The Freudian Theory of Enneagram
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that consists of nine distinct types. These types are distinct because they each possess unique fears and desires. Enneagram theorists use these core personality features to create type descriptions, which you can find in several locations on PersonalityCafe. But my interest in enneagram is not the behaviors associated with these core personality features, but why these fears and desires came into existence in the first place. In other words, which elements of personality determine a person's type?
Many newcomers to enneagram reject it because it seems almost arbitrary. For example, wing theory is supported by extensive observation but the actual reason for wing theory is nebulous at best. That's a theme in the enneagram: there's a great deal of accurate observational evidence, but there's no lynchpin to tie it together. My position is that the enneagram is not arbitrary at all: in fact, it's entirely internally consistent. This is achieved by looking at the enneagram through the lens of Freudian psychoanalysis.
Sigmund Freud developed the structural model of the psyche: he posited that there was an id, ego, and superego, existing at different levels of awareness within the mind. I'm going to explore the connection between the nine enneatypes and the id, ego, and superego agencies.
Freud proposed that a libidinal energy exists, which represents all psychic (mental) energy. Every mental process takes some amount of this energy. There is a finite amount of libidinal energy, and someone who invests their libidinal energy into their id will likely be very different than someone who invests this energy into the superego. My theory is that each enneagram type spends their libidinal energy in different ways, and this can be explained through Freudian psychoanalysis.
This thread can be useful for enneagram beginners and veterans. If you are new to the enneagram, you should be aware that I discuss "integration/disintegration" states. Each enneatype, if they are in a growth state, can take on traits of another type. Similarly, if they are stressed, they can do the same thing. This is not something I cover in detail, but it makes sense within the Freudian model.
To give you a quick preview: I'll cover a basic description of the id, ego, and superego. Then I'll divide the types amongst the three categories. After that, I'll explain the benefits of thinking in Freudian terms and I'll illustrate how this clarifies a few ambiguities and apparent contradictions in the enneagram.
II. Introduction to the Freudian Agencies - the id, ego, and superego.
Almost everyone is familiar with the concepts of the id, ego, and superego. Collectively, they are called the Freudian agencies. Don't confuse these with the Freudian drives. The drives are Eros and Thanatos (Love and Death, respectively.) The drives are not discussed in my post.
Here's a brief summary so we're all on the same page. If you already know this, then skip down to the next section. (Even if you think you know this, you may want to give it a quick skimming!)
You can visualize the human mind as having three levels: conscious, pre-conscious, subconscious. The conscious level is where you are right now. The pre-conscious exists just under the surface of the conscious mind. You can access the pre-conscious but it's a challenge. Accessing the subconscious is even harder, and Freudian psychoanalysis relies on clues to figure that level out. (You may have heard of Freudian dream analysis; the purpose of it is to plumb the subconscious.)
The id, ego, and superego exist across these levels. Here's a great diagram for illustration purposes:
(Thank you, Google Image Search.)
Keep that in mind as we discuss the id, ego, and superego.
Id: The id is a reservoir of psychic energy and the only component of the personality that's present at birth. It wants immediate gratification; it's impulsive, desirous and chaotic. As you can tell, the id is very troublesome; it's not rational. It doesn't consider the consequences of its actions. It utilizes what Freud called "primary process thinking"; when the id cannot be satisfied, it generates a mental image of what it wants to satiate it. (Keep this in mind when we discuss Type 3.) It's considered "primary" because it exists before all other processes. The id is entirely subconscious.
Ego: The ego is your interface to reality. It exists in both the conscious mind and the pre-conscious mind. This is the part of your mind that's responsible for rational decision-making. It utilizes "secondary process thinking", which acts to rationally get what you want. Instead of imagining the pizza in your id with the "primary process", the "secondary process" is what induces you to call up the pizza place.
Superego: The superego develops over time, and it's the last to form. It contains all your standards of right and wrong. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't just the conscience. It contains the ego ideal and the conscience, and they're two sides of the same coin. The ego ideal is the summation of all positive behaviors. A good example might be "sharing" or "being helpful." The conscience is the flipside; it only comes into play with negative behaviors. It makes you feel bad when you do something against your ego ideal. (Keep this in mind when we talk about Type 6.)
As you can see, there are some themes here. You can see how the id and the superego are going to butt heads with the ego acting as an intermediary. This is important when analyzing the types.
Lastly, Freud developed the concept of the libido. The libido is a pool of energy that you can spend on mental tasks. It's conceivable that you could spend more libidinal energy on your superego desires than your id desires (or ego instead of id, or so on), and thus, enneatypes are born.
III. The Freudian Enneagram
Each enneagram type is distinct because of their unique set of fears and desires. These fears and desires are the core components of each type, and they can be explained using a Freudian model.
My theory is that every type is associated with libidinal energy expenditure on the id, ego, or superego. This means that an id type would prefer id motivations in their daily life, while a superego type would look toward their superego. This doesn't mean that id types don't have a superego, it's just less used than a superego type, for example.
Type 1: Superego "Ego Ideal" Focused.
Basic Fear: To be corrupt or defective.
Basic Desire: To be good and to have integrity.
Type 1 is the perfect embodiment of the "ego ideal" described by Freud as a part of the superego. Freudian personality theory holds that the superego strives against the id and the ego, and similarly, a Type 1 individual strives to uphold their moral principle. Whatever that principle happens to be, it's a very real part of the Type 1 lifestyle because the Type 1's influences often flow from their superego.
Type 1s have a strong ability to determine what is right and what is wrong, and can be judgmental of both themselves and others if they don't uphold what's right. They not only have a strong superego, but they are confident in it; enough to present it to the outside world in an often-assertive manner.
If you are a Type 1, you'll notice that hypocrisy may be an issue for you. There probably have been times in your life where you failed to live up to your ideal, and this may give you some degree of primal satisfaction but you still feel guilty. This is your superego doing battle against your id. A force always takes the path of least resistance - so you are likely to try to justify your actions within your existing rule-set than revise your rules. That's because you have a very strong superego and it's difficult to assail directly.
To Encourage Integration: Allow your id more room to breathe. Fulfill your desires occasionally; take the time to assess the realistic concerns behind your moralistic drives.
To Avoid Disintegration: Don't let your superego dictate everything you do; your internal rules may be fallible. Keep in mind that your superego is not rational: it will come up with perfectionist standards that may be completely impossible to follow.
Type 1 Wings:
Type 1 with a 9 Wing (Superego-Ego): The link to the ego drive softens the 1w9 in some respects, making them more relaxed as they are more able to temper the will of their superego. This type probably finds it easier to integrate to 7.
Type 1 with a 2 Wing (Superego-Superego): This wing doubles-up on superego aspects, making the 1w2 more incorruptible and aggressive than the 1w9. 1w2 is often more confident in their superego ideals and are more likely to be confrontational about them. However, this type is more likely to suffer stress because the superego is not rational and will likely generate unrealistically perfectionist standards.
Type 2: Superego Helper.
Basic Fear: To be undeserving of love.
Basic Desire: To have unconditional love.
Type 2 is called "The Helper" because this type is associated with a concern for the well-being of others. Any type can care for others, but for Type 2, it's a core motivation. There's a tension within Type 2: they help out of the goodness of their heart, but they also want to be loved. This is a typical function of the superego: their superego sees "helping" as a laudable ideal, and the superego reward is love. The id understands love, but not unconditional love; love that extends beyond the present moment is not consistent with the instant gratification drive that the id possesses. Instead, this resides in the superego, and helping others allows the Type 2 to achieve their ego ideal.
There is a darker side to Type 2. Unhealthy Type 2s can be manipulative and fall in love with their own goodness. As I've stated before, even though Type 2 is a superego type, a Type 2 individual still possesses an id. For the world to make sense, the Type 2's ego has to rationalize the conflict between the id and the superego. They do this by turning their instincts into something that they would find morally laudable. This allows them to retain their superego's integrity while fulfilling id desires.
To Encourage Integration: Avoid the temptation to only look at your positive elements. Honestly confront your shortcomings, because you can't deal with them unless you do. This may be psychologically stressful, but it helps you understand your limitations so that you don't overextend yourself. Once this self-certainty has been attained, the Type 2 gains some assertive characteristics of the Type 8. But instead of being assertive to fulfill their id desires, they become assertive to accomplish their superego's goal: to help others.
To Avoid Disintegration: Recognize where your desires are coming from: are you doing things to satisfy some base impulse (id), or are you actually trying to help others (superego)? Try to channel your less altruistic desires into pursuits that don't put you at risk of manipulating others.
Type 2 Wings:
Type 2 with a 1 Wing (Superego-Superego): This wing doubles-up on superego elements, making the 2w1 very moralistic. A 2w1 can appear more "uptight" than a 2w3 in many ways, since the id seems like a foreign force to them. They are more likely to be blindsided by their id desires because of that.
Type 2 with a 3 Wing (Superego-Id): A 2w3 is more in touch with their basic id desires, making them more spontaneous and energetic than the 2w1. Some of the 3 image focus bleeds through, making the 2w3 more concerned with how they appear to the outside world than the 2w1. A 2w3 would be more in touch with their primal desires than a 2w1. This is exactly what you would expect out of a Superego-Id connection.
Type 3: Id Achiever.
Basic Fear: To become worthlessness.
Basic Desire: To become usefulness and to have value.
The Type 3 is a motivated, goal-oriented achiever. They are part of the Image triad in Enneagram, and many people associate the Type 3 with "ostentatiousness"; but that there's far more to Type 3 than status seeking. Healthy threes are often industrious and highly successful, and that's because of their id.
The id is the source of the libido drive. But the libido doesn't just mean sex! It means all psychic energy. Type 3 is so industrious because they channel their libido into productive pursuits. At the same time, they get a deep id gratification when they accomplish something. They don't put their energies into serving a higher cause, like Type 1 or 2. Instead, their energy is directed back at themselves. This isn't a bad thing: it makes Type 3 one of the most dynamic and proactive types in the enneagram.
To Encourage Integration: Don't let your id convince you that you are completely responsible for all your successes. Appreciate the contributions of others. Not everything is a competition; you can allow people into your life, even if they steal the spotlight from time to time. As you integrate, you'll begin to cultivate a 6-like trust of other people.
To Avoid Disintegration: An unhealthy 3 may fall into the trap of focusing on their own failures and creating more and more apathy. This forms into a downward spiral that can be dangerous. Try not to lose sight of your goals.
Type 3 Wings:
Type 3 with a 2 Wing (Id-Superego): A 3w2 focuses their libidinal energies on themselves, but they are much more likely to seek the interaction of others in this process. Nothing would fulfill the 3 id and 2 superego more effectively than bringing some people along for the ride on the Type 3 success train. As a result, 3w2s are often more comforting and energetic than 3w4s.
Type 3 with a 4 Wing (Id-Ego): A 3w4 has all the id desires of a 3, but it's tempered with the withdrawn nature of the 4. The 3w4 is often more detached from others, choosing to cultivate their image from afar. 4 is an ego type, and one coping mechanism for the ego type is to withdraw into itself to avoid the conflict between the id and superego. You can see this in the 3w4: they'd rather build themselves up behind closed doors first, then present themselves to others.
Type 4: Ego Identity.
Basic Fear: To lose their identity.
Basic Desire: To be unique and authentic.
The ego is in a tough position: it's the mediator between the id, superego, and the outside world. It takes a great deal of libidinal energy to juggle this many factors at one time: so, to compensate, Type 4 withdraws and constructs a unique image inside themselves to rise above the stresses caused by their most basic impulses. Indeed, according to enneagram theory, the Type 4's highest virtue is "equanimity", which means balance under stress.
Consequently, Type 4s are artistic and unique individuals. They are inherently romantic, relishing in the bittersweet separation they feel from the rest of the world. On one hand, it's bitter because they'll never see themselves as integrated into the rest of the world. But it's also sweet, because it confirms how unique they are, thus alleviating the identity confusion that inherently comes with the id-superego tension. Instead of bowing to the id, or the superego, or the outside world, they take a fourth path - that is, withdrawal from the world. This makes Type 4 possibly the most creative enneatype.
Type 4s often favor esoteric ideas, but not always. Concepts that are just as unique as they are often appeal to them. Their ego is constantly filtering, deciding what to integrate and what to discard. The Type 4 identity snowballs, growing more expansive as they gain more experiences. Eventually they integrate to Type 1 as their identity solidifies.
To Encourage Integration: You have to acknowledge that your identity is a work-in-progress at all times. If you're putting something off because you think you're not ready… well, stop putting it off!
To Avoid Disintegration: Be careful: negative emotions can distance you further and further from other people, possibly resulting in depression. Don't let your ego drive to be unique spiral out of control.
Type 4 Wings:
Type 4 with a 3 Wing (Ego-Id): A 4w3 is more in touch with their id desires, giving them a greater outward intensity than the 4w5. 4w3s are often very passionate and active.
Type 4 with a 5 Wing (Ego-Ego): The withdrawn traits of 4 and 5 combine here to create a more cerebral 4. 4w5 is usually more esoteric and mystical, and is more likely to withdraw from the world to explore their inner selves. 4w5 may be one of the most contemplative types in the enneagram.
Type 5: Ego Knowledge.
Basic Fear: To be useless or helpless.
Basic Desire: To be competent.
Type 5 is an ego type, and like the Type 4, the Type 5 feels the stress caused by balancing the id, superego, and the outside world. However, they deal with it in a different way than the Type 4. The Enneagram Institute describes the key motivation of five: "To understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment." This "defense of self" aspect can only exist in the ego sphere.
The Type 5 is the most likely to declare that knowledge is power. And this makes sense: in an ideal world, the Type 5 would be all-knowing and thus able to handle any problems the ego might face. As the Type 5 becomes more confident in their knowledge, they become assertive like a healthy 8. If they feel that they are useless, they can stop caring and become apathetic like an unhealthy 7.
The cerebral nature of the Type 5, combined with the Type 5 tendency to withdraw into one's self, creates a rich inner world that's often inexplicable to other people.
To Encourage Integration: Recognize that you can do a lot of good with your knowledge; it's not just for your own mind alone. Feel free to be assertive but magnanimous with what you know.
To Avoid Disintegration: Don't over-think things. Type 5 is probably the most likely type to over-analyze and end up never taking action. This can lead to feelings of helplessness. As a 5, you'll have a tendency to pull away from your emotions. Don't let this alienate you from yourself.
Type 5 Wings:
Type 5 with a 4 Wing (Ego-Ego): 5w4s have the motivation of a 5 with the strong ego identity of a 4. The identity-focused four wing makes the 5w4 more iconoclastic and artistic, as they use their knowledge to drive their own path through the world. A 5w4 is likely to be more in touch with their emotions than a 5w6, although they're still not comfortable with them. 5w4 often resist the influences of others and can sometimes be mistaken for a Type 8 because of it.
Type 5 with a 6 Wing (Ego-Superego): The superego wants to create structure. Type 6 is a superego type, and so a 5w6 will be a more concrete thinker than 5w4 because of it. 5w6s are more likely to be scientific than a 5w4 - instead of using their knowledge to form an identity, they use their knowledge to make all the pieces of the world fit. This means that a 5w6 is less likely to be iconoclastic as they would favor logical systems; for example, the scientific method was probably formulated by a 5w6.
Type 6: Superego "Conscience" Focused.
Basic Fear: To lack security.
Basic Desire: To have security.
Type 6 is the most misunderstood type in the enneagram. Type 6 qualities are often perceived as contradictory: they like structure, but on the other hand, they can also rebel against it. This is actually perfectly consistent: as a superego type, a Type 6 individual wants to create a set of concrete rules for the world.
Contrast this with Type 1 (another superego type): the Type 1 loves principles, but the Type 6 is about rules. The 6 is always striving to perfect their rule-set; whether that means going their own way in the world or adopting someone else's set of rules. This explains why Type 6 can be both rebellious and cooperative.
Type 4 and Type 6 are analogous: the Type 4 wants to perfect their identity, and the Type 6 wants to perfect their superego. This is why 6s are seen as troubleshooters: they're good at sorting through problems to find the answer that their superego seeks.
They are highly aware of what doesn't fit within their established rule-set, and often focus on the "conscience" aspect of the superego. This is why Type 6 individuals have a very attuned sense for the negative consequences of an action, which reinforces their troubleshooting ability.
As you can see, this constant back-and-forth within the superego creates anxiety. A Type 6 individual puts their libidinal energy into their superego, but there's always uncertainty for them. There are two ways for a Type 6 to deal with it: by being phobic or counterphobic. A 6 can be phobic at some times and counterphobic at others: they represent two ways of dealing with a fear.
To Encourage Integration: You're a superego type, so you may end up neglecting your id desires. Try to balance yourself like a 9 would. Type 6 integrates into a healthy Type 9, and upon reaching that, you'll feel much more calm.
To Avoid Disintegration: Watch out for pessimism. Self-doubt is your downfall: feel free to doubt the rest of the world, but have faith in yourself.
Type 6 Wings:
Type 6 with a 5 Wing (Superego-Ego): A 6w5 combines the troubleshooting nature of a 6 with the cerebral and investigative nature of the 5. A 6w5's ability to detach from a situation like a 5 can help alleviate some of their anxiety. They have a sense for very precise details in a situation and can be a very concrete thinker. I'd imagine that many highly technical professions are filled with 6w5. 6w5s are usually emotionally stable and can appear to be aloof because of the 5 tendency to withdraw.
Type 6 with a 7 Wing (Superego-Id): The 6w7 is more energetic than the 6w5, since they have a stronger connection with their id. A 6w7 is often more impulsive than 6w5 and is much more likely to go out into the world to fulfill their desires. They're also more oriented toward others, and would likely base their internal rule-set on their interactions with other people. This is a very expressive type; there's an element of chaos to 6w7 that's not present in 6w5.
Type 7: Id Gratification Focused.
Basic Fear: To be deprived and to be in pain.
Basic Desire: To have their needs and wants met.
The id is the home of the "avoid pain/seek pleasure" principle that seeks the instant gratification of desires and the immediate end to pain. A Type 7 individual focuses their libidinal energy on this principle, producing a dynamic and motivated personality.
Type 7 individuals are truly powerhouses and are perhaps the most energetic type in the enneagram. This energy can make them quite aggressive, although in a less "in your face" way than Type 8. When a Type 7 is doing something they really love, it's like there's no stopping them. That's why Type 7 is often called "The Generalist"; they usually have a wide range of things they like, and they can be enthusiastic about all of them.
Like 8 (another id type) they tend to overdo it when it comes to things they like. This is a classic function of the id.
To Encourage Integration: Type 7 integrates to Type 5, an ego type. Once the id desires are consistently satisfied, they move some libidinal energy to the ego. As the Type 7 becomes secure and positive in their lives, they are likely to adopt the contemplative and inquisitive nature of the Type 5.
To Avoid Disintegration: Type 7 disintegrates much like Type 8 and Type 3; all id types share the pattern of lashing out as they disintegrate. The id is not a rational agency and if it's not satisfied, it can end up self-destructing more easily than you expect. One way to avoid this is to not set unrealistic expectations for life; you don't want to make your goals unattainable.
Type 7 Wings:
Type 7 with a 6 Wing (Id-Superego): The superego elements of Type 6 make Type 7w6 more society-oriented than 7w8. A 7w6 has the characteristic 7 enthusiasm, but they are also aware of what others consider positive because of the superego 6 wing. 7w6s are more like entertainers, directing their energy toward socially exciting activities. The 7w6 is often the life of the party.
Type 7 with an 8 Wing (Id-Id): 7w8 combines an id core type with an id wing and this creates a very assertive personality. They direct their incredible energy almost entirely on their id, making them extremely passionate. No type is likely to be adventurous like a 7w8.
Type 8: Id Power Focused.
Basic Fear: To be harmed or controlled by others.
Basic Desire: To be in control of their own life.
A Type 8 individual has a well-developed id, which motivates them to be independent and resourceful. A Type 8 knows what they want - and they know that the most direct path is the quickest way to get it. For that reason, Type 8s are straightforward, assertive, and direct. The id tends to push to get to what it wants, so it won't back down when confronted with resistance. In fact, resistance only makes the Type 8 amp up the aggression; they are going to get what they want.
The vice of Type 8 is often called "lust", and that makes sense. They want what they want, and they want lots of it.
This is why conflict energizes an 8: it satisfies their id desires. In fact, some 8s may pursue conflict simply because it's so satisfying to the id. Contrast this with counterphobic 6: a cp6 is aggressive to deal with fear, an 8 may be aggressive because the aggression itself is satisfying.
However, the id has a side to it that's more playful, and this comes out with the 8 in private. The 8 ideal is magnamity; the ability to use their power in an equitable and just way. This tends to develop as an 8 grows older.
To Encourage Integration: Understand that there's a higher power in not using your power at all. The ultimate test of power is whether you can control yourself or not.
To Avoid Disintegration: Use your energy in a just way. Not everything is deserving of aggressive confrontation. Understand that not everyone sees conflict the way that you do.
Type 8 Wings:
Type 8 with a 7 Wing (Id-Id): The id qualities of 8 and 7 stack in the 8w7. Because of the enthusiast 7 wing, they 8w7 is often very adventurous and intense. 8w7 is also the most likely type to seek conflict for the sake of conflict alone. 8w7s are often unaware of their own strength and may push much more than is necessary to get what they want.
Type 8 with a 9 Wing (Id-Ego): The ego element of Type 9 makes the 8w9 more aware of their impulses. An 8w9 is less likely to underestimate their power, like an 8w7. This awareness gives the 8w9 better impulse control than 8w7, so the 8w9 is less likely to strike out at others without being provoked first. They are much more likely to draw a line in the sand and dare you to cross it. However, 8w9s run the risk of bottling up their aggression and having it explode at inopportune moments.
Type 9: Ego Mediator.
Basic Fear: To be lost, to be annihilated.
Basic Desire: To have stability and peace of mind.
The ego is the rational mediator between id, superego, and the outside world. Type 9 individuals focus their energy on this ego function, making them the regulators of their own mind. They want every facet to mesh well, and their ideal state is one of inner harmony as the id, superego and outside world coexist within them perfectly.
You could think of the Type 9 as loving balance: they want to make sure their id is not too pushy, and their superego isn't demanding too much, and the outside world is minding their place. If one or more elements becomes out of balance, the Type 9 can get paranoid and suspicious like an unhealthy 6 because they lost the harmony that they invested so much in.
The Type 9 is often called "the mediator" because they seek to eliminate threats to their harmony within their universe, and this sometimes entails settling disputes with other people. But look at the word "mediator" in a broad sense: they want to mediate their inner world, and sometimes they mediate things in the outer world because of it.
The Type 9 is probably the best representation of the ego in the enneagram. It's my opinion that the purest form of love is created by the ego, and that shines through in the Type 9.
To Encourage Integration: Be selective about what you do; don't put yourself in situations that will unbalance you. You want to meet and maintain your ideal inner harmony.
To Avoid Disintegration: In tough situations, don't let the stress paralyze you. Because Type 9s are constantly mediating their id, superego and the outside world, they may succumb to simply "shutting down" when it gets too hard. Don't withdraw like that; power through it.
Type 9 Wings:
Type 9 with an 8 Wing (Ego-Id): The 9w8 has a slight id edge that makes them assertive and powerful like a Type 8. However, their aggressive tendencies are looked at in the light of maintaining harmony: they are only going to act like an 8 when it's to maintain the inner peace. Type 9w8s in difficult situations can often mistype as Type 8s because of this.
Type 9 with a 1 Wing (Ego-Superego): The 9w1 has elements of the superego Type 1 in their personality. They embrace the ego ideal of being calm and collected and tend to back off in a conflict. They are more likely to solve a situation by withdrawing instead of fighting, like a 9w8 would. This makes the 9w1 generally more apt to solve interpersonal problems between other people than a 9w8.
Id Types: 3, 7, 8 (Desirous/Energetic/Aggressive)
Ego Types: 4, 5, 9 (Withdrawn/Identity Focused)
Superego Types: 1, 2, 6 (Moralistic/Rule Oriented/Structured)
IV. Applying Freudian Enneagram Theory
Now that we've categorized the types, we have to apply them to the enneagram. There are a few areas of curiosity in the enneagram that I want to cover. These topics are:
- Wing Theory
- The Common Tritype: 3-6-9
- Id Aggression (3-7-8) vs. Superego Aggression (1-2-6)
- The Triple-Passive Tri-Type: 5-4-9
- The Enneagram and MBTI Interaction
A. Wing TheoryIt's axiomatic that each enneatype is distinct. Yet, people often have traits of one of the types next to their own. This apparent contradiction was fixed by introducing the wing theory: you have not only a core type, but a wing that represents the additional traits of an adjacent type. We know this is true by simple observation, but what's the justification for this? I don't think that's a question adequately answered by the enneagram, but it makes perfect sense in a Freudian light.
As I've already said, my position is that each enneatype evidences a strong connection to an element of Freud's structural model of the psyche. Type 1 is driven more by their superego forces, and Type 7 is driven more by their id forces. But, just as the ego is not entirely separate from the superego, each enneatype is not entirely separate from another. From the Freudian perspective, the wing represents the "helper" function of the core type. I'll give you an example.
Let's take Type 9, "The Mediator." This is an ego type that's surrounded by a superego type (1) and an id type (8.) If the Type 9 individual identifies more with their id impulses than their superego, they would be more of a 9w8. On the other hand, if they identified more with their superego, they would be a 9w1. In both cases, they are still an ego type: it's just that they trend toward one side or the other.
As you can see, some enneatypes double up. This occurs with 1w2, 2w1, 8w7, 7w8, 4w5, and 5w4. In these cases, the wing is the same as the core in terms of its representation of the Freudian structural model. This creates some degree of overlap. You can see this most clearly in the interaction between Type 2 and Type 1. Because 2 and 1 are both superego types, 2w1 and 1w2 have a stronger connection to the superego than 1w9 and 2w3. For this reason, 2w1 and 1w2 are perceived as harsher, more moralistic, and in many cases more aggressive than 2w3 and 1w9. They are simply more invested in their superego than any other type.
8w7 and 7w8 are great examples of this phenomenon too. The 8w9 reaches into their ego for assistance, but the 8w7 relies primarily on the id in both cases. This is why 8w7s appear more aggressive and impulsive; they reside, more or less, in their id.
In contrast, consider 4w5 and 5w4. 4 and 5 are considered contemplative and secretive types, but these qualities are inadequately explained in standard enneagram theory. It makes complete sense in a Freudian light, though. Both are an ego type, which means that they are primarily concerned with their interface to the outside world and the interface between the id and superego. Ego types are more likely to compensate for the outside world because they directly face it: this is why ego types can be more reclusive. (See the section on triple-passive 954 for more on this.)
As I described earlier, Type 4s see themselves as fundamentally different from the world around them in order to resolve the anxiety experienced by the ego's functions. Type 5s are knowledge-seekers, looking to resolve that same anxiety but through different means. Thus, in 4w5 and 5w4, these traits amplify and can produce an individual with a strong sense of separation from the outside world.
Contrast 5w4 and 5w6. Type 5w4 is more iconoclastic and artistic, while Type 5w6 is more concrete and (in many cases) more socially-oriented. The 4 wing causes a Type 5 to identify more with their ego, and inspires the 5 to "go it's own way" when it comes to ego development. The 6 wing, however, is more grounded in developing the structures that the superego craves.
Wing theory suddenly becomes clear when observed through the lens of Freudian psychoanalysis.
B. Common Types - 3-6-9
You'll hear that 3-6-9 is the most common tritype. I believe that this is true, but this is no quirk of the enneagram, nor is it random chance.
You'll notice that 3, 6, and 9 are id, superego, and ego types. The Type 3 element is constantly seeking to improve themselves, the Type 6 element is constantly seeking to improve their superego, and Type 9 is constantly seeking to mediate themselves. In a way, this is the healthiest tritype in Freudian terms.
This explains why 3-6-9 is the most common tritype: this is probably the optimal path of development.
C. Type 3-7-8 Id Aggression v. Type 1-2-6 Superego AggressionTypes 3, 7, and 8 are known for being aggressive types and this is considered the "triple aggressive" tritype. However, 1, 2 and 6 possess aggressive traits as well and mistypes are common between 3-7-8 and 1-2-6.
It's true that 3-7-8 and 1-2-6 are both aggressive tritypes, but their aggression is rooted in different causes. 3-7-8 aggression comes from the id, and 1-2-6 comes from the superego.
Let's examine the traits found in id aggression as compared to superego aggression:
Id Aggression 3-7-8:
- More often impulsive.
- Based on desire and want.
- Often inconsiderate of others.
- Involves more direct confrontation.
- Seeks gratification for the sake of gratification.
- Usually very direct in their aggression. More likely to be "active-aggressive."
Superego Aggression 1-2-6:
- More often calculated.
- Based on what's right and wrong.
- The aggression is often rationalized.
- Often considerate of others to some degree.
- Involves both direct and indirect confrontation. Can be "active-aggressive" or "passive-aggressive."
Freudian psychoanalysis illustrates the difference between id aggression and superego aggression in a way that elucidates this previously poorly-explained area of the enneagram. If you are stuck between 6 and 8 in deciding your type (and many are), look at the above list to determine if your aggression is centered more in the id or more in the superego. Some of those bullet points may not apply depending on the individual, so consider the points in their totality.
You'll notice some interesting phenomena here: 8 integrates to 2, which makes sense: as the 8 fulfills their id needs, they're likely to look to the superego next. On the other hand, as 2 disintegrates, they'll end up fulfilling their id needs in a forceful (and almost impulsive) manner like an 8 would. In a similar way, 3 integrates to 6 and 6 disintegrates to 3.
D. The Triple-Passive Tri-Type: 4-5-9
On the other hand, 4-5-9 is considered the "triple-passive" tritype. This is no surprise, as all three types are ego types: they have to deal with the id, superego, and the outside world all at the same time. It's natural that this would produce reclusive tendencies as they withdrawn from the world. Keep in mind that this is an inner withdrawl: it may manifest in withdrawn tendencies when interacting with others, but it's completely possible to be extroverted and be a 4-5-9.
Having all three in your tritype means that you probably have a rich inner world and you're likely feeling the tension between id-ego-superego in your daily life.
E. Enneagram and MBTI
In Freudian terms, the enneagram is all about drives. On the other hand, MBTI is about processing information. These are two entirely different spheres of personality.
I have no doubt that certain enneatypes correlate with certain MBTI types. MBTI may complicate things, because it can change how certain drives are expressed, but anyone is capable of possessing these drives because everyone does possess them, it's just that the enneagram shows your focus. A Type 1 has an id, ego, and superego, but they focus on the "ego ideal" portion of the superego. A Type 7 has an id, ego and superego, but they focus on the gratification drive of the id.
I believe that any enneagram type can be any MBTI type because of this.
V. About the Author
This article was written by me, the notorious PerC moderator timeless. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in clinical and counseling psychology. Although I ultimately decided to go into law, I still use Freudian concepts in the legal field on a regular basis. You could describe me as a Freudian, with a hint of cognitive-behavioral therapy mixed in there somewhere. Within Freudian theory, I'm an object relations theorist.
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding