Misidentifying Fours and Sevens
Fours and Sevens are vastly different, and except for a superficial similarity at Level 6 of both types, it would be difficult to see how anyone familiar with both could misidentify them for long.
It seems, however, that the basis for mistaking them is that both types tend to be excessive–Sevens go to extremes in the external, material world with the lavishness and number of possessions and experiences they acquire. Highly materialistic, Sevens tend to become jaded and hardened, insensitive and demanding, selfish and uncaring about others. At Level 6, we have characterized them as The Excessive Materialist.
Fours at the same Level (The Self-Indulgent Aesthete) are also excessive and go to extremes, although emotional extremes. Emotionally self-indulgent, average Fours go for the big emotional charge in their fantasy lives, allowing themselves to feel and imagine anything, no matter how ultimately unrealistic or emotionally debilitating it might be. They wallow in their feelings and fantasies, squeezing the last breath of life from them to reinforce their sense of self. Thus the Four’s self-indulgences are more internal and private, centered on the emotional world they inhabit. Outwardly, their emotional excess is expressed in an increasing preciosity and impracticality, an effete, over ripe decadence and sensuality that is the main point of similarity between the two types. While both types may become decadent and sensual, Sevens do so to dissipate themselves and thus flee from anxiety. By contrast, Fours embrace sensuality, luxuriating in sex or drink or drugs to heighten their emotions and to deaden the pain of their self-consciousness.
Both types share a love of fine, expensive things, although here too there are differences. Fours make do with fewer material things, cherishing beautiful objects for the sake of their beauty and the feelings that beauty awakens in them. A stone picked up on the beach or a twig with a single bud can quicken their aesthetic feelings and satisfy them. By contrast, while average Sevens want to possess beautiful objects, they become increasingly unappreciative and insensitive to the beauty or value of those objects. They become acquisitive not because they enjoy things for themselves but because possessing things provides a sense of security. And even more fundamentally, what excites Sevens is the stimulation they feel when they desire something new. The stimulation of their appetites reinforces their sense of self, although once they have actually acquired what they want, they usually lose interest in the acquisition. The pair of shoes that they were “dying” to have joins the racks with dozens of others; the fur coat they were drooling over for weeks suddenly becomes “that old thing” as they turn their attention to acquiring something else. In short, average Sevens tend to be acquisitive materialists, while average Fours tend to be languishing aesthetes–very different types. Compare the styles of Bob Dylan (a Four) and of Elton John (a Seven) and those of Ingmar Bergman (a Four) with Steven Spielberg (a Seven) to understand the difference.