About the Subtypes
There are 27 characters in the Enneagram, not just nine, because each of the nine styles can be divided into three different subtypes: Self-preservation, Social, and Sexual (or One-to-One). The subtype is the particular way in which the passion of the type (emotional automatic response pattern or driver of the type) mixes with one of the three instinctual needs (Self-Preservation, Social, Sexual). Claudio went into depth about the passions for each style, then discussed and did panel interviews (more or less) with individuals of each subtype (where this was possible due to both numbers of people willing to be up on stage in front of 180 people and the time available).
Why Learn about the Subtypes
There are many reasons, and here are a few:
- To find yourself accurately on the Enneagram and to not mistype yourself as another type
- To be able to know yourself in far greater depth so you can better work on reducing the ego’s grip
- To understand the particular way the passion of our type functions and drives our behavior
- To grow, develop, and transform at a faster rate (it’s never fast, but it is much slower when we have our type and/or subtype wrong)
Do We Have Only One Subtype?
Claudio would say yes and no. What he actually said is that one of the three subtypes is generally dormant throughout our life (that is, it is the instinctual area in which we hardly pay attention to our needs), and two of them are more activated (although the subtype behavior is a neurotic way of getting our needs met in these areas). With the two activated subtypes, one is dominant, although when we were younger, the other activated subtype may have been more dominant than the one we manifest as we get older.
This becomes very interesting. We could be a (1) Sexual/Social; (2) Sexual/Self-Preservation; (3) Social/Sexual; (4) Social/Self-Preservation; (5) Self-Preservation/Sexual; or (6) Self-Preservation/Social. Thinking about it, there are really 27 subtypes, but there 162 variations (27x6). It was very clear to me there that the Social 2s were very different depending on whether their 2nd subtype was Sexual or Self-Preservation.
The question never arose about whether we all have a sub-dominant subtype as well as a dominant one. For example, could someone be only a Self-Preservation subtype without having another subtype lurking in the background as a secondary subtype. This is something worth pondering!
Subtypes and Counter-Types
Claudio focused more on the counter-types (the subtype that thwarts the full expression of the passion for the type) than the other two subtypes. For every Enneagram style, two subtypes go with the flow of the passion; one goes against the flow. I believe he focused on counter-types because the counter-types are the subtypes that get most confused with another type. In addition, we could learn how the passion of the type appears in its less obvious version. Here’s an example. The countertype for 6 is the Sexual Subtype, the counter-phobic 6. They do not look afraid and appear to have courage, yet their energetic drive is fear-based, even if many of them are unaware of it. Called Strength/Beauty by Ichazo, they appear fearless using their appearance of strength (as in, “I can take anything on.”) to convince themselves primarily and others secondarily that they are afraid of nothing. Counter-phobic 6s can appear like 8s, but the drive is fear, not anger (even though counter-phobic 6s can appear angry, though not all do). Claudio describes these 6s as always “having their pistols drawn,” and developmentally, they need to learn to put their pistols (a metaphor for being “armed”) down. 8s, by contrast, do not have their pistols drawn at all times for there is no need to do so. They have other ways to make themselves appear big and powerful and their need is for power and offense, not strength for defense.
Subtypes and Centers
Claudio did not talk about the Centers of Intelligence directly, but did make a passing comment that you can go through the three subtypes for each type and make a matrix regarding how they use of intellect, emotion, and action. So while he did not say “Centers,” these are the Centers: Head, Heart, and Body. He did not go into any more detail than what I include here about 7s, but I plan to map these for all nine styles. Self-Preservation 7: intellect/emotion; Social 7: intellect/action; Sexual 7: intellect/intellect.
Subtypes and Wings
Claudio did not talk about wings at all except to debunk something that I had never heard before. In only a few minutes, he said that someone is teaching that subtype can be determined if you know the person’s wings and said that this is not true. He never mentioned the person’s name or any more about wings. I did not get the impression one way or the other what he believes about the wings.
Subtypes and Arrows
Claudio did mention the arrows many times. The most common way he mentioned it was that behind each Enneagram style lurks the core issue of the Enneagram type (arrow) that points toward that number (known also as the security point, though Claudio never referred to it as such). Under a 2 lurks the angry 4 who can never be satisfied with what they have. Under a 4 lurks the perfectionistic 1 who is never satisfied with reality as it is and so forth. I would list them all, but he didn’t review them, only made reference to them, so this is another area I want to get closer to the truth.
Claudio also referred to both arrows pointing to a type as a reflection of the inner conflict of the type, one that the type is wrestling with. For example, the 3 tries to resolve the anxiety/fear and need for certainty of the 6 with the indolence (not knowing or being awake to who one is) of the 9 at Enneagram style 3 (resolution for better or worse, it seems, but that wasn’t clear). The idea is that 3s appear certain, hiding anxiety for the most part and do not appear lazy since they are “doers.” Yet, they do still experience anxiety and are certainly lazy in terms of not knowing who they are and substituting “doing” for “being.” Again, not complete review of this, so here’s another area of pursuit.
Type: Nature or Nurture?
Claudio never explicitly said whether he believes Enneagram type is the product of nature, nurture, or a combination. But he did say this: temperament is not the same as “character” and that we are born with a certain temperament. ”Character” appears later and while there is an associative relationship between the two, specific temperaments in infants do not map exactly to specific “characters” (Enneagram types). He also said that the passion (emotional response pattern of the type) appears at about age 4, while the fixation (false mental assumptions of the type) appear at about age 7-8. Before then, the cognitive development of the child is insufficiently developed to articulate such a thing (reference to the work of Piaget).
Subtypes and Development
According to Claudio, subtype does matter for development. He gave the example of 6s in terms of what each of the subtypes must come to terms with or give up to lessen the ego’s hold. Sexual subtype 6s must let go of their “pistols” (disarm themselves as a way of defending against the fear); Social 6s must let go a needing to know and live by the rules (so nothing bad happens to them); and Self-Preservation 6s must let go of their deep distrust (fear and doubt) in themselves. Again, Claudio went over some of these for each type, but not all.
I hope I am doing justice to what was said, as I wrote this without reviewing my notes as a way to assess how much I had internalized. Many questions were answered there, and many new ones arose. My experience of Claudio there is that while he knows this material better than anyone, he is still learning and exploring. No wonder it is so hard for anyone to write an accurate and comprehensive book about subtypes. Just when you think you have it, something new emerges.
The 2nd of three blogs on the 27 Enneagram Subtypes with Claudio Naranjo