Monday, September 10, 2007

Type 4: Identity-Seeker

Examples - Description - Equivalents - Misidentifications - Variations - Wings - Instinctual Variants - Health - Levels of Development - Levels of Integration and Disintegration - Growth Recommendations


Jeff Buckley 4w5 sx/sp
Acclaimed American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

"This is not a springboard, this is something very personal."

"Sometimes a man gets carried away when he feels like he should be having his fun and much too blind to see the damage he's done."

"So that instead of people being compelled to read through..."
"So I decided to totally find all kinds of little places..."
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.William Faulkner 4w5 so/sp
One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.

"All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible."

"I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth."

As I Lay Dying
The Sound and the Fury
"A Rose for Emily" Dostoevsky 4w5 sp/so
Profound Russian novelist and writer of fiction.

"My debauchery I undertook solitarily, by night, covertly, fearfully, filthily, with a shame that would not abandon me... I was then already bearing the underground in my soul."

Crime and Punishment
The Brothers Karamazov
"A Christmas Tree and a Wedding"
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Gwen Stefani 4w3 sx/so
American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and actress.

"In the beginning of the process I was scared to let other people into my creative world, but doing that fueled some fire in me."

"I think I've been able to fool a lot of people because I know I'm a dork. I'm a geek." "If only they knew what a dork I really am."

"Follow me..."
"Just total, you know, nerd-central..."
"So when it comes off I am X-girl...friend..."


  • Riso and Hudson's Overview

    The Four is the personality type which emphasizes the subjective world of feelings, in creativity and individualism, in introversion and self-absorption, and in self-torment and self-hatred. In this personality type we see creative artists, romantic aesthetes, and withdrawn dreamers, people with powerful feelings who feel different from others because self-consciousness blocks them from getting outside themselves.

  • Palmer's Description "The Unique Person"

    Creatures of emotional extremes, enneagram type 4s are awash in a stormy sea of emotions. They are all about relationships and seem to be always beginning, ending, or analyzing relationships. They feel frustrated in their search for connection to others. As children, they didn’t feel like the parents really understood them or were there for them emotionally. Whether or not this was really true is beside the point. They feel like they were born into the wrong family and continue to seek out people who will nurture them, mirror them, and rescue them from their suffering.

  •'s Description

    People of Enneatype Four construct their identities around their perception of themselves as being somehow unique and fundamentally different from others. This deep felt sense of being “different from” or “other than” pervades the Four’s sense of self, and functions as the basis for the Four’s attempt to create a persona that properly reflects who they feel they really are. Fours are not content (or even able) to live out the role assigned them by their societies or their families; they self-consciously search for an expression they feel will be truly authentic. Of all the types, Fours are the most acutely aware that the persona is a construct – something which has been created and can thus be re-created. This is indeed the fundamental respect in which Fours are artists; they may or may not be artists in the conventional sense of the term, but all Fours have a sense that their identities are, in some respect, their own creation.
Withdrawn Triad
  • Palmer at (Derived from)

    The 4 prefers to focus on what makes him who he is (a.k.a. "The Feeling Center"), to be out of touch with his actual physical body, or instinctual motivation for doing things (a.k.a. "The Instinctual-Motivation Center). He tends to underuse his physical body and avoids acting meaningfully in the world. He uses his mental and cognitive functions (a.k.a. "The Thinking Center") in the form of imagination to ramp up the intensity of his feelings and sensation. He withdraws to protect his feelings and sensations and to live in his imaginary world.
  • Myers-Briggs Equivalents

    More Common:
    "The Mystic" - Have deeply felt compassion, desiring harmony with others.
    INFP "The Dreamer" - Desire their world to be in line with their inner ideal vision.

    Quite Common:
    ISFP "The Aesthete" - Avoid disagreements, seeking harmony with people and nature.
    ENFP "The Visionary" - Love the fluid and changing, expressing creativity and charisma.


4w3 - Seeking Identity and Image
  • LifeExplore

    Fours with a 3 wing can sometimes seem like Sevens. May be outgoing, have a sense of humor and style. Prize being both creative and effective in the world. Both intuitive and ambitious; may have good imaginations, often talented. Some are colorful, fancy dressers, make a distinct impression. Self-knowledge combines well with social and organizational skills. When more entranced, often have a public/private split. Could conceal feelings in public then go home to loneliness. Or they could enjoy their work and be dissatisfied in love. Tendency towards melodrama and flamboyance; true feelings can often be hidden. Competitive, sneaky, aware of how they look. Some have bad taste. May be fickle in love, drawn to romantic images that they have projected onto others. Could have a dull spouse, then fantasize about glamorous strangers. Achievements can be tainted by jealousy, revenge, or a desire to prove the crowd wrong.
4w5 - Seeking Identity and Knowledge
  • LifeExplore

    Healthy side of this wing brings a withdrawn, complex creativity. May be somewhat intellectual but have exceptional depth of feeling and insight. Very much their own person; original and idiosyncratic. Have a spiritual and aesthetic openness. Will find multiple levels of meaning to most events. May have a strong need and ability to pour themselves into artistic creations. Loners; can seem enigmatic and hard to read. Externally reserved and internally resonant. When they open up it can be sudden and total. When entranced or defensive, Fours with a 5 wing can easily feel alienated and depressed. Many have a sense of not belonging, of being from another planet. Can get lost in their own process, drown in their own ocean. Whiny - tend to ruminate and relive past experience. Prone to the emotion of shame. Air of sullen, withdrawn disappointment. May live within a private mythology of pain and loss. Can get deeply morbid and fall in love with death.

Instinctual Variants

Sexual 4 - Seeking Intimacy/Intensity
  • Udit Patel "Infatuation (Ichazo's "Competition")"

    Sexual Fours focus their envy and hypersensitivity in their intimate relationships. They are perhaps the most emotionally intense type of the Enneagram, which is both their gift and their potential downfall. They possess both a capacity and a desire for profound intimacy, and they derive tremendous insight into human nature through the ups and downs of their romantic lives. They have a sultry, sullen quality that can be attractive and mysterious, or at times, off-putting to others. Sexual Fours pour their energy and attention into the object of their affection, often becoming infatuated or even obsessed, sometimes after only one meeting. Sexual chemistry triggers their powerful imaginations, leading them to create enormous expectations of potential partners. Sexual Fours tend to be drawn to people who possess qualities and talents that they believe they lack. They want to complete themselves by associating or merging with the valued other. But this almost never works, so they may also end up envying and resenting their romantic partner for unintentionally reminding them of what they feel they are missing. In any case, Sexual Fours go through tremendous shifts of feeling about their loved ones—everything from idolization to unbridled hatred. Generally speaking, this type is aware of these feelings, including the dark ones, and finds ways to express them, sometimes in self-destructive ways.

  • LifeExplore

    Fours with this theme tend to be highly competitive in close relationships but also more generally. With a mate they are prone to jealousy. Want to be the most important person in mate's life. Could be jealous of a partner's past relationships, maybe want to be the only person the partner has ever loved. Related to the dependent side of 2. More broadly can be consumed by professional envy. Long to best others in their work. Can jealously measure their contributions. Petty about keeping score. Want recognition for their uniqueness. Take away from successes of others when threatened.

Social 4 - Seeking Acceptance/Belonging/Inclusion/Status
  • Udit Patel "The Outsider (Ichazo's "Social Shame")"

    Social Fours focus their envy and hypersensitivity in the social realm; thus, they are people who deeply want to belong, to be a part of an "in crowd" with a glamorous lifestyle, but who often fear that they are not up to it. Social Fours tend to be more extroverted than Fours of the other two instincts and can resemble Twos or Sevens. Social Fours can be quite funny, using droll, ironic humor to make a point or simply to stimulate conversation. They enjoy expressing their individuality and sense of style in a more public way, although they also attempt to conceal the extent of their feelings of social inadequacy or shame. Social Fours may work hard to develop a public persona through which they can communicate the depths of their feelings, but this persona is usually more glamorous and free than they actually feel. Social Fours are acutely aware of the artifice of their persona, but they use it nonetheless as a way of finding some sense of belonging and involvement in the world. When they are more troubled, Social Fours fear social humiliation to such a degree that they may retreat from much social contact, becoming isolated and reclusive. They may also develop a personal style cultivated to show the world how wounded and different they feel.

  • LifeExplore

    Prone to shame because they compare themselves with the "normal" world around them. Can be highly self-critical and feel ashamed for their deviance from imagined group norms. Sensitive to criticism. May romanticize their defects but feel bad about themselves anyway. If they have a 3 wing, may cover their shame with charm. Can also seek status or be driven to achieve to get revenge against those who once laughed at them. With a 5 wing, can grow antisocial and depressed, bearing their shame in solitude.

  • Helen Palmer

    "In the social domain you can easily feel shame. You feel that your protective cover is removed and that your defects, deficiencies, shortcomings will be exposed publicly in the social situation. You don’t measure up; you may feel yourself to be a misfit. Envy gets mitigated in shame that makes you want to hide your defects, cover up your deficiencies, keep your fatal flaws from being detected, avoid disgrace. Still, shame serves to make you feel or keep a connection to others: “They notice me and my deficiencies and it matters to them.” This makes you count; it tells you that you matter in the eyes of others, “I’m not a nobody–nothing.” And shame motivates you to do better – create an elegant image, produce pride of elitism, look unique and special – in short develop counter-shame. You may become an emotional truth teller in the group. You channel envy in these ways. But at your worst, shame can lead to retraction into self-absorption, depression and even despair."
Self-Preservation 4 - Seeking Safety/Comfort
  • Udit Patel "The Sensualist (Ichazo's "Reckless/Dauntless")"

    Self-Preservation Fours focus their envy and hypersensitivity on their concerns about their immediate environment and on their quest for physical comfort. They attempt to deal with emotional issues by surrounding themselves with as much luxury and beauty as they can afford, by indulging in their favorite foods, and by giving themselves "consolation prizes" for their suffering. They might be disappointed about a job situation or a failing relationship, and so stay up late at night drinking expensive cognac and watching a favorite movie. Self-Pres Fours are particularly sensitive to comfort issues—the temperature of a room, the quality of the lighting, the humidity or lack of it, the weather—all produce powerful emotional responses. Self-Pres Fours become frustrated that the environment is insufficiently attuned to their personal needs. Attempts to control the environment and self-indulgence in rich foods, drink, drugs, or other sensual distractions can exhaust Self-Pres Fours, leaving them unable to function well outside of their own narrowing world.

  • LifeExplore

    People with this theme are often advocates of risk. Can be reckless, court disaster or just flirt lightly with loss. Take chances to stir up emotional intensity, play out melodrama or to get attention. Can have a desire to punish other through hurting themselves. The logic is, "If I die then they'll be sorry and finally appreciate me." Can seem like counterphobic Sixes in their behavior. With a 3 wing this subtype is more flamboyant and makes a show of their daring. With a 5 wing they grow more sullen and self-punishing.


Levels of Development
  • Riso & Hudson's Levels of Development

    Level 1 (Most Healthy - The Level of Liberation): Profoundly creative, expressing the personal and the universal, possibly in a work of art. Inspired, self-renewing and regenerating: able to transform all their experiences into something valuable: self-creative.

    Level 5 (Average - The Level of Interpersonal Control): To stay in touch with feelings, they interiorize everything, taking everything personally, but become self-absorbed and introverted, moody and hypersensitive, shy and self-conscious, unable to be spontaneous or to "get out of themselves." Stay withdrawn to protect their self-image and to buy time to sort out feelings.

    Level 9 (Most Unhealthy - The Level of Pathological Destructiveness): Despairing, feel hopeless and become self-destructive, possibly abusing alcohol or drugs to escape. In the extreme: emotional breakdown or suicide is likely. Generally corresponds to the Avoidant, Depressive, and Narcissistic personality disorders.

  • Riso & Hudson's Levels of Development In-Depth

  • Healthy and Unhealthy "Loops"

    Healthy loop controlled by Basic Desire: Need for self-understanding -> examine self -> understand themselves -> Need for self-understanding. In the healthy state, the need for self-understanding induces Type Fours to allow their emotions to surface and examine these emotions in order to understand themselves. When Fours achieve self-understanding, their need is satisfied and a balance is reached.

    Average state: when Fours' do not examine closely their emotions, they start to not understand themselves. This increases the need for self-understanding, which helps Fours to again examine themselves. Thus the balancing loop can help Fours to recover.

    Unhealthy loop controlled by Basic Fear: Fear of being defective -> indulge in fantasy -> understand themselves -> Fear of being defective. In the unhealthy state, the basic fear of being defective can cause Type Fours to ignore their true selves, allow their emotions to overwhelm them, and indulge in wild fantasy about themselves. This means they will understand themselves even less, and further increases Fours' basic fear. The cycle continues to build up.

    Insight: We can see from the diagram that a way to help break the control of the basic fear is to weaken the unhealthy loop. Fours can refrain from indulging in fantasy and start examining themselves. This will help Fours to understand themselves, and reduce the fear of being defective.
Levels of Integration and Disintegration

Integration (Four Goes to Healthy One)

  • Udit Patel

    As Fours become more aware of their tendency to brood and to fantasize about their many hurts and disappointments, they also become aware of the cost to themselves of this way of being. As they relax and accept themselves more deeply, they gradually become free of their constant emotional turbulence and their need to maintain emotional crises or to indulge themselves as a consolation prize for not fulfilling their potential. Gradually and naturally, they become more objective, grounded, and practical, like healthy Ones. They also become more realistic and able to operate in the real world. Without imposing harsh disciplines or expectations on themselves, integrating Fours want to become involved in matters beyond themselves, such as in community work, politics, the environment, or in other worthwhile ways to engage their minds and hearts. On some level, they choose no longer to indulge themselves but to live within the constraints of reality. When they do so, they find the payoffs and the pleasures—and their creativity—are deeper and much more fulfilling.

  • Wake-Up Call

    Awareness of holding on to and intensifying feelings through the imagination—so that they can rise to a self-regenerating connection with reality and endless creativity.

Security (Four Goes to Average One)

  • Udit Patel

    With trusted intimates, or in situations in which Fours feel sure of themselves, they may risk being more openly controlling and critical of others. Their frustration with others and feeling of disappointment in how others are behaving (especially toward them) finally erupts. Fours can become impatient and critical, demanding that people meet their exacting standards, constantly pointing out how others have made errors. Nothing about the other person (whom they may have idealized and regarded as their longed for "rescuer") now satisfies them or gives them much hope or pleasure. Everything about the person and their situation becomes irritating and annoying and they can't seem to get the other person's faults out of their mind. Fours in this state may also compensate for their ragged emotions by driving themselves excessively, feeling that they are lazy and unproductive if they are not constantly working and improving.

Disintegration (Four Goes to Average Two)

  • Udit Patel

    Fours attempt to defend their hurt feelings (and gain attention) by withdrawing from people and withholding their own affection and attention. They may recognize on some level, however, that their emotional storminess and withdrawals are driving away the people who are most supportive of them. Then Fours go out of their way to reestablish their connections and reassure themselves that their relationship is still on solid ground. But because they are reacting out of stress, Fours may overcompensate by trying to win others over, by doing favors, or, more darkly, by manipulation and creating dependencies, all in the manner of average-to-unhealthy Twos. To do this, they keep talking about the state of the relationship with the other person and try to make themselves more needed. Favors, help, and reminding others of their support are part of the picture. Troubled Fours also become more possessive of loved ones, not wanting to let them out of their sight for long, like lower-functioning Twos.
Growth Recommendations
  • Riso & Hudson's Personal Growth Recommendations

  • Udit Patel

    Fours grow by recognizing that while the hurts and losses of the past were real enough, there is no need to keep revisiting them in the imagination. On the contrary, doing so keeps drawing them out of the richness and depth of the present moment—the one time and place in which their real feelings and their true identity can be found. Fours need to see how working up their feelings actually moves them further away from their most authentic self and their truest self expression.
  • Palmer's Exercises

    Notice when you move from reality into fantasy. What is in your fantasy world that is not in your real world? What emotions do you feel there? Spend some time in your imagination.

    Now breathe deeply into your belly. Feel your body. Pay attention to your feet, your legs, how your body is supported by the floor or the chair. Now breathe deeply into your chest, into your heart space. What emotions do you feel now? Try to discern your real feelings from your imagined feelings.


Kaustubh said...

Quite a different elaboration for a type four. I have read type 4 at other places as well... at some places it was over idealized and at some others it was overly negative. I found this one quite realistic.

Nice job done!

(I am a 4w3)


Eilidh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cynthia.busse said...

I just discovered my 4 yr old daughter is also a type 4, like myself. Only her dominant instinct is social and mine is sexual, thus the difference between us. I can't believe I didn't catch this earlier! Now I am studying up to find some answers I seek. Thanks for an incredible blog. It's well rounded and very well put together!

Justin and Lee Anne said...

I have had SUCH a hard time identifying myself, testing for years as literally EVERY Enneagram type. Finally I decided the 4 was most likely, but couldn't match myself up to it by reading type 4 descriptions in other places, confused by some of my 2-ish and 3-ish tendencies (not to mention my initial testing as a 7, or my frequent testing as a 1). But reading the description here leaves no doubt in my mind that I am a social 4w3. So thanks for the help!

* lee anne

.:} {:. said...

Congratulations, Anne! Always go with your gut feeling. Remember, you can always gain from learning about ALL aspects of yourself, including your main Enneagram type. ;)

Just a girl off to see the world... said...

I love your blog! Thank you for posting all this information...

I've just learned about the Enneagram a few months ago and its had a profound affect on me.. I've always struggled with why I was the way I was, trying to understand the things I did and why I couldn't be like my more successful sisters and friends.

Several years of therapy only brought minimal change and understanding. It wasn't until at a friends place, thumbing through Riso's "Personality Type" when I stumbled on the description for type Four did it all come together.

I read riveted, it was like discovering God's blueprint for me. I stopped highlighting the pages because literally every word applied and resonated with me...

That night I cried having finally found the tool I was looking for to help me understand myself and provide the guidance I was looking for to being a better, healthier person!

Months later, after reading everything I can from Riso and Hudson and incorporating it in my life, I feel great. Now I know how to better handle my mood swings and my biggest issue - daydreaming my life away.

Sorry for the long post but to anyone out there looking for answers I highly recommend studying the Enneagram and this blog is a great intro to it.

Keep it up please people are reading and it definitely helps!