Ron Swanson – Self Prez Eight, Social Blind Spot

Ron Swanson – the parks commissioner of the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation – is a great example of a Self-Prez Eight, with a Social Blind Spot.

Eight is the Challenger, the tough, assertive, independent type. Eights have no tolerance for bullshit, and will call it out immediately. They can’t stand to be controlled by anyone. They’re in charge of their lives. And they love intensity.

When Eights have the Self-Preservation Instinct at the top of their stack, this comes across in some ways that are repeatedly seen in Ron Swanson.

ron swanson steakHe demonstrates the Eight’s love of excess combined with the Self-Preservation Instinct’s attention to physical needs in his grandiose love of steak. He orders and eats three porterhouses in succession in one episode, and then invites the dinner guests back to his place for some omelettes. In another episode he tags along on a trip to Indianapolis for the express purpose of eating at Mulligan’s – “the best steakhouse in the whole damn state!”

People who identify with the Self-Prez Instinct often love going out to dinner, and look forward to it all day, envisioning what they’re going to order, how it’s going to taste, what they’ll drink, what the atmosphere of the restaurant will be like. They’re devastated if the dinner has to be called off, as Ron is when the steakhouse turns out to have been shut down by the health board. He consoles himself at a diner, telling the counter guy: “Give me all of the bacon and eggs you have. You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of bacon and eggs, but what I said was: Give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Do you understand?”

ron swanson in his wood shopThe Self-Prez instinct can also express itself in a facility with tools, repair, and construction – especially with Eights. They don’t want to be at the mercy of a repairman or a contractor.

“I don’t want to paint with a broad brush here, but every single contractor in the world is a miserable, incompetent thief.”

In one episode Ron fashions a wedding ring out of a wall sconce, saying “Any moron with a crucible, an acetylene torch, and a cast iron waffle maker could have done the same thing. The whole thing only took me about twenty minutes. People who buy things are suckers.”

A Social Blind Spot can express itself in the form of undervaluing social programs. Combined with a dominant Self-Prez instinct, a great resentment builds up at the seemingly undeserved removal of the individual’s wealth for redistribution to the parasitic masses.

ron-swanson-failed businessRon works as parks commissioner, but has a complete disdain for public works: “The government is a greedy piglet that suckles on a taxpayer’s teat until they have sore, chapped nipples.”

He delights in doing as little as he can on the job, loathing the few times he has to deal with the public.

He’s proudly anti-social, seeing no value in spending time with friends, or even exchanging pleasantries with coworkers.

“When people get a little too chummy with me I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.”

“The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”

There are many more quotes that bring these various characteristics to life:

ron swanson child labor laws “Crying: acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.”

“I call this turf ‘n’ turf. It’s a 16 oz T-bone and a 24 oz porterhouse. Also, whiskey and a cigar. I am going to consume all of this at the same time because I am a free American.”

“When I eat, it’s the food that’s scared.”

“Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

“There is only one bad word: taxes.”

“Great job, everyone. The reception will be held in each of our individual houses, alone.”

“Friends: one to three is sufficient.”

“You had me at meat tornado.”

A Social Blind Spot masks a secret desire to belong, and this slips out in the occasional episode, with Ron trying desperately to make sure no one notices these lapses in his surliness – for instance in using his Self-Prez skills to fashion a wedding ring for friends at the last minute when theirs is lost.

ron-swanson-babyNo matter how gruff and armour-plated Eights might seem from the outside, they’re very soft and caring inside (Ron has a secret life as a smooth jazz saxophonist)(he’s also a doting father). But this softness has to be defended, and Ron Swanson does this very entertaingly, in one episode after another.

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