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Enneagram Theory: The Cutting Edge of Our Subtype Knowledge According to Claudio Naranjo


The second of three guest blogs by Beatrice Chestnut, Ph.D.

What follows here is a brief description of each of the 27 subtype characters according to Naranjo’s 2004 lecture. (I will abbreviate as follows: SP=self-preservation, SO=Social, and 1-1=one-to-one.)  I also indicate which of the three subtypes in each personality is the countertype, the type that goes against the usual flow of the passion as expressed by the type.

The SP One is the most anxious and worried One and, perhaps, the most anxious and worried of all the types, Sixes included. SP Ones usually report having had a history of being put in the position of taking on a large amount of the responsibility for the family at an early age – too much responsibility. The SP One is the true perfectionist, needing to control everything and make sure everything is right and okay all the time. Controlling the environment is related to ensuring the One’s sense of survival.

If the SP One is the true perfectionist among the Ones, the SO One is perfect. The SO One has a teacher mentality and feels a need to represent the perfect model of how to be. SO Ones can be above-it-all, or know-it-alls, as they can appear superior and highly confident in their view of what is the right way to do things.  The need for superiority reflects a need to have some power over others and can also act to separate them from other people.

1-1 Ones: In contrast to the SP One, who is a perfectionist, and the SO One, who is perfect, the 1-1 One perfects others, being more of a reformer than a perfectionist. 1-1 Ones can seem like Eights in that they can be zealous and driven to make the changes they feel strongly about.  In this character, anger potentiates desire, and there is an intensity of desire both to get what one wants and to change other people and society to fit one’s ideals. (This is the countertype.)

The three Two subtypes each represent a different approach to the neurotic need to seduce.

SP Ones seduce like a child in the presence of grown-ups. Having the strongest love need of the three Twos, they strive to be charming and giving in the service of unconsciously maneuvering other people into liking them and taking care of them.  More childlike than the other Twos, SP Twos are more fearful of and ambivalent about relationships, so can look like Sixes. (This is the countertype.)

SO Twos seduce groups from a position of power. Social Twos seduce people by being smart and competent. The Social Two is the “power Two,” and is often the owner of the company or the person in charge.  This is a more adult Two than the SP Two and can resemble a type Three or a Type Eight.

The 1-1 Two is a wilder, more emotional Two that resembles the “femme fatale” archetype or male equivalent. The 1-1 Two is good at seducing specific individuals in a more classical version of seduction. 1-1 Twos look for that one other person who will take care of them and use their attractiveness to win over that person.  The 1-1 is a “dangerous” beauty who displays a lot of forward momentum in moving toward others.

The three type Three subtypes are very interesting, and I think they shed light on why many Threes have a hard time finding their type. The Social Three is what many of us think of as Three, and so people who may be SP Threes or 1-1Threes may have a harder time finding themselves in the Enneagram system.

The SP Three is a One-ish Three who has a vanity for having no vanity. While this Three still wants to be seen as successful, the SP Three doesn’t want others to know that image is important. As a result, they may not be as forthcoming about their accomplishments as the Social Three.  This highly self-sufficient Three is concerned with looking like the perfect model of whatever role they may play – actually being good at the things they do, not just looking good. (This is the countertype.)

The SO Three is what we know as the classic Three, a person who wants recognition, likes to be the center of attention, and needs to look good in the eyes of the group and make things happen in service of the group or organization. SO Threes have a very hard time being vulnerable and can be very sensitive if they feel like they are being made to look bad. They also like to take charge and do whatever it takes to further the goals of the group.

The 1-1 Three is a Two-ish Three who achieves in service of important others. This charismatic Three excels at looking good and attracting others, who then become the focal point of their efforts.  This is the most emotional Three, and they can be shy as a person, but can support others with a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication.

Naranjo explains that the three Fours represent three different approaches to the neurotic need to suffer. SO Fours suffer, SP Fours are long-suffering, and 1-1 Fours make others suffer.

The SP Four is someone who does not suffer out loud, does not complain, is relatively autonomous, and who makes a virtue out of enduring pain without wincing.  These Fours are tougher Fours, more masochistic than melodramatic. These are also Oneish Fours – stoic, austere, and self-disciplined individuals who challenge themselves to achieve rather than engage in longing. (This is the countertype. I’ve encountered many people who say they can’t find their Enneagram type who end up being SP Fours.)

The SO Four is emotionally sensitive and feels things deeply. They lament frequently and tend to take on the victim role. In contrast to the 1-1 Four, the SO Four is not competitive, though they often compare themselves to others and find themselves lacking. For the SO Four, there is a need for self-abasement and self-recrimination. It’s as if you want to ask them, “What’s wrong with you that you think there’s something wrong with you?”

The 1-1 Four is more assertive than the SO Four.  Whereas the SO Four feels a great deal of shame, the 1-1 Four is shameless. These Fours can be very outspoken with their anger, and they are very competitive.  They express envious anger, an envy that manifests as competition. In addition, the 1-1 Four tends to be more vocal about expressing needs, and they rebel against any shame they may feel is related to their desires.

Naranjo explains that in contrast to the three Four subtypes, which are quite different from one another, the three Five subtype characters look rather similar to each other.

The SP Five has a passion for hiddenness or sanctuary. There is a strong need for boundaries and to have control over these boundaries.  The SP Five is the least expressive of the three subtypes, and they have particular difficulty expressing anger. Although SP Fives can be expressive, it is always on their terms.

The SO Five relates to the group in terms of “super ideals.” In this sense, they do not relate to the people, but to the very outstanding among the people. These Fives can typically be more “out there” than other Fives.  The search for “super ideals” reflects this Five’s search for meaning in the world and underscores their sense of struggle with a polarity between extraordinariness and meaninglessness.

The 1-1 Five is one of the most romantic of the 27 types. This romanticism gives them a vibrant inner life.  They tend to be very passionate about one person, often a person they cannot find. Similar to the SO Fives’ search for super ideals, 1-1 Fives look to find the exemplar of absolute love, someone whom they can trust with their inner world. (This is the Five countertype.)

In the SP Six, fear manifests as insecurity, as a fear of not being protected. In light of this, SP Sixes seek the warm embrace of family and friends, seeking to escape anxiety through becoming close to and dependent on others. In a world they perceive as dangerous, SP Sixes seek to form alliances; for this, they endeavor to be friendly, trustworthy, and supportive, as allies are supposed to be.

The SO Six is very concerned with knowing what the rules and guidelines are. Like good girl scouts or boy scouts, they are dedicated to adhering to the group code.  These Sixes have the mind of a lawgiver and can be very legalistic. Lacking either trust in self (like the 1-1 Six) or trust in others (like the SP Six), the SO Six relies on abstract reason or ideology as an impersonal frame of reference. These Sixes have a love of precision and efficiency and an intolerance of ambiguity.

The 1-1 Six is the most counterphobic Six.  These Sixes have a need not just for strength, but also for intimidation. There is an inner program that the best defense is a good offense, and anxiety is allayed by skill and readiness in attack. 1-1 Sixes tend to move against danger, and this can give them the look of a trouble-maker. They tend to move toward risky situations, feeling a sense of safety in confronting threats rather than avoiding them, and they trust themselves more than others or rational principles. (This is the countertype of type Six.)

SP Sevens are make alliances, collecting around themselves a kind of family or partisan group.  They rely only on those they trust. In contrast to the 1-1 Seven, who is idealistic, the SP Seven is pragmatic and materialistic.  SP Sevens are good at taking advantage of good opportunities and finding ways to further their self-interest.  SP Sevens are both pleasure-loving and good at getting what they want.

The SO Seven represents a purer character who expresses a kind of counter-gluttony, in that the SO Seven focuses on not exploiting others and helping and supporting the group. SO Sevens postpone the fulfillment of their own desires for an ideal of supporting others, and they want to be seen as good for their sacrifice. A generalized tendency of this type is to adopt the role of helper and to be concerned with the alleviation of pain. (This is the Seven countertype.)

The 1-1 Seven is a dreamer who expresses the need to imagine something better than stark, ordinary reality. This is a gluttony for things of the higher world, for idealization. They have a passion for embellishing reality, and they tend to look at things with the optimism of someone who is in love. Because of this, they have a tendency to display too much optimism and enthusiasm.

The SP Eight expresses a strong need to get what’s theirs – to get what they need for survival. They have a strong need for satisfaction and an intolerance of frustration, often going after what they need without talking about it very much. In this subtype, there is an exaggerated ability to take care of oneself and one’s own needs. SP Eights are the most armed and protected of the three Eights.

The SO Eight is a contradiction: a rebellious person who goes against social norms, but who is also oriented toward protection and loyalty.  Archetypically, this was the child who got violent in protecting the mother from the father – violence out of solidarity. In contrast to the SP Eight, the SO Eight is more loyal and less aggressive.  (This is the countertype.)

The 1-1 Eight has the strongest anti-social tendency and is the most rebellious and emotional of the three Eight subtypes. They are out front, openly saying their values differ from the norm. 1-1 Eights can be fascinating and more colorful than the other Eights. They can be passionate and energetic, and they typically use this big energy to take over the whole scene.

The SP Nine expresses the need to find protection and comfort through merging with an experience of the satisfaction of physical needs. Through consistently getting lost in activities they enjoy– for example, eating, sleeping, reading, doing crossword puzzles, or working – they simultaneously experience comfort and avoid or forget their own sense of being. These Nines like to be alone more than the other Nines. They are also practical and would rather get absorbed in a familiar and comforting activity than take the risk of expressing themselves in the world.

The SO Nine has a need to feel a part of the group that over-compensates for an experience of feeling different or not a part of the group. SO Nines can be workaholics in service of the group, working hard and unselfishly to support the family or group without showing their stress or putting a burden on other people. SO Nines can be good leaders who may look like Threes. (This is the countertype of type Nine.)

The 1-1 Nine expresses a need to be through the other; they try to gain a sense of being not found inside themselves by fusing with somebody else.  These Nines may find it difficult to locate their own passion for living, so they unconsciously seek it in someone else, usually someone who is important to them. These Nines tend to be tender and sweet, and they may not realize they are living through specific others. These Nines are also kind and gentle and not very assertive.

Beatrice Chestnut has been studying the Enneagram system for over 20 years. She holds graduate degrees in Communication and Clinical Psychology, has a private psychotherapy and coaching practice in San Francisco, California, and is currently writing a book on the Enneagram types and subtypes. She can be reached at bmchestnut2@sbcglobal.net.

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Margaret Konopelky
Margaret Konopelky
2 years ago

I am wondering if my subtype remains the same when I go with or against the arrows or when I use either wing?
I suspect that I am a self preservationist Four.
When I move towards One do I take on the qualities of the self preservationist One whether good or bad?
Does this also happen when I go to Two?
Do I take on the qualities of the self preservationist Two and so on?
Thank you.

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