27 Subtypes | The Three Instincts of the Enneagram Types

We have three basic instinctual drives that are essential for human experience, all three residing in us as necessary body-based primal forces. They are separate from personality and are behind our life strategies, often unconscious, yet powerfully directing our fundamental way of being. While these instincts are always there, one of the three becomes dominant and is more easily accessed and, therefore, more easily used than the others. When the dominant instinct merges with the core Enneagram a new character structure is formed. These are the 27 Subtypes according to the model of Claudio Naranjo.

The iEQ9 Integrative Enneagram incorporates the ‘instincts of human behaviour’ which overlay our type, merging an instinctual need with the emotional need or fear of the core Enneagram type. If one imagines the Enneagram as a plate of food, the instinct determines what you eat first or last. This relates to what we believe is good for us, or what we believe we require to get what we want and need in this world.

These instincts relate to fundamental instinctual intelligences that have developed to ensure our survival as individuals and as a human species. Recent advances in neuroscience research have confirmed the strong and often-invisible way these instincts ‘show up’ in modern society, for example, how a perceived threat to social status can trigger a primal fight-or-flight reaction.

To explore the 27 Subtypes, select an Enneagram Type below to display that Type's 3 instinctual subtypes.

Self Preservation

We each have a self-preservation instinct, to preserve our body, its life and effective function. This instinct, therefore, focuses us on physical safety, well-being, material security and comfort. Anxiety or stress may combine with this instinct to drive us to conserve or hoard energy and resources in response to demands from the environment or other people.


We each have a drive to project ourselves into the environment, form alliances and extend ourselves through the generations – either literally by passing on our DNA or more symbolically by passing on ideas, leaving a legacy. This instinct focuses on the intensity of experiences and one-on-one relationships, driving us to actively seek out opportunities that promise strong energetic connections with others.


We each have a social instinct to get along with others and form secure social bonds. This brings a focus on interactions and relationships with communities and groups and a high ‘social awareness’ of norms and status levels in groups. This instinct focuses energy on working towards shared purpose or the greater good.


Self Preservation


The true perfectionist who worries a lot, wants things under control and tries to anticipate risks and problems. SP Ones have a strong inner critic and are hard on themselves, with a heightened sense of responsibility. They are often anxious and like to be prepared, down to the smallest detail. This subtype avoids expressing anger but can feel deeply frustrated when disrupted.


SUBTYPE KEY: ZEAL (countertype)

This counter-type One stands out from other Ones because of their intensity and impact on others. They have an idealistic view of how things should be and feel entitled to reform people or society to their way of seeing or doing things. SX Ones may express anger and frustration directly when these efforts to improve others are resisted. 



SO Ones bring attention to what is good, right and appropriate and set an example of integrity and principled conduct. High self-control and high standards set them apart from people around them. Motivated by fairness and ‘making things right’ at their best they are systemic thinkers and role models for living one’s beliefs and values.


Self Preservation

SUBTYPE KEY: Privilege (countertype)

This countertype Two may mistype with Enneagram Type 7 or 6. They are “cute”, often child-like in that they are slightly shy but charming and inspire protective instincts in others. The SP Two wants to be taken care of but resists being dependent on others, hesitant and self-protective in taking on long-term commitments and responsibilities. They feel hurt or withdraw when they feel or fear rejection from others.


SUBTYPE KEY: Seduction

This Two focuses their talents, seductive abilities and energy on attracting and building strong, intimate relationships. In close relationships they are then able to feel trust and assert their needs more clearly. They are strong-willed, flexible and passionate – even wild at heart – which may cause mistyping with Enneagram 4. Highly devoted in close relationships, they may find it difficult to accept limits or take "no" for an answer.



This Two uses their seductive powers in a more intellectual way to attract and engage groups, communities and broader systems. They stand out from the crowd, often taking a central or leadership role. They enjoy being ‘in the know’ and build their influence on their competence and connections. Giving more than they get may be a strategy to distract them from uncomfortable feelings. Less childlike than other Twos, their ambition and influence can mistype as a type Three or Eight.


Self Preservation

SUBTYPE KEY: Security (countertype)

The self-preservation Three is a countertype in that they dislike advertising their strengths and accomplishments overtly, and avoid being seen as image-oriented. In spite of this it is important to them to be recognised for their hard work and excellence. This subtype is reliable, efficient and productive and aspires to do the right thing. Their pursuit of security and self-sufficiency through hard work may lead to workaholism.



This charismatic and enthusiastic Three focuses their competitiveness on supporting others, seeing success in relational terms. They tend to believe 'if those around me achieve success, then I am successful' which may lead them to mistype as a Two. They tend to compete for the attention and affection of those closest to them, and may suppress their own feelings to make themselves more attractive to others.



The Social Three desires influence above all and tends to skillfully read and adjust to the social norms and requirements of teams or organizations. Highly competitive, they enjoy being in the spotlight and confidently market their ideas and accomplishments. Looking good and successful is very important and they may cut corners or cover up failure, so long as the finished product makes them and their team look good.


Self Preservation

SUBTYPE KEY: Tenacity (countertype)

Often mistypes with Enneagram 1 and 7

Where some Fours are dramatic and emotional, this countertype has learned to live with pain, suffering stoically and internalising negative emotions, and wants to be recognised for being ‘tough’ and not complaining. Even though they are quite sensitive, they may be disconnected from their feelings and prefer not to share their pain with others. They are empathic and look out for and try to support others who suffer.


SUBTYPE KEY: Competition

This Four subtype is intense and vocal about their needs and feelings and are often described as ‘more shameless than shameful’ and mistype with Three and Eight. They tend to be demanding and competitive, escaping suffering by being the best in what they do. Demanding that others appreciate their needs may lead to a cycle of rejection, frustration and anger. Their ability to express these feelings of demand and anger may mask how sad or confused they really feel.



This emotionally sensitive Four is deeply connected to their suffering. They find comfort in suffering and express it to others, often attracting support and admiration from others. They are not competitive, but have a deep desire to be understood for who they really are. They often doubt themselves and focus on what they see as inferiority; they make comparisons to others and blame themselves, triggering strong feelings of envy and shame.


Self Preservation


Very protective of personal space and privacy, this type sets clear limits and boundaries and is very comfortable living a relatively solitary life with just a few close friends. They would much rather observe social life than participate in it. Often truly introverted, they prefer not to reveal much of their inner self, finding it difficult to lower their guard for fear of losing their privacy or sense of safety.


SUBTYPE KEY: Confidant (countertype)

The typically cool, analytical Five connects to passion in this subtype, focusing that passion on one or two people in an otherwise reserved life. They experience strong ‘chemistry’ with another person, enjoying the connection and trust and openness this permits. They risk depending on this other person to make them feel vibrant and alive, leading them to ‘test’ their partner’s loyalty or resist sharing them with others.



The SO Five searches for the essence or meaning of situations, with a focus on the big questions as they pursue wisdom and knowledge. They connect with groups or experts who share their brilliance and high ideals, often disconnected from everyday issues or emotions. While sharing values and ideals with energy and enthusiasm, they may resist sharing space, time or inner resources, disconnecting from the people around them.


Self Preservation


The anxiety of the Six blends with the self-preservation instinct to make fear and insecurity a theme for this cautious subtype. To feel safe, they build strong alliances and relationships with others. They are sincerely affectionate and warm-hearted in their interactions with others. They repress anger and are hesitant to share opinions, preferring to be cautious than risk mistakes.


SUBTYPE KEY: Intimidation (countertype)

This countertype Six tends to be bold, assertive or even intimidating, which may lead to mistyping as an Eight. The SX Six is counter-phobic, believing that the best defense is a good offence and reacting against typical Six fears by running towards any fear or danger. This head-on approach may appear rebellious or something of a daredevil. Their need to feel strength and safety makes it difficult to connect to their doubts or feelings of vulnerability.



This Six subtype connects to social ideals, working for a cause or standing up for the weak. They tend to be more ‘black and white’ than the shades of grey seen by other Sixes. They may seem like an Ennea One as they are precise and careful and prefer to follow rules and procedures. Highly rational and dutiful, they work to encourage compliance to rules or collective norms, and to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them.


Self Preservation


This energised Seven is a great networker, gathering a ‘family’ of close supporters and motivated by wanting the best for everyone. They love the good things in life and may risk becoming self-interested and pleasure-seeking. This subtype is generally good at getting what they need to have fun and feel safe, but may also be good at rationalising and defending whatever they want to do.



The dreamer, the idealist, the romantic … the SX Seven sees reality through a rose-coloured filter, connected to the possibility in everything. Their enthusiasm and optimism may seem unrealistic or naive as they tend to believe in the good in everything and everyone. They want the world to be more than dreary and dull and may embellish reality and dislike relationships that have become boring and predictable.


SUBTYPE KEY: Sacrifice (countertype)

This countertype acts against the gluttony that characterises the Seven, tending to mistype with Enneagram 2. They are generous and have a strong desire to be of service, to create a better world. They will sacrifice their own needs to serve the needs of a group or person they support. They can be judgemental regarding selfishness in themselves or others and they hope to be appreciated for their sacrifice.


Self Preservation

SUBTYPE KEY: Satisfaction

The SP Eight is strong, direct and productive and appears powerful and effective. Confident in even the most challenging situations, they are survivors and are pillars of strength for many as they take the role of guardian, father or mother figure. When their needs are not satisfied, they become frustrated and intolerant, and tend to take a direct, no-nonsense approach to get what they want, without guilt or apology.


SUBTYPE KEY: Possession

This subtype is the most rebellious Eight, provocatively breaking rules and standing out as a rebel, iconoclast or trail blazer. Their impulsiveness and desire for intensity may seem like Four characteristics, but these are rooted in an unapologetic drive to create change, willing to provoke and disrupt others to accumulate power and influence. They have a desire to serve a worthy cause, but prefer to do so from a central or leadership position.


SUBTYPE KEY: Solidarity (countertype)

The Social Eight countertype uses their power and influence in the service of others, making them appear Two-ish in their drive to support others rather than asserting their own needs. Sensitive to injustice and unfair social norms, they are loyal and protective and shield ‘their people’ from harm, unjust authority or abuse of power. Even though they prefer not to be too vulnerable, they invite and appreciate tough feedback from close allies.


Self Preservation


The most ‘Eight-ish’ Nine, this subtype is concerned with meeting physical needs, focused on activities such as eating, reading or sleeping for their comfort and well-being. These activities are typically a strategy to escape or comfort themselves through fulfilling their appetites. Peace and time alone are important to them and they may be irritable and stubborn when others upset their balance or create problems.



This subtype fuses deeply with significant others in relationships as a strategy to feed their sense of self and sense of comfort. They tend to feel more secure when partnered with others and may find it challenging to be on their own. They are resistant to paying attention to themselves, their passions and desires and tend to go along with the preferences of others, even if this means sacrificing their own plans and needs.


SUBTYPE KEY: Participation (countertype)

This friendly, social Nine countertype ‘leans in’ and participates fully, often taking the role of mediator or facilitator in groups. They put their own issues aside, maintain a happy front to avoid burdening others and make sacrifices to meet group needs. They take comfort from feeling part of things in a broader group or community. Working hard to keep the people in their life happy, they may run the risk of becoming a workaholic, hiding their pain or stress.