The DailySkew conducted a lengthy interview with the Founder of the National Animalgram Society and Chairperson of the Enneagram Association, Dr. Richard Hoffman. Although the focus was about advanced Enneagram theories, Dr. Hoffman did not give permission for me to publish that yet. Instead, The DailySkew was given the right to publish Hoffman’s thoughts on the reason people are obese, and how many habits are formed during our childhood.
DailySkew: What is the main cause of bad habits in people?
Dr. Richard Hoffman: Before I answer that question, it should be noted that we as a society have downgraded the severity of the term “bad habits”. “Bad habits” implies a minor personality quirk, such as twirling one’s hair or biting one’s nails. On the contrary, the real “bad habits” are actually life-threatening. Drinking alcohol in excess, becoming addicted to drugs, obesity-
RH: Oh yes, yes, of course. Eating too much is a bad habit, that should not be shocking.
DS: But why do we eat too much? Is it because food is just so accessible here in North America?
RH: It’s also accessible in Japan.
RH: The real reason why people are obese is because eating gives them pleasure and transports them to a place that is safe and comfortable…a place with little or no distress or worries about paying bills, relationships, and other adult responsibilities.
DS: What place is that?
RH: Their childhood.
DS: Are you saying-
RH: Yes, over-eating is a subconscious retreat from stress. As children we ate indiscriminately because our metabolisms generally were able to burn off the calories. As children we could devour slices of pizza, ice cream, candy, hamburgers, hot dogs and it felt good. But more importantly, for most of us, we enjoyed that Golden era in our lives. We want to relive it when life gets too tough as adults.
DS: Why not play with toys instead? (LOL)
RH: (Does not laugh) Some adults do. Thus we have adults who like athletics, or adults who play video games, or collect comic books.
DS: Uhm, I see.
RH: But those are harmless ways to relive the childhood.
RH: And this brings me full circle to another point I want to make.
DS: Go right ahead.
RH: There is a correct course of human development from infant to child to teenager to young adult to full adulthood. And if there is a childhood desire that becomes unfilled during an early point in development, the person create mental blocks and will struggle throughout his or her life. Depending on how much this need was not satisfied, the person may stay at an unhealthy or average level of development. Didn’t get enough attention from your mother as a kid? You will do what it takes to GET that attention from women later one. Dropped as a baby? Trust goes out of the window. Had a dad that focused on his business too much over you? You will be prone to self-esteem issues.
RH: Read about the Enneagram. Identify your personality type. Apply its recommendations to live a mentally healthy life. Break the habits. Although we are all prone to doing irrational things to satisfy these unfulfilled childhood desires, which manifest into being skewed, we don’t have to follow “the script” that the Unseen Hand writes for us. More easily said than done, which is why 99% of us choose to remain in the dark and blame external forces for our own “issues”.
DS: Have we deceived ourselves into believing being an “adult” equates to being “mature”?
RH: Yes. In fact, I am reminded of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Rascals”, where some of the crew have their bodies transformed into their kid-selves, but their minds remain in-tact. So we have a child version of Captain Piccard trying giving orders to an adult Riker, but Riker isn’t buying. The kids aren’t respected, but they think they have the authority that adults wield. In many ways, if you’ve ever been in an office meeting with many different personality types, they might as well have been kids dressed in oversized adult clothes.
DS: Yup! My office meetings generally had the blustering control freak boss-
RH: Who was generally a bully when he was a kid because he wanted to control his environment due to some unfilled need. Adults are actually worse off than kids; kids are generally innocent and need guidance and support. Yet if they don’t get it, they become mean adults. I also should state that the opinions of children are not filtered with bias, and we as society tend to overlook their views.
DS: Which Enneagram books do you recommend?
RH: Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson’s Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery, which I understand you call The Orange Book (chuckles) and Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types, which you call The Purple Book.
DS: Just wanted to let readers know that if they click on the above links they can get those books for their lowest price of all time.
RH: Both books for under 10 dollars if they get used versions. Can’t get any better than that.