The Six Layers of Personality Type
- Affinity Attribute (Task-execution, Self-discovery, Project)
- Trauma Personality (Task Trauma Person, Social Trauma Person, Performance Trauma Person)
- Core Fix (Confidence/Pleasure vs Insecurity/Questioning fix)
- Myers-Briggs (16 types)
- Enneagram (9 main types, 18 subtypes)
- Instinctual variants (Self-preservation instinct, Social instinct, Sexual instinct)
Another word for this theory could be “The theory of everything regarding human personality type”.
Let me write a short introduction before we get going. So I’ve had this website for a while and then I wrote a different type of personality type analysis of Elon Musk (whom I admire) and it blew up and became the most visited page on this entire website.
Almost every personality type analysis on this website follow the same formula. I first talk about their Myers-Briggs type, I then talk about their their Enneagram type. But with Elon Musk, I added another three layers to the personality type analysis.
Which I have now come to call — the “Affinity Attribute”, “Trauma Personality”, and “Core Fix”. The first was taken from a Personality Café forum post many years ago, and the other two I invented myself fairly recently.
The first one (Affinity Attribute) has been a part of my own personality type theory bank for several years, but I have not used it on this website. The other two are completely new.
I start this post with the new content, which I follow up with an overview of the 8 Myers-Briggs traits, the 9 Enneagram types, and the 3 Instinctual variants.
Here is a brief description of the three new attributes:
- Affinity Attribute (you have a natural affinity towards executing tasks, discovering new things, or starting up projects)
- Trauma Personality (your brain dumps all the emotional garbage in one of three regions of the brain: the task execution region, the social region, the “hightened state” region)
- Core Fix (At the deepest core of your being, you have a Confidence/Pleasure fix, or an Insecurity/Questioning fix)
The “Affinity Attribute”, the “Trauma Personality”, the “Core Fix”, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, and Instinctual variants — form a six layered “blueprint” of human personality. The aim if this post is to outline this theory.
I came across “Affinity Attribute” in its earliest and rawest form on the Personality Café forum many years ago. It wasn’t called that — it did not have a name, it was more of an observation by a forum member. Not an article or even a started thread. Just a post in long thread with hundreds of answers.
I have changed around both the terms and their meaning to fit my understanding of reality, but the core remains the same. That all living people have a natural affinity for two out of these three things:
- Executing tasks
- Exploring oneself
- Starting projects
Everybody have a primary and a secondary attribute. The third one is non-existent. This “natural affinity” comes in the from of an increased biochemical reward for those activities. A type of “natural high” — if you will. Elon Musk is a Task primary and a Project secondary.
He has had relentless task-execution his entire life and has a long history of starting up projects. Even non-essential ones like the “flamethrower” or the man-sized submarine he built for the kids in Thailand. The primary attribute is roughly twice the strength of ones secondary attribute. The system has a similar structure to the instinctual variants (brief description).
The “Task-execution attribute” is pretty straight forward. People with this affinity get a strong biochemical reward for executing tasks. They get “high” while doing them, because they are locked inside a behavioural loop that is predictable and pleasurable (a nice combination). These are the “workaholics”.
People with this affinity tend to have a more narrow attention field. They can get “tunnel vision” — because that is how you finish tasks. I have found a direct correlation between this affinity and success in school and business. This affinity becomes very important when you are supposed to do boring and mundane things. And also, what is working a job if not the completion of a series of tasks? These people are task-execution machines and the highest earner of the group.
The “Self-discovery attribute” makes you focused on self-improvement and self-exploration. Most “Psychonauts” are Self-discovery primaries. A “Psychonaut” is a person who uses psychadelic drugs to explore that vast endless regions of the mind. They tend to be serious and methodical, doing lots of research before trying anything. This “Self-discovery” trait is there to make us discover new sides of ourselves.
One of its main functions is to prevent routine and stagnation from taking over our lives. We grow our character when we force ourself to deal with a new situation. It is also there to counter the fear of the unknown (which is great). Here is something that actually pulls you into the unknown.
“Project” primaries are always starting up new projects. I am a project secondary myself. How do you think this website came about? Although it might seem similar, it is not the same as a new “hobby”. One of these projects might last from a couple weeks to a couple years. This is how people end up creating a new career. They start making a bit of money and start to scale up.
Here is my description of Elon Musks project attribute. If you pursue a new project for two years in a row and nothing comes of it. No friends, no dates, no money, or other useful opportunities — evolution will decide this project is fruitless and you will move on. You will lose all motivation and move on to something different. I’ve had many projects like that myself.
Most entrepreneurs are Project primaries. Especially the ones that start up new projects/companies/organisations — all the time. Starting up a company and staying with it the rest of your life is not an indication or a Project affinity. That is simply a life decision and a career path. Hobbies can stay with you for decades, these projects never do.
The “Trauma Personality” is something I came up with a couple months ago after an enlightening experience. I realized what phobias are, and why they exist. A phobia is essentially a strong irrational fear of something. Why do they exist?
The brain is packing a bunch of trauma from various place and sources into this one box — creating a phobia. This allows a person to be greatly affected in a very niche area, but be completely rational everywhere else. This is superior, since the person is aware of their strong fear and can manage it. The psyche is projecting negative energy and trauma into this one narrow slot.
I pondered this concept for a couple months and came up with three different archetypes. Three different ways of storing pain. I ran this theory against everyone I know well (including myself) and it matched very well. It gave me the creeps, how well it matched observed reality.
Task Trauma Person
If you are a “Task Trauma Person”, then all this negative energy you carry around in your subconscious mind gets activated everytime you perform a task. I’m a “Task Trauma” person myself, and I have an irrational fear of checking my email and paying my bills. I get a spike of anxiety every time.
When you mental health drops, it becomes apparent what type you are. The “Task Trauma” people are the fuckups who never gets their shit togehter. They are great when the pressure is on, they have loads of friends who wants to be with them — but they just can make themselves do these boring tasks that are neecssary for success.
I have an abnormal amount of resistence when it comes do dealing with any kind of bureaucracy. The worse off you are, the more gets projected into these task-execution networks of the brain. They are the “garbage can” of the brain.
Social Trauma Person
If you are a “Social Trauma Person”, then, all this negative energy you built up over a lifetime — is lodged in the “social networks” of your brain. Anything related to people, will also activate this underlying anxiety. It is experienced by the person as an increased level of anxiety.
These kinds of people develop social anxiety very easily, especially at low psychological health. And if it drops even lower, then social phobia. And remember, previous trauma was often inflicted by an actual person, making it even worse.
But even a self-induced car crash (alone on the road) into a tree might create social anxiety for a person like this. Because that is how this type of psyche stores pain. It is a coping mechanism. It places trauma in the social circuits of the brain. These people will often express a strong preference for being alone and say things like: “I don’t like people”.
This type of person will usually pick a low status person in their environment that becomes the target of their negative energy. The worse they are doing, the more they dislike this person. And since this person is low status (and was picked for a reason), they can’t really fight back.
Nothing bonds a group together better than a common enemy. Most families have a black sheep that gets to absorb enourmous amounts of negative energy from the environment. The common tactic is to pick something that is true, but blow it completely out of proportion.
This is a common trait in social circles where everyone can’t get along. There is always some feud, or some dispute. A lot of bullying happens because of this trait.
Performance Trauma Person
A “Performance Trauma Person” is someone who store all their negative energy in the “performance” or “hightenes state” regions of the brain. These people can get into the zone, but only during certain activities. They shy away from high pressure situations and activities.
These people often have anxieties built up around sex that go bayond what’s normal. And since they don’t feel “good” during sex, it is harder to perform. Creating another negative memory, eroding confidence further. It becomes a negative cycle, a worm eating its own tail.
This type of “Performance Trauma” setup is essentially the anti-dote to being an adrenaline junkie. It’s the complete opposite. These people shy away from any “intense” situation, because it fills them with anxiety. These people can become dry, predictable, bureaucratic, and boring. This this type of setup does seem to increase long term thinking. These people do well in an office environment. Or within a larger company structure.
Since I have been a hardcore MMA fan for 15+ years, I’ve come across many fighters with this setup — and they struggle to perform when the lights are on. They have a hard time getting into “the zone”.
The last thing I introduced for the first time in the Elon Musk analysis was the “Core Fix”. I came up with that name just as I started writing this, because I had to call it something. Basically, every living person on Earth has a “fix” at the deepest core of their personality. It is either a “Confidence/Pleasure fix” or an “Insecurity/Questioning fix”.
There are other established theories that mirror this idea. Have you heard of the “A” vs “T” extension of Myers-Briggs?
- “A” stands for “Assertive”
- “T” stands for “Turbulent”
So an INTP can either be an INTP-A or an INTP-T. Here is Googles highest ranking article of the subject:
- Assertive Logician (INTP-A) vs. Turbulent Logician (INTP-T) (16 Personalities)
I can recommend it. I actually like this extension of Myers-Briggs a alot. I makes sense, and it mirrors what I see in reality. The “A vs T” dichotomy can be applied to all 16 types of Myers-Briggs. If you read the article you will find that it mirrors my theory almost exactly.
Even the numbers that describe the two types. How the “A” version is much more happy with themselves in all regards? They have confidence wired into the very fabric of their personality.
But I would phrase is as having an INTP “with a Confidence fix” (instead of A). Or an INTP “with an Insecurity fix” (instead of T). Myers-Briggs has been around for ages, but this “A vs T” system is the only extension I have found that has gotten any traction whatsoever.
I find there to be an even split in the population between a Confidence fix and an Insecurity fix. About 50/50. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The key advantage of the Insecurity fix is motivation and adaptability (both are increased).
The “Confidence/Pleasure fix” wires confidence, pleasure, feelgood, and relaxation into the core parts of ones personality. It is the foundation that everything else is built upon. Confident people like themselves more, feel less stress, and are generally happier.
This trait is better for dealing with danger and high pressure situations. Most leaders have a “Confidence fix”. It is generally advantageous when dealing with people.
People with a “Confidence fix” can struggle with motivation. Insecurity is the biggest motivator of all time. They already like themselves, so why bother? Over time, this can lead to an inproductive lifestyle.
This trait has two main vices. The first one, mentioned above, is laziness. The other is arrogance, overconfidence, and narcissism. You can become an unbearable self-centered asshole, especially men who on average are wired to be more confident than women. When I think about it, I might consider adding “selfishness” as a third vice.
This type of fix peaks in high school, while the other fix peaks at 40. That’s a very general statement, that is more true than it is false. This type tends to be self-sufficient, individualistic, and somewhat anti-authoritarian. They also tend to be more “charming”, “funny”, and “smooth”. They tend to be rulebreakers and a little “naughty”. Virtually all “effective assholes” have a Confidence fix. Like Steve Jobs.
People with a “Insecurity/Questioning fix” have insecurity, second-guessing, and self-consciousness built into their very personality type. This makes them naturally insecure high achievers. Because they don’t “like” themselves, or think they are enough.
These types of people are easily manipulated by intelligent psychopaths, and almost all followers of strange sects have this fix. These people have a higher fear of confrontation, are less individualistic, and more group minded. They have a built-in protection against arrogance, narcissism, and delusional confidence.
I have noticed that most relationships have one of either fix, they balance each other out. The “Insecurity/Questioning fix” people are higher on stress and “negative emotion”. They are less prone to taking risks. They peak later in life. They tend to get high value partners for what they have achieved, as opposed to who they are.
They are more agreeable and more adaptable. They have more empathy and are less demanding on the environment, unless they are constantly expressing their worries and fears. The key benefit of this fix is a high sustained motivation.
But the stress of second-guessing oneself all the time can become unbearable. When things go wrong, they tend to blaim themselves instead of others. They are more likely to stay in dysfunctional relationships (because they don’t think they deserve better). Motivation and adaptability are the two biggest advantages of this fix.
There is an overemphasis in our society on “confidence”, everybody are just supposed to be confident all the time. But if that actually was a large advantage evolution would have weeded out all the insecure types a long time ago (didn’t happen).
I feel like our culture as whole dislikes an insecure man. But everybody can’t be confident leader types — if society is to function. Confident people tend to downplay risk, so they suffer catastrophic bodily injury more often than an insecure person. The most common reasons would be falls, physical fights, and car accidents.
In the Myers-Briggs system of 16 personality types, there are four “either or” predicaments that make us who we are. They are:
Introversion vs Extroversion
- Introverts generate energy when they are by themselves, and lose energy when they are with people. The energy of an Introverts is directed inwards, instead of outwards (of an Extrovert). Introverts like to do one thing at the time, instead of many things simultaneously. Generally, Introverts have more depth, and Extroverts have more breadth.
- Extroverts gain energy from being with people, and lose energy when they are by themselves (for long periods of time). The energy of an Extrovert is directed outwards. Extroverts are better at juggling many different things at once. Extroverts are socially skilled, and are often social butterflies. Many Extroverts thrive on attention and are the life of the party. Extroverts are more open minded, less serious, and tend to live in the moment.
Sensing vs Intutition
- Sensors use their senses to navigate and understand the world. They are big on common sense. They are down to earth, practical, and use specific facts to understand a larger situation. Sensors often talk in a predictable, steady pace. When a Sensor is creative, it is almost always with their hands or their body. They don’t get that excited by words, they are more about action. Sensors are drawn to comedians with a strong physical presence, like Jim Carrey, Kevin Hart, and Eddie Murphy. Sensors get off on experiencing reality with their five senses.
- Intuitives are much more abstract in their thinking, they are drawn to systems, concepts, patterns, ideas, tendencies — the big picture stuff. Intuitives are self-conscious by nature, and use their internal language engine to translate their thoughts into acceptable speech patterns. Intuitives are much more imaginative, can get lost in thought, and bounce from subject to subject in a conversation. This can be annoying for a level headed Sensor. Sensors stay on one subject until it is done. Intuitives get off on processing information.
Thinking vs Feeling
- Thinkers are good at understanding and manipulating the inanimate world, items, machines, structures, mechanical and mathematical systems (like computer programming). They very often feel like people are too emotional and should think things through with their logical mind. Thinkers are not “sensitive”, and are better at handling confrontations and dealing with disharmony than Feelers. They are seen as “tough”, and “durable”, and sometimes a little dry & boring.
- Feelers are sensitive and people-oriented by nature. They easily understand humans, emotions, intentions, sarcasm, and various forms of humor. They have a lot of empathy, which is an advantage in social situations. Feelers are inclined to make decisions with their gut or their heart. This is their preference. Most Feelers strongly dislike confrontations (the Feelers that handle confrontations well are usually Judgders).
Judging vs Perception
- Judgers approach life in a structured way, creating plans and organizing their world to achieve their goals and desired results in a predictable way. They get their sense of control by taking charge of their environment and making choices early. They are self-disciplined and decisive, and seek closure in decisions. When they ask for things they are specific and expect others to do as they say. They enjoy being experts. At work, they decide quickly and clearly and work to get the job done. Perceivers may see them as rigid and opinionated.
- Perceivers perceive structure as being more limiting than enabling. They prefer to keep their choices open so they can cope with many problems that the know life will put in their way. They get their sense of control by keeping their options open and making choices only when they are necessary. They are generally curious and like to expand their knowledge, which they will freely acknowledge as being incomplete. They are tolerant of other people’s differences and will adapt to fit into whatever the situation requires. At work, they tend to avoid or put off decisions, leaning towards exploring problems and situations. Judgers may see them as aimless drifters.
The Personality Enneagram consists of 9 archetypes. Each archetype has a secondary type, or a “wing” — that sits to the side of the main type. A wing is always right beside the main type it supports.
The Enneagram Type 5 (Investigator) can have the Type 4 as a wing, or the Type 6. Creating the 5wing4, or the 5wing6. You are mostly your primary type, but also your secondary type.
Here is an overview of the 9 main types that make up the personality enneagram:
- Type 1: The Perfectionist
- Type 2: The Helper
- Type 3: The Achiever
- Type 4: The Individualist
- Type 5: The Investigator
- Type 6: The Loyalist
- Type 7: The Enthusiast
- Type 8: The Challenger
- Type 9: The Peacemaker
Type 1: The Perfectionist
Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective.
- Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced.
Key Motivations: Want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism — so as not to be condemned by anyone.
Ones often persuade themselves that they are “head” types, rationalists who proceed only on logic and objective truth. But, the real picture is somewhat different: Ones are actually activists who are searching for an acceptable rationale for what they feel they must do. They are people of instinct and passion who use convictions and judgments to control and direct themselves and their actions.
In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving in to them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves. It seems to them that they are sitting on a cauldron of passions and desires, and they had better “keep the lid on” lest they and everyone else around them regret it.
Type 2: The Helper
Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved.
- Basic Desire: To feel loved.
Key Motivations: Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.
Being generous and going out of their way for others makes Twos feel that theirs is the richest, most meaningful way to live. The love and concern they feel—and the genuine good they do—warms their hearts and makes them feel worthwhile. Twos are most interested in what they feel to be the “really, really good” things in life—love, closeness, sharing, family, and friendship.
However, Twos’ inner development may be limited by their “shadow side”—pride, self-deception, the tendency to become over-involved in the lives of others, and the tendency to manipulate others to get their own emotional needs met. Transformational work entails going into dark places in ourselves, and this very much goes against the grain of the Two’s personality structure, which prefers to see itself in only the most positive, glowing terms.
Type 3: The Achiever
Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others.— The Enneagram Institute
- Fear: Of being worthless.
- Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile.
Key Motivations: Want to be affirmed, to distinguish themselves from others, to have attention, to be admired, and to impress others.
Everyone needs attention, encouragement, and the affirmation of their value in order to thrive, and Threes are the type which most exemplifies this universal human need. Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy (like Sevens), or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring (like Eights). They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value.
The problem is that, in the headlong rush to achieve whatever they believe will make them more valuable, Threes can become so alienated from themselves that they no longer know what they truly want, or what their real feelings or interests are. In this state, they are easy prey to self–deception, deceit, and falseness of all kinds. Thus, the deeper problem is that their search for a way to be of value increasingly takes them further away from their own Essential Self with its core of real value.
Type 4: The Individualist
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.
- Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance.
- Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an identity).
Key Motivations: Want to express themselves and their individuality, to create and surround themselves with beauty, to maintain certain moods and feelings, to withdraw to protect their self-image, to take care of emotional needs before attending to anything else, to attract a “rescuer.”
While it is true that Fours often feel different from others, they do not really want to be alone. They may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, but they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings. The “romantics” of the Enneagram, they long for someone to come into their lives and appreciate the secret self that they have privately nurtured and hidden from the world.
If, over time, such validation remains out of reach, Fours begin to build their identity around how unlike everyone else they are. The outsider therefore comforts herself by becoming an insistent individualist: everything must be done on her own, in her own way, on her own terms. Fours’ mantra becomes “I am myself. Nobody understands me. I am different and special,” while they secretly wish they could enjoy the easiness and confidence that others seem to enjoy.
Type 5: The Investigator
Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable.
- Basic Desire: To be capable and competent.
Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.
We have named personality type Five The Investigator because, more than any other type, Fives want to find out why things are the way they are. They want to understand how the world works, whether it is the cosmos, the microscopic world, the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms—or the inner world of their imaginations. They are always searching, asking questions, and delving into things in depth. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth of most assumptions for themselves.
Knowledge, understanding, and insight are thus highly valued by Fives, because their identity is built around “having ideas” and being someone who has something unusual and insightful to say. For this reason, Fives are not interested in exploring what is already familiar and well-established; rather, their attention is drawn to the unusual, the overlooked, the secret, the occult, the bizarre, the fantastic, the “unthinkable.”
Investigating “unknown territory”—knowing something that others do not know, or creating something that no one has ever experienced—allows Fives to have a niche for themselves that no one else occupies. They believe that developing this niche is the best way that they can attain independence and confidence.
Type 6: The Loyalist
The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance.
- Basic Desire: To have security and support.
Key Motivations: Want to have security, to feel supported by others, to have certitude and reassurance, to test the attitudes of others toward them, to fight against anxiety and insecurity.
The reason Sixes are so loyal to others is that they do not want to be abandoned and left without support—their Basic Fear. Thus, the central issue for type Six is a failure of self-confidence. Sixes come to believe that they do not possess the internal resources to handle life’s challenges and vagaries alone, and so increasingly rely on structures, allies, beliefs, and supports outside themselves for guidance to survive. If suitable structures do not exist, they will help create and maintain them.
The biggest problem for Sixes is that they try to build safety in the environment without resolving their own emotional insecurities. When they learn to face their anxieties, however, Sixes understand that although the world is always changing and is, by nature uncertain, they can be serene and courageous in any circumstance. And they can attain the greatest gift of all, a sense of peace with themselves despite the uncertainties of life.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.
- Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain.
- Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled.
Key Motivations: Want to maintain their freedom and happiness, to avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, to keep themselves excited and occupied, to avoid and discharge pain.
Sevens are frequently endowed with quick, agile minds, and can be exceptionally fast learners. This is true both of their ability to absorb information (language, facts, and procedures) and their ability to learn new manual skills—they tend to have excellent mind-body coordination, and manual dexterity (typewriting, piano playing, tennis). All of this can combine to make a Seven into the quintessential “Renaissance person.”
Sevens cope with anxiety in two ways. First, they try to keep their minds busy all of the time. As long as Sevens can keep their minds occupied, especially with projects and positive ideas for the future, they can, to some extent, keep anxiety and negative feelings out of conscious awareness. Likewise, since their thinking is stimulated by activity, Sevens are compelled to stay on the go, moving from one experience to the next, searching for more stimulation. This is not to say that Sevens are “spinning their wheels.” They generally enjoy being practical and getting things done.
Type 8: The Challenger
Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.— The Enneagram Institute
- Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others.
- Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny).
Key Motivations: Want to be self-reliant, to prove their strength and resist weakness, to be important in their world, to dominate the environment, and to stay in control of their situation.
Eights have enormous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when they are exercising these capacities in the world. They use their abundant energy to effect changes in their environment—to “leave their mark” on it—but also to keep the environment, and especially other people, from hurting them and those they care about. At an early age, Eights understand that this requires strength, will, persistence, and endurance—qualities that they develop in themselves and which they look for in others.
Eights do not want to be controlled or to allow others to have power over them (their Basic Fear), whether the power is psychological, sexual, social, or financial. Much of their behavior is involved with making sure that they retain and increase whatever power they have for as long as possible. An Eight may be a general or a gardener, a small businessman or a mogul, the mother of a family or the superior of a religious community. No matter: being “in charge” and leaving their imprint on their sphere is uniquely characteristic of them.
Eights are the true “rugged individualists” of the Enneagram. More than any other type, they stand alone. They want to be independent, and resist being indebted to anyone. They often refuse to “give in” to social convention, and they can defy fear, shame, and concern about the consequences of their actions. Although they are usually aware of what people think of them, they do not let the opinions of others sway them. They go about their business with a steely determination that can be awe inspiring, even intimidating to others.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
- Basic Fear: Of loss and separation.
- Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind”.
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
We have called personality type Nine The Peacemaker because no type is more devoted to the quest for internal and external peace for themselves and others. They are typically “spiritual seekers” who have a great yearning for connection with the cosmos, as well as with other people.
They work to maintain their peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in their world. The issues encountered in the Nine are fundamental to all psychological and spiritual work—being awake versus falling asleep to our true nature; presence versus entrancement, openness versus blockage, tension versus relaxation, peace versus pain, union versus separation.
We have sometimes called the Nine the crown of the Enneagram because it is at the top of the symbol and because it seems to include the whole of it. Nines can have the strength of Eights, the sense of fun and adventure of Sevens, the dutifulness of Sixes, the intellectualism of Fives, the creativity of Fours, the attractiveness of Threes, the generosity of Twos, and the idealism of Ones. However, what they generally do not have is a sense of really inhabiting themselves—a strong sense of their own identity.
Nines demonstrate the universal temptation to ignore the disturbing aspects of life and to seek some degree of peace and comfort by “numbing out.” They respond to pain and suffering by attempting to live in a state of premature peacefulness, whether it is in a state of false spiritual attainment, or in more gross denial. More than any other type, Nines demonstrate the tendency to run away from the paradoxes and tensions of life by attempting to transcend them or by seeking to find simple and painless solutions to their problems.
The instinctual variants are part of the Enneagram theory package. Everybody has a primary instinct, and a secondary instinct. Ones primary intinct is roughly twice the strength of ones secondary instinct. Here is a brief description of all three instincts.
My own words: The Self-preservation instinct is often refered to as “Self-preservation”. Most self-made rich people and professional athletes are Self-preservation primaries. The Self-preservation instinct overlaps strongly with the basic survival instinct.
Self-preservation primaries seem to have a larger, or more active, reptile brain. They tend to have good spatial awareness and good body-coordination. They are more self-centered and selfish than the other instincts.
They also have less empathy. They are level-headed. They are long term thinkers. At lower psychological health, they can become self-absorbed and start to obsess about their health. They have an interest in working out or other physical activities. They are often into alternative medicine or similar practices.
The Self-preservation Instinct
Here is a description from The Enneagram Institute:
People who have this as their dominant instinct are preoccupied with the safety, comfort, health, energy, and well-being of the physical body. In a word, they are concerned with having enough resources to meet life’s demands. Identification with the body is a fundamental focus for all humans, and we need our body to function well in order to be alive and active in the world.
Most people in contemporary cultures have not faced life or death “survival” in the strictest sense; thus, Self-Preservation types tend to be concerned with food, money, housing, medical matters, and physical comfort. Moreover, those primarily focused on self-preservation, by extension, are usually interested in maintaining these resources for others as well.
Their focus of attention naturally goes towards things related to these areas such as clothes, temperature, shopping, decorating, and the like, particularly if they are not satisfied in these areas or have a feeling of deficiency due to their childhoods. Self-Pres types tend to be more grounded, practical, serious, and introverted than the other two instinctual types.
They might have active social lives and a satisfying intimate relationship, but if they feel that their self-preservation needs are not being met, still tend not to be happy or at ease. In their primary relationships, these people are “nesters”—they seek domestic tranquility and security with a stable, reliable partner.Enneagram Institute
My own words: The Social instinct makes you want to belong to a group. It increases the biochemical rewards for belonging to a group, tipping the pro/con scales in favour of the group. It encourages you to sacrifice to maintain group harmony.
In many ways, the Social instinct is the antidote to the ego. The ego only cares about you, while the Social instinct cares about the group. There is a conflict of interest there. “Group” here can be group of friends, church, family members, or some other organization.
This type of person is much less individualistic, and can get stuck in dysfunctional relationships (more likely). If you want my honest opinion, I believe the Social instinct was an advantage historically but is a disadvantage today. Because society has moved from small tribes and villages to individuals. Companies prey on the Social instinct by manufacturing consent towards a certain product through clever and manipulative advertising.
Modern western culture seem to favour the “rugged individual” to the compliant citizen. Being a lone rebel has become a “sexy archetype”.
The Social Instinct
Here is a description from The Enneagram Institute:
Just as many people tend to misidentify themselves as Sexual types because they want one-on-one relationships, many people fail to recognize themselves as Social types because they get the (false) idea that this means always being involved in groups, meetings, and parties.
If Self-Preservation types are interested in adjusting the environment to make themselves more secure and comfortable, Social types adapt themselves to serve the needs of the social situation they find themselves in. Thus, Social types are highly aware of other people, whether they are in intimate situations or in groups.
They are also aware of how their actions and attitudes are affecting those around them. Moreover, Sexual types seek intimacy, Social types seek personal connection: they want to stay in long-term contact with people and to be involved in their world. Social types are the most concerned with doing things that will have some impact on their community, or even broader domains.
They tend to be warmer, more open, engaging, and socially responsible than the other two types. In their primary relationships, they seek partners with whom they can share social activities, wanting their intimates to get involved in projects and events with them. Paradoxically, they actually tend to avoid long periods of exclusive intimacy and quiet solitude, seeing both as potentially limiting. Social types lose their sense of identity and meaning when they are not involved with others in activities that transcend their individual interests.Enneagram Institute
My own words: The Sexual instinct should probably be called the “Intensity instinct” — because that is exactly what it is. It gives its host a capability to experience very intense emotions, along with a desire to feel them. It makes you value the moment. It makes you present.
It’s important to understand that every personality type trait comes with its own unique reward system to guide our behavior in that direction. This reward system is built into our mental map of reality, how we process information, and store memories. It all blends together.
The Sexual instinct encourages you to trade long-term goals for short term pleasure. In many ways, it is the opposite to the Self-preservation instinct (which encourages long term thinking). If unchecked, the Sexual instinct can have a hedonistic quality to it.
Sexual instinct primaries appear more “lively” and “emotional” and get bored more easily. They are easily distracted. Similar to having a mild ADHD. They are “the entertainers” of the Instinctual variant types. They have the lowest ability out of the three types to do repetitive boring tasks.
Although The Sexual instinct gets “activated” during sex, it has no direct relationship to sex. You don’t have to be a sexual person to be a Sexual instinct primary. But a higher proportion of Sexual instinct primaries are drawn to sex as a tool of expression. On a biological level, the Sexual instinct increases the amount of short fast brain waves.
The Sexual Instinct
Here is a description from The Enneagram Institute:
Many people originally identify themselves as this type because they have learned that the Sexual types are interested in “one-on-one relationships.” But all three instinctual types are interested in one-on-one relationships for different reasons, so this does not distinguish them. The key element in Sexual types is an intense drive for stimulation and a constant awareness of the “chemistry” between themselves and others.
Sexual types are immediately aware of the attraction, or lack thereof, between themselves and other people. Further, while the basis of this instinct is related to sexuality, it is not necessarily about people engaging in the sexual act. There are many people that we are excited to be around for reasons of personal chemistry that we have no intention of “getting involved with.” Nonetheless, we might be aware that we feel stimulated in certain people’s company and less so in others.
The sexual type is constantly moving toward that sense of intense stimulation and juicy energy in their relationships and in their activities. They are the most “energized” of the three instinctual types, and tend to be more aggressive, competitive, charged, and emotionally intense than the Self-Pres or Social types. Sexual types need to have intense energetic charge in their primary relationships or else they remain unsatisfied.
They enjoy being intensely involved—even merged—with others, and can become disenchanted with partners who are unable to meet their need for intense energetic union. Losing yourself in a “fusion” of being is the ideal here, and Sexual types are always looking for this state with others and with stimulating objects in their world.Enneagram Institute