What Type is David Sedaris, Irreverent Comedian, Humorist?

David Sedaris

David Sedaris

David Sedaris, born in 1956, was brought up in North Carolina and lives with his partner in England. He was first brought to my attention in 1992 on National Public Radio with his SantaLand Diaries, describing the time he worked as Santa’s elf during Christmas at Macy’s in New York. I thought I’d never stop laughing.

Sedaris has been publishing essays and short stories since 1994. He’s sold millions and millions of copies of his books. He’s funny and familiar, outrageous, imaginative, and irreverent. So what Enneagram type is he? His type seems to jumps around the way a monkey jumps around… from the witty Questioner, for sure, to the quick Adventurer, for sure, to the comfortable Peace Seeker, who grew up in a family of six children and has a natural feeling for chattiness and a kind of homeyness. With an overlay of the Asserter for shock and surprise.

5-6-7-8 all in a row make up the anti-authoritarian right side of the Enneagram. He could be a 7 with 6 and 8 wings or an 8 with 7 and 9 wings. But he’s more likely to be a 6 with a 7 wing who goes to his 9 arrow (with the 7 and 9 leaking over into the 8). He’s prolific too, so perhaps he gets his ability to work hard from 6 going to his 3 arrow.

Enneagram figure

Enneagram figure

Sedaris was a contributor to Ira Glass’ This American Life and wrote several plays with his sister, Amy Sedaris.

Some quotes:

“It’s astonishing the amount of time that certain straight people devote to gay sex – trying to determine what goes where and how often. They can’t imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it. Who calls whom a bitch? Who cries harder when the cat dies? Which one spends the most time in the bathroom? I guess they think that it’s that cut-and-dried, though of course it’s not. Hugh might do the cooking, and actually wear an apron while he’s at it, but he also chops the firewood, repairs the hot-water heater, and could tear off my arm with no more effort than it takes to uproot a dandelion.”
― David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames

At the morgue, people were so desensitized that they would eat lunch in the glass walled room adjacent to the autopsy room. A viewing room. Because it had the best air conditioning in the building. So they would eat in there and maybe somebody would come in who had been found after being dead for three days and they would say: That is the exact purple I want for those drapes in the study. They didn’t miss a beat. They could eat through anything. DAVID SEDARIS, January Magazine, June 2000
In books and movies infidelity always looks so compelling, so right. Here are people who defy petty convention and are rewarded with only the tastiest bits of human experience. DAVID SEDARIS, When You Are Engulfed in Flames
I am a person who feels guilty for crimes I have not committed, or have not committed in years. The police search the train station for a serial rapist and I cover my face with a newspaper, wondering if maybe I did it in my sleep. The last thing I stole was an eight-track tape, but to this day I’m unable to enter a store without feeling like a shoplifter. It’s all the anxiety with none of the free stuff.
DAVID SEDARIS, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

For more Famous Types, see my list on my web site.

Carne Ross, from UK Diplomat to OWS Proponent

Carne Ross

Carne Ross

I don’t know his Enneagram type, but I like his story.

I think of him in a similar category to Richard Alan Clarke, former counter-terrorism czar, who tried to warn Bush before 9/11 and was ignored. Then he insisted Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 so we should not go to war against Iraq and was ignored again. He left the Bush administration in 2003.

Carne Ross (born in 1966) was one of only two British diplomats who resigned over the 2003 Iraq War. He left the civil service in Britain in 2004.

Naturally competitive, Ross dreamed of becoming an international diplomat. When he took the British foreign service exam he was one of 20 out of 5,000 who were accepted.  He joined the Foreign Office and worked at the UK embassy in Bonn, Germany, then as the expert on the Middle East for the UK in the United Nations.

Ross worked on the Security Council resolution rewriting the Iraq policy and establishing the weapons inspection body. He negotiated the resolution for the UK that established the security force in Afghanistan.

Now Carne Ross runs the first non-profit diplomatic advisory group, Independent Diplomat, from New York City. It advises governments and political groups.

As a member of the elite of the Foreign Office, Ross had been on his way toward his goal, ambassadorship, before he resigned. Once Ross had been a strong force for British policy. Then, he said, “I found myself seriously doubting the rightness of what we were doing—… above all the pretenses and disconnection from the reality of what we were trying to arbitrate. Because the one major absentee in all of our discussions was the Iraqi people themselves. I was the British lead on Iraq negotiating international law on hard-core issues of national security like how to deal with weapons of mass destruction or how to respond to Al-Qaeda after 9/11. I was catapulted to a position with real power, influence and status.”

Excerpt of Ross’ article Occupy Wall Street and a New Politics for a Disorderly World in The Nation on February 7, 2012:

“…This [OWS] is a politics of the many for the many, rather than that of a small clique of elected representatives, co-opted by the powerful few. It requires patience and work, as the Occupiers of Zuccotti Park have learned. The consensus principle is vital, and prevents the “tyranny of the majority,” but it must (and can) be engineered to allow fast decisions and discussions of complex issues. In Porto Alegre, Brazil, mass participation in decision-making has succeeded in deliberating the affairs of a city, and the results clearly indicate more equal provision of services, better environmental protection and an improved political culture, one that is open, nonpartisan and uncorrupted.

…Participatory democracy should be promoted for every public setting, from our neighborhoods to our cities and counties. As turkeys will not vote for Thanksgiving, politicians are unlikely to institute such systems. Instead, we will have to set them up ourselves, starting local—our street, our building, our school—and in doing so establish legitimacy from the ground up, a legitimacy that today’s politicians evidently do not enjoy.

The second element is equally critical: this is the politics of the personal. Our political goals must be embodied in everything we do, for this is the most direct way to produce necessary and urgent change. Despite its perpetual encouragement by over-promising politicians, the habit of asking government to produce the ends we seek is out-of-date. Given the way that Washington (and indeed London or Paris) works, there is zero chance that any politician, even one with the best intentions, will deliver a just society, where the weakest are properly cared for and where the earth that sustains us is itself sustained…

Self-organized, nonviolent action by the many, consulting all those affected: …you cannot have a fair, cohesive or happy society when a tiny few hold the vast bulk of the wealth and where companies are legally bound to maximize profits over all else, ignoring any un-costed effects to the environment or society.

… As Britain’s massive retail giant John Lewis has shown, cooperative companies can be just as successful, and can endure much longer, than the merely profit-driven. “Triple bottom line” companies give equal weight to their social and environmental impacts alongside the profit line… And we can support them by choosing them over more negligent businesses. In the OWS Alternative Banking working group, for example, we are building the elements of a new Occupy Bank, which would be democratic, transparent and egalitarian, and would offer better services than for-profit banks.

I would like to know Ross’ Enneagram type. Principled Perfectionist or Questioner? Maybe, but not enough to go on.

See my blog on Obama cartoons as the nine Enneagram types 5/8 and on my Psychology Today blog 6/19.

“Questioners” (Type 6) as Children

From "The Enneagram of Parenting" by E. Wagele

Now read about all the nine Enneagram types as children on this WordPress blog under the category “Enneagram Books and Children.”   

Personality typology explains why we frustrate each other. It’s not always because we don’t think straight or don’t have common sense, it’s often because we’re born with different ways of looking at the world. This produces different values. When we try to walk in others’ shoes (when we learn the Enneagram), our frustration eases and dealing with our family members, students, teachers, or fellow students becomes easier.

The Enneagram personality system had been around for about twenty years. At first it was kept a secret. Its leaders thought the world couldn’t handle it. Then the positive ones among them exerted more influence. They wanted to share their newfound prize and tell the world about it. Classes and books about the Enneagram sprang up starting mainly in 1987.

In 1997, I wrote the first book for using the Enneagram with children in families and schools, The Enneagram of Parenting. Each type has a different learning style, for example, and different paces, outlooks on life, and needs to nurture and be nurtured. In 2007, I wrote the first book for young children to learn the Enneagram by reading it themselves or having it read to them, Finding the Birthday Cake. Both books are full of cartoons and are easily accessible.

Questioner children have busy, alert minds, are suspicious of flattery, and are always on the lookout for danger. They can be quick-tempered, brave, and anti-authoritarian. Some are assertive, others are timid. Stevie Six is a character from Finding the Birthday Cake:

Here is a test from Finding the Birthday Cake:

See my list of Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types.

More Famous People are on my Psychology Today blog and my WordPress blog.

See my Happy Introvert and Creative Enneagram on You Tube.

Buy The Enneagram of Parenting

Kindle edition

Buy Finding the Birthday Cake

How Young Were You When You Chose Your Career?

Jack London, Adventure Enneagram type

Were you forced to take over the family business? Did you know you wanted to do anything but what your parents did? Did you want to join a circus when you grew up? What did you learn by good or reverse example from your family career-wise?

This may sound strange to some of you and logical to others: my psyche picked out my passion in life, which turned into my first career, by the time I was four years old. It informed me, without my knowing it, by means of a dream. I tell the dream in my upcoming book on death and dying so I won’t tell it here. Suffice it to say that the dream drove me into my inner world in waking life and to actively pursue my love for music. My second career of writing came much later. I’m an Observer in the Enneagram.

My Helper type mother was interested in art but didn’t have a career other than homemaker. One of her brothers, possibly a Perfectionist, worked for Lockheed Airplane Company. He knew he wanted to be an electrical engineer from the age of six. The other brother, a Peace Seeker, sold iron or steel. Their father started out as a clerk in a bank in Cripple Creek, CO. He was most enthusiastic about selling real estate, but wasn’t very successful.

My father, an Observer with a Questioner wing, was a metallurgist, figuring out how to extract minerals from ores by means of chemistry and physics. He worked for the Bureau of Mines. Then the University of California hired him as a professor and he consulted on the side for the Union Pacific Railroad. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a scientist.

His brother-in-law, an Asserter, ran a successful business that manufactured flowerpots. He was protective of and kind to his employees. His wife, my father’s sister, was an Adventurer. She didn’t have a job. She did something naughty. She told us she played bridge a lot, but she was really going to casinos to gamble. My father’s other sister, a Questioner, was one of the first women to be an executive in a large clothing company, Lerner’s. This was in the 1930’s and 40’s and later. In fact, she’s my only aunt or grandmother who had a career. My father’s brother, a Peace Seeker, was an attorney for the Pentagon. He negotiated contracts with outside companies.

My father’s father, an immigrant from Odessa, Russia, started out selling junk in Omaha Nebraska. He moved his family to Salt Lake City around 1909, opened a bar with gambling in the back, and invested in mines. He made a lot of money and lost most of it in the crash of 1930.

When he was a little boy, my husband, Gus, didn’t want to work when he grew up as a reaction to his parents’ pressuring him to be successful. He ended up working hard, however. An Observer, he majored in art at Cal and loved to paint. He became a high school teacher of Educationally Handicapped students, preferring that to history, which he had started out teaching.

His father, a Perfectionist, started out as a teller during the Depression. Someone advised him to go to college, which he did, and he eventually rose to bank vice president. One of Gus’ grandfathers sold pianos. The other, a German immigrant, was a self-taught baker. When he had a bakery in Oakland, young Jack London delivered bread for him.

For more famous types, see my list on wagele.com, my Psychology Today blog, and my WordPress blog.

Also, check out my videos on You Tube: The Happy Introvert and The Creative Enneagram

Guest Blog on Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg's friend, 1953.

Cara Cerino is a sophomore student at the University of California. She is my extern for two weeks and has her own blog on banned-book authors: http://examiner.com/banned-books-in-oakland/cara-cerino. When she found out I had a series on famous Enneagram types, she wrote the following piece about Kerouac as a Romantic. See my web site for a list of famous types. – Elizabeth.

Kerouac’s Romantic Ride

Jack Kerouac, the face of the Beat Generation, was no stranger to controversy. The backlash for his iconoclastic novel, On the Road, is unsurprising given the cloistered era of the 1950s. The coarse language, the misogynistic attitudes of the male characters and the immoral actions of the women all lead to this book’s banning. His novel’s frenetic style and breakneck pace, which wouldn’t suit everybody, has a lot to do with his personality. In the Enneagram personality system, where the digits one through nine each correspond with a personality type, I see Kerouac as a four, the Romantic.

As told by the Enneagram system, the four-Romantic is a dynamic type. At once, the Romantic is in love with life and embittered with others. They are usually introverted, but if they are under the influence of the three wing, the Achiever, they can be extroverted. Each number has two wings, the numbers directly in front of and behind the main personality type. For example, a Romantic has a three, the Achiever, and five, the Observer, wing; with one wing usually dominant over the other. I believe that Kerouac had a strong five wing, meaning that he was more introverted and cerebral than outgoing and goal-oriented. However, Kerouac’s gregarious nature in his younger years, seven years before On the Road  was published, emanated from his exuberance for the world’s offerings.

A four-Romantic’s lust for life can be contagious. An example in On the Road, is his experience in the jazz club where he becomes enthralled with the music and he, along with his friends, arrive at an almost transcendent state. The intricate, beautiful melodies of the jazz improvisations could catch a four like Kerouac’s sense of wonder and imagination. Another characteristic of the Romantic is a sense of longing for things lost or things they never had in the first place. There is always something better just beyond their reach. This is delineated excellently in part one of the novel when Kerouac’s protagonist, Sal, says, “Somewhere along the line I knew there would be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.” His Romantic characteristics are the driving force that keeps him on the road.

The unfortunate side of the four’s personality is the predilection to become melancholic and depressed. This is shown in On the Road, but more tragically in Kerouac’s life. In the beginning of part three in On the Road, Sal is feeling despondent and lonesome because none of his friends are around. Without that outside stimulation, Kerouac’s main character cannot find it within himself to be cheerful about existence. In Kerouac’s real life, although the book is very closely tied to it, one of his biographer’s called him, “truly (instead of fashionably) miserable[.] Kerouac expressed his unhappiness nakedly in his art and was not taken seriously.” His critics had trouble reconciling the role he played in his younger years, when he wrote many of his books, and the dejected personality that came later from fame and maturity. Wallowing in woe is a Romantic characteristic.

The book’s creation was a four-like process. The free-flowing style with which the original scroll was written, an attempt at conveying the improvisation of Kerouac’s contemporary jazz musicians, could only have come from a Romantic. They have a creative disposition and an emotional depth that one doesn’t find as readily in the other types. Stream of consciousness writing is probably mastered most adeptly by fours. Because of the content and style of this book, many more conservative critics didn’t react to On the Road favorably. Only someone with a deep longing for life and excitement as well as the creativity to display his thoughts in an innovative way could have come up with such a masterpiece. His authentic experiences needed to be recorded faithfully whether society approved or not, as was displayed by its ban.


Thomas Jefferson, Famous Pursuiter of Happiness

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Thomas Jefferson was the imaginative and productive founding father responsible for the phrase “pursuit of happiness” in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. He was an Epicurian (“I consider the genuine doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy of which Greece and Rome have left us.” – Letter to William Short, October 31, 1819.) I believe he was an Adventurer in the Enneagram system of personalities. Adventurers typically engage in many interests and activities:

According to Wikipedia, “Jefferson had a love for reading. By 1815, his library included 6,487 books, which he sold to the Library of Congress to replace the smaller collection destroyed in the War of 1812. He was an accomplished architect who helped popularize the Neo-Palladian style in the United States. He was interested in birds and wine, and was a noted gourmet. Jefferson was a prolific writer. He learned Gaelic to translate Ossian, and sent to James Macpherson for the originals. Jefferson invented many small practical devices and improved contemporary inventions. These include the design for a revolving book-stand to hold five volumes at once… Another was the “Great Clock,” powered by the Earth’s gravitational pull on Revolutionary War cannonballs. Jefferson invented a 15 cm long coded wooden cypher wheel, mounted on a metal spindle, to keep secure State Department messages while he was Secretary of State. The messages were scrambled and unscrambled by 26 alphabet letters on each circular segment of the wheel. He improved the moldboard plow and the polygraph, in collaboration with Charles Willson Peale. As Minister to France, Jefferson was impressed by France’s military standardization program known as the Système Gribeauval and later as President initiated a program at the Federal Armories to develop interchangeable parts for firearms.”

Stephen Greenblatt wrote The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, on how Lucretius’ epic poem, “On the Nature of Things” (first century BC), shaped the thought of Galileo, Freud, Darwin, and Einstein and influenced writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare. He says Jefferson owned five copies of the poem. Lucretius believed the Universe was made of units or atoms and was not created by a miracle. He believed in avoiding pain and tried to convince people not to have a fear of death. Presumably Jefferson agreed with him that neither the mind nor spirit can survive independent of the body. So fear of death is a projection of terrors experienced in life, a fear of pain that only a living mind can feel.

Lucretius also says  people who fear the prospect of eternal non-existence after death should think back to the eternity of non-existence before their birth, which they probably do not fear.  Adventurers should find this idea appealing because they look for ways to not be afraid. Certain other types would not be as attracted to such a carefree thought (leaving views handed down by their religion aside, that is).

Adventurers, including Thomas Jefferson, try to fill their lives with positive activities, thoughts, attitudes, and options. When something doesn’t go well for them, they usually get over it rather quickly.

For more Famous People, see my website: http://www.wagele.com/Famous.html

and my Psychology Today blog: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-career-within-you

An Otherworldly “Observer” Named Einstein

Albert Einstein

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Albert Einstein was an Observer in the Enneagram system. “My passionate interest in social justice and social responsibility,” he wrote, “has always stood in curious contrast to a marked lack of desire for direct association with men and women. I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork. I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my own family. These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness, and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years.

Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it, to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shiftless foundations.”

Born at Ulm, Wuerttemberg, Germany, in 1879 he died in 1955. His boyhood was spent in Munich and away at a school in Switzerland. He attended lectures while supporting himself by teaching mathematics and physics at the Polytechnic School at Zurich until 1900. After a year as tutor, he was appointed examiner at the Patent Office at Bern where he became a Swiss citizen and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich.

 In 1909 he was appointed Extraordinary Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Zurich. In 1911 he accepted the Chair of Physics at Prague and returned to his own Polytechnic School at Zurich as full professor the next year. In 1913 he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in Berlin. He was elected a member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences, which enabled him to devote all his time to research.

 In the 1920s he was elected to the Royal Society, made a member of the Amsterdam and Copenhagen Academies, and received honorary degrees from the Universities of Geneva, Manchester, Rostock and Princeton. He received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in recognition of his theory of relativity, and a Nobel Price in 1921.

He became a member of the Institute de France and received honorary degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Zurich, Yeshiva, Harvard, London and Brussels. In 1935 he was awarded the American Franklin Institute Medal.

In 1932 Dr. Einstein became Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and served as the Head of the Mathematics Department at the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, N.J. In 1940 he became a U.S. citizen.

In 1905 he published four important papers: one explained a method for determining molecular dimensions; one explained the photo-electric effect, the basis of electronics, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1921; one presented a molecular kinetic theory of heat; and one was the first of his Special Relativity Theory, “Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.”

Dr. Phillipp Frank, Dr. Einstein’s biographer, in 1947 wrote that Einstein was saintly, noble, lovable and radiated humor, warmth and kindliness. He loved jokes and laughed easily.

Outward appearance meant nothing to him. He was described as a stranger, a close neighbor, yet at the same time a visitor from another world. As he grew older his otherworldiness became more pronounced, yet he was still warm. Princetonians got used to the long-haired figure in pullover sweater and unpressed slacks wandering in their midst, a knitted stocking cap covering his head in winter.

Ingrid Stabb and I  feature Einstein as one of our Famous People Observer examples in The Career Within You on page 132.

This blog is largely based on his NY Times obituary.

For more Famous People see my Psychology Today blogs and my web site.

Steve Jobs and My New FAMOUS PEOPLE Series

Steve Jobs

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Sometimes people ask us Enneagram authors about the types of famous people. We have to guess and we sometimes disagree with each other. I think of this as a good-natured game. Famous People often only tell us what they want us to know. Their whole personalities may not be communicated to us. Still, their possible types can be fun to discuss and it is a way to learn about differences.

This marks the beginning of a series of FAMOUS PEOPLE and their Enneagram types. See a list of famous people and Enneagram types and MBTIR types on my web site, too. Some characters in movies are included. This series will be published every Tuesday either in WordPress or Psychology Today.

In The Career Within You, Ingrid Stabb and I listed Steve Jobs as an Adventurer type. Since then, we met someone who knew him and is familiar enough with his personality and the Enneagram to believe he is a Perfectionist. She saw him micromanage and saw him insist that his employees persevere almost to a punishing degree. And she saw his angry outbursts when they made mistakes.

The Perfectionist’s arrows (the two types connected to the Perfectionist by lines in the Enneagram figure) support this classification: Jobs has been a visionary in his field, always looking for something new and better, supporting his Adventurer arrow. His insistence on elegant aesthetics in his products supports his Romantic arrow. The aesthetics are from the inside out, including the engineering designs of the products.


The Enneagram Figure

This is based on the brief description in The Career Within You, page 191: “Steve Job’s’ (born 1954) innovations range from the first type fonts used on Macintosh computers, to the award-winning interface of music iPods, to iPads. With Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, Jobs created one of the first commercially successful personal computers. Among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse–driven graphical user interface, Jobs also later served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios. He also essentially got rid of the mouse! And he did away with the floppy disk. He is one of the individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who understood the importance of design and the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His products are both functional and elegant.”

David Carr of the NY Times thinks the iTunes and App stores are his most remarkable creations. I was impressed to learn that he bought Pixar from George Lucas for $5 million, invested $5 million more, and sold it to Disney in a deal valued at $7.4 billion. I’m one of those happy non-technical people who have never had a computer that wasn’t an Apple.

Jobs quotes that reflect his personality type:

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” Perfectionists often strive to be honest and efficient.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” Perfectionists often live by the principle that there are more important things than money.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.” Again, Jobs feels it’s important to let people know that money doesn’t drive him.

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”  Jobs seems to think creating the best possible world is helped, not hurt, by a competitive attitude.

Career Within You

The Career Within You