Type Three on the Enneagram is the Achiever, the Performer, the Catch, the Best. Threes are ambitious and driven, ready and able to climb to the top of their chosen field (Arnold Schwarzennegger, Nora Ephron). They’re very image conscious, presenting a crafted version of themselves to the public to achieve a given goal (Madonna, Tom Cruise). At their best, they’re aware of themselves as role-players, and play up that element of their public persona (David Bowie, Lady Gaga). They can be charming and likeable as well (Paul McCartney, Anne Hathaway). In North America’s celebrity focussed culture they’re commonly involved in the media (Diane Sawyer, Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Seacrest, Dick Clark).
I don’t know enough about Jian Ghomeshi to say with certainty that he’s a Three, but that’s my guess. Like many Threes, he came from humble origins and shot to the top. He attained prominence in his twenties as a musician, and then leveraged that into a career in the media, becoming one of the best known and respected public voices of the arts in Canada. He’s good looking, charismatic, and entirely comfortable being in the spotlight.
Now he’s embroiled in an ever-widening scandal for alleged sexual and physical assault to multiple women. More and more voices are surfacing, saying that for years he’s had a reputation as not just a womanizer, but someone with dark secrets. This wasn’t part of his public persona.
Each type has what’s known as a ruling passion – something that clouds our view of the world and causes us to see ourselves as separate not only from each other, but from Being. For Threes the ruling passion is Deception. This doesn’t necessarily take the form of deliberate lying – although it might. It’s more that a Three shapes herself into the image that exemplifies the elements her culture (or chosen subculture) values, and often believes this presentation herself.
Ghomeshi got ahead of the scandal before it broke, posting his version of the story. He copped to engaging in rough sex, but didn’t go into detail, saying his sex life is private – very smartly appealing to the generally tame sexual mores of Canadian culture. He’d been fired by the CBC unjustly, it seemed, because of their prudish fear of the impending attack by a bitter and crazy jilted ex. It was a well crafted bit of writing. I believed him. Many did.
The tide of public opinion seems to be irrevocably turning against him as the allegations pile up. Due process certainly needs to take its course. But it’s hard for me to imagine Ghomeshi ever holding any kind of place in Canadian public life again, no matter what the courts decide – if he ever goes to trial, whether with his own lawsuit against CBC, or if criminal charges are filed against him.
What’s of particular interest to me is what Ghomeshi will do next – and I mean this in two very different senses.
His PR firm ditched him. A musician he managed has dumped him too. I’ve read an analysis of his lawsuit against the CBC, saying that he can’t possibly win it, and he knows it. In the many articles coming out about him, I haven’t read a single voice supporting him. His world is closing in. He might be planning a swift, brilliant and unpredictable Captain Kirk-like sortie that’ll somehow get him in the clear in the high court of public opinion. (Captain Kirk is another Three, by the way)(As is William Shatner)
Or – presuming the allegations are true – he might take this opportunity to genuinely face the shadows in his life that led to horrific criminal behaviour, and more importantly, allowed him do so without remorse. This could be the chance to look into the layers of estrangement from the pain and passions in his heart, and to move from the image to the real thing – someone who owns up to his faults, his excesses, and all of his shadows.
In this way, his story is very relevant to all of us. The impulse to bury our difficult feelings is widespread, especially when doing so will help us gain a desired end. We live in a very achievement oriented culture. “Making it” is the goal. We could all benefit from looking at our own lives, and how we’ve tried to Make It. Who have we stepped on along the way? Who have we ignored or left behind? Which of our own feelings have we buried? How have we justified our actions to ourselves, and in doing so lost the connection to our genuine selves, and to those around us? And what can we do to atone and reconnect, not just with others, but with ourselves?