Enneagram Roadmap: Enneagram Subtypes


JOEL MARK WITT: Hi, welcome back. Joel Mark Witt with Antonia Dodge, your personality hacker. We are with Beatrice Chestnut, the author of the Complete Enneagram and Nine Styles of Leadership, Nine Types of Leadership, excuse me. She’s created a program with us called the Enneagram Road Map, here at PersnoalityHacker. We’ve been doing a short series of videos talking all about the Enneagram, it’s program, about Beatrice, her credentials, where she’s come from, how she got into this.

In this video, we would like to talk about the actual Enneagram system itself, get into a little bit more nuance and talk about the discipline or the school of thought, the way Beatrice talks about the Enneagram and go into some more depth so that you have something to basically anchor yourself to, something you kind of have a structure around to know what’s actually going on here. What are we actually talking about as far as the system goes.

Beatrice, would you give us the broad brush strokes of the structure of the Enneagram system and how you see it. And then I also want to talk about, we want to talk about the 27 subtypes as well. Let’s get kind of a 30,000 ft. view and then we’ll zoom-in in this video. How’s that sound?

BEATRICE: Okay, sounds good. The Enneagram symbol itself and the nine types arrayed around it, is based on sacred geometry. Don’t have probably the time to go into all the symbolic meaning of the different pieces, but suffice it to say that, the number three is really important. One of the things the Enneagram teaches us, is that we actually have three centers of intelligence, not just one. In the west, we tend to think of our head as the center of our intelligence. We think with our head.

We’ll, in the Enneagram approach, we have three centers of intelligence or ways of processing information from the outside world. One is our head, where we think and analyze, but our heart is also a center of intelligence according to this. With our heart we feel emotions, we relate to others through empathy, we connect with others through our heart and how we feel about them.

Then our body is also a center of intelligence. Kinesthetic knowing, gut knowing, whether to move into action or not move into action, instinctive intelligence. This is all located in what we call the belly center or the body B center of intelligence. According to the Enneagram map, there are three personality types that are kind of based in the head center. They live in or more focused on thinking. More in the head center, there are three types that live more from the heart center, and three types that live more from the body center.

The Enneagram is a map of wholeness and one of the things it reflects is the fact that we humans have a capacity for wholeness and connectedness, both within ourselves and connected to our higher self, but also with others and nature. We get thrown out of balance when we come into the world and we need to focus in on some specific survival strategies to get along in the world. That narrowing of focus throws us out of balance in that we tend to come more from one center than the other two, and as we find out, part of what the Enneagram helps us do as a growth map, is it helps us balance out the work of the centers.

I’m a heart type. I come more from my emotional center. Sometimes, I, without realizing it, am relating the situations in people more from an emotional place than from say an analytical place, or an instinctive or gut knowing place. When we’re out of balance, you can not realize certain things about the way you’re going about doing something.

For instance, I could think I’m just thinking about a friend of mine, but really, the way I’m thinking about her reflects the fact that I’m angry at her. I don’t recognize that I’m not really … It’s almost like the work of the head center is actually being done by the wrong center. It’s being done by the work of the heart center because I’m coming more from emotion. The main thing is we’re not conscious of that.

It’s all about imbalance and getting more into balance. There are three types in each center. And then, the system breaks down again into three. For each of the three types, there are three versions or three subtypes or sub-personalities based on which of one of three instincts in you is more dominant. The idea is that we have three instincts in addition to three centers and a type that are based in our belly center, but one of them tends to be overdone or more prominent.

JOEL MARK WITT: Okay, so we have the nine basic types and those are in three broad categories, head, heart, body. Within each of those nine types there are three, you called them instincts. Are those instincts the same, in other words, are those the same three instincts, and I already know the answer to this, I’m teeing you up to answer it. Are those instincts the same for each of the nine types? In other words, the same categorically? Are they literally 27 different instincts?

BEATRICE: Here’s where it’s really important to be clear because there has been a lack of clarity about this in the Enneagram world. Just like we all have all three centers, but we tend to come from more, one more than the other two, we all have three instincts. We all have an instinct for self-preservation. We all have an instinct for social relationships or how do I get along with the group?

If you think about this especially in older eras, in more ancient eras, you had to rely on your group or your tribe to survive. How you relate to the group is the social instinct. And then, one-to-one bonding or sexual relationships are very important in terms of safety, companionship, reproduction, pleasure. One-to-one bonding or the sexual instinct is the third one.

Again, we all have all three, but one in each of us, one tends to be more dominant, in other words, we tend to overdo that one. For me, it’s self-preservation. My self-preservation needs, the way my self-preservation instinct expresses it is kind of overactive. I put too much attention on what I’m going to have for dinner or food needs, or comfort, or shelter, or whatever needs are related to that self-preservation instinct.

Then there’s usually one that’s secondary, that comes in second, that’s also active but not as overdone as the first one. Then there’s usually one that’s more repressed, that we kinda either given up on or we just don’t really pay much attention to it. Again, these are biological drives, so very automatic. We don’t tend to think about this, they’re very impulsive, instinctual reactions to things.

JOEL MARK WITT: As you identify your type, you’re going to identify which number you are in the Enneagram system. For example, I’m a Enneagram six, and then from there, that’s where the instinct comes in. There’s basically three variants or three instincts in the Enneagram six type and I’m an Enneagram social six. I have that instinct, now there’s other self-preservation sixes or sexual sixes, and you also use the term one-to-one in your book. We could talk about that in a second here. So then, that would give more fidelity or nuance to not only my numbered type but the expression of the number that I show up as, basically in my personality.

BEATRICE: Right. There are going to be certain aspects the six character that all three sixes share, however, and this is really important and I written a lot about the subtypes because I think it’s such an important piece, it adds so much nuance. The three sixes are going to express different strategies, they’re going to have different patterns, they’re going to have different focus of attention, and different growth pads. That’s really important to know, both in finding your type, but also and especially in what you need to work on to be more whole.

ANTONIA DODGE: Just to be clear on the discipline that you come from, there are other schools of thought around Enneagram that use the word subtype but are not referencing the instinctive variance subtype, correct?

BEATRICE: Right. Let me say it this way because again, this is been very confusing. The instincts are these three biological drives for self-preservation, social relationships, and sexual or one-to-one bonding. The subtype is what you get when you take one of these instincts and kind of combine it with the type.

I’m a two, I am a self-preservation dominant, but in the past, I think some … When we didn’t have that much information about the subtypes, we would think, “Well, it’s just two plus this sort of generic category of what it means to have a self-preservation instinct to be prominent in your experience.”

There was a lot of over-generalization on one hand. The subtype is really, it’s sort of a complicated mix of, and sometimes in ways you wouldn’t expect, of what happens when you have a particular type pattern and all that goes with that, and a specific dominant instinct. Now, terminology confusion has come about.

There’s one school of thought in the Enneagram that wrote about the wings as subtypes and so they didn’t use the term subtype for the, what I’m calling the subtypes, they used the term instinctual variance. They are basically saying, these types can vary by instinct and so they called them instinctual variance.

Now, when people who are in that school talk about the instinctual variance, oftentimes they shorten that title and just refer to them as instincts. They’re referring to the 27, what I’m calling subtypes, as instincts. I think there’s some confusion there because what the instincts really are, especially where I’m coming from, are these three biological drives.

When you combine an instinct with a type, a dominant instinct with a type, you get a subtype, one of three subcategories. I like to use the word subtype, I don’t think wings are full-fledged subtypes, I think they’re more flavorings and developmental opportunities. I think that knowing your subtype is really important because it gives you a lot of additional, more nuance, very important information about how your type operates at a more granular level.

ANTONIA DODGE: All right. Just to make sure that it’s … You said it just very clearly, but to make sure that I’m getting it and reinterpreting it accurately. Some schools of thought believe that your type plus your wing, so like, as a three, I have two and four that are connected to me. There was a school of thought that indicated that whichever one of those two wings I favored, that would be my subtype. And then my instinctive variant was something that kinda got tacked on as maybe a little bit more nuance or flavoring in my subtype, which would have been my type plus my wing.

In this school of thought, it’s actually subtypes reference my type as a three and my instinct and the alchemization that happens when you take my three and you times it by the instinct that I favor, which is sexual and then I get a whole different flavoring of three than I would had I been maybe a sexual or excuse me, a three social or three self-preservation.

When we talk about subtypes here, we’re talking about the fusing of my type and my instinct together. Not my type and my wing, with the instinct tacked on, but an alchemization of an understanding of my type plus my instinct. And then my wings, both of them, both two and four, would give me, like you said, they would be things that would be aspects of my personality and their developmental opportunities. Having an understanding of both wings is actually quite beneficial to me because then I can understand a more nuanced sort of manifestation of my type.

I think we want it to be very clear about what we talk about when we’re talking about subtypes because in the Enneagram world, subtype can reference multiple different styles or schools of thought, but in this one specifically, it’s that fusing of your type plus your instinct, which creates a whole different subtype.

BEATRICE: Right, exactly. I think the view of subtypes that I write about, and that I teach, and that I talk about, and that has been really helpful to me personally, is drawn from the work of Claudio Naranjo who was one of the original seminal authors about the nine Enneagram types as we know them today. I’m an academic and so to me, the original sources are really important.

If you want to build on what the original source did, that’s great, and maybe sometimes you can correct or enhance. In my view, I didn’t really understand the subtypes in the early years of my Enneagram training in the way they were presented. When I learned the subtype version that I teach in 2004 from Naranjo, it was like a huge revolution in my understanding of the Enneagram and in my self understanding, because I think he had been refining the very interesting, complicated, sometimes paradoxical subtype descriptions, the 27 personalities, in a way that I hadn’t heard before.

I was really interested in disseminating what he was teaching, that I learned starting in 2004 because I thought this alchemical mixture that not all the subtype descriptions that I had read before were really describing in depth. The subtype component in the Enneagram literature, is a bit confused. I think it’s important for people to know that and that I’m teaching a very particular approach in Enneagram Road Map.

What I’m really happy about in the Enneagram Road Map is, we go into that into very much depth, not only in just describing the subtype, but how identifying your subtype is a first step on being able to do a lot of personal growth because it’s such specific granular information about your patterns and your focus of attention, and what you can usefully work on to grow.

I think it’s important that we clarify our terms in what an instinct is, and what a subtype is, and that there are different descriptions of the different subtypes. Sometimes other schools of thought calling them instinctual variance, but that one of the things Enneagram Road Map will provide I think, is more clarity around, okay, here are the centers, here are the types, here are the subtypes, and again, a lot more information about the subtypes and this approach to them than I think you can find in a lot of other places because there hasn’t … Claudio Naranjo hasn’t written very much about them himself. Aside from my book, The Complete Enneagram, and to some degree in the Nine Types of Leadership, there isn’t a lot out there.

I think really sincere students who like to use the Enneagram, when they find the subtypes and they find their subtype, it’s really eye-opening for them. I think it’s really important, like we’re doing, to clarify the different levels of the system and how they operate, and what confusions may be out there so that when you’re entering into the Enneagram you can have more clarity.

JOEL MARK WITT: In this program, I just want to again highlight, it’s the nine types additionally with the instinct that creates the 27 types. In the program, we go into all 27 types. Beatrice walks through the expression of each of those subtypes in the entire system.

It’s really great because you get a sense of the fidelity, the detailed fidelity of how you show up with your subtype in a very specific way and then growth path from that as well, which I think is really powerful for you listening or watching to apply to your life. It gives you a really practical road map then, specific to you.

ANTONIA DODGE: I think the focus and attention on how to use a knowledge of your subtype to develop to become the best version of yourself and to be able to transcend some of the traps of your subtype. Each of the subtypes also have traps, not just the types, but the subtypes and to be able to navigate your way though them, which is why we named it the Enneagram Road Map. It is a road map for your development.

Why don’t we complete this video and then move on to the next video, which will be the final one in the series where we will discuss how the Enneagram can be used for personal development and maybe some specific examples of how understanding your subtype can lead to becoming the best version of yourself.