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Published by: Dew Nada on Jan 14, 2009
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Introduction to Instinctual Subtypes
According to the Enneagram of personality, each of us experiences the worldin a distorted fashion. So powerful is this distortion that it affects everyaspect of consciousness. Because of its power over us, we unconsciouslyassume that our type specific perceptions of reality are absolutely groundedin Truth. Under the guidance of this cognitive distortion, we repeatedly andautomatically select out evidence which reinforces our prejudices, and areselectively blind to evidence which would refute our unacknowledged biases.This cognitive distortion does not remain isolated. It infects our passions sothat our emotional responses become conditioned and un-free. There is, forinstance, an entirely natural and predictable response to the belief that theworld is a dangerous place populated by individuals who are not what theyseem to be, and that response is one of fear or pervasive anxiety. Clearly,our way of seeing the world has direct and obvious consequences for how wefeel about it.While the above example is an illustration of the cognitive fixation andcorresponding passion of enneatype Six, each of the nine personality typesoperates in a similar fashion. Each of us suffers from a distortion whichcorrupts our intellects and controls our emotions. The Enneagram of personality illustrates for us the fact that none of us are free. Perhaps someawareness of our own type specific fixations can enable us to glimpse thebars of our own prison cells or to see through the spaces that exist betweenthose bars. To that end, accurate descriptions which illustate our distortionsand which resonate with our personal experiences can potentially serve auseful function.Some description of those type specific patterns is contained in the typedescriptions in other portions of this site, but we have, so far, left out of ourbrief discussion of fixation, one key element – the instincts. Claudio Naranjo,one of the first theorists who worked to develop the Enneagram, defineswhat he refers to as the “essential core” of personality as an
interferencewith instinct by passion under the sustaining influence of a distortingcognition.
Instinct, along with the intellect and emotions, constitutes thethird center of human consciousness, and it too is constrained and bound bythe influence of the dominant fixation.According to Naranjo, Oscar Ichazo, the father of the modern Enneagram of personality, subdivided the instinctual center into three distinct individualcenters, namely the instinct for self-preservation, the sexual instinct and the
social instinct. Enneagram theorists have been working with these divisionsever since. These instincts are the most primitive portions of our being; theyare that in us which is most akin to the other animals and they are affectedby our fixations in ways that follow predictable patterns, in ways that aresusceptible to analysis and description.In the portions of this site which follow, some attempt has been made todescribe the manner in which these instincts manifest. The general patternwhich seems to occur is that one of the three instincts becomes preferredand over-utilized; it mixes with the second most preferred instinct, while thethird remains generally undeveloped. Thus, to offer an example, in thenomenclature which has developed around the Enneagram of personality, anindividual is considered to have a dominant fixation, type One for instance,and, (in addition to the favored wing, Nine or Two as the case may be), adominant instinctual preference. A One, for instance, is either dominated byconcerns related to the instinct for self-preservation, in which case she willbe referred to as a self-pres One, by concerns related to the sexual instinct,in which case she will be classified as a sexual One, or by those of the socialinstinct, in which case she is referred to as a social One. In addition, it isuseful to note which of the instincts comes second, in what has come to beknown as “the instinctual stacking.” If a self-pres One’s second most utilizedinstinct is the sexual instinct, she will be called a self-pres/sexual One; itremains implied that her stacking is self-pres/sexual/social. Overall, thereare six possible combinations of instinctual preferences; each one of thesepreferences manifests in ways that admit of some description. Thesecombinations can be described independently of the dominant types, as eachstacking preference will exhibit some commonalities across types. Each of these combinations can also be described as channeled through type, asthere are some definite type specific differences. In the pages that follow,the “stackings” are discussed both independently of type and in accordancewith it.A few words can be said in general about the various instincts. The instinctfor self-preservation is attuned to the protection of the self, to its needs,health, comforts, security, and stability. This instinct is the strongest andmost fundamental in virtually all life forms, and can easily override the otherinstincts should the life or safety of the individual be in immediate danger. Insuch threatening conditions, all of us are dominated by the instinct for self-preservation. But, in more general circumstances, when our health, life orsecurity is not obviously or immediately endangered, this instinct will take aback seat, if the individual is dominated by the sexual or social instincts.
Claudio Naranjo describes the dominant instinct as a “weakness which lookslike a strength.” By this, he seems to have meant that, as the dominantinstinct is overdeveloped, it certainly will attend to the needs associated withthat instinct; in this sense it appears to be a strength. But, as the instinct isunbalanced and guided by a fixated personality, it is not being properlyutilized, and, in this disturbed state often does not actually best serve theoverall interests of the individual who is in its grip.Those individuals who are dominated by the instinct for self-preservationoften have a grounded or practical quality; they frequently develop a highdegree of self-sufficiency, discipline and maturity. Many self-pres subtypesdevote themselves to programs for self-improvement and, of all thesubtypes are probably the most “focused.” All of these qualities can clearlybe beneficial, but when the personality is unbalanced, a dominant self-preservational instinct can manifest in an obsessive concern with questionsof health, such as a focus on diet or exercise which might be punitive orotherwise excessive. Some self-pres types, when unbalanced, worry toomuch about health, mortality, finances or security. In fact, as life isephemeral and safety an illusion, worry in general, of whatever sort, is afrequent manifestation of a dominant instinct for self-preservation.When the instinct for self-preservation is last in the instinctual stacking, theindividual will often be somewhat ungrounded or seemingly “immature.” Such individuals often have a hard time focusing on issues such as financialsecurity or the commitment to the development of practical skills.Sometimes, issues of health are ignored. In the more extroverted types,individuals who are self-pres last, often find it difficult to develop “inwardness.” The sexual instinct focuses on attraction and excitement, or, what, apartfrom the self, seems to promise to expand and intensify life. The life of theself is found in the life of the other. As its name would indicate, individualswho are dominated by the sexual instinct are concerned with sexualfulfillment in the obvious sense of that term, but sexual subtypes are seldominterested in sex merely as a physical act. In fact, a belief that sex is justanother physical drive for physical pleasure is a pretty good sign that anindividual is not a sexual subtype. Sexual subtypes generally have romanticlongings for the ideal partner and hence have high expectations and ideals.By extension, the sexual instinct can manifest in a desire for intensity of many different sorts, but the primary manifestation will generally be aconcern with finding the ideal partner, as the sexual subtypes tend to feelsomehow incomplete or unfinished without a relationship to ground them.

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