Who is the Real Me?


My sister, mother, me, my father, c. 1952.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between who you are and who you’re pretending to be? I’m searching my earliest memories, when my environment had the least impact on me, to help me find out.


• My love of music goes back forever. I had to have been born with it. This points to preferring the feeling side of life—the arts, beauty, people, psychology, etc. There’s not much argument against the MBTITM preferences (introversion and extraversion, feeling and thinking, for example) being inborn; I believe I’ve also been individualistic, focused on possibilities, and empathic from the beginning.


• When my older sister and my mother screamed at each other, did I freak out and cringe behind the closed door because I naturally disliked conflict? Or did I dislike conflict because their screaming traumatized me? I think I have the anti-conflict gene, if there is such a thing, which Enneagram 9-Peace Seekers and 5-Observers (my type) share. I thrive on peace and dislike drama in my life.


• Football players and wrestlers like rough contact, even getting hurt, and don’t usually mind trading insults. This is not the real me for sure! I’m as far as one can get from typical players of contact sports, often 8-Asserters in the Enneagram.


• Are you too lazy to spend 55 minutes beautifying yourself every day, as the average woman does? My mother, a 2-Helper, wasn’t. She put on lipstick, powder, rouge, and eye makeup every day, finishing by brushing mascara on her two or three white hairs as a quick cover up. She never allowed me to touch her shiny auburn hair. When I see apes bond by running their fingers through each other’s hair, looking for dirt and parasites, the feeling of disappointment comes back. My mother’s interest in her appearance influenced my attitude. I’m not totally lacking in vanity, but I don’t spend much time on it.


• Whenever my mother and I passed through the huge main doors of ZCMI, the big department store in Salt Lake City, she would beeline it to the nearest set of mirrors. We could not talk until she was satisfied with her lipstick, powder, and the angle of her hat. Every so often she’d spot another mirror and recheck herself. Would my mother be as interested in mirrors if she happened to be ugly instead of pretty? Wondering this led me to thinking it would be fairer if humans didn’t have bodies. I wished we could be spirits and relate to one another purely from our inner selves, a wish I almost forgot about when puberty set in.


• My father, a 5-Observer and a scientist, was a role model to me for thinking logically—and he did not suffer fools gladly. I’m thankful I picked up his respect for the intellect, but maybe I tricked myself into thinking I could also be strong and smart like him if I were more critical of others. Being like him would compensate for feeling weak. Now, however, I am more interested in being kind than in one-upping anyone. Being true to my real self by being empathic beats having a false sense of strength.


Visit http://wagele.com to check out my books, CD, cartoons, essays, music, and Famous Enneagram Types.



See Are You My Type, Am I Yours? on Amazon.com


Visit The Happy Introvert – a Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self on Facebook. 



Religion an Issue Between Dogmatic Dad and Searching Son


This is a story from my book, The Enneagram of Death. Tom’s father is a skeptical and mistrustful 6-Questioner personality type and is motivated to protect himself. He trusts his church and the afterlife but he’s pretty grumpy about life on earth. He’s Tom, however, is a 9-Peace Seeker who looks for commonality among people and is seeking the truth.


Death Will Be Graduation Day




By Tom Purcell.




             My father died a month before his 94th birthday. He was a social subtype Questioner through and through. He often complained about “the powers that be,” yet enjoyed socializing with them; he was instrumental in the campaigns to re-elect our local Member of Parliament, yet refused to run for office himself; he was friendly with everyone he met, especially the underdogs of society. Yet he often said he was unable to trust anyone.


            My loving father maintained his intellectual faculties until the last few months. During his last ten years, following a few minor surgeries, he experienced brief periods of memory impairment, but bounced back quickly. The official cause of death was old age.


He was a devout Roman Catholic with an unshakeable belief that he was going to heaven. His concept of heaven wasn’t elaborate, but he did expect to see predeceased friends and family members there when he arrived. He never disclosed to me what they were, but in his later years he expressed regret about mistakes he had made in his life.


            Overall, he was accepting of his fate. He didn’t believe the world was such a great place with all the moral corruption, poverty, wars, and suffering. Life on earth was a test of faith, and death was graduation day.


In light of the current health consciousness and the focus on physical well-being, I found it interesting that my father ate red meat daily, drank alcohol, smoked, never exercised, carried at least 70 extra pounds, was always worried about something, had high blood pressure and cholesterol, and was never particularly happy or relaxed. However, he was proud of the fact that he never ever missed Sunday Mass. Perhaps he was onto something.


            A major theme of his stories was a mistrust of authority figures and an inability to express emotion. He felt powerless to change any aspect of the world. As a skeptic, he believed politicians were skillful liars and the news media were the mouthpieces of rich and powerful interests, but he was loyal to his wife, his family, his employers, his religious faith and his political views.


He was afraid of losing his job, although he held the same position for over 23 years, and he often expressed suspicion of other managers at his workplace. His co-workers wouldn’t listen to him when he said their employer was headed for bankruptcy, but his fear of being out of work inspired him to seek out another job. Three months later he found out his former employer had indeed gone out of business. My father had landed a much better position, even though he was already in his mid-fifties. He attributed his success to prayer and God’s work—never giving himself credit for his own virtues. I wished he’d take pride in his reputation for scrupulous honesty and loyalty to his employer.          



I questioned his blind faith in a belief system that had evolved through many centuries. In its highest expression, through the example of the loving kindness of Christ, it commands its followers to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” My father, however, divided the world into members of his club and nonmembers. It bothered me deeply as a young man when he spoke negatively about people who did not agree with his beliefs. I became even more frustrated when he refused to discuss religiously based beliefs at all. Now, however, I can understand my youthful desire to seek the essential truth in all religions as rather threatening to my dogmatic father.


            When I was a teenager, I would try to engage him in theological debates about other religious traditions, but he would dismiss anything that didn’t conform to his own narrow and rigid interpretation of official Catholic dogma. Later in his life, he softened somewhat and relaxed his rigid views when he acknowledged, “good people of all faiths go to heaven.”


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there ~ Rumi




Visit http://wagele.com to check out my books, CD, cartoons, essays, music, and Famous Enneagram Types.




Read reviews of The Enneagram of Death.




See The Enneagram of Death pages on Face Book.


People Who Smile Too Much

Smile, smile, smile

Smile, smile, smile by Elizabeth Wagele

I don’t smile constantly, but I have always been afraid to show it when I felt angry inside. Early on I began smiling automatically when someone upset me. The feeling was similar to if you’ve ever smiled when you saw an accident–from someone slipping on a banana peel in a cartoon to a real indignity that didn’t seem at all comical after you thought about it. Perhaps we’re relieved it didn’t happen to us. Perhaps the danger involved makes us anxious and our anxiety produces a smile response.

Smiling from anxiety is a natural defense. Years ago I was walking with my friend, Rebecca, when I smiled at an acquaintance and acted happy to see her. After we passed, I told Rebecca I didn’t like this person. Rebecca, a schoolteacher and a Buddhist priest, said, “Then why did you act just the opposite?” Since then I’ve tried to be more aware of what I’m doing. I try to show on the outside the way I feel on the inside. Sometimes I’m so uncomfortable I still smile from tension and I try to not let that bother me.

Please read my Psychology Today blog, “Why We Smile,” for more ideas on this subject. 

A blogger wrote, “I have a compulsive smiling problem. When someone gets on the elevator with me, I smile. When the bagger hands me my groceries, I smile. When someone opens the door for me, I smile. The only time I don’t smile is when someone at the grocery store says, ‘Hey, why don’t you smile for me?’ and I want to stuff arugula down their throat.


“I think this is a female thing. I also think it’s a desperate-need-to-please-others-and-be-liked thing, which I am working on getting over… We laugh as a social function to let people know, ‘Everything’s ok! We’re all friends here!’ I think smiling is the same way. I smile to let people know I am not a threat. Please don’t give me trouble. Smile, smile, smile.


“It is hard to stop smiling. I find the corners of my mouth being pulled up by invisible marionette strings. Don’t do that! I murmur in my mind… I will not Botox my smile muscles closed. I will still smile when someone has been nice or if I really do want to flirt. I just need to stop smiling for no reason or strictly out of fear or discomfort.”

Here is another take from an internet forum: “People who are always smiling and don’t seem to have one serious thought their lives irritate me… They try to please everyone, but in the end have no real friends. I abominate lies, even the ones hidden in a facial expression.” – Nawyrus from INTP Forum

On medhelp, Kirkgregor said: “I am in my mid forties. All my life people in a wide variety of settings have come to the same conclusion about me when I try to socialize: ‘What are you smiling ‘bout?’ They stare me down and don’t understand why I smile.

“… As a boy (ages 0-12), my mother was routinely beaten by my father. He still lives as a selfish hermit on a 120-acre former dairy farm. My mother vented some on me after her beatings, but she has the Smiling Too Much disorder too. I think she just does it with me though. I have studied her around others and she does not smile so much to them.

“I smile as I communicate with every human I associate with.”

This was answered by Roger Gould, M.D.: “…The kind of smile you describe is like a mask that covers up what you are really thinking, and probably has a defensive look to outsiders, …as if saying what you are thinking about people. The best thing you can do is to start sorting out what you are feeling, what… is real and what is memory/feeling. It would be best to do this with someone close to you that you trust, and if not, with a therapist.”

Read my WordPress blog of 9-26-13: “When Women Sound Like Little Girls.”

Read my Psychology Today blog, “How to Achieve Success at Work,” Part One.

“How to Achieve Success at Work, Part Two” will appear on 9-17-13.

Visit http://wagele.com to check out my books, CD, cartoons, and essays, and Famous Enneagram Types.


When Women Sound Like Little Girls

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele.

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele.

When I hear a grown woman use a child’s voice, I wonder what caused it and if the woman is aware of how she sounds. Does she think it’s sexy to sound like a baby or what? Okay, it’s possible some people have a voice they can’t help. Maybe they’d rather not have such a voice but they don’t know how to change it. There are at least two other possibilities: First, maybe sounding young feels safer so they adopt a meek, weak child’s voice. They might want to sound wimpy and unthreatening because they’re afraid of people, especially men. Second, maybe they think their peers will actually like them more if they have a babyish voice. They may be following trends in speaking, such as the valley girl accent and the vocal fry. Abby Normal describes The Vocal Fry Epidemic well on You Tube.


Lake Bell is a voice-over artist and star/director/writer of the new movie, “In a World.” She had been “personally ruptured and unsettled” by the vocal trend” she calls “sexy baby vocal virus… Not only is its pitch so high up, but it’s also a dialect, a speech pattern that includes uptalking and fry, so it’s this amalgamation of unsavory sounds that many young women have adopted. It’s a pandemic,” in Bell’s opinion. “I can’t have people around me that speak that way,” Bell says, “mainly because I… grew up thinking a female voice should sound sophisticated and sexy, a la Lauren Bacall or Anne Bancroft or Faye Dunaway. Not a 12-year-old little girl that is submissive to the male species.”




Slate Lexicon Valley podcaster and NPR On the Media host Bob Garfield talks about “creaky voice” or “vocal fry,” a gravelly lowering of the voice that conjures the sounds of “a door creaking or a hinge that needs oiling.” He describes the speech pattern as “vulgar,” “repulsive,” “mindless,” “annoying,” and “really annoying.” He wants someone to “wave a magic wand over women and have the frying come to an end.”



For years, women have been criticized for raising their voices at the end of sentences. This “Valley Girl lift,” as fine arts professor Laurie Fendrich puts it, “reveals an unexplainable lack of confidence in one’s opinions and a radical uncertainty about one’s place in the world.” It makes women sound empty-headed.




One study recorded a college-aged woman’s voice while speaking in an even tone, and then again when employing the creak. When both samples were played for students in Berkeley and Iowa, peers viewed the affectation as “a prestigious characteristic of contemporary female speech,” characterizing the creaky woman as “professional,” “urban,” “looking for her career,” and “not yet a professional, but on her way there.” So the young generation likes this. Eek.




Science cites a study conducted by speech scientist Nassima Abdelli-Beruh, who observed the creak in two-thirds of the college women. She found that “young students tend to use it when they get together,” with the speech pattern functioning as a “social link between members of a group.”




Linguist Mark Liberman has documented the rise of the Valley Girl lift, which he describes as American “uptalk,” among even the manliest of men. He found it in the speech of a python wrangler, a NASA official, and George W. Bush. “Final rises” have actually been used by men and women to “assert dominance and control” over the conversation “by holding the floor, by exerting pressure on the hearer to respond, or by reminding the hearers of common ground. Only when young women employ it is the speech pattern so vilified.”




More awareness of what we do with our voices should open some doors of understanding. We might find that baby voices and stupid-sounding accents indicate, for one thing, that Americans are putting more emphasis on speaking like their peers than the aesthetics or meaning of what we have to say.





Visit http://wagele.com to check out my books, CD, cartoons, and essays, and Famous Enneagram Types.


Read my Psychology Today blog of 8-20-13: “How to Achieve Social Know-how.”




The New DSM: Abnormal is the New Normal


Cartoon by E. Wagele from “The Happy Introvert”

Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM), which defines mental illness in the U.S., half of us have a diagnosable mental disorder.

 It should come as no surprise that many who profit financially from mental illnesses would encourage broadening the definitions in the DSM-5. This benefits therapists because insurance covers clients if their diagnosis is in the DSM.

According to Robin S. Rosenberg in his article in Slate,  “Abnormal is the New Normal,” our odds of having a mental disorder in our lifetime are greater than 50%, based on the new DSM-V. “For decades, mental health clinicians, physicians, the U.S. surgeon general’s office, and various state and local agencies have been advocating for better detection of mental illness. If we are better at spotting it, we can treat it. And if we detect it earlier, we can hopefully intervene to reduce the intensity and/or frequency of symptoms. For instance, people who decades ago may have had undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, or substance abuse are now more likely to have their problems recognized and diagnosed. But the increased awareness and detection translates into a higher rate of mental illness.”

Various tests show our population is getting more anxious, more neurotic, and more narcissistic.

We’re more willing to see mental illness in ourselves and others. Many normal problems that were once considered healthy are now classified as mental illness, partly because the DSM keeps increasing the number of disorders, from 106 in 1952 to 297 in DSM IV.

Some of the disorders added are medical, not psychological, such as “breathing-related sleep disorder,” caffeine intoxication, and caffeine withdrawal.

Even shyness, worrying, and grief are now considered pathological.

When insurance pays for treatment, a diagnosis is necessary. So you can see why therapists like it when more problems qualify. The more problems, the more the pharmaceutical companies profit, too. 70% of the DSM-5 task force members have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Also, people want quick fixes to their problems and mental diagnoses enable them to become more eligible for government services.

Rosenberg adds, “…Having a diagnosis gives a name to the suffering we feel and the hope that with a label can come relief… Hope is essential. But I’m not sure that ultimately labeling half of us with a mental disorder is the best way to give people realistic hope. Having a diagnosable mental illness has almost become the new ‘normal.’ As a society, we have an opportunity to think about how we define mental health and illness. It shouldn’t only be up to the authors of the DSM.”

In my blog last May in Psychology Today, “Criticism of the DSM-5 and a Suggestion, II,”  I suggested the DSM completely change the way it diagnoses problems by using the Enneagram as a model for not only mental illness, but also for a comparison with people who are healthy mentally. Each of the 9 Enneagram personality types can be described in stages from healthy to unhealthy. The DSM would be tied to a continuum of these 9 basic features. For example, the 6-Questioner when healthy is alert, often witty, and concerned about safety. This personality descends when unhealthy into paranoia. The healthy 1-Perfectionist wants to do what’s right and is well-organized. People of this type who are unhealthy may suffer from obsessive/compulsive disorder. While most pathologies could be compared to the normal personality, schizophrenia and some other illnesses may lie outside of this model.

Read my Psychology Today blog of 8-6-13, Pessimism and Enneagram Type 6-The Questioner.

Visit http://wagele.com to check out my CD, cartoons, essays, Famous Enneagram Types, and books:

“The Enneagram Made Easy,”

“Are You My Type, Am I Yours?”

“The Enneagram of Parenting,”

“The Happy Introvert,”

“Finding the Birthday Cake“ (for teaching the Enneagram to young children),

“The Career Within You,”

and “The Enneagram of Death.”

My CD, “The Beethoven Enneagram,” is available only through Amazon.com. My books can be ordered from independent book stores or Amazon.com.


“I Won’t Be Able to Tell My Neighbors” Part III

ImageLiving a Productive Life While Coping with AIDS

John had fierce itching nothing would stop. It would get so bad he tried to kill the bacteria on his skin by taking baths with large amounts of Clorox added to the water.


When he regained some strength, he set up his will and durable power of attorney, bought a new dishwasher though the old one still worked, and volunteered to visit men in his AIDS support group in the hospital or at home when they became ill. This gave him goals and the sense his life had hope. He found joy every day and lived by “Do not possess what you can never really own.”


John improvised on the piano to work out his complicated relationships. He photographed patterns in the sand and in eucalyptus bark. Once we took a walk deep in the woods near St. Mary’s College in Moraga, hopped on a lone picnic table, and shouted the lines of a play we made up to the attentive oak and bay trees. After John quit his job as an English teacher at Monte Vista High School in suburban Danville, he wrote me a note, “I know everyone around school is going to be talking about me in hushed tones. I’m irresistible gossip. Students too. God, what a choice bit of rare flesh to sizzle on the grill of public discussion.”


As a teacher, his goal was to instill a lifelong appreciation of literature in his students. He would occasionally show them movies, too. Hopelessly playful, John threw little pieces of liver at his students one day. They were watching “The African Queen” and he wanted them to know what leeches were like.


We formed a support group of about 12 friends, AIDS volunteers, and medical volunteers to fill John’s needs. He named us the Herlinettes. My main job was to take him on adventures, the scarier the better, to cheer him up. Sometimes he surprised me by wrapping my head in a large towel and driving me around in his car, it seemed in circles. After he took the towel off, the schoolteacher in him would charge me with telling him where we were. Once we were parked on a corner facing a house about three miles south into Oakland, and I was completely disoriented. Another time we were near a reservoir in the middle of a herd of goats. Sometimes we’d take the train to San Francisco and go where we weren’t allowed in the Transamerica Pyramid Building or wander about in Chinatown’s darkest alleys.


This is Part III of an expanded story from Chapter 4, The Enneagram of Death. Part IV will appear on April 30. Read reviews of The Enneagram of Death – Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear, and Dying and Elizabeth’s 6 other books and CD: http://www.wagele.com


Also, Elizabeth will give a talk on The Enneagram of Death May 25 at 7:30. East West Books, 324 Castro Street, Mountain View CA 650-988-9800 http://www.eastwest.com


A Valentine for You (plus Saturday’s workshop and more)

img011   I. This will help you find out what to give each special person for Valentine’s Day according to their Enneagram type.

And if you want to give them this Valentine itself, you can. Just go to my website and you can download two different size for your own website or e-mail or Facebook or wherever you want.

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!


II. For this coming Saturday, 2-9-13, I’ll be in Chicago celebrating the subject of Finding Our Way Home using my book, The Enneagram of Death, as a taking off place. Ruthie Landis is my partner for the day-long workshop and has worked hard to make it a successful day. We have actors, including Ruthie, and dancers signed up to read and perform one story from each chapter and I will play piano pieces to accompany them—Bach, Chopin, jazz, a little of everything. Some of the stories will be Facing the Fear of Death: The Gift of Dying by Jan Conlon (type 1, the Perfectionist), Helping Isn’t Always Easy by Darlene Yarnell (type 2, the Helper), The Death of Overdoing by Lee Estridge (type 3, the Achiever), Balancing Grief and Celebration by Suzanne Arcand-Gawreluk (type 4, the Romantic), and Thinking of Death by Marilyn Margulius (type 6, the Questioner). The 7 is by John Stabb, the 8, Two Guns, is by Mario Sikora and the 9 story, Belaram Bulai Was Dying, is by Tom Rosin.

Finding Our Way Home

Co-presented by Ruthie Landis and

guest author, artist, and musician Elizabeth Wagele

Saturday, February 9, 2013

9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Our tango with Loss, Grief, and Dying offers us a

poignant opportunity to know our True Self more fully,

explore how we Love, and how we engage with Others and with Life itself.

Come join us for a “happening”; a safe, playful, and provocative day of learning and connecting with others, while we find ways of looking at that which we fear and avoid, our own mortality.  As the centerpiece of the day, prolific author, artist, and pianist, Elizabeth Wagele will offer her latest book, The Enneagram of Death, as well as her live music and comic perspective to the facilitated workshop experience. Coming together, actors and dancers, people of all ages and backgrounds, with curiosity and open hearts, will share an unforgettable and truly enlivening day as we each continue to

Find Our Way Home.

at The Ethical Humanist Society, 7574 N. Lincoln Ave. Skokie, Illinois

Register – $85

(includes signed book and light lunch)

To register email ruthienergy@ruthlandis.com  or PayPal at ruthlandis.com

III. And one more thing – I’m looking for interviews about adolescence either from adults about when they were adolescents or adolescents from ten to 21 themselves. Please write to me at ewagele@aol.com with YOUR BOOK in the title bar if you’re interested in writing something yourself or having me interview you.