Jacob, we are told early in Lost‘s final season, “had a thing for numbers.” So does Lost in general, I might add — from Hurley’s lottery-winning numbers, to the chalk-scratched Candidate numbers in Jacob’s cave, to the countdown timer in the Swan station, numbers have played a central and mysterious role in the show’s mythology since season 1. Wheels and circles are another recurring motif, appearing in the DHARMA logo and the mechanism used to move the Island.
Both are also key aspects of the Enneagram, an ancient wisdom tradition with roots in Sufi, Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist mysticism, but possibly far older — it has even been spotted in the plot structure of Homer’s Odyssey. The Enneagram describes nine ways human beings learn to defend against their core fears and seek their core desires. While nine may seem a small number to divide the sheer diversity of human personalities into, there are near-infinite shades of each type. While numbers are traditionally used to divide the nine types, Chris Heuertz describes the system as “the color wheel of human character structure,” in which several distinct colors exist — red, green, blue — but a multitude of shades are found within each color. And like a color wheel, adjacent Enneagram types (wings) often bleed into each other
More than mere personality classification, though, the Enneagram not only describes human behavior and personality, but explains it, and sheds light on unique paths toward growth and wholeness for each type. What is healthy behavior for one type may be decidedly unhealthy for another, and what are signs of growth for one person may be warning signs for another.
Speaking personally, I have probably grown more in the past couple of years since I discovered the Enneagram than I have in the last ten years. It also helped me understand why John Locke, my favorite character in Lost, has always resonated so deeply with me. Like him, I am a Four, so the lens I see myself and the world through is the same one that shapes Locke’s experience in the show. The existential questions he grapples with are the same ones I do. His core doubts and desires have been my own.
Yet, crucially, a type is not our real essence, but a persona, worn to hide or protect us for so long that we mistake these masks for our true selves.
The point isn’t to make excuses for how we behave, but to understand and eventually dismantle these defenses, and to have empathy for others by understanding the lenses they see the world through. And this, I think, resonates strongly with core themes of Lost, too: learning the stories that have shaped others; the need to face the things we’ve spent our lives outrunning; and the growth that happens when we’re together, through compassion, shared suffering, and community.
* * *
The Body Triad
James Ford. A typical description applied to Eights is “the Challenger,” a label that Sawyer embodies perfectly. His obvious glee in defying Jack — or almost anyone who even vaguely occupies a leadership role — is a clear Eight quality, as is the resentment he bears against anyone who tries to limit or curb his autonomy. Eights are usually good at getting others to do what they want them to, which Sawyer does by conning, a skill based in his acute awareness of power balances and power dynamics in a group, which is where Eights’ attention is usually drawn in social situations. His lifelong quest for revenge reflects some of the less healthy potentials of Eights, whose core issue is rage (due to their primary experience of life through the body and its instincts). Each Enneagram number is also influenced by three core instincts or subtypes — social, sexual, and self-preservation — that intersect with each number in very different ways. Eights, especially with socially dominant instincts, can be talkative, charming, and particularly skilled at manipulating people, all qualities that are quite vividly seen in Sawyer.
Ana Lucia Cortez. Ana is probably the most recognizable, most “classic” Eight in Lost due to the excessive force of her personality and her penchant for giving orders, a primary communication style of Eights. Women Eights are often unfairly perceived as bitches due to their defiance of conventional gender roles, perhaps explaining Ana’s relative unpopularity among fans. Ana Lucia desires autonomy and control over her life, and resents any threat to that control, whether that be the Others, or her own group questioning her decisions, such as putting Nathan in a pit or tying Sayid to a tree and refusing to let him go. But her care for Zach and Emma in “The Other 48 Days” also reflects one of the more positive aspects of Eights: their protectiveness of innocence, since the young and vulnerable represent their own lost childhood tendency to trust. Though Ana is unquestionably the dominant force in the tail section survivors, she respects Jack’s leadership once the two camps merge. Eights do not necessarily need to be in leading roles, especially if there is already a leader in place who they feel is capable and in control.
Mr. Eko. It may be harder to see the warm, soft-spoken Eko we see on the Island as sharing much in common with Sawyer or Ana Lucia, but his overall life story speaks to the Eight’s lost innocence. Eko stepped up to take his brother’s place when a drug lord threatened to kidnap Yemi, and from then on his life was defined by a violence in which his forceful, confrontational personality thrived. On the Island, he has no trouble demanding cooperation and admiration, which is seldom resisted due to his overall more laid-back bearing. Eko’s more harmonious qualities stem from his Nine wing, which draws on the latter type’s optimism, contentment, mediation, and spirituality. Yet he has no problem challenging others when he feels their actions threaten the well-being of others, such as Jack in “Collision” and Locke in “Live Together, Die Alone.”
Miles Straume. Illustrating the Eight’s tendencies to be distrustful and their desire to be self-reliant, Miles uses sarcasm as a shield to keep others from getting too close, lest they hurt and betray him. Eights often have issues with betrayal, which in Miles’ case stems from his father throwing him and his mother out when he was just a baby. Typical of Eights, even once he learns the truth — that his father forced them to flee the Island to protect them from the effects of a catastrophic electromagnetic event — he is still reluctant to reconcile with Dr. Chang or show any measure of vulnerability. It’s not until Chang’s life is in peril and he has lost an arm that Miles breaks down and calls him “Dad,” thus indicating at least some degree of forgiveness and understanding. Though this does show eventual growth, his fear of emotional exposure ends up cutting him off from a great deal of human connection.
The Man in Black. A victim of their adoptive mother’s possessive and controlling brand of love, Jacob’s unnamed brother bristles at her attempts to impose arbitrary rules and restrictions on the scope of his life, particularly on the issue of whether he can leave the Island. Though he is his mother’s favorite, this resistance to her reflects type Eight’s tendency to pull away from care they perceive as overbearing and smothering, and his need to chart his own path regardless of her wishes is true to Eights’ core desire to maintain control over their own lives, and to avoid being trapped or controlled by others. Even before becoming the smoke monster, the man in black tends to force his way upon others, barreling through any ideas of morality that stand in his way. As is true of all Eights, he has issues with betrayal, unable to forgive first his mother and then Jacob for refusing to let him leave the Island—his life’s greatest, unrealized wish—and burns bridges with both easily, resulting in tragedy. He tends to distrust and manipulate others, even as the monster, his most famous line being “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.” The man in black’s search for knowledge of his people of origin, and of the world outside the Island, as well as his fascination with the proto-science of the Island’s electromagnetic properties, also reflect type Eight’s movement toward Five in stress.
* * *
Hugo Reyes. Hurley is a textbook Nine. His tendency to put others’ needs and wellbeing over his own, his skill at maintaining peace among the survivors, and his mellow personality are all signature characteristics of this type. Nines value peace, serenity, and a drama-free life, and often act selflessly for the common good. Their core fear of conflict explains Hurley’s irrational behavior in “Everybody Hates Hugo” when he tries to blow up the Swan station’s kitchen rather than be the arbiter of who gets what food. The Nine’s skill at mediation is seen in his efforts to bring Sawyer closer into the group in “Left Behind” and their ability to defuse tension is shown by the golf course he builds in season 1, which helps people to feel a sense of normalcy amidst their trauma. Even Hurley’s struggles with his weight mirror the Nine’s tendency to narcotize with food. Though Nines will often go along to get along, at their heathiest levels they are also capable of “right action,” a steadfast adherence to doing the right thing despite opposition, which Hurley exhibits when he insists on honoring Charlie’s death in season 4 by siding with Locke, and when he destroys the dynamite in season 6 to prevent anyone else from being killed and the Ajira plane from being destroyed.
Rose Nadler. While Rose’s Eight wing shows in her sometimes confrontational exchanges with Jack and her husband, Rose consistently shows the Nine tendency to put others’ needs above her own, valuing harmony and group coherence. She shows empathy to Charlie as he broods in the wake of Claire’s kidnapping, while at the same time drawing him back into the community by asking him to help move the beach camp. Her decision to lie to Bernard in season 2 about being “fixed” by a faith healer is made to assuage his worries, regardless of her own medical needs. And she lets Jack “off the hook” just after the crash, alleviating his concern for her even as she processes her own trauma. As is true of most Nines, she has a very limited tolerance for others’ drama, ultimately to deciding “retire” with Bernard from the neverending crises of life on the Island.
Richard Alpert. Ever present in much of the Island’s history, Richard exudes a clear influence over the Others, though never occupying the official seat of power. Content to facilitate the goals and agendas of Jacob, the Island’s protector, and whoever the Others’ leader is in any given generation, Richard exemplifies Nines’ capacity for a different kind of power: not in getting others to do what they want, but in their cool-headedness and serenity under fire. If Eights are unstoppable forces, Nines have potential to be immovable objects, seen in Richard’s stubborn refusal to depart from his sense of the Others’ purpose (which also shows his One wing). Like Nines, he can also be passive-aggressive, making crucial decisions in spite of official leadership, such as allowing a young Ben into the Temple to be healed, or revealing Sawyer’s connection to Locke’s father when Ben makes the latter’s death a condition for Locke’s acceptance into the group. Like the rest of the Others, Richard seems to have little contact with Jacob, but also seems to be more in touch with Jacob’s belief in the Island’s power and in the worth of the people he brings to the Island, reflecting Nines’ capacity for holistic vision and understanding.
Jacob. Though the firstborn of twins, Jacob’s early life is marred by the pain of being less favored than his brother. It is because of his mother’s wishes, not his own choice, that he takes up her mantle as guardian of the Island’s power, a typical example of the Nine tendency to go along with others’ preferences at the expense of — and often without clear knowledge of — their own. When his brother eventually kills their mother, Jacob’s eruption of violence in throwing him into the heart of the Island in “Across the Sea” exemplifies the way that rage, often repressed by Nines, can build up unconsciously to the point that it finally explodes. As the Island’s protector, Jacob watches over each of the survivors from early on in their lives, understanding their unique brokenness with the characteristic empathy of the Nine, with their remarkable ability to see things from others’ perspectives, even if they can’t always see things from their own. Too, Jacob’s most famous line in Lost ( “It only ends once. Everything that happens before that is just progress.”) is a pure expression of the Nine’s optimism, belief in others, and potential for highly developed spirituality.
* * *
Jack Shephard. Driven by a need to fix both people and situations, Jack displays the One‘s fixation with what is wrong and what could be improved or perfected, often at the exclusion of seeing what is good and whole. The clearest example is his belief that crashing on the Island is a mistake and his inability to see, even when confronted by it repeatedly, the destiny and purpose that brought him there. Ones are principled and idealistic, reluctant to cut corners and concerned as much with the means as with the ends. Jack follows his moral compass even at the expense of his relationships, seen in his estrangement with his father over revealing Christian’s drinking issues at the hospital. Ones’ criticism of others, though, is mild compared to the inner voice that constantly looks for flaws and deficiencies in their own self and their choices; when he tells Locke in “White Rabbit” that “I’ll fail. I don’t have what it takes,” Jack expresses the One’s core fear of not being good enough. Jack’s standards for himself and others are high, and he often shows frustration when others — primarily Kate — fail to live up to them. When healthy, though, Ones are people of vision, conviction, and heroism, qualities Jack embodies when he takes up Jacob’s mantle as protector of the Island, knowing after much growth and often self-inflicted misery, that he has found the right path at last.
Bernard Nadler. Like Jack, Bernard can often be inflexible and opinionated, feeling he knows best what must be done and feeling resentful when others don’t put in the same level of work he is committed to. This is most clearly seen in Rose and Bernard’s only centric episode, “S.O.S.,” when he attempts to motivate the survivors to build a giant sign in the sand. His healthy One traits are seen in his flashback, where he stops on a cold winter night to help Rose, a woman who he had then never met before, simply because it’s the right thing to do, and when he chooses to marry her for the same reason even after learning she is dying of cancer and their marriage would therefore be short-lived. Not deterred, Bernard jumps in nobly and whole-heartedly. His attempts to fix Rose via faith healer, while misguided, show a willingness to help that suggests a dominant Two wing.
* * *
The Heart Triad
Charlie Pace. As part the heart triad, Twos experience the world primarily through emotions, namely shame, which plays a part in Charlie’s story from his first flashback, a confession scene with a Catholic priest. Known for their personal warmth and boundless generosity, a Two’s core desire is to be needed. Charlie stays in Drive Shaft for his brother’s sake, despite his wish to “walk away,” and it is his fear of becoming irrelevant to the band that leads him to take up his brother’s heroin habit. His resentment at feeling unnecessary on the Island is the impetus for his first centric episode, “The Moth,” a dynamic that recurs in “Homecoming” when the party going after Ethan feels they don’t need Charlie to come along. His eagerness to help and serve is clearest in his relationship with Claire, as he continually extends himself to make her feel comfortable and provided for, not letting her pregnancy scare him off. When Aaron is born, he gives Claire a much-needed rest and recovery by caring for Aaron, going to great lengths to sooth him. Charlie’s greatest desire is to take care of the people he loves; yet there is a dark side to a Two’s generosity. They give primarily to feel needed, and often feel they know what is best for others. Claire resents this in season 2, objecting to Charlie taking up a role as co-parent to Aaron, and understandably growing alarmed when he tries to baptize her son in the ocean at midnight. Ultimately, Charlie dies for the sake of saving Claire and Aaron, and while that doesn’t end up happening right away, his death is still an unselfish, unconditional gift of love to Claire and his newfound family of survivors, exemplifying the highest, most inspiring levels of development for a Two.
* * *
Christian Shephard. The clearest example of a Three in Lost, Christian is a successful doctor, widely admired by his colleagues for his skill and expertise. Threes are efficient and pragmatic, focused more on ends than on means, and sometimes cut corners to get there; such as when Christian goes into an emergency surgery even after having a few drinks at lunch — a decision that ultimately costs him his medical license. The core fear of Threes is failure, since they derive their sense of self worth from their achievements; this is why Christian, in the bar scene with Sawyer in “Outlaws,” is unable to call Jack and tell him how proud he is of his son, since doing so would mean facing up to his own failings as a father and a doctor. Christian also exhibits a hallmark trait of Threes in his ability to immediately shift personas in order to appear successful and capable to whoever they are with, seen in the hospital scene when he manipulates a man into not suing the hospital. And the Three’s preoccupation with performance and accomplishments is ultimately behind one of his more formative interactions with Jack, the scene in “White Rabbit” when he projects onto his son his own existential concern with having “what it takes” to excel in the face of challenges — which, of course, Jack interprets through his own fear as a One of not being good enough.
Jin-Soo Kwon. After marrying Sun, Jin is driven by the need to win approval and admiration from his father-in-law, Mr. Paik, by working for his company in often ruthless capacities. His story illustrates a particular danger for Threes: the price of putting family and relationships on the backburner in favor of their careers, to the extent that Jin is more married to Paik’s company than he is to Sun. His thirst for recognition eventually causes him to lose touch with his own identity and desires — originally, to live happily with Sun and to own his own hotel. This loss of self is often a key struggle for Threes, who tend to define themselves primarily by what others will find valuable, enviable, and successful. It’s not until he has almost lost his wife and ruined his marriage that Jin regains perspective, but the crash makes him feel he has failed again, and he again throws himself into work — this time on the raft. In doing so he only repeats his mistakes, believing that achieving rescue is the only way to regain his self worth. It isn’t until this fails, too, when the raft is sunk by the Others, that he finally confronts his shortcomings and begins to rediscover his true self.
Shannon Rutherford. Like all Threes, Shannon is highly concerned with image, but as a sexual subtype, particularly with an image that fits cultural and gender norms of what is attractive and alluring. She presents herself in a stereotypically feminine framework of being in distress and in need of being saved — by Boone, who “rescues” her by buying off a string of abusive boyfriends; by Charlie, who catches a fish for her to eat on the Island; by Sayid, who makes her feel safe. All Threes are achievers, but the sexual subtype achieves primarily in the realm of relationships, drawing their sense of worth from who they are able to attract, which is bolstered by the envy they arouse in others. As a result, they can be anxious about their need to constantly perform a role, which can manifest in a hot or cold dynamic. Shannon vacillates between cool and aloof, and dramatically emotional. Part of the heart triad, her focus on image and performance is based on the feeling that she is unworthy of being loved for her true self — a feeling made stronger by her Four wing, and exhibited strongly in her only centric episode, “Abandoned.”
* * *
John Locke. Fittingly, 4 is the number Jacob assigns to Locke as a Candidate. His crippling self-doubt, his mystical bent, his turbulent emotions, and his tendency to romanticize his experiences on the Island are all trademark qualities of Fours, who feel that something essential is missing inside them that everyone else has. From his mother giving him up as a premie baby, to Richard visiting him as a child and deciding Locke wasn’t who he hoped he would be, to his father stealing his kidney then telling him, “You’re not wanted,” and finally, Helen giving up on him just as he proposes to her, abandonment — a Four’s deepest fear — is probably the core issue of Locke’s entire life. To offset their perception of a crucial deficiency, Fours turn inward and dwell on their unique and special identity, often feeling they are on a personal quest for beauty, meaning, and self-discovery. Locke exhibits this in his desire to undergo a spiritual journey in the Australian outback and his connection to nature, as well as his belief, once healed by the Island, that he is special, chosen, and destined.
Benjamin Linus. While Ben’s obsession with power and control might suggest an Eight typing, a closer look at his story reveals many strong Four traits. Fours are often described as relating to others as if from the outside looking in, a dynamic that certainly applies to Ben’s childhood in the DHARMA Initiative, where he felt alienated and friendless, and then to his desire to join the Others, who would not accept him until they judged the time was right. His identification with the “hostile” Others also marks him as a Four, as it highlights his difference from, and countercultural opposition to, his own family and community. Like Locke, Ben was emotionally (if not actually) abandoned by his father. And by pretending to a special relationship with Jacob, he attempts to bolster his identity through a show of unique significance. Just before killing him, Ben asks Jacob “What was so wrong with me?” — a key anxiety for type Four. Ben’s aggression and manipulation are marks of his sexual subtyping: while Eights can be bullies, sexual Fours actually have the highest potential for cruelty, are often competitive (Ben is so threatened by Locke that he eventually murders him) and controlling, and feel that others must be made to feel the intensity of their own suffering.
Kate Austen. While a past version of this article had typed Kate as a Seven due to her impulsivity, inability to stay in one place for long, and ravenous hunger for personal freedom, I have since come to believe that she embodies more traits of type Four. She kills Wayne — the original crime that makes her a fugitive — not because he abuses her mother and flirts with her, but because she founds out he is her biological father, not just her stepfather, a fact that she believes means “That I would never have anything good. That I would never be good.” This belief that Wayne’s blood in her veins makes her flawed and corrupt mirrors the Four’s deep shame and sense of basic deficiency. Like Fours, she is highly affected by shame and guilt and is oriented toward the past, fearing that her worst moments define her and her future, rather than her better qualities. Kate’s tendency to run can be seen as a manifestation of the push / pull tendency that Fours have, withdrawing from relationships and situations they fear will lead to abandonment; and her inability to be present in the moment reflects the Four’s tendency to dream of a better life elsewhere. And her line in the pilot episode, “No girl’s exactly like me,” reflects type Four’s concern with being unique and one-of-a-kind.
* * *
The Mind Triad
Sayid Jarrah. Detatched, independent, and insightful, Sayid is a beautiful example of the strengths of Fives. He often questions and investigates what others have taken for granted, exploring the newly-discovered Swan station to try to confirm or debunk Desmond’s claims about it and poring over Rousseau’s maps. He has a dry, ironic bent, and like many Fives, can appear unemotional, though he really just delays processing his emotions. With expertise in multiple areas, he is capable and competent, able to fix the Swan computer and make the plane’s transceiver work. A keen observer, he tends to notice things others miss, seen in his ability to recognize that Michael has betrayed the group before anyone else does. This ability stems from the Five’s core drives: the fear of being exposed as helpless and incapable, and the desire to prove one’s knowledge and ability in life. His leadership skills stem from the Five’s direction of growth, where they take on the higher qualities of an Eight.
Daniel Faraday. More scattered and less confident than Sayid, Faraday’s expression of his Five qualities is affected by mental health issues, primarily his chronic memory problems. But both display the same focused curiosity and desire to investigate and understand. A professor of quantum physics, Faraday’s expertise is highly specialized and cerebral, distancing him from other people, reflecting Fives’ tendency to become isolated by their quests for knowledge and mastery, since it is often difficult for other types to follow them into such unknown and abstruse mental territory. Because of this, Faraday minimizes his needs and disconnects from more prosaic concerns like social validation or small talk, further detaching himself from connections with others beyond a select few (his mother and Charlotte). While Sayid exemplifies Fives’ direction of growth toward Eight, Faraday’s greater insecurity, and the anxiety associated with his memory loss, demonstrate their direction of stress, toward the distraction and disordered randomness of Sevens.
Juliet Burke. An accomplished fertility doctor, Juliet shows mastery over a challenging subject, and her outside the box thinking eventually leads to recruitment by the Others, who believe she can solve the mysterious inability of women who conceive on the Island to survive birth there. Like most Fives, she remains calm in most stressful situations and has a tendency to come off as dry in personality. However, she also has a strong Four wing, manifesting in her abandonment issues in season 5, when she remembers her parents’ divorce and fears losing Sawyer once the Oceanic Six return to the Island. She also feels like she doesn’t really belong among the Others, whose expectations she has disappointed; and she dwells on the past, yearning for the life before the Island which she feels she has lost. Though Juliet hovers near the boundary between Four and Five, she appears to be guided more by basic Five concerns with being competent and functioning well in the world.
* * *
Boone Carlyle. Loyal, committed, and responsible, Boone shows a tendency to attach to those he can draw a sense of security from: first his mother, as head of the family business, then later to Locke, who serves as a mentor and a source of emotional support and guidance. Sixes feel they need the stability that they believe authority figures can provide, since they do not ultimately trust their own resources or decisions. Because of this need, they are fierce defenders of their groups, their tribes, and most of all their friends and families, a trait Boone illustrates by attacking Michael when the latter berates Locke for his unwanted influence on Walt. Like most Sixes, Boone is reactive and indecisive, ricocheting between extremes — weakness and strength, passive and aggressive, detachment and attachment, trust and distrust. Though Locke helps him to overcome his insecure attachment to Shannon, his commitment to Locke ultimately leads to his death when he follows Locke’s vision quest to the crashed Nigerian plane.
Claire Littleton. The core issue for a Six is anxiety: a free-floating uncertainty about what might happen. This anxious stress is apparent both in Claire’s backstory, plagued by indecision about what to do with her pregnancy, and on the Island, where she continually doubts her capability to be a mother. As she goes into labor, she fears Aaron won’t love her; then, after three years alone on the Island, she doubts her ability to be a mother. These fearful what-ifs are a hallmark Six trait, exemplifying a distrust of their abilities. She also wavers between trust and distrust for Charlie, and though the distrust is warranted at certain moments, it also speaks to the core Six fear of being left without support. Like Boone, she tends to cling to those who make her feel she will be cared for, such as Charlie, Locke, then ultimately the smoke monster. Her story resolves in season 6 when Kate returns for her and helps her leave the Island and return to Aaron: a first tentative step toward trusting herself and believing in a future worth living in.
Sun-Hwa Kwon. Often called “Loyalists,” Sixes show devotion to groups and families that give them security and structure, sometimes when they would be better off trusting their own judgment. Sun is a dutiful daughter despite the lack of a close relationship with her father, and despite her knowledge of his corrupt business dealings and his role in Jin drifting away from her. After the crash, she is similarly loyal to Jin, adhering to his wishes to keep apart from the rest of the survivors, despite her better instincts and despite the tension that exists between the two of them. Sun is also an example of a common Six phenomena: they can either be phobic, avoiding the sources of their fear, or counterphobic, running toward them in an effort to confront and overcome it. Sun is often counterphobic, seen in her tendency to demand answers from others when she feels threatened, and in her confrontations with her father and Widmore after she believes Jin is dead. In her flashbacks, the thrill with which she secretly dates Jin also suggests a Seven wing.
* * *
Michael Dawson. A practical and positive thinker, Michael exemplifies the Seven‘s skill in brainstorming and planning, in the improvements he makes to the caves in season 1, then in designing and building an entire raft. He also shows the signature Seven trait of joyful anticipation, seen in the way he imagines being a father before Walt is born, and later imagines showing Walt the buildings and architecture of New York City once they escape from the Island. Like Sevens, Michael is a man of many talents and a wide breadth of interests, ranging from art to engineering. Unfortunately, he also shares this type’s typical inability to dwell in the present, spending much of his time on the Island in planning how to get off of it, not realizing the gift of a new beginning with Walt that he has been given there. He avoids the memory of trauma at all costs; and it is the repetition of his life’s greatest trauma — the loss of his son — that drives him to extreme desperation, panic, despair, and impulsivity, all characteristic of unhealthy Sevens.
Desmond Hume. The avoidance of pain has so characterized Desmond’s life that he is more than once accused of being a coward by his future father-in-law, Charles Widmore. The race around the world which ends up stranding him on the Island is an attempt to escape the pain of Penny’s engagement and of knowing that she never read his letters while in prison. He moves from one occupation to another — set designer, monk, soldier — reflecting Sevens’ desire to experience everything, and inability to narrow the scope of what they want to do with their lives. On the Island, his restriction in the Swan station is a Seven’s nightmare, fueling his resentment and desire to escape. Even after realizing that a life with Penny is what he ultimately wants, Desmond still lives a life of constant movement, dwelling on a sailboat. His decision to save Our Mutual Friend so that it’s the last book he reads before he dies reflects the Seven’s tendency to enjoy anticipation more than the actual experiences they look forward to. And his flashes of the future are fittingly ironic, given that Sevens spend the most time of any type looking at what lies ahead. In the flash-sideways, it is Desmond who urges everyone to move on, unwilling to stay in the temporary afterlife they have all built, desiring, as all Sevens do, to see what comes next.
* * *
This list is not exhaustive, of course, and some of these analyses are more in-depth than others. Certain characters I’ve left off entirely, as we know so little about their backstory or motivations that I can offer little more than a guess (I imagine Charlotte is a Seven, Widmore an Eight, Eloise a One). While behavior can suggest a typing, it is often a smokescreen, as the real mark of a particular Enneagram type is not what they do but why they do it. Nor am I by any means an Enneagram expert. These typings, while not definitive, are based on the independent study I’ve done as well as years of watching Lost, and even more time thinking about it. And while I have confidence in my reasoning, I could easily be wrong about any of it.
For more information on the Enneagram in general, or about the nine types, there are several amazing books on the subject; I recommend those by Beatrice Chestnut, Ian Morgan Cron, Chris Heuertz, and Richard Rohr. For a quick Internet reference, the Enneagram Institute’s website is the most in-depth and reliable, and the podcast Typology is fun, accessible, and full of wisdom and insight.