Subhuti continues his Enneagram series and takes a British Royal as an example of Number Seven’s ‘everything is fine’ attitude.
End of the ‘stiff upper lip’
Prince Harry is never absent from British news media for long. Whether it is gossip about his girlfriends, or comments about his charitable work, or formal occasions with his grandmother, the Queen, Harry features almost daily in the British press and television.
But recently, Prince Harry surprised everyone with a candid interview, published in The Daily Telegraph, in which he talked about his mental health, relating how he’d been bottling up his emotions ever since the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, when he was only 12 years old.
The prince told the Telegraph that, after nearly two decades of denying his feelings, he endured two years of ‘total chaos’ as his hidden anguish re-emerged to torment him. It was this inner turmoil that made him seek counselling and professional help.
Harry’s confession is being hailed as a breakthrough for the normalisation and public acceptance of mental health issues, as well as an end to the ‘stiff upper lip’ protocol required of British Royals.
From the perspective of Enneagram personality types, it’s also a good example of how the upbeat ‘everything’s fine’ attitude of a Number Seven can eventually give way to an understanding that avoiding pain isn’t the long-term answer it promises to be.
To say that Harry had an unusual upbringing is an understatement.
Inferior / superior
He was born as a Royal, which gave him instant social status, but also put him in a position of inferiority to his brother, William, who was destined to be King.
The humorous British saying that it is a monarch’s duty to produce “an heir and a spare,” one to succeed to the throne and one as a backup in case anything happened to the first, consigned Harry to the role of ‘spare’.
Harry’s self-confidence was further undermined by the fact that, while William clearly resembled his father, Prince Charles, and his grandfather, Prince Philip; Harry didn’t look like the other Windsor males.
His curly red hair made him look more like James Hewitt, with whom his mother, Princess Diana, had an affair. Hewitt denied he was the father, saying his relationship with Diana began in 1986, whereas Harry was born in 1984.
It was further pointed out that Diana’s sister, Lady Jane Spencer, had reddish hair, like Harry, and it was therefore part of his inherited Spencer genes. But once the rumour about Hewitt began it never completely went away.
This paradoxical situation of being simultaneously ‘up’ and ‘down’ in Britain’s social hierarchy may well have shaped Harry’s personality, placing him in the Six and Seven region of the Enneagram, where feelings of superiority and inferiority are most strongly felt.
It is almost certain that Prince Harry’s personality type was already fixed by the age of 12, before his mother died. But his reflections about that critical event, made now, as an adult, show how the Seven mechanism started to manifest.
‘Life is great’
In his interview with The Daily Telegraph, Harry said,
“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? I thought, ‘It’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back.’
Harry added: “So, from an emotional side, I was like ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.’ So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around, going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.”
Here, we see the decision every Seven makes in childhood, no matter what traumatic events may have occurred: to deny pain and try to look on the sunny side of life.
Sevens don’t look back. They look ahead, optimistically, towards the future, imagining what good things are coming their way.
If they are asked about their childhood, they typically say, “Oh, it was pretty much okay,” and change the subject.
Harry became a party animal in his late teens, getting drunk in London nightclubs, flirting and dating, smoking marijuana, even wearing a German World War II army uniform with a swastika armband at a fancy dress party.
Commitment in love
He began a string of love affairs, with no interest in settling down, parting ways with tearful girlfriends when they became ‘too clingy’.
It has to be said, though, that Harry himself was occasionally dumped by young women who were so appalled by getting caught up in the media frenzy surrounding British Royals that they couldn’t continue a relationship with him.
But his response was simply to shrug his shoulders and move on to the next target.
Commitment to one love partner is difficult for Sevens because it closes the door on other possibilities and this can make monogamous relationship feel like a claustrophobic trap.
So, if Harry does decide to marry his current girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, it might be tough for him to stay loyal to her for long.
The ‘naughty price’
Five years ago, in 2012, Harry’s partying got him into trouble when he was photographed naked during a game of ‘strip billiards’ with several young women at an exclusive Las Vegas hotel. Afterwards, he apologized for having let down the Royal Family and was soon forgiven by the British public, with whom he was proving popular as their ‘naughty prince’.
By that time, Harry had been an officer in the British Army for six years, having graduated from the prestigious Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in 2006. He hugely enjoyed the freedom bestowed on him by the Army lifestyle, where he could drop his ‘Royal’ image.
Apparently, he felt more relaxed in a sleeping bag than in a comfortable bed in Buckingham Palace, and ‘mucking around’ in trenches with other soldiers was, for him, preferable to ‘boring’ gatherings of the Royal Family.
Multi-tasking is a classic Seven trait and Harry certainly excelled at it during his 20s, switching between active Army service in Afghanistan, Royal duties in London, diplomatic trips to allied countries like Saudi Arabia and, of course, leaving time for a colourful social life.
Later, he was to admit he experienced severe anxiety while performing Royal functions, but there was never any sign of it in front of the TV cameras.
So how did this ‘happy Seven’ finally stop running away from pain and turn his attention inwards?
Questioning the feel-good attitude and bringing mental health issues into the open
It was his affection for his fellow soldiers in the Army that provided the key to his own transformation. Having seen action in Afghanistan, Harry became concerned for wounded soldiers who returned to the United Kingdom and were experiencing difficulty re-entering ‘normal’ life.
Talking with these men, learning about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and other psychological disorders caused by combat, he realised it was possible, and helpful, to express feelings and talk about mental health issues.
That’s when he decided to seek help himself.
From the Enneagram perspective, here we can see the intelligence of a Seven personality type who starts to question the wisdom of trying to maintain his habitual ‘feel good’ attitudes.
Not all Sevens choose to get off the merry-go-round. They just keep on going. Michael Jackson and Timothy Leary were both salutary examples of Sevens who never questioned the basic drive to remain upbeat at all costs.
However, it has to be said that Harry’s therapy didn’t last long, or go particularly deep.
“I don’t need advice, can you just listen?” seems to have been his basic approach to the psychologists with whom he talked.
But he did succeed in unburdening himself to a certain degree and he’s also done the British public a massive favour by airing the subject publicly in The Daily Telegraph interview.
Time for everyone to express their feelings
In addition, Harry started a national campaign for mental well-being, titled Heads Together, co-founded with his brother, Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. So Harry seems determined to follow through on his effort to take the stigma out of mental health issues.
Prince William, who was one of those who urged Harry to seek help, is clear that the days of silently suffering for the sake of public appearances are over, especially for his own children.
“There may be a time and a place for the ‘stiff upper lip’ but not at the expense of your health,” explained William.
“Catherine and I are clear we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings,” he added.
“Over the past year we have visited a number of schools together where we have been amazed listening to children talk about some quite difficult subjects in a clear and emotionally articulate way, something most adults would struggle with.
“Seeing this has really given me hope things are changing and there is a generation coming up who find it normal to talk openly about emotions.”
Prince William strikes me as an easy-going Nine, who, as he grew up, quietly went along with the Royal destiny assigned to him. He has never rocked the Establishment boat.
But here, along with his Sevenish wife, Kate, he’s quietly rebuking his grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip, who, in over 60 years of public life, have never allowed their personal feelings to show.
For Harry, old Seven habits die hard. When the prince was asked about his current state of mental health, after completing his counselling experience, the 32 year-old replied that he is now in ‘a good place’.
Well, naturally, what would one expect?
Children in the UK: low self-esteem and pent-up anger
It’s also obvious that Prince Harry isn’t going to look into the deeper issues of British cultural conditioning, which gives children low self-esteem and makes them feel that without successfully competing for social recognition and status they are of no importance.
Looking that deep would, of course, point a finger at the monarchy itself, as the institution at the very pinnacle of Britain’s social hierarchy, which, for millions of ‘loyal subjects’, creates feelings of inferiority, comparison and competition.
Harry shows no sign of going down that road any time soon. But, still, the prince has achieved something of a breakthrough and he deserves credit for it.
Going back to the days before he sought professional help, Harry recalled that one major indicator of his turmoil was the pressure of pent-up anger he was feeling inside.
In desperation, he took up boxing.
“That really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier,” he told the newspaper.
Which makes me wonder: what if someone introduced Prince Harry to Dynamic Meditation as a way to blow off steam and have a taste of inner peace at the same time?
Chances are, he’d love it.
Subhuti gives workshops about the Enneagram all over the world and also gives individual online Enneagram sessions. Contact: anandsubhuti (at) yahoo.com
Related articles on the Enneagram by Subhuti
All articles in this series: Enneagram Famous Figures
The Enneagram – a journey with the Enneagram from Oscar Ichazo’s original school to Osho’s Multiversity
The Enneagram: Types – Enneagram type descriptions, childhood environments, problem areas and sentences which characterize each type