Author Enneagram Case Study – John Brunner (5w4)

Type: 5w4 (self-preservation)
MBTI: theoretically INTP based on functions; might have scored as INTJ
Based on: Noticeable Five patterns, functions, possible holy idea ?
Health: unhealthy (somewhere about 5th or 6th level).


John Brunner is an English SF author who is one of the more interesting of a number of probable Five authors; he shows quite definite Five patterns, including a definite Four wing (further confirming core type), fairly discernable Jungian functions, and his books showcase a few other things. His output is reasonably large and I have read a number of his books, but far from all of them.

A very intelligent author, his books and short stories focus heavily on high-concept scientific themes (” what if X was discovered?”) – for the most part. His output is primarily SF, with a couple of fantasy stories e.g. the short stories compiled as “The Compleat Traveller in Black”
He shows a clear INTP pattern. In terms of OCEAN purposes that he also seems to high disagreeableness (this was also something fairly noticeable in both Fives, myself at /w6 and another with w4, in the Enneagram Daily facebook group that did one of the big-5 tests). Introversion is apparent despite this being something that generally is difficult to discern in author analysis (see later) suggesting this is probably very high, in keeping with an unhealthy Five pattern.

Wing determination

This is something that seems like it logically should be discussed after the main type, but which I will start with since it has various implications through deeper discussions on his main type here.

Brunner shows some paranoid traits (e.g. in relation with his publishers, possibly), but has a definite 4-wing.
A degree of feeling comes through in his work, but with a dark or brooding quality. His stories are tragedies reasonably often, another 4ish trait (cf. Clark Ashton Smith).- e.g. aliens winning.
He shows generally an absence of 6 conservative traits, with his stance on e.g. war or State- vs.-State conflicts falling more toward 4ish compassionate ideals than about border protection and loyalty. Politics, normally more of a 6 concern, is still something of a driver of his work but perhaps due to some mix of 4 feelings and 5 paranoid concerns i.e. regarding the cold war / nuclear war. As he has a clear 4-wing, fear and paranoia apparent are apparently an expression of a core 5, rather than 6, quality.
Emotions: as well as anxiety, Brunner is fairly irritable and does use the word ‘perfect’ periodically. (for those who believe in tritype, though I don’t, it could be considered an indicator of a ‘1’ in his tritype; alternatively, it might also reflect a 1 parent in upbringing). Good/evil themes also appear in e.g. Traveller in Black.

IRL he seems to be less polite than would be normal for /w6 (trueness to feeling in the 4 fashion, less mitigated by willingness to be friendly to people who are potentially threatening). Survival drive in general is less primary than in a /w6 (Sixes will do nearly anything to survive, Fours sometimes feel they can’t go on).

Wing-4 introduces a degree of irrationality to the logical 5 system, which can appear at either a story design level and as part of character behaviours. In ‘The Totally Rich’, the character Naomi hears a clock and demands all the clocks be smashed, both an in-character motivation and also by the author an attempt to inject more dramatic themes into a short story that was already bursting with them (‘in the end time escapes us, as it always does’).
Brunner also has some resonance with artistic themes and a sense of being flawed or damaged that seems 4-ish. Art comes through in e.g. ‘The Dramaturges of Yan’ (a monster freezes its planet as a work of artistic suicide), while ‘Telepathist’ [also called “The Whole Man” has characters including a deformed telepath seeking acceptance and a man with synaesthesia whose perceptions he can access, while ‘Eye of the Beholder’, another story in Not Before Time deals with an alien artist, shot as a monster by Earth people who then wonder where who left the masterpiece paintings they found was. Enviousness comes through in some characters (e.g. the female bad guy in ‘The Repairmen of Cyclops’; scientists at a party in ‘A Better Mousetrap’).

Compartmentalization and Concepts of Multiple “I’s”

One of his books, “The Compleat Traveller in black” is a ‘fix up’ where a number of smaller short stories featuring a character were brought together with minor rewrites.
The Traveller is a peculiar immortal whose task is to purge the universe of Chaos, making it more logical: he grants humans wishes, which generally end in disaster because of their foolishness or selfishness, and fairly often interprets these in such a way as to assist his own work. Some of the other fairly five traits here are:
-Reticence with information; the Traveller considers information virtually a currency, swapping questions one-for-one.
-information gathering: he frequently delays dealing with problems until he has gained more information. “He was not immune to apprehension; his single nature did not include omniscience”. (though when asked if he is ‘entirely wise’ because of his laughing at the foolishness of mankind, his answer is ‘Alas, yes’.)
-literal ‘stinginess’ appears in particular in many miserly characters in these stories, though various other forms of foolishness also appear – arrogance, aggression, gluttony.

The most peculiar thing about the Traveller, apparently is that he “has many names, but a single nature.” whereas humans have “many more natures than two”. In one story this is illustrated by the enchanter Manuus telling the traveller how much his fight against Chaos, only to instead turn on him (leading to his own destruction), after he is told that as a wizard he is fundamentally an ally of Chaos.

Note that some Fives at least seem to relate to this conceptually, but not all. It may relate in some sense to /w4, or at least feel significantly different subjectively in /w6. I had considered parallels with “compartmentalization”, as noted for Fives, as well as the concept that Omniscience [the traditional holy idea] refers to a sort of unity of all one’s own information as opposed to all potential information.
In another story, ‘The Fourth Power’ in ‘Out of My Mind’ – a character who has extra ‘selves’ as a result of four-dimensional brain connections that eventually let him copy himself from the future, but is meanwhile unaware of the extra copies (and eventually vanishes due to confusion / energy conservation issues).

Note that multiple “I’s” as a concept is something that I have seen in various authors, coming through particularly strongly in e.g. Robert Silverberg (probably 9w8) and Scott Baker (8w7, frequently writing on shamanistic themes, possible uncredited 1 coauthor).

Information here is also somewhat unreliable as the concept also has parallels in Ouspenskiism/The Fourth Way, which was at one stage evidently moving through a nearby circle of English writers. Brian Aldiss uses the concept of “multiple Is” directly in his novel Barefoot in the Head, while Michael Moorcock includes a reference in one of this books where he includes Ouspenskiism as one of a list of religions; he has something like a sense of multiple identity as the main affliction of his Eternal Champion. (Moorcock seems like he may be a 6, though I’d considered 4 as well; given possible data issues I haven’t studied him closely). Moorcock was a friend or acquaintance of both Brunner and Barrington J. Bailey, who raided Ouspenskian ideas very heavily in a number of his books e.g. including The Soul of the Robot (a robot quests to gain true consciousness), and The Fall of Chronopolis (“recurrence”).
Brunner also discusses something that could also be “recurrence” – “Round Trip” in his collection ‘Not Before Time’ has a man investigate the destruction of the universe by sealing himself in a vault at its geometric centre, planning to be reunited with his wife billions of years in the future after the universe has collapsed into a new Big Bang and been recreated almost identically. 4s however may have a particular ‘resonance’ with this theme [Ouspensky, who added the concept of recurrence to the “Fourth Way”, could very well have been a 4w5, while Eric Berne, creator of transactional analysis could also have been a 4, although he likewise quotes “The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin” by Ouspensky as a reference]. “Round Trip” also mentions the universal “Origin” which could be construed to relate to the Four holy idea, although that’s a stretch as it refers to literal universal origin rather than that of ‘self’.

Social Introversion

From his short story, The Totally Rich, in his anthology ‘Out of my mind’, the following shows somewhat Five withdrawnness [“Stinginess”], combined somewhat with the Four penchant for drama (‘…wishing to God you were dead’).

They are the totally rich. You’ve never heard of them because they are the only people in the world rich enough to buy what they want: a completely private life. The lightning can strike into your life and mine – you win a big prize or find yourself neighbor to an ax-murderer or buy a parrot suffering from psittacosis – and you are in the searchlight, blinking shyly and wishing to God you were dead.
They won their prizes by being born. They do not have neighbours, and if they require a murder they do not use so clumsy a means as an axe. They do not keep parrots. And if by some other million-to-one chance the searchlight does tend towards them, they buy it and instruct the man behind it to switch it off.
How many of them there are I don’t know. I have tried to estimate the total by adding together the gross national product of every country and dividing by the amount necessary to buy a government of a major industrial power. It goes without saying that you cannot maintain privacy unless you can buy any two governments. I think there may be one hundred of these people. They are not on maps. Literally, where they choose to live becomes a blank spot in the atlases. They are not in census lists, Who’s Who, or Burke’s Peerage. They do not figure in tax collectors’ files, and the post office has no record of the addresses. Think of all the places where your name appears – the yellowing school registers, the hospital case records, the duplicate receipt form in the store, the signature on letters. In no single such place is there one of their names.

The Totally Rich is generally regarded as one of Brunner’s best stories and will be quoted at a number of points here, so warrants a plot explanation for context.
In it, a scientist working on a system to analyze objects based on their effects/ relationships to other objects in their environment, finds the remote town he was working in being dismantled and the people gone; a beautiful woman who he’d thought lived nearby explains that she had the village created so he would have the privacy he needed to work on his research, so she could use it as part of a project to resurrect her dead husband. She is convinced it works when his device seems to malfunction, giving her actual age (much older than she looks). She seduces him, then asks him how long it would take to make the process useful; in his dreams he works through the technical issues, realizing it can be done much faster, but wakes up only to discover she has committed suicide.
A man who arranged the scientists’ stay at the village arrives and explains she had been running out of time before her looks ‘crumbled’ , wanting her husband back while she was still beautiful. The man lets the scientist keep an enormous payment for his work, but refuses his offer to work on trying to restore her with his machine. The scientist realizes the man is actually the woman’s son, intending to inherit now that she is gone – he rips up the payment to shame him before being escorted away.

Omniscience? [or something]

Likewise from ‘The Totally Rich’, the following is the description of the dream where the main character realizes his machine could be built much faster.

I had imagined myself going down into coma, to sleep like a corpse.. instead my mind rose to the pitch beyond consciousness – to a vantage point where it could survey the future. I was aware of the thing I had done. From my crude experimental machine, I knew, would come a second and a third, and the third would be sufficient for the task. I saw and recognised the associated problems, and knew them to be soluble. I conceived names of men I wanted to work on these problems – some who were known to me, and given the chance I had been given could create, in their various fields, such new techniques as I had done. Meshing like hand-matched cogs, the parts blended into the whole.
A calendar and a clock were in my mind all this while.
Not all of this was a dream; much of it was of the nature of inspiration, with the sole difference that I could feel it happening and that it was right. But toward the end, I did have a dream – not in visual images but in a kind of emotional aura. I had a completely satisfying sensation, which derived from the fact I was about to meet for the first time a man who was already my closest friend, whom I knew as minutely as any human being had ever known another.

Brunner, like a few other Five SF authors (Arthur C. Clark, probably Isaac Asimov – according to Riso) has had some success with future prediction, having predicting computer viruses in one book.

If we take the quote above as a mention of ‘omniscience’ it further reinforces the idea of Brunner as a 5. However, again authors of various types are interested in the idea of super-intelligence in various ways; for instance in one book Terry Pratchett (7w6, see previous post) has a particularly dim troll guard become a genius temporarily after being locked in a freezer, his silicon-based brain improved by superconducting effects. Or Keith Laumer’s (1w9) ‘Ultimax Man’ has improved intelligence and precision as part of his overall perfection.


MBTI and Functions – the auxiliary functions

Brunner is fairly clearly introverted-thinking primary with extraverted intuition secondary [“INTP”], but, is disagreeable and irritable to the point where he might score as a “J” regardless. Some degree of 4ish introverted feeling is perhaps present as well and may show the limitations of the 4-function Jungian model, given that it hypothesizes 8 functions to begin with.
He shows fairly well ‘extraverted intuition’ secondary. Below that, it could be argued that his artistic themes and discussion of synaesthesia in The Whole Man suggest an introverted-sensation tertiary function.

One of his other novels “The Whole Man”, shows the split between Ne/Si exceptionally well insofar as a fundamental ‘attitude’ that underlies the functions is apparent. Brunner shows a sort of attitude that “existence is pain” [Compare type Seven which seems to likewise have Ne/Si, but with heavier repression of the latter], with suffering in the present balanced by positive imagination about the future; this basic attitude is a driver for development of the related functions, which are skill sets of problem-solving skills related to the basic attitude.
In a sense Si is ‘negative’ sensation, balanced by ‘positive’ intuition, whereas Se/Ni is the reverse. This sort of INTP pattern seems to be the basis for the trend of 5s as minimalists, but isn’t shared as strongly by 5w6. By way of contrast, we could compare Brunner with an ISTP 5w6 [sx type?], Larry Niven – Niven has similar internal conceptualization skills, but his extraverted attitude is different, generally with a very strong desire or sensuous bond to the object (+ sensation, Se), counterbalanced by negative imagination, i.e. consideration of the possible perils in getting it [Ni].
Note that the sort of joyless quality in Brunner isn’t necessarily shared by all Fours either [though it is probably shared with INFP 4w5], being from an adaptation of the 4 pattern rather than its core orientation. By comparison for example, Clark Ashton Smith (4w3) would be probably an ISFJ with a secondary extraverted-sensation hedonistic streak developed to offset 4 negative feelings (“melancholy”).

Extraverted-intuition in Brunner appears in his books insofar as characters are often actively working on problems in his fiction – the story background is conceptualized with the primary introverted thinking function, but characters within the fiction operate like people in the real world, employing mainly the extraverted function. As such there is problem solving that’s linear but with a reasonably imaginative use of available resources.
He shows Ne in his fairly experimental style, having produced a lot of weird books e.g. with lots of smaller chunks (IIRC ‘Stand on Zanzibar’), or ‘The Squares of the City’, which has a plot based on a specific chess game, loosely rationalized by a plot around mind control. Note that Ne as a function can appear in many types and isn’t particularly diagnostic of 5w4 (Geoff Ryman for example has a lot of weird experimental like his online book “253” and I think may be a 2w1, with Ne as tertiary function).
A subset of his tragic stories show Ne being used ‘tactically’ – the bad guys are the ones operating with a coherent plan while humans are forced into a victim role (‘A Better Mousetrap’, ‘Seizure’). Ne can be seen to outperform Fe in his function stack, with inventive tendencies being applied with limited regard for social expectations (e.g. also in ‘A Better Mousetrap’, the scientist Aylward, unadapted to Earth gravity, pulls out a tube to drink wine at a party so he needn’t lift up the glass, fairly iconoclastically).

Extraverted Feeling – the Inferior Function

“Norstein’s calm gaze invariably conveyed the impression that to him any human being was merely a piece of imperfectly functioning machinery”. [-The Fourth Power, ‘Out of My Mind’]

The sort of description as above would normally carry evil connotations; in Brunner’s story however, Norstein is a normal and indeed principled scientist – unemotionality being one of their traits that a five may come to accept or justify, in much the same way a Three author might consider vanity a reasonable protagonist rather than antagonist trait, or Robert Adams [Eight] Horseclans series has the “good guys” raping and pillaging.
Another character in the same short story, Smith, is described in such a fashion its clear he consciously modulates his presentation to some extent: “he adopted an interested expression”.
Difficulties with extraverted feeling are very noticeable in Brunner – relationship problems between couples are quite common, and characters frequently show a degree of inhumanity or detachment contemplating others’ feelings, appearing through various short stories like “Nails in the Palm of the Hand” (the man who crucifies Jesus is remorseful and tries to nail himself to a table), organ harvesting in The Repairmen of Cyclops [also a theme in 5w6 Larry Niven’s works e.g. “The Defenseless Dead”], or the manipulative ultra-rich of “The Totally Rich”.

A general suspicion about positive emotions is apparent, for example “Seizure” in “Not Before Time” includes a cynical story where parents on a colony world are brainwashed by an alien transmitter into caring for lazy babies mind-controlled to be alien agents; in “The Repairmen of Cyclops”, a man paid off for selling his spouse immediately remarries. “The Squares of the City” (see picture) is perhap emblematic of fears of being used or manipulated.

Extraverted feeling is theoretically the 4th or lowest function for introverted thinking types in a four-function model, which is readily apparent in various themes in Brunner’s work (and actually, something that appears sometimes in 6w5 works, as with Philip K Dick’s replicants, despite his Fe being secondary – Fe secondary being a forced adaptation, with Se and Fe both being problematic).
The standard MBTI or socionics stance would probably be that introverted feeling (Fi) is the worst function an INTP; the enneagram however seems to show points Four (Fi) and Five (Ti) as adjacent, meaning that the worst function for Five as Ti-dominant must be either Fe or Te. Both are poor to some extent in the 5w4 (the 5w6 has problems with their Se secondary instead of one of those, I believe Te).
Quite likely Fe is actually the 8th [worst] for Fives in an eight-function model – for something to have been noticed as the inferior function initially, it would have had to have visibly poor functionality, which probably negates the possibility of there being another function that is somehow worse, but invisibly.

While a fear of being inhuman seems to appear in Fives at lower levels and reflects the problems with human relationships that are apparent here (i.e. organ harvesting), Brunner’s characters for example are not particularly lacking in commisseration/sympathy.
It would appear the problem is with a specific part of feeling (or potentially moving/instinctive): a majority of the feeling centre functions, meaning the type is generally fairly ethical and honest, would genuinely regret harming others, and serious antisocial behaviour is unlikely. (Note that Gurdjieff would consider ‘love’ and ‘conscience’ to be separate and distinct functions). Also note that while the surface personality opposes positive emotions, these would be completely absent only if the fixation is severe enough to constitute a major personality disorder (i.e. schizoid personality). Level of integration is one variable in the amount of warmth, as is strength of the wing, with a stronger wing meaning less damage in core Five and more to the adjacent point.
The following then, also from ‘The Totally Rich’, represents a sort of vision of deterioration to level 9:

“I don’t know how her man died. But I’m sure I know why she wanted him back. Not because she loved him, as she herself believed. But because he loved her. And without him, she was afraid.

They are becoming, little by a little, a different species, because what was most human in them is – well, this is my opinion – dead.
They keep apart, as I mentioned. And God! God! Aren’t you grateful?’

Related & Similar Authors:

Apart from the above Edmond Hamilton is probably another 5w4, though could be potentially 4w5, and is much healthier. Love themes appearing more restraining but cynicism appearing in e.g. ‘He Who Hath Wings’ (a winged boy has his wings cut off to marry a woman) or ‘The Man Who Returned’ [showing 4 themes in that someone mistaken for dead finds everyone else is better off without him, including his wife, now free to pursue an affair]. ‘The Man Who Evolved’ shows some 5ish theme as well, where the main character becomes an emotionless giant brain. Hamilton while apparently gifted largely wrote action-adventure SF without great depth.
Julian May is probably a 4w5, with relational cynicism or fear of manipulation in a number of character relationships [e.g. Brian/Mercy in ‘Saga of the Exiles’] Her ‘Mental Man’ resembles Hamilton’s ‘The Man Who Evolved’.
Ray Bradbury [4w5]- shows cynicism about relationships through many of his works, like his “A Story of Love”, which is about a pupil having feelings for their teacher, who rejects them as inappropriate, followed by him leaving and returning years later with his new wife to find the teacher has died. This seems to show a degree of selfishness at a meta level, in that the author perhaps wants her killed when his feelings are not returned, but arranging this through impersonal coincidence. Another 4/5 moment would be when Bradbury talks about ‘discovering his writing talent’ – when writing about a girl who he saw die at the beach, sadness here is mingled with some satisfaction at his having a feeling. Bradbury would overall be dominant in Four, however. Like Brunner (e.g. Seizure) a theme in his work is people being played based on their positive emotions, such as martians impersonating dead people to murder spacemen in The Martian Chronicles. (This is something that could almost be a Six theme too, except that a Six would find it unbelievable an astronaut wouldn’t consider the likelihood its telepathic aliens immediately).

Cyberpunk writer William Gibson is one I have only read a little of, although he seems likely to be a 5w4 [4w5 may be possible, being primarily a question of relative proportion]. His writing has a particular stylistic vibe reflective of Ne/Si split and Ne dominance, where paragraphs seem to jump between extremely detailed descriptions with a sort of gap or shift in the action that requires more effort to follow, causing what’s happened to get lost if attempting to scan through quickly. Compare this to extraverted sensation which gives a fairly continous flow of relevant environmental data, with minimal focus on minor details – specific details sometimes being suddenly scanned for to confirm/deny an Ni theory.
One line in Neuromancer – ‘it was at that point that she realized the rich were not even slightly human anymore’ – parallels closely the closing lines of ‘The Totally Rich’. A similar cynicism toward positive feeling appears, with a character in love finding their partner is a psychologist paid to rehabilitate them by their employer, who leaves without looking back.

Wing Comparisons & Functions

The 5w6 has the same core feeling difficulties as the 5w4, although with perhaps a better outward social adjustment. Without there being any negative emotions from 4 to fill the vacuum, flattening of affect is more noticeable, at least to the five themselves.

Note that it seems many 5w6s (…myself included) score as INTPs on the MBTI. Several who have been analyzed based on literature however seem to ‘really’ have the ISTP pattern i.e. the secondary function appears to be ‘extraverted sensation’. See the first post on the S/N axis.

Some of this difficulty in measurement is due to 6 having difficulty with extraverted sensation, meaning a 5w6 does secondary Se badly (with fears of incompetence, and trying to solve practical problems with excessive thinking) unless the 6 wing is mild. The 6w5s solution of finding a leader to help solve a problem generates anxiety for a 5 due to pushing them into closer association with others than they prefer, but Six anxiety is also a ‘negative’ sort of intuition that tends toward negative analysis [Ni] rather than visionary problem solving [Ne].

Very probable 5w6s showing the ‘ISTP’ pattern include Larry Niven and Rosemary Kirstein. The latter’s ‘Steerswoman’ books show clear Se-based problem solving, for instance at the beginning of the second book, ‘The Outskirters Secret’ where she puzzles out an enemy attack route by drawing a map; the main characters’ sidekick Bel has an 8ish quality due to mainly representing Se; while Ni appears in e.g. 3rd book ‘The Lost Steersman”s very anxious title character.
Her steerswomen trade questions in much the same way Brunner’s Traveller does, although the issue of privacy is also involved in that they must answer any questions asked of them.


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