Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Lick and a Promise

From Marge Piercy’s poem, “For Strong Women,” I’d guessed she might be Enneagram style Eight. But her autobiography Sleeping with Cats suggests she's more likely to be style Two

Piercy describes herself as having taken care of people surrounding her much of her life – including earning a living for herself and the rest of the people in a ménage à quatre in her second marriage. This level of responsibility could also be true of style Eight, but the group marriage arrangement might be a better fit for style Two’s murky sexual boundaries (as would her attraction to the writer Colette). 

Also, Piercy bemoans – in a way that conveys a sense of betrayal – the fact that people have abandoned her when she needed them, which is less likely to be style Eights' complaint. Here's a fascinating passage about adopting two cats after her Siamese died:

“Woody [her third husband, Ira Wood] and I pursued an ad in the Boston Globe. There we found heaps of Burmese... in piles of rich dark brown fur cuddling one another, except for two exiles: two big sable cats she said were three months old, but I could tell they were six or eight at least... A male at stud had escaped from his cage and impregnated his daughter... Woody had fallen in love with them at once... Woody named the male Jim Beam, and I named the female Colette. I have always loved Colette’s writing. Jim Beam was immediately interested and friendly, but Colette hid under a chair... I captured her, held her and licked her like a mother cat. She was astonished and began to purr. From then on, except when she was angry with me, she was my cat. She fell in love that night. It was hardly sanitary, but it conveyed affection and trust in a language she understood.”

Licking a kitten, the way a mother cat would, captures much we need to know about style Two, and is the kind of metaphorical behavior that helps identify core Enneagram patterns. 

But I don't know Marge Piercy, and don't intend this to be a definition of her personality, only to provide examples of how we begin to make good guesses about someone's Enneagram motivations.