PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes A Correspondence of Psychiatric, Keirsey, and Enneagram Typologies Sensitive

Conscientious personality type (continued)

Erich Fromm

From Hall and Lindzey's Theories of Personality:

The essential theme of all of Fromm's writings is that man feels lonely and isolated because he has become separated from nature and from other men. This condition of isolation is not found in any other species of animal; it is the distinctive human situation. The child, for example, gains freedom from the primary ties with his parents with the result that he feels isolated and helpless. The serf eventually secured his freedom only to find himself adrift in a predominantly alien world. As a serf, he belonged to someone and had an feeling of being related to the world and to other people, even though he was not free. In his book, Escape from freedom (1941), Fromm develops the thesis that as man has gained more freedom throughout the ages he has also felt more alone. Freedom then becomes a negative condition from which he tries to escape.

What is the answer to this dilemma? Man can either unite himself with other people in the spirit of love and shared work or he can find security by submitting to authority and conforming to society. In the one case, man uses his freedom to develop a better society; in the other, he acquires a new bondage. Escape from freedom was written under the shadow of the Nazi dictatorship and shows that this form of totalitarianism appealed to people because it offered them a new security. But as Fromm points out in subsequent books (1947, 1955, 1964) any form of society that man has fashioned, whether it be that of feudalism, capitalism, fascism, socialism, or communism, represents an attempt to resolve the basic contradiction of man. This contradiction consists of man being both a part of nature and separate from it, of being both an animal and a human being. As an animal he has certain physiological needs which must be satisfied. As a human being he possesses self-awareness, reason, and imagination. Experiences that are uniquely human are feelings of tenderness, love, and compassion; attitudes of interest, responsibility, identity, integrity, vulnerability, transcendence, and freedom; and values and norms (1968). The two aspects of man being both animal and human being constitute the basic conditions of man's existence. "The understanding of man's psyche must be based on the analysis of man's needs stemming from the conditions of his existence" (1955, p.25). (pp. 130-131)

Salvatore R. Maddi (1980, pg. 135) believes that Fromm is a "perfection theorist":

The similarities between Fromm's needs and Allport's propriate functions should not have escaped your attention. The need for transcendence is like propriate striving, the need for rootedness is like self-extension, the need for a personal identity is like self-identity and self-esteem, and the need for a frame of reference is like the rational coping out of which develops a philosophy of life. The similarities in content between the core characteristics in these two positions is one piece of evidence inclining me to the belief that Fromm's position is best considered a perfection rather than actualization theory. The human, according to Fromm, seems to be striving toward an ideal conceptualization of the perfect life, rather than merely expressing inherent capabilities in an unself-conscious fashion. To be sure, perfection is defined in terms of what it is in human nature to be. But for any given person this nature is not merely the sum total of particular strengths and weaknesses; the conceptualization of human nature is more universal than that. Fromm believes that it is within the person's power to achieve perfection, but the path is not simply that of expressing inherited strengths. The person must practice being a human in order to become good at it. This will frequently involve overcoming inherent weaknesses. This emphasis is clearly seen in Fromm's (1956) book, The Art of Loving, in which is described a set of exercises whereby one can practice loving, and with persistence, become capable in that regard. In contrast, actualization theorists are likely to believe that adequate loving and such obviously constructive things come quite naturally to the undefensive person. Fromm seems more a perfection theorist than anything else.
  • Erich Fromm: Shortcoming as a Therapist

    Fromm seems to have encouraged his patients to idealize him as a role model.

  • Erich Fromm - C. George Boeree.

    Hoarding is associated with the cold form of withdrawing family, and with destructiveness. I might add that there is a clear connection with perfectionism as well. Freud would call it the anal retentive type, Adler (to some extent) the avoiding type, and Horney (a little more clearly) the withdrawing type. In its pure form, it means you are stubborn, stingy, and unimaginative. If you are a milder version of hoarding, you might be steadfast, economical, and practical.
  • The Two Voices of Erich Fromm - Michael Maccoby.

    James described and contrasted three personality types. The "healthy minded" are those with a "harmonious" personality. They tend to be upbeat and adapted to society. James used the term "healthy" in a rather ironic way. The healthy minded avoid or repress unpleasant perceptions. They have little tolerance for the second type, the "morbid minded" who always see the downside of life. Acutely sensitive to painful realities, the morbid minded must struggle with depression and despair. A third type, which is closer to the morbid-minded, suffer from a "discordant" personality. They struggle with two selves, ideal and actual. Like Saint Augustine and other religious figures, they search restlessly for "the truth" until through self-analysis and religious discipline, they are reborn with "a new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the form either of lyrical enchantment or of appeal to earnestness and heroism." The result of being reborn is similar to Fromm's ideal.

    Fromm had this type of discordant personality; he told me that he continually struggled with irrational impulses. Like Augustine's wrestling with his sins and temptations, Fromm used analysis of both himself and his disciples to increase awareness of the split between ideal and actual selves, to experience regressive drives and to frustrate rather than repress them, while at the same time strengthening productive needs.

  • Literary encyclopedia: Erich Fromm
    The inherent messianic component of the Judaism he assimilated in his youth remained a cornerstone of his thought throughout his life, both in a spiritual sense (“the perfection of humanity”) and in its political application (“actual change in the real world, a new constitution for society”). This messianic faith shines out from his later writings on religion, myth and the social character.

  • www. E R I C H - F R O M M .de

Hall, Calvin S. and Gardner Lindzey. Theories of Personality, 2nd ed. New York: Wiley, 1970.

Maddi, Salvatore R. Personality theories: a comparative analysis, 4th ed. Homewood IL: Dorsey, 1980.


Basic Trait

The basic trait of the Conscientious personality type is a preoccupation with mental and interpersonal control in order to avoid or overcome feelings of insecurity. Salzman (1968) found that the typical obsessive-compulsive has a need to "gain control over one's self and one's environment in order to avoid or overcome distressful feelings of helplessness. The concern about the possibility of losing control by being incompetent, insufficiently informed, or unable to reduce the risks of living produces the greatest amount of anxiety. The realization of one's humanness -- with its inherent limitations -- is often the basis for considerable anxiety and obsessive attempts of greater control over one's living (16)."

All of the traits of the Conscientious personality type are expressions of this need to control.


The "anal character"

Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder has been consistently and richly represented in the clinical literature for the past century. In the psychoanalytic literature it was termed "anal character" and was defined much like DSM-IV's obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 1908 Freud described obsessive-compulsive persons as having the three peculiarities of orderliness, parsimoniousness, and obstinacy: "'Orderly' comprises both bodily cleanliness and reliability and conscientiousness in the performance of petty duties; the opposite of it would be 'untidy' and 'negligent.' 'Parsimony' may be exaggerated up to the point of avarice; and 'obstinacy' may amount to defiance with which irascibility and vindictiveness may easily be associated." These three traits have since been repeatedly cited in the literature of both psychoanalytic and descriptive psychiatry (Kaplan, 1446).

In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker continued Norman O. Brown's work of illuminating the meaning of anality:

Let us just observe that the basic key to the problem of anality is that it reflects the dualism of man's condition -- his self and his body. Anality and its problems arise in childhood because it is then that the child already makes the alarming discovery that his body is strange and fallible and has a definite ascendancy over him by its demands and needs. Try as he may to take the greatest flights of fancy, he must always come back to it. Strangest and most degrading of all is the discovery that the body has, located in the lower rear and out of sight, a hole from which stinking smells emerge and even more a stinking substance -- most disagreeable to everyone else and eventually to the child himself (30-31).

With anal play the child is already becoming a philosopher of the human condition . But like all philosophers he is still bound by it, and his main task in life becomes the denial of what the anus represents: that in fact, he is nothing but body so far as nature is concerned. Nature's values are bodily values, human values are mental values, and though they take the loftiest flights they are built upon excrement, impossible without it, always brought back to it....The tragedy of man's dualism, his ludicrous situation becomes too real. The anus and its incomprehensible, repulsive product represents not only physical determinism and boundness but the fate as well of all that is physical: decay and death.

We now understand that what psychoanalysts called "anality" or anal character traits are really forms of the universal protest against accident and death. Seen in this way a large part of the most esoteric psychoanalytic corpus of insights achieves a new vitality and meaningfulness. To say that someone is "anal" means that someone is trying extra-hard to protect himself against the accidents of life and danger of death, trying to use the symbols of culture as a sure means of triumph over natural mysteries, trying to pass himself off as anything but an animal (31).

Ernest Becker centers his thesis on man's existential problem -- his dualism of spirit and body, his self-consciousness and awareness of his fate.This is the basis of man's insecurity. But the Obsessive-Compulsive personality type is the temperament which has the greatest problem with our mind-body split. It leaves him with a particularly acute sense of insecurity and self-doubt; and he is willing to renounce much to gain some measure of a feeling of security.

For most of us, the fact that certain areas of life are within our control and other areas aren't presents no special problem.You may not like the fact that some things that affect you deeply lie beyond your control, but that's how it is, so you deal with it, make the best of it and hope you're wise enough to discern what you can do and what you can't. In fact, it can be decidedly unpleasant to feel you have to be in control of everything: freedom from onerous responsibility is one of the things that define relaxation. Most of us actually cherish the opportunity to periodically unwind, decompress, be "ourselves." That's because a normally developed sense of autonomy and volition allows room in the personality structure for whim, playfulness, and spontaneity of expression. If your sense of self is secure, you can afford to abandon constant conscious direction of yourself; you can "let go."

This the obsessive-compulsive cannot do. The tight, rigid, consciously volitional control sought over all aspects of life belies an inner fragility of autonomy, a sense of self so shaky that any prospect of relaxation of control is inextricably fraught with the danger of ego dissolution. Letting go means to risk falling apart.

So there must be rules and rules and rules. The obsessive-compulsive must always remind himself of some objective necessity, some overarching imperative or higher authority that alone can supersede his personal choice or wish and provide some external guide for his actions. Nothing is done just because he feels like it; there has to be a well thought-out intellectual, philosophical, religious, or moral "reason" for every decision and act. These strictures and directives, though weighing down on him like a psychic stone, are nevertheless indispensable for the obsessive-compulsive's internal cohesion. They provide an external, authoritative framework of guidelines within which he can function comparatively comfortably and without which his fragile autonomy is threatened with disintegration (Miller, 109-110).

Ironically, despite all the hesitation and contortionistic juggling of pros and cons, the actual decision or action will often be made quite abruptly. It's as though embedded in the rigid structure of obsessive control is a mirror-function of impulsivity, a total abandonment of control. As a later chapter will show, the seemingly opposite traits of compulsivity and impulsivity are in fact tied together by their relationship to another quality of mental functioning, reflectivity, the capacity to take perspective, to see things in their larger context.


Becker, Ernest (1973). The Denial of Death. New York: Free Press.

Kaplan, Harold I. and Saddock, Benjamin J., eds. (1995). Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/VI, Vol. 2.. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.

Miller, Laurence (1990). "The Controlling Self" Inner Natures: brain, self, and personality. New York: St. Martin's.

Salzman, Leon (1968). The Obsessive Personality. New York: Science House, quoted in Kennedy, Eugene C. (1977). On Becoming a Counselor: a basic guide for non-professional counselors. New York: Seabury, pg. 188.

Contra Epictetus

  • Bozarth on Epictetus

    The discourses of Epictetus recorded and published by his student Flavius Arrian have a basic message that is insidiously true. That message is that our happiness and tranquility in life are based on our opinions about wealth, poverty, life, death, reputation, insult, freedom, enslavement, political office, exile, love, loneliness. All these things Epictetus called externals because they are beyond our independent power....

    What makes this truth insidious is that if a person really obeys such a program for living, she becomes no good....

    All the good done in the world is done by those who care about externals, who are not indifferent to injustice, poverty, slavery, murder, and all the other bad things Epictetus taught his students to cease to care about.


Thomas Jefferson

  • "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
    - The Quotations Page

  • American Sphinx : The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis.

    Ellis portrays Jefferson as being more of a visionary than a theoretician. So, for example, his contribution to the founding of America lay with the Declaration rather than the Constitution. Jefferson preferred to deal with lofty ideals and to avoid the specifics of what they actually meant in practice. Jefferson was very much an idealist, and as portrayed by Ellis, had only a vague grasp of practical reality. --Frank Merriman.
  • Thomas Jefferson : An Intimate History by Fawn McKay Brodie.

    The book portrays Jefferson as a romantic, as not only an idealist but also a person of great passion. He of course thought of himself as a supremely rational person and kept his emotions under tight control. But it was a constant struggle for him, as evidenced in his migraines, his head and heart letter to Maria Cosway, his extreme depression after the death of his wife, etc. --Frank Merriman.

Jefferson and Stoicism

Through Jefferson the stoic bequest to the American experience was fully realized. Had stoicism provided only the concept of natural law that permeates Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, it would have left an indelible mark on American history. But Seneca, Aurelius, and Epictetus are credited with an even greater effect on Jefferson and the other founders: 'From them came some thoughts and ideals that became part of the higher thought of Western civilization: nobility of character, high ethical purpose, the ideal of self-sacrifice, belief in God and His divine providence, emphasis on virtue as the highest good and on action to make it effective, the need of bringing conduct into conformity with the law of Nature, and the realization of a high and stern sense of duty in public and private life.'

It should be understood, though, that the claim is not being advanced that Jefferson was entirely and only a stoic, On the contrary, in the same letter to William Short he acknowledged: 'As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.'Then he appended his appreciation of Epictetus. But even then he had not sketched in the fullness of his conception of the moral faculty and role. For he continued: 'the greatest of all the reformers of the depraved religion of His own country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really His from the rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from the dross of His biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man; outlines which it is lamentable He did not live to fill up. Epictetus and Epicurus give laws for governing ourselves, Jesus a supplement of the duties and charities we owe to others' (Lawson, 181).

Lawson, Lewis A. (1979). 'The Moviegoer' and the Stoic Heritage. The Stoic Strain in American Literature: Essays in Honour of Marston LaFrance. Ed., Duane J. MacMillan. Toronto: University of Toronto.


Martha Nussbaum

  • What Makes Martha Nussbaum Run?

    "The Stoics," Ms. Nussbaum says, "were the first to give systematic attention to emotion, and they get a lot of things right. If we want to understand why a society is riven, they say, look at inappropriate emotions, at the overvaluation of certain goods, such as money, honor, status. But I would want to distinguish their theory of emotion from their normative thesis, which goes overboard." She refers to the goal of ataraxia, "freedom from disturbance": a state of calm detachment resulting from the careful shedding of attachments to external goods over which one has no control. (That yields Stoicism in the common sense: the art of maintaining a stiff upper lip.)
  • Nussbaum recognized for her book Cultivating Humanity

    Nussbaum draws on the view of the Stoics that emotions are appraisal or value judgments, which ascribe to things and people outside a person's own control great importance for that person's own flourishing.


Vice-President Al Gore

In James David Barber's, The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House, there are four presidential character types: Active-Positive, Active-Negative, Passive-Positive, and Passive-Negative. Here, I think, is how Al Gore (Cf. Bush) shapes up, using Barber's definition:


The contradiction here is between relatively intense effort and relatively low emotional reward for that effort. The activity has a compulsive quality, as if the man were trying to make up for something or to escape from anxiety into hard work. He seems ambitious, striving upward and seeking power. His stance toward the environment is aggressive and he has a persistent problem in managing his aggressive feelings. His self-image is vague and discontinuous. Life is a hard struggle to achieve and hold power hampered by the condemnations of a perfectionist conscience. Active-negative types pour energy into the political system, but it is an energy distorted from within (pg. 9).

For the active-negative Presidents, the central hypothesis is this: having experienced severe deprivations of self-esteem in childhood, the person develops a deep attachment to achievement as a way to wring from his environment a sense that he is worthy; progressively, this driving force is translated into a search for independent power over others, pursued with intense dedication and justified idealistically. Whatever style brings success in domination is adopted and rigorously adhered to; but success does not produce joy--the person is frequently depressed--and therefore ever more striving is required. The shape of this character-based pattern is clear by the completion of the man's first independent political success (pg. 85).

  • Yahoo! Search Result: News articles for Al Gore - Current.
  • Al Gore Frontpage - Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.
  • Why Gore Can't Win - Aubrey Immelman/ St. Cloud Times Online.

    Who is Al Gore? A study of his political personality reveals a dutiful, conscientiousness character infused with the distinctly aloof demeanor of an introvert. In "Gore: A Political Life," biographer Bob Zelnick has this to say of young Al's personal attributes as a high school senior: "If you sidled up to him you would be left with the sense he's aloof and his mind is someplace else," a friend recalls. Another member of his class says that "Al, then as now, was very self-controlled."

    These deep-seated character traits have important implications for Al Gore's political personality and his presidential prospects. They are evidence that his major strengths in office will be dependability, prudence and restraint, diligence about duty and responsibility, dedication to moral principle, and low susceptibility to ethical misconduct.

    But they also indicate a deficit in the vital political skills of warmth and charisma, and a self-defeating propensity for dogmatically pursuing personal policy preferences despite legislative or public disapproval.

  • Weird Al [Free Republic]

    Gore has identified the episode of his son's accident as the turning point of his life. Though he exploited it in 1992, it moved him powerfully (whether that makes his exploitation better or worse is another question). The accident, he wrote in Earth in the Balance, made him "impatient with the status quo, with conventional wisdom, with the lazy assumption that we can always muddle through." It caused him to rethink not just environmental policy, but the spiritual and intellectual foundations of the modern world. (Gore blames Descartes and Francis Bacon for a mind-body split in Western man that leads to alienation from both emotion and nature ( see Adam Wolfson's "Apocalypse Gore" in the March 8 issue of this magazine.)

    To read Earth in the Balance with a view to what it tells us about its author [ see also the "anal character"], apart from whatever it may tell us about the earth or Western culture, is to confirm the impression. In the key philosophical chapter, "Dysfunctional Civilization," Gore writes that "[f]eelings represent the essential link between mind and body or . . . between our intellect and the physical world. . . . Modern civilization assumes a profound separation between the two." But Al Gore, speaker and campaigner, has been enacting just such a separation for years. "The unnatural task of a disembodied mind is to somehow ignore the intense psychic pain that comes from the constant nagging awareness of what is missing: the experience of living in one's body as a fully integrated physical and mental being." But who in modern politics is less integrated, physically and mentally, than Gore? Whose powerful mind is more disembodied? "But the cleavage between mind and body, intellect and nature, has created a kind of psychic pain at the very root of the modern mind . . ."

  • You? A Terrorist? Yes! - Wired News.
  • Al Gore 2000 - campaign buttons.
  • Welcome to the Gore 2000 web site
  • No Gore 2000
  • Not Gore 2000
  • Al Gore - The Dark Side
  • Gore Watch


Reel People: Cinema's Psychological Personalities


C. S. Lewis


  • Katherine Lippard's File - The Company Therapist.

    Ms. Katherine Lippard might be a control freak. She's a top ranking executive at SII who needs her highly ordered life to be just so. But she is also a woman who wants to learn how to assign self worth other than by the amount of money she can make in a year or by how far she can ascend the corporate ladder. Although very business oriented, Katherine is inexperienced when it comes to social and sexual relationships. I've been working with Katherine to help her to expand her horizons and to come to grips with a personal loss that has been haunting her since she was just a little girl. Total number of sessions: 48.

Basil for President

  • Faulty Towers - Jan's Forum on Enneatypes in Movies, Literature, and Public Life.

Presidential candidate

Career advice

Lifestyle entrepreneur: Martha Stewart

Personal Organization

President Thomas Jefferson

Corresponding Enneagram type (see Correspondence)

  • Type One: The Reformer: "The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Orderly, Perfectionistic, and Self-Righteous" - The Enneagram Institute.

Political commentator

TV talk show host



More Conscientious personality type

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