-nun, whose chastity is beyond reproach. But the quality of her voice on the phone is not only welcoming, but inviting.) All seductiveness is rooted in an unacknowledged emotional neediness. The behavior is seductive precisely because it is an emotional investment. Twos "give to get." In exchange for emotional warmth, you will be asked for a wide assortment of returns: esteem, privilege, her own way, the list is long and supple. (I've used "her" when describing a Two because women in the US are encouraged to be Twos and the word "hysterical" which is used to describe Twos is the Greek word for uterus - as in hysterectomy).

Self worth is an issue

The seductiveness and the social climbing is an attempt to compensate for a lack of inner self-worth. Twos are the most person-oriented of all Enneagram numbers . The combination of low self-esteem and high concern for the esteem of others gets them in trouble. Many Twos can't handle any criticism. Criticism frequently feels like a personal attack and at the same time calls attention to what they are trying not to see - flaws and needs. They tend to take criticism personally and often a simple request for information will feel like criticism because they see themselves as anticipating everyone's needs. (And they have probably spent a lot of time doing just that).

Ideal substitutes for real

The idealized image and the low self-esteem (which prompts them to flatter others, thinking others want praise as much as they do) are dependent on each other and are polarized against each other. The grander the image, the deeper the inner neediness. An image not rooted in reality tends to inflate. We can't get enough of what our image requires. We never get enough of what we really don't want. And if Twos can raise their real self esteem, they are able to let go of the image. The idealized self-image also makes them appear to have inflated emotions. Their dramatized emotions are ones they "should" have, so they don't quite fit reality. Also, because they don't acknowledge their need for emotional satisfaction, they don't acknowledge when they have received it. Never feeling like they receive real satisfaction, they over-express their manufactured emotional responses. Twos can often be anti-intellectual, because thinking interferes with feeling, so their emotional response is not rationally moderated. People often like that about Twos. Who wants a partner to be coolly rational when in love. The cultural ideal is to be "madly" (i.e., irrationally, without proportion) in love. Of course, when it is negative, that can get ugly.

The consequence of having an idealized self-image in the case of the Two leads them to have an awful lot of shoulds. (Because I am wonderful), "I should do something about my hair." (Because I am wonderful,) "I should help my sister with her kids this weekend." And (Because I am wonderful), "I really don't mind his leaving me alone on our anniversary." Negative feelings are not claimed because wonderful people don't have them. But of course, if one doesn't have these negative feelings, then the self gets harder to locate, and Twos often don't know who they are. If you have feelings that are not real (shoulds) and don't experience feelings that are real, who are you and what do you want?

The specific form of pride: "I have no needs"

The idealized self-image can lead to strange notions of omnipotence. In the case of Twos, the omnipotence lies in their belief that they can meet everyone's needs. And should.

The social subtype wants recognition even more than affection. Madonna, a public Two who shows off her Twoishness in her movie, Truth or Dare, for example, doesn't ask so much that you approve, as much as that you acknowledge and notice her.

If you are a Two, or need to work with a Two, you can profitably watch Tom Condon's Style Two in his Dynamic Enneagram series. He works with a strong healthy Two but she has a slight problem with an idealized self-image. She is very bright and catches on well in the session. I know her and talked to her a few months later; her gains had become permanent, she said.

    Questions for discussion:

  1. If you use a lot of "shoulds," in what kind of context do they occur? (With what people, under what circumstances, around what issues?) If you don't do what you "should," how do you feel?
  2. Do others take your "shoulds" seriously? (If they don't, they know they aren't real. Do you?).
  3. What do you do instead of what you should do?
  4. Can you list three things you would always stand up for?
  5. When you wake up in the morning, what do usually you start thinking about?

    Resources and exercises:

  1. Call to mind any (if you can) time you have done something for somebody and nobody, but nobody, found out. Is it a short list? Why?
  2. Make as long a list as you can of what others owe you for what you have done for them.
  3. The Dynamic Enneagram Series #2, Thomas Condon (One hour)
  4. Chapter Six, Our Inner Conflicts, Karen Horney
  5. Watch Angela Lansbury in Manchurian Candidate, she's a good social Two
  6. Parables and the Enneagram (mine) has a chapter on Twos. If you don't have it, read chapter 14 of Luke and see if you can see why both 'meal' parables undo the Two's compulsion.