The Centers of Intelligence and Object Relations: Overview of a New Theory

attachment body centers of intelligence development frustration heart mind object relations rejection Jan 04, 2024

Article by Josh Lavine; Cover Art by Kristen Oberly


Since Ichazo mapped 9 personality types to the Enneagram symbol in the 1960s, enthusiasts have continued to refine the Enneagram in an open source fashion, weaving insights from modern psychology and wisdom traditions into a robust psycho-spiritual whole. Due to this, the Enneagram is unique among personality frameworks in how deeply it penetrates the psyche. 

However, the Enneagram’s rise in popularity has attracted more teachers to the scene, and #Enneagram instagram posts now share factoids ranging from simplistic to inaccurate to absurd (“What plant is best for your enneagram type’s success?!”). The Enneagram has gained wider reach, but misinformation has blurred type distinctions, exacerbated mistyping, and produced widespread conceptual drift.

For example, consider the statement that 4s are “sensitive,” which is common on social media. It’s not wrong, but it’s also misleading. Every type is sensitive to something, but now anyone who identifies as sensitive thinks they’re a 4. Similarly, everyone who’s “intellectual” thinks they’re a 5, everyone who’s “strong” thinks they’re an 8, etc.

Of course we all share common humanity. But types are distinct. To define types in such a way that they don’t blur into each other, we need to look past traits and behaviors to the layers of the psyche where they diverge. Many Enneagram texts speak of types’ different “core drive” and “defense mechanisms,” which point in the right direction. But why do we have different core drives in the first place? To answer this, we need to ask more fundamental questions. What are the basic building blocks of the psyche? What actually is a personality? What is a person, even?

Contrary to the way it is often presented, the Enneagram is not a static framework, but a living inquiry into these questions. I have developed a theory that combines and advances two foundational concepts — the Centers of Intelligence and Object Relations — in a way that provides fresh answers and more precisely outlines the psychological blueprint at the bottom of each type. It does so mainly by suggesting that the Centers of Intelligence develop in order from body to heart to mind during infancy and are stacked like “layers of self,” each situated in a corresponding layer of reality. This view aligns the Enneagram with the natural sequence of infant development, makes sense of the theory of Trifix (and possibly wings), and can perhaps reduce mistyping and help the Enneagram be a sharper tool for seeing ourselves.

This article is a brief overview of my theory.

(Btw, our online course dives deeper into this theory. You can check it out HERE.)


The Development of the 3 Centers

You are not fully baked at birth, but develop over time. As you develop new capacities, you are “born” into the layers of reality to which those capacities give you access. For example, language exists in your environment before you develop the cognitive apparatus to be aware of it. But by developing a language capacity, you arise into the “Layer of Language” and participate as a languaging being. 

Similarly, the Centers of Intelligence correspond to distinct, preverbal layers of reality — Sensation, Gaze, and Orientation — that you emerge into sequentially in infancy. In our typical state of awareness, these 3 layers swirl together indistinctly in the cauldron of inner experience. But the layers differ ontologically and pose distinct existential problems that our egos strive to solve in different ways, so distinguishing between them is quite useful. It is also the foundation of the Enneagram. 

The Body Center & Sensation

For the first few weeks of life, you are basically “just” a body, awash in a sensory surround that is louder, brighter, and more painful than the womb. Your senses are not sharp enough to distinguish objects in your environment or even a “you” that is distinct from your environment. All Is Sensation. You have no notion of “self.” You are not aware of “others,” of being seen or not seen, or of your “identity.” In other words, you have not arrived yet into the layer of Gaze. Neither have you arrived into the layer of Orientation. You cannot yet “make sense” of anything, plan for the future, or evaluate sources of guidance. There is only Sensation, which is everything, everywhere, all at once. Some sensation is pleasant, some is painful and overwhelming. You resent bad sensation both because it is painful and because you must summon precious energy to deal with it. This gives rise to a pervading agony that we call RAGE: “I didn’t even ask to be here, and now I’m being bombarded by irritating and overwhelming sensations. AAAHHH.” The first ego project is that “I” — this new body-self — must get good sensation and defend myself from bad sensation. 

The Heart Center & Gaze

Around 4-5 weeks old, your senses sharpen enough to distinguish objects in your environment, and your motor skills develop so that you can track them with your eyes. Human faces are particularly interesting, and you start to hold eye contact. In a short time, you become aware that “others” exist and are paying attention to you. In other words, you are arising into the “Layer of Gaze.” After a time, you realize that when you are paid attention to, your needs get met; and when you’re not, you don't. You also notice that attention varies in quality. Sometimes mom’s attention makes you feel good, like when she coos, cuddles, and “gets” you (e.g., she knows when you're hungry and feeds you). You come to like and want this “good gaze,” both because it leads to sensory satisfaction, and because it makes you feel valuable, significant, and cared for. However, sometimes mom’s gaze isn’t attuned, like when you’re hungry, but she changes your diaper instead. Worst of all, sometimes you want attention, but she doesn’t give it. This “Bad Gaze” (including no gaze) makes you feel alone, insignificant, and uncared for and gives rise to a new agony that we call SHAME: “I am fundamentally unworthy of good attention.” The second ego project is that “I” — this new heart-self — must attract "good gaze” and avoid “bad gaze.”

The Mental Center & Orientation

By 6 months, you have accrued a baseline mental model of reality, an overall way that you expect things to be.  I call this an Orientation, and having one means that reality can surprise you. This is both exciting and terrifying. Strange shapes move in front of you, stomach aches come out of nowhere… mom was smiling a minute ago, but now she’s not. What’s going on? You have arisen into a new layer of reality -- that of Orientation — in which you are now trying to make sense of reality and realizing that it is always one step ahead of your understanding. Unfortunately, not being able to predict what will happen means that you cannot be assured that you will be okay, giving rise to a third kind of agony that we call TERROR: “I am lost in randomness, confusion, and uncertainty.” A drive emerges to stay alert and update your understanding so that you can orient with more certainty. But how best to update your understanding? What sources will you trust? Yourself? Others? How do you know what’s worth integrating into your understanding? Some sources of orientation bring more clarity and calm your terror: “Good orientation.” Others disrupt your clarity and trigger more terror. “Bad Orientation.” This awareness sets in motion the third ego project: I — this new mind-self — must figure out how to orient reliably by seeking good orientation and avoiding bad orientation. 


3 Layers of Self & Reality

Your body, heart, and mind participate in distinct “layers of reality” — those of sensation, gaze, and orientation — as both source and receiver.

The Layer of Sensation

Your sensory experience arises as a collaboration between your nervous system and anything in your environment that can impact it. A great many things can impact you sensorily — orders of magnitude more than can offer gaze or guidance — such as rocks, plants, atmosphere, lighting, views, sound, touch, and others’ presence, not to mention your own body’s processes like hunger and digestion, to name a few. The basic apparatus for sensation is present at birth, though your sensitivity can develop to become more aware of textures and subtleties over time. When you are just a body, you participate in the sensory layer of reality, receiving sensation from the environment as well as “giving” sensation to other sensing beings by simply being a body.

The Layer of Gaze

The Layer of Gaze is produced and inhabited by beings capable of directing and modulating the quality of their attention, which brings with it the ability to register the direction and quality of others’ attention. You arise into this layer by developing this capacity yourself, which allows you to participate in gaze exchanges with others that can do the same. Your Heart Center is very interested in what others value, and gaze-capable beings show what they value through their attention. The primary Gaze source and archetype is parent, but Gaze from many sources can impact your Heart Center. For example, you may feel valued when your cat greets you but rejected when she ignores you.

The Layer of Orientation

Orientation is created by sentient beings who deliberately participate in the project of updating, confirming, and communicating their map of reality from one mind to another. You arise into the layer of orientation by developing the ability to hold, update, and communicate your map of reality, which allows you to participate in orientation exchanges with others that can do the same. Orientation-capable beings produce and inhabit the layer of Orientation by communicating what they think through action and language. Our mental center is very interested in how others think about the world, since it holds our map of reality and updates it through insight and evaluation of others’ guidance. The primary Orientation source and archetype is also parent, but the Mental Center evaluates orientation from many sources. 

A Note on the Layers

The layers are not equally populated because all beings in higher levels have developed through the lower layers. For this reason, all Gaze Sources are also Sensation Sources, but not the other way around. For example, your cat can give Gaze and Sensation, but a tree can only give Sensation. In the same way, all Orientation Sources are Gaze Sources, but not the other way around. For example, your physics teacher can give you Orientation and Gaze, but your cat can only give you Gaze.



Object Relations Theory has a complex history in psychology, but it can be summarized as a way to understand how one’s inner relations with others in childhood carry into adulthood. A full overview of the origin and evolution of Object Relations Theory is beyond my scope here, but the basic idea is that you, the subject, feel a certain way towards objects in your environment (the primary objects being your parents -- or really, your internalizations of them), and this feeling forms a baseline for how you experience relationships in adulthood.

In more relatable terms, Object Relations is for our purposes a theory about how you respond to parental “misses” in early childhood. As a baby, you need things like touch, love, and milk. But caregivers can’t read you perfectly all the time, so they “miss” you. For example, sometimes you want mom’s attention, but she is dealing with something else at the moment. Ouch. Such minor misses happen thousands of times during childhood, and you have 3 basic responses that accumulate into unconscious patterns of relating that we call Affects.

The 3 Affects


Object Relations & the Enneagram

The 3 Affects have been applied to the Enneagram before, most notably by Don Riso & Russ Hudson, who proposed 3 primary objects — Mom, Dad, and the two together — such that when you line up the 3 Affects and 3 Objects in a 3x3 matrix, you get the 9 Enneagram types. They later replaced “mom” and “dad” with the “nurturing function” and “protecting/guiding functions,” taking gender roles out of it, but keeping the same 3x3 matrix. 



For the last 20 years, this has been the dominant understanding of how Object Relations maps to the Enneagram. In my view, it is incorrect. Consider, for example, that infants can receive nurturance long before they develop the cognitive apparatus to receive guidance. If type 3 is based on nurturance, and type 6 is based on guidance, does type 3 develop before type 6? And if type 9 is based on both, are 9s first “half-baked” by nurturance, and then after some delay, “fully baked” by guidance? Seems strange. 

When the natural sequence of infant development is taken into account, a new theory emerges that replaces the traditional understanding of the object. I conceive of the object not as “mom,” “dad,” or some derivative or combination, but as the “layer of reality” in which each Center is situated. Each center then takes on an Affect in relation to its layer: Sensation in the Body, Gaze in the Heart, and Orientation in the Mind.


The Affects & the Tide Pool Analogy

To understand Attachment, Frustration, and Rejection in relation to a “layer of reality,” consider the following analogy.


Imagine that you are a sponge in a tide pool. The water is the substance of the layer — sensation, gaze, or orientation. The water swirls around and inside you. Often, it feels pleasant — “good water.” But sometimes it doesn’t, such as when impurities get inside you and cause pain. “Bad water.” When this happens, you have essentially 3 possible responses. 

  1. Accept the water (Attachment)
  2. Fix the water (Frustration)
  3. Don’t let any more water in (Rejection)


In the attachment response, you are “attached” to “good water.” Impurities are painful, but you don’t want to close your pores, because then you’d block out the good water. So you stay open. When an impurity enters, you bear it and hope the water will get good again. If it stays embedded, you adapt to it and settle with this new normal of bad water.


Imagine you’re a sponge made out of sandpaper. When impurities enter, they scratch you badly, and you can’t bear the pain. Because you can only feel good when the water is pure, instead of accepting bad water, you get “frustrated” with it and try to purify it yourself. 


Imagine you’re a sponge with insides so delicate that impurities feel like they will destroy you. Good water might be nice, but bad water is so dangerous that you close your pores and become like an oyster with an impenetrable shell, “rejecting” water altogether.




From this point of view, Attachment, Frustration, and Rejection can be thought of as different kinds of boundaries to the water. 

Attachment maintains a permeable boundary by staying receptive to the water. Attachment wants what the water offers, so it lets the water in and adapts to irritants without trying to change them. When an irritant enters, Attachment’s strategy is to numb or adapt and hope that the situation will eventually improve.

Frustration maintains a semi-permeable boundary by staying sensitive to the water while engaging in a constant process of decontamination. Frustration wants what the water offers, but only when it aligns with an inner ideal. It does not abandon this ideal by adapting itself to irritants. Instead, it tries to reform irritants as soon as it feels them.

Rejection maintains an impermeable boundary. It does not admit the water because it has given up on the possibility that the water can be good. When irritants get in, they do so like a splinter, penetrating a boundary with a shock of pain and surprise. Rejection expels irritants violently and immediately.  

Note: I am not saying that the severity of irritants determines which Affect you take on. The Affects are each ways of responding to irritants of any severity. The intensity of the irritant evokes a commensurate response in the style of one’s dominant Affect. 



By lining up the Layers and Affects in a new 3x3 matrix, we see psychological blueprint of each type with precision. 



This blueprint gives rise to all of the traits, attitudes, behaviors, sufferings, “defense mechanisms,” “core drives,” etc by which types are often described. It also has direct implications for inner work, as we shall see.


The Body & Sensation

The Body Center is psychologically anchored in the “layer of sensation” and the ego agenda of getting the right “holding.” I use the term holding because it evokes the idea of a sensory envelope, a kind of total way the environment is “touching” you at all times. The term has the potential to cause confusion because of how often psychologists have used it to mean different things, but I trust my meaning is clear in this context. The Body Center is trying to arrange a cozy, purely-good-sensation, womb-like “holding” in which it feels safe, unbothered, and free to use its life-force as it pleases. All 3 body fixes share a basic fear of “bad holding” and of being violated by unwanted sensations, but they manage this fear in different ways.


9 represents Attachment to Sensation and remains receptive to the layer of sensation in the hope that it will be pleasant and undemanding. But when unpleasant sensations inevitably “get in,” instead of focusing life force to confront them directly, 9 uses its life force to numb itself, effectively turning down the irritant’s — and its own — volume. This later develops into 9’s core drive to feel peaceful, to "just be'' without interference or demand, and to abide in pleasant, harmonious connectedness with the familiar comforts that comprise its world. This also gives rise to the 9’s desire to avoid being disturbed or dysregulated, having unpleasant demands made of it, or having the harmony of its world disrupted.


1 represents Frustration with Sensation and remains sensitive in the hope that the environment will be bearable. But when unpleasant sensations “get in,” it bristles and uses its life force to tense, fuss, and either fix or expel the bad sensations. This develops into 1’s sensitivity to what is “wrong” in their environment, the drive to correct it, and the need to comport themselves in such a way that they do not further contaminate their environment by introducing more wrongness or impurity.


8 represents Rejection of Sensation. Fearing violation and annihilation by bad sensation, it uses its life-force to preempt sensation altogether by numbing in advance, essentially forming a wall against the sensory environment that only permits what the 8 lets in. This later develops into the 8’s core drive to be in control of its situation and to push against the world in order to feel alive (that is, to sense itself). It also gives rise to 8’s desire to avoid having vulnerabilities exposed, being controlled, being caught off guard against sources of unpleasant sensation, or submitting to "power-down" positions in which they can be hurt, controlled, or taken advantage of.


The Heart & Gaze

The Heart Center is psychologically anchored in the “layer of gaze” and the ego agenda of getting “good gaze” — attuned, positive attention that imparts the feeling of being valuable. All 3 heart fixes share a basic fear of “bad gaze” and of being unworthy of good gaze. They manage this fear in different ways.


3 represents Attachment to Gaze and remains receptive to exogenous gaze in the hope that it will be seen favorably. Because of this receptivity, 3 tracks what attracts “the most favorable gaze” and fashions his self-image accordingly. If he attracts enough favorable gaze in this form, he may calcify into a false certainty that this is his true identity. If not, he may continue adapting to become that which exogenous gaze favors, confusing each new adaptation for his true form. 3’s desire to attract positive gaze later develops into type 3’s core drive to feel valuable and worthy of admiration, and to avoid feeling like a failure or a worthless nobody (that is, unworthy of good gaze).


4 represents Frustration with Gaze and remains sensitive to exogenous gaze in the hope that a gaze source will attune to it. But when it receives gaze that does not attune, it winces and fusses in an attempt to motivate the gaze source to attune better. This later develops into type 4’s self-image of being profoundly different from others, as well as 4's refusal to adapt and contemptuous dismissal of the gaze source, which functions doubly as self-image reinforcement and a challenge to the gaze source (“Are you even capable of attuning to me, or to anything?”).  This gives rise to the 4’s need to stay true to itself and its disdain for others’ tastes, preferences, and ways of valuing anything.


2 represents Rejection of Gaze. Similar to 8 in the body center, 2 attempts to form a wall against exogenous gaze that only permits what the 2 “lets in.” Being ignored and unattuned to was so painful that 2 now preempts gaze from affecting it by paying selective attention to exogenous gaze and using its own gaze to see itself favorably. This later develops into the type 2’s self-image of having an unquestionably loving and selfless character and insistence on focusing its gaze upon others, which functions doubly as a self-image reinforcer and a way of preventing incoming gaze from “entering.” ("I’m paying attention to you, not the other way around!”) It also develops into the 2’s desire to be a source of love, to make love happen between others, to “turn the love on” — really, to be a source and instigator of positive gaze. Naturally, it also gives rise to the 2’s difficulty in acknowledging its own desire for positive gaze and in bearing being the object of others’ gaze. 


The Mind & Orientation

The Mental Center is psychologically anchored in the “layer of orientation” and the ego agenda of being reliably oriented for optimal nourishment, safety, and sense-making. All 3 mental fixes share a basic fear of being unreliably or sub-optimally oriented, or of not being able to orient, but they manage this fear in different ways.


6 represents Attachment to Orientation and remains receptive to exogenous orientation in the hope that it will be able to piece together a reliable map of reality from others’ maps. In doing so, it forgets that it is a source of orientation for itself. This gives rise to 6’s core drive to seek and anchor to externally derived guidance, to be loyal to what it has determined to be "true" (proven, valid, verified, "real," reliable), and to feel supported and reassured by that which provides certainty. This also gives rise to 6’s difficulty in trusting its inner guidance, of relying on something fraudulent or invalid, of being “asleep" at the wheel, or of being adrift in uncertainty and without a compass for life.


7 represents Frustration with Orientation and remains receptive to exogenous orientation in the hope that it will point the way towards optimal nourishment. But when 7 experiences exogenous orientation as falling short of its ideal (such as when others say, “You shouldn’t do that!” regarding something the 7 likes), it gets fussy and either attempts to align the orienting source to its ideal or dismisses it altogether to pursue its ideal. This gives rise to 7’s avoidance of being deprived, bored, limited, or trapped in sub-optimal experiences that others accept as “that’s just the way life is.” It is also the basis for 7’s core need to ensure that it has the freedom to explore exciting possibilities, to taste-test fresh orientations, to discover and experience all that life has to offer, and to engage without restriction in what brings them joy, vibrance, and fulfillment.


5 represents Rejection of Orientation. Similar to 8 in the Body Center and 2 in the Heart Center, 5 attempts to form a wall against exogenous orientation that only permits what the 5 “lets in.” 5 fears that being guided by external sources will cloud its ability to see clearly and doom it to madness, confusion, and senselessness, so it prefers to orient itself. This gives rise to 5’s genuinely independent thinking and core drives to avoid feeling unknowledgeable, stupid, and incapable of thinking on its own, to discover insights beyond what has been seen, and to arrive by its own means at intellectual mastery over its domains of interest. It also gives rise to 5’s profound sense of overwhelm in having to figure out the world, since it takes on this project essentially alone.



Will is the ability to control how you participate in the world, and each of your Centers has a will to participate in its corresponding layer of reality: sensation, gaze, or orientation. 



Distortions of Will

An Affect is a habitual distortion of Will that we default into without presence. Attachment disowns its will. Frustration activates its will only in reaction to an irritant. Rejection over-uses its will to remain unaffected by its environment. 

When teachers of wisdom traditions speak of inner work, what they are often referring to in their own language is relaxing our Affects and recovering our undistorted will. 


Will in the Body Center

When we are present in the body center, we can use our body-will consciously to meet our environment in calibrated equilibrium. We experience a sense of personal vitality to face challenges without being overwhelmed, the sensitivity to exert energy as needed, and the strength to affect and be affected by our environment. When we are not present, our will to assert life-force becomes distorted in the style of our dominant Affect. 


9 unconsciously wants the exogenous environment to provide pleasant, womb-like holding and feels that the given holding environment must be perfect, with no irritants or micro-pressures, before it can fully enter life. (“I’ll get to it as soon as I’m not so overwhelmed.”) Rather than assert itself to create better holding conditions, 9 effectively turns off its will to impact its environment and settles with whatever holding its environment provides.


1 creates false holding for itself through the bodily tension generated by getting frustrated with, and fixing, sensory irritants. This usually takes the flavor of bristling and correcting what is “wrong” in its environment — be it a dirty bookshelf or another’s improper behavior. Ironically, 1 depends on irritants in order to soothe itself by reacting in frustration. In this way, rather than having freedom of “natural” self-assertion, 1 only activates its will to assert itself in reaction to an irritant. In order to continue “holding” itself in this way, 1 allows itself to react in frustration to irritants perpetually.


8 creates false holding for itself by pre-numbing (“toughening up”) to remain unaffected by exogenous sensation and pushing against the world to sense itself on its own terms. In doing so, 8 loses “touch” with itself and the world, enters a pattern of using force in order to sense itself, and dulls its sensitivity to calibrate its forcefulness to its environment. 8 refuses to be at the mercy of others because others' will to assert themselves poses a threat to the independent holding that 8 generates for itself. So 8 uses its own will to keep others in check, to expand the territory within which it can act unimpeded, and to let in only those who can receive the 8s forcefulness and whose body-will the 8 trusts is not a threat.


Will in the Heart Center

When we are present in the heart center, we can use our heart’s will consciously to see, know, and value whatever and whoever we direct our gaze towards, including ourselves. We experience a resonant inner knowing of ourselves, a freedom to be “who we truly are,” and a way of being soulfully and intimately connected with whatever we pay attention to. When we are not present, our will to see, know, and value ourselves and others becomes distorted in the style of our dominant Affect.


3 unconsciously wants exogenous gaze to see, know, and value it. However, in order to let exogenous gaze do so, 3 effectively turns off its will to internally derive a sense of identity and self-worth, and to discern what it values via its own gaze. So 3 creates a false self-image by allowing exogenous gaze to determine how it sees and values itself. (“How do you see me? That’s what I am.”) In order to feel valuable, rather than using its own gaze to see and value itself from the inside, 3 reads what exogenous gaze values and fashions itself into that.


4 creates a false self-image and self-worth by getting frustrated with “bad gaze.” 4’s frustration for how others didn’t perfectly see or value it in childhood later expands into adult 4’s judgment and disdain for how others gaze upon anything (“the mass’s bad gaze.”).  Ironically, 4 depends on bad gaze in order to know itself through its frustrated reactions. In this way, rather than having freedom to know who it “truly” is, 4 habitually activates its will to see and value itself only in reaction to irritants. In order to continue defining itself with clarity and specificity, 4 remains open and sensitive to exogenous gaze so that it can react in frustration to “bad gaze” perpetually.


2 generates a false self-image and self-worth by effectively blocking out incoming gaze and seeing and valuing itself for giving gaze. In doing so, 2 loses sensitivity to others’ receptivity to gaze and enters a pattern of forcing its gaze upon others. 2 cannot stand to be the object of others’ gaze because others’ will to see and value poses a threat to the 2’s independently generated self-image. (“What if they don’t see how wonderful I am?”). So 2 uses its own gaze to keep the “flow” of gaze from the 2 to the other and to validate itself for doing so. 2 therefore selects relationships only with those who can receive the 2’s gaze and whose gaze does not threaten the 2’s self-image.


Will in the Mental Center

When we are present in the mental center, we can use our mind’s will consciously to orient, to see through perceptual filters, to discover fresh insight, and to determine what to do without freaking out or second guessing ourselves. We accept that what we need to know will appear to us as we need it, and we experience a sense of calm, open clarity in which we can discern “right guidance” moment to moment. When we are not present, our will to orient becomes distorted in the style of our dominant Affect.


6 unconsciously wants exogenous sources to provide it with a certain, vetted, reliable orientation. However, in order to let them, 6 effectively turns off its will to guide itself. Rather than trust its own insight and inner compass as reliable navigation tools, 6 creates false certainty by anchoring to exogenous ideas of what is true/false, right/wrong, good/bad. (“What do you think? Oh ok, that makes me feel better.”) In order to stay certain, 6 seeks exogenous reassurance that it hasn’t missed anything, “isn't crazy,” is “on the right track.”


7 creates false certainty by reacting to irritants in the orienting field. This usually takes the flavor of reframing or improving upon the presently accepted “way things are,” challenging others’ certainty about life’s limitations, or envisioning possibilities for greater fulfillment. Ironically, 7 depends on bad orientation in order to discover certainty through its frustrated reactions. In this way, 7 activates its will to orient not through promptless, genuine self-guiding, but in reaction to irritants. In order to stay feeling confident, certain, and “on the right track,” 7 remains open and sensitive to the orienting field so that it can react in frustration to “bad orientation” perpetually.


5 creates false certainty by blocking out exogenous orientation and constructing its own orientation through intense concentration and original insight. In doing so, it simply does not ingest or take seriously “what other people think,” dulls its ability to participate in mutual orientation exchanges, and attempts to create “shared mind" with others by imposing its orientation onto them. 5 cannot stand to be oriented except on its own terms because others' will to orient poses a threat to the 5’s independently generated orientation. (“If they tell me something wrong and I believe it, I’ll be just as stupid and insane as they are!”) So, 5 uses its mind-will to seal itself off from exogenous influence, to think in isolation, and to form relationships with people who can receive its orientation or who do not interfere with the 5’s self-orienting agenda.


Final Thoughts

This framework clarifies what is meant by becoming present in all 3 Centers by getting more precise about what we are “doing” in each Center without presence. Our Centers are like layers of self that develop in sequence and participate via a dominant Affect in corresponding layers of reality, each with a distinct ontology. Through presence, we can work to recover our undistorted Will in each Center and become more whole, awake, and effective human beings. 

As with all theories, there is still much to explore. I hope this serves you as a useful overview.

- Josh Lavine

P.S. To learn more, you can check out our online course on this theory HERE -- taught by me and John Luckovich. 

Thanks to John Luckovich for valuable insights and general support in writing this article. 

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