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Enneagram Type 4 Personality: Significance and Authenticity

Enneagram type 4

Enneagram type 4 is given a variety of names by those who teach and write about the Enneagram types such as The Romantic, The Individualist, and The Original Person. While these names allude to some common characteristics that often appear in the type 4 personality, they only provide a hint of what's going on underneath the surface. What's going on can be found in the core focus.

Enneagram type 4 has a focus on finding signicance by staying true to oneself and cultivating what is uniquely special that stands out from what's common and everyday. This produces a habit of attention that notices what's missing or lacking in oneself, others, and life itself.

Initial Self-Belief: “I am insignificant as I am.”

Compensation: "I must find and cultivate what's authentic and uniquely special about myself to stand out from the ordinary."

Habit of Attention: Type 4 attention searches for what's missing or lacking. This starts with noticing what's lacking in the self compared to others but extends to life itself. The common and ordinary can become uncommon and extraordinary if what's missing can be realized.

The Enneagram types evolved from Oscar Ichazo's ego-types into Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes. The goal with the ego-types was to identify an individual's fixation in order to work on transcending it. The enneatypes fleshed out the ego-types in terms of modern psychology and personality traits.

Type 4 Ego: Ego-Melan

Below are descriptions of Oscar Ichazo's ego type 4 fixation, trap, holy idea, passion, and virtue reinterpreted for today's personality types.

Type 4 Fixation and Trap

Fixation: Melancholy comes from a dissatisfaction with what is and a longing for what once was or could've been.

Trap: Authenticity comes from searching for a sense of self that brings significance and fulfillment.

The fixation points to the mental preoccupation of the ego and the trap seems like the way out but keeps the individual stuck in the fixation. 

Type 4 Holy Idea

Holy Idea: Holy originality involves accepting the common and ordinary in life instead of disdaining it in favor of the unique and special.

The holy idea is the actual way out of the ego fixation.

Type 4 Passion

Passion: Envy is a one-sided comparison between the positives of others and the negatives of oneself. What's lacking in me that I don't have what they have?

The passion is the emotional energy that serves the fixation and trap.

Type 4 Virtue

Virtue: Equanimity appears when you also see the positives you have to offer instead of just the negatives when comparing yourself to others.

The virtue is what appears when the passion subsides.

Type 4 Personality Traits: Enneatype IV

Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes expanded upon Oscar Ichazo's fixations and passions by referring to modern psychology and other sources.

What follows is the trait structure for type 4 as outlined in Naranjo's book "Ennea-type Structures."

Enneatype IV
Seeking Happiness through Pain - Envy and the Masochistic Personality

  • Envy
  • Poor Self-Image
  • Focus on Suffering
  • "Moving Toward"
  • Nurturance
  • Emotionality
  • Competitive Arrogance
  • Refinement
  • Artistic Interests
  • Strong Superego
The relationships and movements between types can be explored by way of the triads, arrows, and lines as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These elements of the Enneagram are often described as the centers, the stances, stress/security points, and directions of integration/disintegration.

    Type 4 Center

    Heart/Heart-Based Center

    Type 4 is located in the 234 triad which is often described as the heart center. Type 4 has strong emotional impressions of the world that they internalize. They piece together a sense of their true selves by finding what resonates externally with their internal emotional reality. When emotions are flat or quiet there is often the temptation to stir them up to feel more alive.

    Types 2, 3, and 4 may also be referred to as shame types. Type 4 shame comes from a feeling of being different from other people. This sense of difference swings two ways: 1) in the negative there's something defective or lacking where they can't be like other people and 2) in the positive there's something uniquely special about them that makes them stand above the ordinary and common.

    The core focus approach labels the 234 triad as the Emotional Center and differentiates how types 2, 3, and 4 use that center.

    • Type 2: Emotional Attentiveness - connects to others through emotional empathy.
    • Type 3: Emotional Affirmation - finds validation through achievement and recognition.
    • Type 4: Emotional Authenticity - expresses what feels true and real for oneself.

    You can take a test comparing the three heart types here.

    Type 4 Stance or Hornevian Group

    Withdrawn Stance

    Type 4 is in the withdrawn triad along with type 5 and type 9. Type 4 is withdrawn from the common and ordinary routines of life. The everyday offers little appeal when you're looking for what's uniquely special and significant in life. Committment to a particular course of action is put off until you can identify what you emotional resonant with and feel passionate about pursuing that.

    Type 4 Stress and Growth

    Enneagram type 4 arrows

    Movement against the arrow from type 4 to type 1

    Movement against the arrow is sometimes described as movement toward a type's security point or direction of integration or growth. Type 4 is said to take on characteristics of type 1 when feeling relaxed or secure or moving toward health and growth.

    Movement with the arrow from type 4 to type 2

    Movement with the arrow is sometimes described as a movement toward a type's stress point or direction of disintegration or stress. When feeling stressed and pressured or not in control, type 4 is said to take on characteristics of type 2.

    Connecting points from type 4 to type 1 and type 2

    Some teachers ignore the arrows and simply describe the lines as connecting points. In this case, someone identified as type 4 is said to sometimes take on characteristics of type 1 and type 2. Or to put it another way, type 4 may move to type 1 and type 2 at times when the type 4 concerns are not dominant.

    Although you have a basic or primary Enneagram type there are many subtle variations within type. These variations are defined by such concepts as wings, instincts, tritype, and levels. They're often used to explain why people of the same Enneagram type can look different.

    Type 4 Wings - 4w3 and 4w5

    Type 4 Wings

    The wings are represented by the numbers on either side of a given type as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These types are said to have an additional influence upon the type being looked at. The wing types for type 4 are type 3 and type 5.

    Although type 4 is influenced by both wings, an individual will generally be influenced more by one of the wings than the other. The wing with more influence is said to be the preferred wing.

    Type 4 wing 3 (4w3) - preferred 3 wing
    Common Name: The Aristocrat

    • more ambitious and goal oriented
    • more effort toward recognition and presentation
    • more practical and competitive

    Type 4 wing 5 (4w5) - preferred 5 wing
    Common Name: The Bohemian

    • more defiant of convention
    • more minimalistic and private
    • more dwelling in their imagination

    Click here if you'd like help finding your preferred wing.

    Type 4 Subtypes

    Type 4 Instinctual Subtypes

    The instincts of the Enneagram types are self-preservation (sp), sexual (sx), and social (so). They are traditionally used to define three instinctual subtypes or variations of a basic type (e.g., SP 4, SX 4, and SO 4). One of these three subtypes is called the counter-type because it can look different from the basic type. Below are brief descriptions of the three type 4 instinctual subtypes.

    SP 4 - Dauntless, Tenacity (counter-type): stoically endures pain and suffering rather than playing the victim; willingness to jump into new territory in pursuit of personal passion; can be self-punishing, demanding of self in order to forge oneself toward an ideal.

    SX 4 - Competition, Hate: “more shameless than shameful” in their demand for what they want; competes with others to overcome feelings of internal deficiency; angry envy toward others who have what they don’t or are what they’re not.

    SO 4 - Shame, Honor: attracts support by expressing their suffering to others, takes on the victim role; self-defeating focus on sense of inferiority when comparing self to others; feels guilty for wishing, desiring, shameful feelings about self in comparison to others.

    While an individual may be identified with type 4 in general, that same individual may be more specifically identified with one of the three instinctual subtypes as well. 

    A more recent approach to using the instincts is instinctual variant stacking which can be used independent of Enneagram type.

    If you'd like to find your instinctual subtype or instinctual variant stacking then click here.

    Type 4 Tritypes

    Enneagram type 4 tritypes


    With tritype you are not simply one type but three, one type from each center. There is also an order of preference for the three types (which type is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).

    The type 4 tritypes have type 4 as their first type and heart type. The second and third types come from the gut (8, 9, or 1) and head (5, 6, or 7) centers.

    Tritype® Archetype goes a step further by also looking at tritype in terms of the three types alone (independent of order of preference). Below are the Tritype® Archetype names if Enneagram type 4 is your primary type.

    The Researcher - 415 or 451
    The Philosopher - 416 or 461
    The Visionary - 417 or 471
    The Scholar - 458 or 485
    The Contemplative - 459 or 495
    The Truth Teller - 468 or 486
    The Seeker - 469 or 496
    The Messenger - 478 or 487
    The Gentle Spirit - 479 or 497

    For a description of any Tritype® Archetype above click the name. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the Tritype® Archetype you're interested in.

    If you'd like to find your tritype, tritype with wings, dominant type in a given center, or order of preference then click here.

    Type 4 - Enneagram Levels of Development

    Enneagram Levels

    The Levels of Development create a vertical dimension within each Enneagram type.

    There are nine levels ranging from healthy (levels 1-3) to average (levels 4-6) to unhealthy (levels 7-9). A person will operate within a range of levels (e.g., levels 2-4, levels 6-8, etc.). This range will vary throughout a lifetime. Two people of the same type will look different when they're operating from different levels.

    Below are two words associated with each level for type 4 as described in the book "The Wisdom of the Enneagram" by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

    Healthy Levels

    Level 1 - Life-Embracing, Life-Enhancing

    Level 2 - Introspective, Sensitive

    Level 3 - Self-Revealing, Creative

    Average Levels

    Level 4 - Romanticizing, Individualistic

    Level 5 - Self-Absorbed, Temperamental

    Level 6 - Self-Indulgent, Decadent

    Unhealthy Levels

    Level 7 - Hateful, Alienated

    Level 8 - Self-Rejecting, Clinically Depressed

    Level 9 - Despairing, Life-Denying

    Click here for descriptions of all nine type 4 levels. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the section on Levels of Development.

    Even though Enneagram tests are not 100% accurate they can provide a starting point for finding your Enneagram type and variations of type by narrowing down and validating your choices. The tests below can be useful if you think you might be a type 4 or you know you are a type 4 and want to explore the type 4 variations.

    Enneagram Mistypes - Type 4 Comparison Tests

    Some people correctly identify their Enneagram type on the first try. For most other people typing yourself correctly can take some time.

    If you feel that you may have wrongly typed yourself as type 4 and have one or more alternative types in mind then click on a link below to take a quick Enneagram test comparing type 4 to another type.

    To find some alternatives to type 4 you can take the type preference test below. Afterward you can compare these alternatives using the links above or the type comparison test.

    Enneagram Variations - Tests to help find Type 4 Wing, Subtype, and Tritype

    Find your type 4 wing preference by comparing the two wings of type 4.

    Find your type 4 subtype by comparing the three instictual subtypes of type 4.

    Find your missing tritype head or gut type by comparing the three types in a center.

    Find your tritype order by comparing your 2nd and 3rd tritype types.

    Quick Guide to the Enneagram

    This page is part of the Quick Guide to the Enneagram available on this website. For more information about any particular Enneagram type or the many concepts and history of the Enneagram types visit the Quick Guide main page.

    The Nine Enneagram Types x
    The Nine Enneagram Types