The Enneagram Subtypes
Descriptions of the Enneagram’s 27 subtypes
How do subtypes help us?
There are many layers to the Enneagram. Each describing a different aspect of inner work. One of those layers is subtypes.
The 27 subtypes help to:
- Explain variations in the expression of each of the core type
- Teach us how to spot those patterns in action
- Describe how to deconstruct each pattern
What are subtypes?
Subtypes are an energetic and psychological mix of each type’s passion with the dominant survival instinct.
There are nine passions and three survival instincts, combining to make 27 subtypes.
The survival instincts are known as self-preservation, social belonging and sexual fusion. But just like most words in the Enneagram, they are a shorthand to explain a vast psychological complex rather than a simple drive for safety, friends or sex.
Below are (very) brief descriptions of the 27 subtypes.
The passion of One is Anger, which is a resentment at having to fix or correct things. That becomes three different drives for perfection.
Strive to make everything perfect, including themselves. Worry and feel anxious, but appear friendly and warm especially when angry. More critical of self than others.
Strive to role model the perfect or “right way to be.” Less worried, more confident. Will teach or show others what’s right. Once they find the “right” way, they are rigid about it being the “only” way.
Strives to perfect others, as well as teams and organisations. More comfortable expressing anger, criticise others more than themselves. Can zealously advocate for reform.
The passion of Two is Pride, which is a way of making yourself important in the eyes of others. This becomes three different ways of charming others to get their own needs met.
Charm others by being pleasing and likable. Are more fearful and sensitive, and can be ambivalent about connection. Playful, fun-loving and cute. Tend to withdraw when upset.
Charm through power and competence. Tend to be in positions of leadership and influence. Often know the right people. Strategic, ambitious and super-competent.
Charm specific individuals through being appealing and generous. Charismatic, outgoing, create an attractive image and are not afraid to pursue relationships with specific others.
The passion of Three is Self-deceit, which is forgetting who you are by shapeshifting into an image of what others value. This becomes three different ways of deceiving themselves.
Want to be seen as a good person as defined by social consensus. Efficient workaholics, they want to be successful without appearing vain or arrogant. Feel responsible for everything. Anxious underneath.
Want to be seen as successful. Enjoy being on stage, present a polished image, like to be recognised and admired. Competitive, good at promoting themselves and pitching a product. Comfortable in the spotlight.
Want to be seen as appealing, attractive and as supporting others success. Sweet, shy, charismatic, enthusiastic. Put a lot of effort into promoting others. Want to make others look good.
The passion of Four is Envy, which is a way of comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate. This becomes three different ways of suffering.
Internalise a sense of inadequacy and work hard to prove themselves. Stoic, strong, appear happy as they don’t easily express their emotions. Work hard to get what others have that they lack.
Externalise their suffering by complaining or competing when they don’t get what they need. Emotionally sensitive, their suffering feels comfortable and familiar. Believe their suffering makes them unique.
Externalise their suffering by making others suffer. Assertive, angry, outspoken. Competitive and arrogant as they believe it’s good to be the best.
The passion of Five is Avarice, which is a way of withholding something that sustains the self. This becomes three different ways of withdrawing or hiding.
Hide in a space that is all their own. Create a place of refuge that has everything they need, so they don’t have to leave if they don’t want to. Has a hard time communicating with others, more guarded.
Hide behind knowledge and intellect. Have “super ideals” and connect to people who share them. Don’t feel connected to people in their everyday life. Searching for ultimate meaning in life. Readily share their knowledge.
Are more romantic, emotionally sensitive and intense. Seeking an ideal relationship but hide themselves until the potential partner has proven themself. Vibrant inner life, which they can convey through artistic self-expression.
The passion of Six is Fear, or anxiety, which becomes three different ways of responding to fear.
Cope with fear by finding friends and protectors. Are warm, affectionate, friendly, and also questioning, doubting, and hesitant. They ask many questions but don’t answer any. Struggle with decision making. Good troubleshooters.
Cope with fear by following a good authority and being obedient. That can be a person, an ideology or a system. Tend to be highly responsible, dutiful and legalistic. Can be too certain and be too reliant on rules.
Copes with fear by looking scary, strong and avoiding vulnerability. Believe the best defence is a good offense. Can be intimidating without realising it. Can be rebellious, risk-takers and troublemakers. Good at managing threats proactively.
The passion of Seven is Gluttony, which is a need for variety. Which translates into three very different kinds of gluttony.
Want a variety of practical pleasures. Opportunistic, pragmatic, calculating and good at networking. Good at getting what they want and finding a good deal. Make alliances with people who can help them get what they want.
Express an anti-gluttony through being of service to others. Want to be good and be seen as unselfish. They give more and take less. They imagine a better world in which there is no pain. Sacrifice their own desires for an ideal of service.
Want a variety of dreams and positive fantasies. Positive dreamers living life based on how things could be. Live with “rose coloured glasses.” Tend to embellish reality. Have hard time taking in the negative.
The passion of Eight is Lust, which is a need for excess. This expansion is expressed in three different ways.
Excess of energy to get what they need for survival. They act in powerful and direct ways without fuss or explanations. They know how to barter and bargain, and are no nonsense, no worries, no pretenses and no long explanations.
Excess of energy to protect others. Rebel against social norms but are assertive in the service of others. “Social-anti-social” person. Protects the weak, exploited or the oppressed. Sensitive to injustice. More mellow and friendly than other 8’s.
"Centre of Things"
Excess of intensity for possessing everyone’s attention or a charisma for taking over the whole environment. Rebellious, outspoken, like to be seen as bad, enjoy breaking the rules. Passionate, fascinating, magnetic.
The passion of Nine is Sloth, which is a laziness with regard to oneself and one’s own priorities. This becomes three different types of fusion as an unconscious avoidance of their own agenda.
Fuse with routines and physical comforts. Such as eating, sleeping, bodily comforts. Practical, concrete, fulfill material needs in simple, straightforward ways. Can be irritable, stubborn, and harder to move. Want more alone time than other 9’s.
Fuse with groups. Work hard to be of service to a group. Generous and sacrificing to do whatever is necessary to meet the needs of the group. Fun-loving, sociable, humble. Can be workaholics. Make good leaders.
Fuse with another person. Is as if there is no boundaries between their experience and the important other. Adopting feelings, attitudes, beliefs and even behaviours of the other person. Tender, sweet, kind, gentle.