Author Enneagram Case Study – Michael Ende (3w4)

Type: 3w4 (so?)
Level of integration: average to healthy

Type allocation based on: type-specific behaviour (fictional); functions

Note: Lower likelihood of 4w3 as opposed to 3w4. Spoilers for The Neverending Story follow.



Michael Ende was a German children’s fiction author, probably most famous for The Neverending Story, though he wrote a few other books besides (the only other one I’ve read being Momo). Note this article is based on the English translation of these only. Also note that the book differs very significantly from the movie – the movie follows only the first half of the book, even then with some omissions.
Ende’s background is heavy in artistic influence (his father being a notable painter); I believe he would be primarily a 3, but with a heavy 4 wing generated or reinforced by environmental influences.

Biographically, Ende was involved in radio and had an interest in acting before writing. Born in 1929, he was drafted into the German army in the last year of WW II, deserting to join a Bavarian resistance unit.
Rudolf Steiner’s anthomosophy [Waldorf school] is sometimes quoted as an influence, but having briefly investigated him, he seems to have limited relevance on themes as discussed here.
Here I’ve chosen The Neverending Story / Ende since it has a sort of “spiritual journey” feel that captures some of the nature of type Three, despite wing (Four) influence also seeming quite strong.

The Neverending Story – Plot Summary

A boy, Bastian, is running away from bullies when he enters a shop where he finds a book, The Neverending Story, which he steals and then ditches school to read.
In the book, a force called the Nothing has begun to consume the world of imagination [Fantastica] and its ruler, The Childlike Empress, is dying. A young hunter [a greenskin, basically a Native American], Atreyu, is sent on a quest to find a cure. Along the way he loses his horse but picks up the ‘luckdragon’ Falkor, and travels to the Southern Oracle, learning that the Nothing can be stopped if the Childlike Empress gets a new name, which only a human from beyond the borders of Fantastica can give to her as, Fantasticans cannot create . After being told that it has no borders, Atreyu returns to the Empress to report that he has failed; she tells him he actually succeeded, because his quest has attracted the attention of a human, Bastian.
Bastian is reluctantly drawn into the world of the book, where he finds his wishes can all be granted- but at the cost of slowly losing memories of his own world. Coming under the influence of the sorceress Xayide, he plans to take over Fantastica and crown himself Emperor but is stopped by his friends after a great battle. Finally, discovering he has only a few wishes left, he struggles to escape Fantastica.

Type Signifiers in Ende

Ende seems to have particular issues around self-image that look fairly characteristic of Three.
The main character Bastian as a loser is a reflection of a Three-ish worldview, albeit one that an actual Three would be trying to avoid; this is not too atypical for a 3w4 (see Related Authors). Failure is seen as something to avoid particularly, e.g. when Bastian must return to the Empress to report that he has failed.
An ‘idealized image’, or desire for the admiration of others (to support such an image) is apparent in various places:
*characters are frequently described in terms of how famous they are e.g. Cairon; competition is a theme in e.g. Bastian defeating Hero Hynreck; importance given to Atreyu being taken off a hunt that would signify him to be an adult in order to take up the quest.
*The gnome Engywook is a scientist, but largely hoping to win reputation as “the world famous professor Engywook”.
*positive view of pride/vanity; for instance Atreyu’s people are described as “proud” as a positive quality.
*Bastian (at a low point) dismissing opinions which lessen his self-esteem, e.g. ignoring obvious evidence that Xayide allowed herself to be defeated to win him over.
*Xayide herself is intensely ambitious and more or less a classic unhealthy Three a la Riso; Bastian’s deterioration into evil also follows the expected pattern.
*intuitive focus on how things appear e.g. how good an impression is being made – “the onlookers applauded with a will”.
*the City of the Old Emperors illustrates a 3 focus on energetic doing, but in a bad way: everyone is frenetically busy, but doing pointless activities.

In a positive direction, integration to high-Six may be going on fairly easily; in the book, Atreyu ‘feels all his fear fall from him’ at the first of the three Magic Gates to the Southern Oracle.

The other two challenges probably represent difficult things for Threes: the Third Gate works because “our will makes it unyielding”, and can only be opened by someone who “forgets all purpose and succeeds in wanting nothing at all.”, while the Second Gate is quite interesting:

… when you stand before it, you see yourself. But not as you would in an ordinary mirror. You don’t see your outward appearance; what you see is your real innermost nature. If you want to go through, you have to in a manner of speaking go into yourself.”
“Well,” said Atreyu. “It seems to me that this Magic Mirror Gate is easier to get through than the first.”
“Wrong!” cried Engywook. Once again he began to trot back and forth in agitation. “Dead wrong, my friend! I’ve known travelers who considered themselves absolutely blameless to yelp with horror and run away at the sight of the monster grinning out of the mirror at them.”


Type Three: The Spiritual Journey

The main and most interesting part of the book, however, is the second half when Bastian goes to Fantastica. The central theme here is one of authenticity, or a conflict between real self and idealized image; Bastian as he enters the world of imagination slowly becomes unreal:

“Why did you keep me waiting so long?” he heard her ask.
“Why did you make me go to the Old Man of Wandering
Mountain? Why didn’t you come when I called?”
Bastian gulped.
“It was because,” he stammered, “I thought all sorts of reasons – fear – well, to tell you the truth, I was ashamed to let you see me.”
She withdrew her hand and looked at him in amazement.
“Ashamed? Why?”
“B-because,” Bastian stammered, “you – you must have expected somebody who was right for you.”
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked. “Aren’t you right for me?”
Bastian felt that he was blushing. “I mean,” he said, “somebody strong and brave and handsome -maybe a prince – anyway, not someone like me.”
He couldn’t see her, for he had lowered his eyes, but again he heard her soft lilting laugh.
“You see,” he said. “Now you’re laughing at me.”
There was a long silence, and when Bastian finally brought himself to look up, he saw that she was bending very close to him. Her face was grave.
“Let me show you something, my Bastian,” she said. “Look into my eyes.”
Bastian obeyed, though his heart was pounding and he felt dizzy.
In the golden mirror of her eyes, he saw, small at first as though far in the distance, a reflection which little by little grew larger and more distinct. It was a boy of about his own age; but this boy was slender and wonderfully handsome. His bearing was proud and erect, his face was noble, manly and lean. He looked like a young prince from the Orient. His turban was of blue silk and so was the silver embroidered tunic which reached down to his knees. His high boots, made of the softest red leather, were turned up at the toes. And he was wearing a silver glittering mantle which hung down to the ground. But most beautiful of all were the boy’s hands, which, though delicately shaped, gave an impression of unusual strength.
Bastian gazed at the image with wonder and admiration. He couldn’t get enough of it. He was just going to ask who this handsome young prince might be when it came to him in a flash
that this was his very own self his reflection in Moon Child’s golden eyes.
In that moment he was transported, carried out of himself, and when he returned, he found he had become the handsome boy whose image he had seen.

Little by little his pleasure in being handsome underwent a change. He began to take it for granted. Not that he was any less happy about it; but now he had the feeling that he had never been any different.
For this there was a reason which Bastian was not to discover until much later. The beauty that had been bestowed on him made him forget, little by little, that he had ever been fat and

This continues through the book; Bastian finds he has wishes for various things which include:
*strength, toughness, to be respected for his storytelling, to be feared. Each takes away memories of his own world and of who he is – an opposition between genuine self and self-image.

Over time he becomes increasingly heroic, but also more ’empty’ with things taking a darker turn when he comes under the influence of the sorceress Xayide. [“My will can control anything that is empty”]. He attempts to conquer Fantastica, but is thwarted by his friends. Stumbling away from the battle he finds the City of the Old Emperors, filled with humans who he discovers have used up their last wish. At this point he tries to leave Fantastica, and starts to find more good wishes deeper in himself, e.g. to be loved and love others.

He no longer wanted to be the greatest, strongest, or cleverest. He had left all that far behind. He longed to be loved just as he was, good or bad, handsome or ugly, clever or stupid, with all his faults or possibly because of them.
But what was he actually like?
He no longer knew. So much had been given to him in Fantastica, and now, among all these gifts and powers, he could no longer find himself.

These eventually bring him to the “Water of Life”, at the gateway out of Fantastica:

As they advanced, one after another of Bastian’s Fantastican gifts fell away from him. The strong, handsome, fearless hero became again the small, fat, timid
boy. Even his clothing, which had been reduced almost to rags in the Minroud Mine, vanished and dissolved into nothingness. In the end he stood naked before the great golden bowl, at the center of which the Water of Life leapt high into the air like a crystal tree.
In this last moment, when he no longer possessed any of the Fantastican gifts but had not yet recovered his memory of his own world and himself, he was in a state of utter uncertainty, not knowing which world he belonged to or whether he really existed.
But then he jumped into the crystal clear water. He splashed and spluttered and let the sparkling rain fall into his mouth. He drank till his thirst was quenched. And joy filled him from head to foot, the joy of living and the joy of being himself. He was newborn. And the best part of it was that he was now the very person he wanted to be. If he had been free to choose, he would have chosen to be no one else. Because now he knew that there were thousands and thousands of forms of joy in the world, but that all were essentially one and the same, namely, the joy of being able to love.
And much later, long after Bastian had returned to his world, in his maturity and even in his old age, this joy never left him entirely. Even in the hardest moments of his life he preserved a lightheartedness that made him smile and that comforted others.

Quickly Bastian cupped his hands, gathered as much of the Water of Life as he could hold, ran to the gate, and flung himself into the empty darkness beyond.
“Father!” he screamed. “Father! I am Bastian – Balthazar – Bux!”

Note that while they’ve identified the Water of Life with love, implying that most characters including the other Fantasticans don’t have that, Bastian already actually does seem to have a degree of warm feeling toward various other characters – particularly the Childlike Empress, as can be seen in the description of her, and despite her more or less attempting to reduce him to a mindless shell. Bastian also seems to feel toward Atreyu (despite at one point attempting to kill him); while a number of characters also appear devoted to other characters in various ways to some extents e.g. Yikka or Dame Eyola to Bastian, or perhaps Hero Hynreck to Princess Oglamar. Bastian is overcome with emotion on finding a picture of his father frozen in a block of ice, before finding the water.
We could say that perhaps the Water of Life is very specifically about Bastian loving himself, and hence having self-esteem that is grounded interiorly, rather than being dependent on the approval of others or feeling that he’s a loser. (and his screaming his name is about his having found himself, a part of that).

[Compare Five description e.g. John Brunner for more discussion on love in the sense of loving others, instead]

Other types considered / Disambiguation

Five is one type that I had considered for Ende, given interest in books and some degree of introversion apparent in Bastian. Some degree of scientific or intellectual interests are there, but the core motivation isn’t particularly Five like in that the primary motivation is to be admired or respected, instead of a function of an innate detachment or intellectualization. Ende’s own interest in acting seems slightly at odds with a normal Five dislike of being centre stage. He also acts irrationally (by Five standards) in accepting the Childlike Empress’ attempt to (basically) murder him.

For awhile I had considered Nine as well (w1) – one question being whether Xayide is reflective of extraverted rather than introverted intuiton; another is whether 9 resignation is enough to account for the depressive themes found (a 9w1 having tertiary Fi, rather than secondary: Si/Te/Fi/Ne stack, assuming 9 is Si), or whether upbringing accounts for his resonance with artistic themes. A certain amount of irritation also seems evident [=Te], while the ‘magic mirror gate’ themes seems like things Ones might also find hard.

Overall, The Neverending Story and Momo show some Nine themes – that is, a glorification of spending time in imagination and in procrastination (Momo) – in a way which would probably be healthy personal growth in a 3, and unhealthy or at best average in a 9. A charitable assumption would be that he’s a 3, then. Momo also shows 9ish traits in her ability to resolve conflicts via listening, while the Childlike Empress is non-judgmental, drawing ‘no distinction between good and bad, beautiful and ugly”. The ending at the ‘water of life’ would fit the traditional Ichazo perspective of the Nine essence, not that I agree with that perspective especially.
Primarily however, Ende’s ego-drive toward being admired or respected, however, seems much, much higher than would be expected in a Nine (or a Five). It would also be possible he would have incorporated some ideas/suggestions from someone else (e.g. his wife, whose type is unknown).

Jungian functions

Symbolically, probably Atreyu represents Se, whereas Bastian represents Fi and by default the luckdragon is probably Te (but is less developed). Theoretically Falkor seems to represent hope; if that is the inferior function in 4s (Te as opposed to Fi), that becomes the tertiary function in a 3w4 [Se/Fi/Te/Ni].

Early in the book, in order Atreyu struggles with first Morla the Aged One [sadness, i.e. feeling], then the coldly pragmatic Ygramul the Many [thinking?] before finally meeting the werewolf Gmork. [who stretches the comparison somewhat].
In the second part of the book however, the major villain, the sorceress Xayide is strongly representative of Ni (despite a manipulativeness that resembles inferior feeling); she lives in a hand-shaped castle studded with eyes, “The Seeing Hand” and has odd-coloured eyes (suggestive of uncanny perception). “My knowledge is not of the kind that can be proved”. She conflicts most strongly with Atreyu [Se].
The spiritual themes of the book are somewhat suggestive of Ni, at some level [note that the other work profiled here as a sort of spiritual quest would be Louise Coopers’ Indigo series – 2w3 ENFJ i.e. introverted intuition secondary]. A ‘twist’ appears near the end when Bastian’s problem is redefined – “what he had hoped was his doom and what he had feared his salvation”. However, possibly much of the imagination here may strictly speaking be a result of introverted-feeling, rather than introverted-intuition.


“Why didn’t they run away?” he murmured.
“Because they had given up hope. That makes you beings weak. The Nothing pulls at you, and none of you has the strength to resist it for long.”

“At the moment you can’t even leave here. I hold you fast with your hope.”
Hope is a sort of pivotal theme in The Neverending Story which gets numerous mentions.
Atreyu and then Bastian use the word itself frequently and very often are on the edge of giving up; Atreyu considers suicide as early as page 30 (upon reaching the Dead Mountains), by which stage his horse Artax has already sunk into the Swamps of Sadness.
Later, Xayide dies when her golem servitors, controlled by her will, trample her to death, in response to her unconscious wish for it after she fails to conquer Fantastica.

Ende’s writing style is also interesting and perhaps reflective of limitations in problem solving, in that when writing he would often create a scenario and then wait awhile before a solution appeared in his mind.

Ichazo speaks of ‘hope’ as the Holy Idea for type Three. Viewing the essence as something that is buried or lost for a type, however, it is hard for me to see how this relates to Three; it could be something that should be a quality of the more overtly depressed Four. However, see also the discussion of Horney’s theory of neurosis, below.
As a 3w4, it is difficult to say with any certainty as to if this relates to the type (3) or wing (4) from an analysis of Ende.


Related authors:

Two other authors I believe are probably 3w4s would be Roger Zelazny and Jack Vance, both of whom are quite well-regarded.
Similar to Ende, Vance has a quite descriptive writing style; feeling quality is lower in his work which often focusses on morally ambiguous characters being involved in some form of chicanery.
Vance’s characters are usually strongly egotistical, with a particular eccentricity of dress or presentation, also tending toward various addictions and (the main thing that seems out of place for Three is that his characters are also generally lazy).
Depression/failure comes through in a few stories, e.g. “Green Magic” where a character studies with sprites in order to gain increased attractiveness and powers, only to be depressed and disgusted by Earthly life.

Zelazny’s style is again fairly descriptive; his characters again tend to be morally ambiguous. Characters tend to have a certain wish-fulfillment quality focussing on being admired or respected – princes (Amber), religious leaders (Lord of Light); a particularly three-ish character being one in ‘Isle of the Dead’, a centuries old businessman/deity who gets sidelined midadventure to close a business deal and has multiple much younger girlfriends.

More obscurely, romance/thriller (mostly) writer Herbert D. Kastle matches Ende fairly closely in many aspects of his writing style. Kastle’s work is much more sexually focussed; Kastle has a very clear extraverted-sensation primary with a good grasp of reality (house values, car types, etc.) and relatively limited imagination, but some themes are similar: his “The Reassembled Man” deals with the loser-becoming-a-winner theme found in The Neverending Story, when an unattractive marketing executive is made over into a muscular sex god.
Descriptions of feelings of joy on being transformed are similar to Ende’s, as is vindictive triumph.
Oscar often considered a 4w3 as well, but might also be a 3w4. His “The Picture of Dorian Gray” again deals with issues related to self-image/self-destruction and his vanity appears fairly pronounced.

3w2s probably include E.E. “Doc” Smith, and probably L. Ron Hubbard.
E. E. “Doc” Smith would be an ESTP [Ti auxiliary]; ‘loser’ themes are lowered with his characters being generally over-the-top, omnicompetent types – highly driven. Characters frequently have a ruthless, calculating quality, and are highly competitive, while bad guys (and sometimes good guys, when dealing with bad guys or where necessary) are fairly deceptive. Characters are fairly physically vain, particularly females. Good guys have a tendency to overwork, needing the women to tell them to stop. Somewhat chauvinistic attitudes. No particular tendency toward depression seems evident, though his Arisians are interesting from a ‘hope’ perspective in that they have a comprehensive ability to foresee the future.

Another person of interest in considering Ende’s work is psychologist Karen Horney. She could well be a 3, although Riso seems to consider some of her work in his description of 6 (conflict between aggressive and compliant traits). – most likely 3w2 or 2w3,  [the patient Clare in self-analysis is reportedly based on her i.e. compliant type predominantly, although Horney also seems relatively competitive and prestige-focussed].

Her work focusses on inner conflict as generated by conflict between the ‘Going Away’, ‘Going Toward’ and ‘Going Against’ character patterns; all three seem active in Ende in that Bastian makes separate wishes that correspond to each – to be strong and eventually to be feared, to be wise (which he attempts by showing off) and to be loved. She also emphasizes the role of the idealized image and notes that it replaces genuine strength and self-confidence – being always found with self-hatred – “they are two aspects of one process”.

Horney speaks of neurotic hopelessness, noting that her view of neurosis is more treatable but suggests a more serious problem that other authors’ e.g. Freud’s idea of neurosis as a blocked instinctive hungers – but multiple drives running in opposite directions mean that their capacity to actually wish for anything is blocked by wanting things that are contradictory. One of her main works, Our Inner Conflicts, is available here:


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