MBTI Type: INFJ
Howard has boiled his understanding of the universe and what motivates everyone down to three essential abstracts: Time, Love, and Death. He says people want more time, they all want love, and they fear death. After his daughter’s death, instead of coping with his reality, he writes letters to the three abstract concepts! His inferior Se comes into play, as he pushes away from his basic needs (he stops eating, he lives in an apartment with no furniture in it and sits on the floor, and he recklessly rides his bicycle into oncoming traffic in order to feel alive). His former self “loved life,” as Claire puts it, and now he has zero interest in it, but even distracted and depressed, he has intuitive perceptions into everyone around him (Claire sacrificed her time to help them build the business and has been covering for him; Simon is dying; and Whit has daughter issues, and doesn’t “need to ask permission to be her father”). Since he’s the one with the “vision,” when he mentally checks out, the business suffers. Howard refuses to talk about his daughter, but that’s the only way for him to heal; he keeps being pulled to a therapy group and to his ex-wife, but it’s not until he vents his feelings, both to the three abstract concepts, and admits his daughter’s name and the details of her death aloud that he can cope. His coworkers describe his former self as “likable, charismatic,” and deeply “caring about his employees.” His opening monologue is a NiFeTi speech about the “why” of coming to work, motivating his employees, uniting them as a cohesive family, and expressing a larger vision for the company; without his charisma in the board room and with clients, it falls apart. Howard wants things to make sense, and isn’t satisfied until one of the concepts explains to him, “I am the why!” He’s both tuned in to his coworkers emotional needs (even when seriously ‘checked out’) and completely rational when they finally get through to him; he accepts this is the best thing, to sell the company, but while doing it, offers emotional support and reassurances to all his friends (when he has every right to be angry with all of them!).
Enneagram: 3w2 so/sp
Before his daughter’s death, Howard is extremely ambitious, motivated, inspirational before an audience, and hard-working. He builds up an excellent company that takes care of its employees and serves its clients well. He used his 3 to inspire, motivate, and earn money, and his 2 wing to help others, to mediate between them, and to be warm, personable, and get ahead in life. After his daughter’s death, he falls into 9 disintegration – he loses all interest and motivation in life, he goes numb to his feelings, he refuses to talk about anything that troubles him, and he spends all day in the office on an extremely pointless, detailed, and menial task – lining up and knocking down dominos. It takes the three spirits to wake him up, shake him out of his complacency, and restore him to a healthy, happy man able to face his pain rather than numb himself to it, and repair his relationship with his wife.