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Skeptical of Instinct theory

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    #16
    I'm skeptical of instinct theory, too. It's a muddy concept. If you read about the 9 types from various sources, they may not all be identical, but they're clearly overlapping, or variations on a theme. (I don't mean the types are variations of each other; I mean each source's descriptions of a given type are variations of each other.) There are clear, recognizable cores that you can trace from source to source.

    Instincts don't seem to be like that. Every source seems to have a completely different idea of what the instincts are and how to describe them, and some of them are so far from overlapping that they actually contradict. That makes it hard for me to accept the validity of any of them as universal and useful observations.

    On the other hand, if you go by the general energy of them, I agree that they seem to parallel the three centers, and I wonder if they might emphasize or counter-balance (depending on the stacking) the natural stacking of the tritype.
    Rachel

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      #17
      All other issues aside, the way I personally see it is that you can be, for example:
      80% sx, 15 %sp, 5% so
      but you can also be
      35% sx, 34% sp, 31% so
      (obviously there is no way to measure it, I just imagine it in those terms)

      And I feel like it's often described as a lot more grand and magical than that and like deep down we all have one dominant instinct that carries a whole world with it and excludes everything else, rather than just three loosely defined areas that all people regularly access in different ways and to different degrees.
      But I really think that for some people deciding on their dominant instinct is about as significant as deciding on what color gummy bear to eat first, would say I fall in that category.

      I prefer subtypes because the focus is on variations of types rather than instincts as a separate thing, but that theory also needs some work.

      I also like the idea of syn/contra flow theory and think there might be something to it, I just know that simply saying I feel contra flow feels more significant to me than choosing a single stacking.

      Comment


      • Daeva
        Daeva commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with that. I also think that those percentages will change depending on circumstance and how much you've come to terms with yourself. I imagine a less neurotic person will have percentages closer to 34-33-33.

      • Animal
        Animal commented
        Editing a comment
        I definitely experience instinct percentages fluctuating in myself, depending on the time period. They don't fluctuate constantly every day in some drastic way, but I feel like certain time periods in my life are 'marked by' each instinct coming more to the fore.

      #18
      Daeva
      I know what you mean. personally, I divide instincts into several sub-traits each, and those aren't necessarily correlated with each other. ex: I type as Sx/Sp because I'm high on a broader range of traits that are Sx-related, but there are a few in which I am very Social. ex: I have a fascination with understanding different societal structures and models, and have a greater appreciation for the need for some level of rules and guidance that a lot of Soc-last types don't recognize (though tbf, this was also something that made sense only later, after years of observing people and reading through over a dozen college lecture series on history. my natural predisposition is very much anarchistic). you could probably also argue that my penchant toward the teacher/sage role is also driven by some level of Social.

      if I were to map them out though, my composite scores in all three would probably be somewhat balanced. maybe 45% Sx, 35% Sp and 20% Soc

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        #19
        the degree to which people mix up concepts doesn't help either. like, some people think Sx has nothing to do with intimacy, and other people think it only has to do with intimacy (not sure wtf they think Social is if that's the case lmao)

        I'm also of the opinion that we can better get in touch with our instincts with age and practice. I feel more instinctively confident in all three of the instincts than I did even a few years ago (though my core type also lends itself well to instinctual intelligence in general, so that's probably part of it).

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        • [redacted]
          [redacted] commented
          Editing a comment
          "not sure wtf they think Social is if that's the case lmao"

          uhhh Social types are just shallow status obsessed and don't care about connections beyond networking right??

        #20
        I think many people's instincts show up in their mentality toward the world, the specific content of their mind somewhere, and so on... mine not so obviously. I grew up divorced from my body, hence the movements of the body don't register very well with me. Including a lot of physical world tells for any instinct, whether self-pres, sexual, or social. And a lot of the involvement in that world that would otherwise tinge my thoughts more obviously toward my instincts.

        The reason I tend to agree with the typing at so/sx for me is because it accurately depicts the way I move online, where the physical body is not concerned but there is plenty of access to others and their work. In my explorations of the online world, I've always moved into new social scenes and as I went, gotten to know the community and gravitated toward deeper connection with specific people on the side. Were I more of a "irl" person as well, this would define my whole life - go into a new social scene, get to know it, pick out the favorites... move on, pick out new favorites. To some extent I do this, but lately in my "irl" I am doused in too many scenes I didn't get to choose for my own preferences (work, for one, where I spend so much of my time...college, another...), so I don't have much (or any) attraction to anyone there. But overall, this is why I end up with individual friends from so many different scenes that don't know each other - this is the shape of my interpersonal compartmentalization.

        So I see these instincts as more motion than anything - they are a centerpoint of how you deal with the world around you and others that sits under the core.

        Besides which, the physical world really is anathema to me.. the physical self-pres - health, resource acquisition, etc. - not my domain at all. Not only is it not what life is about, but it's half the reason I want to escape this world. I'm anti-self-pres. I don't like it. It is my albatross. It makes me unfree. It forces me into a whole life I don't want.
        Last edited by Quindary; 04-24-2020, 09:49 AM.

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          #21
          Update: I am currently in favor of seeing the centers ("... of intelligence" according to R&H) as the actual instinct bases. Our "personality type" is a fixation in an instinct center (Gut or Self Preservation or Physical, Heart or Sexual or Relational, Head or Social or Adaptive), and the orientation of this fixation is according to the law of three (positive, negative, neutral) -> hence there are three points within each instinctive center.

          With this, we have three 'selves' per each instinctive center, with one being the predominant fixation. As an example, I would place Brad Pitt's central fixation at 3, which means his most fixated instinct center is that of the Relational instinct, or more commonly known as "Sx." For the two other instincts for him, I would place at 9 for his Preserving/Physical instinct, and 7 for his Social/Adaptive instinct. I am undecided still as to whether the order of the fixations matters at all, aside from the primary fixation leading. Perhaps it is better to think of them as a triangle, with the primary fixation on the corner pointing upwards, while the remaining two constitute the two corners of the base.

          While I am borrowing heavily from Ichazo and his "Trifix" here, my take on it is very different from what he was professing. All of the contemporary Enneagram teachers and authors differ vastly from his teachings, and I have no interest in feigning a puritan stance either.
          And for the observant reader, what I am conjuring here has absolutely nothing to do with K. Fauvre's "tritype." I think that "Tritype" can be thrown in the garbage bag. There is nothing worth salvaging.
          Last edited by Daeva; 05-12-2020, 02:51 PM.
          Sleep on the Ceiling - Erosian Exile

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          • Animal
            Animal commented
            Editing a comment
            Amen! We can be Non Puritan purists... or something.

          #22
          Originally posted by Daeva View Post
          Update: I am currently in favor of seeing the centers ("... of intelligence" according to R&H) as the actual instinct bases. Our "personality type" is a fixation in an instinct center (Gut or Self Preservation or Physical, Heart or Sexual or Relational, Head or Social or Adaptive), and the orientation of this fixation is according to the law of three (positive, negative, neutral) -> hence there are three points within each instinctive center.

          With this, we have three 'selves' per each instinctive center, with one being the predominant fixation. As an example, I would place Brad Pitt's central fixation at 3, which means his most fixated instinct center is that of the Relational instinct, or more commonly known as "Sx." For the two other instincts for him, I would place at 9 for his Preserving/Physical instinct, and 7 for his Social/Adaptive instinct. I am undecided still as to whether the order of the fixations matters at all, aside from the primary fixation leading. Perhaps it is better to think of them as a triangle, with the primary fixation on the corner pointing upwards, while the remaining two constitute the two corners of the base.

          While I am borrowing heavily from Ichazo and his "Trifix" here, my take on it is very different from what he was professing. All of the contemporary Enneagram teachers and authors differ vastly from his teachings, and I have no interest in feigning a puritan stance either.
          And for the observant reader, what I am conjuring here has absolutely nothing to do with K. Fauvre's "tritype." I think that "Tritype" can be thrown in the garbage bag. There is nothing worth salvaging.
          So what do you think causes the difference between someone who is typed as SP 5 vs someone typed as SO 5 for example?
          The day is done, and the darkness

          Falls from the wings of Night,

          As a feather is wafted downward

          From an eagle in his flight.


          I see the lights of the village

          Gleam through the rain and the mist,

          And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me

          That my soul cannot resist:


          A feeling of sadness and longing,

          That is not akin to pain,

          And resembles sorrow only

          As the mist resembles the rain.

          Comment


          • Daeva
            Daeva commented
            Editing a comment
            That depends: what difference are we talking about then? Are we looking at the difference in terms of how Naranjo describes Social 5 vis-a-vis Self Preservation 5? To him, these are "subtypes." Then, the difference is mostly about sociability -> which is the central pole for type 5 to begin with: social versus anti-social. Type 5 is thus "Social instinct" by default.

            If Social 5 is seen as more ambitious and extroverted than the average 5, this can be loosely correlated with the 5-3 combination. If Self Preservation 5 is seen as more gritty and self-reliant than the average 5, perhaps we are really looking at 5-8. And so on and so on.

          • Daeva
            Daeva commented
            Editing a comment
            Naranjo's subtypes offer three variations for each type. But if we assume that instinct is inherent to the three centers, and we have a fixation in each of these (instinctual) centers, then we are met with no less than nine variations for each core fixation.

          • Daeva
            Daeva commented
            Editing a comment
            It's just that it seems nonsensical to combine "instinct stacking" with "tritype." What even *is* "tritype" in that set-up? It's not indicating anything outside of a vague "head" "heart" "gut" idea that now has become completely separated from having any true meaning - separated from instinct. ----- btw, the Fauvres even teach that the "Head center" is the one that is akin to a teenager, meaning that it is chiefly oriented towards peers and rebelling / fitting in. Hello SOCIAL. Typing at "Sx "head type"" is like saying you're both a sexual AND a social type. People have tried to solve this via stacking theory but I think that this is too rigid of a structure to work - and it doesn't come from observation either, it is purely a theoretical / mathematical 'solution'. It's a band-aid. And at this point you get core + instinct + second instinct + tritype... and of course let's not forget the wing! Yet another "subtype." Never mind that Naranjo didn't even use wings... It never ends.

          #23
          I do like where we're going with the 'purification' of the system.

          As of recently, we were working with:

          Core type (With Integration/Disintegration lines) - 9 variables
          Wings
          Subwings
          Tritype (two additional fixations)
          Wings on each tritype fixation
          Subwings on each tritype fixation
          Main instinct
          Instinct Stack (with motion over time)
          Stacking range

          Uhhh Anything else?

          Like you said, at this point, this is just 'theory for theory's sake' - but it's not really meaningful. How and why would nature bring about all these fixed variables in people? It just makes no sense.

          A lot of minute differences between people with the same tritype can be chalked up to nurture & choices. Upbringing, culture, trauma, life experience, etc...
          Until recently, most people would just adopt the religion their parents followed. I'd imagine that is still fairly common.
          Two centuries ago, traveling was much harder and there was no internet. People from a certain culture would generally seem similar to each other, especially when compared to the next culture.

          When I start thinking about things this way.... the subwings and stackings just seem so unnecessary. We have all met people in our lives who we 'relate to,' who aren't the same type as ourselves at all; and we meet people who we can't relate to at all, who share our type. Does this really need to be justified with subwings? Or can we just say that we might feel like we 'relate' to someone who also went through similar trauma, or who grew up with parents that had the same types as ours, or who belonged to the same culture , or who simply had similar taste?

          It seems to me that having 9 variables for each core type (via trifix), and also a CT type, is enough. Core fix & trifix will address the basic and necessary components of enneagram, and focusing on those will help us to actually GROW from it and focus on what is most essential about that typing, rather than concentrate so much energy on variables, and justifying each small difference from our typing-twin by adding on more and more layers.

          It also seems that with less variables to talk about, it's more likely we'll really get a feel for what each core type seems like, and also what each tritype seems like; and over time, mistypings would become less common.

          The rest of the theories and sub-theories have been 'fun' to explore, but distracting from 'the work,' as Gurdjieff would call it. The awakening.. the deeper examination.. the seeing through our own lies...

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          • BalalaikaBoy
            BalalaikaBoy commented
            Editing a comment
            I've said it for years: modern Enneagram needs a substantial shave from Occum's Razor.

          • Quindary
            Quindary commented
            Editing a comment
            Once in awhile, though, you have to admit, instinct stacking helps get at differences... a great example is between Eva and myself, why she is a 5 and I am also a 5:

            - 5w4 vs 5w6, but that isn't enough;
            - 529 vs 594, but that isn't enough;
            - SEE vs ILI, but that isn't enough;
            - self-pres first vs self-pres last seals the deal.

            Agreed that this doesn't get at the inner work, but sometimes the outer "profile" needs to be clarified before the true inner work can start. Otherwise getting at the core can be difficult, like trying to look through a flower with too many petals to see the stem.

            Though I'm entirely with you that subwings seem useless. They don't have any clarification to offer, only obscurity.

          • [redacted]
            [redacted] commented
            Editing a comment
            @BalalaikaBoy
            That feels ironic coming from you. You were the one who originally introduced me to subwings in a way, which is like the epitome of overcomplication.

          #24
          Originally posted by Daeva View Post
          Update: I am currently in favor of seeing the centers ("... of intelligence" according to R&H) as the actual instinct bases. Our "personality type" is a fixation in an instinct center (Gut or Self Preservation or Physical, Heart or Sexual or Relational, Head or Social or Adaptive), and the orientation of this fixation is according to the law of three (positive, negative, neutral) -> hence there are three points within each instinctive center.
          I like this idea, it's neat. It also fits well with the themes for each type. I would however, suggest perhaps not to call a certain types' positioning negative or positive. I mean, I don't think type 4's relationship to the heart instinct is negative. Type 4 embodies the heart instinct just as much as the other types in the triad. I think type for is more an aspect of the shadow aspects of the triad. Just like 5 doesn't necessarily have a negative relationship towards the social/adaptive instinct. The shadow aspects are the ones of a somewhat paradoxical nature, they shadow seems to contradict with the light, but really it is two aspects of the whole, to sides of the same coin.

          You inspired me, so I tried to verbalize below what the enneagram system of typing would look like without the instincts. I also tried to show how each type embodies a different aspect of a triad/instinct. I also wouldn't want to call them instincts, because like you wrote earlier, we all have an instinct for self-preservation in the end. So I wanted to call it something different. I liked complexion as a word to use instead of triad or instinct.

          Small disclaimer: I don't see these descriptions as full-fledged type descriptions, I tried to work out how the aspects of each triad/instinct could be fleshed out in the different types.

          Gut / Physical complexion (SP):

          Type 1 lingers on the shadow side of the gut complexion
          > Type 1 knows how to be effective in having control over the gut energy, type 1 withholds, retains anger. They release it in a tightly controlled manner to deliver piercing critique, or use it to go after what they deem to be worth their attention. This type is selective in how it expects it's energy. By putting immense pressure on themselves, they can feel like they are doing what is right. Their tight control however has a cost, their anger leaks in more unpredictable ways, they eat themselves up from the inside.

          Type 9 walks the line between both sides of the gut complexion
          > this type knows how to flow with the stream. It is the smooth rock in your classic Buddhist metaphorical river. Type nine is grounded and their grounded energy is mostly spent on keeping that flow and minimizing resistance. Try and force a type nine into things and push them enough and you will find unable to move them. This type can let anger flow freely, and it can halt it and control it completely. However, the types flaw lies in it's immovability, the nine is afraid of disrupting the flow, they don't want the discomfort of struggling against the stream. If the nine always moves with the stream, they might never be able to discover what ignites their passion, what brings them great joy and they become mere automatons, machines instead of humans, disconnected from all that is important to them.

          Type 8 lingers on the light side of the gut complexion.
          > This type is what you'd think of when you think gut energy. A grounded energy, fueled by a hunger to have more. Anger flows freely in them. What they want they get. This type is however, also vigilant, making sure all the weak spots are covered, so they can remain free in going after their lust. This type doesn't want to face all the vulnerability and weakness inside, they do whatever they can for this to never show.

          Social / Adaptive complexion (SO)

          Type 5 lingers on the shadow side of the social/adaptive complexion
          > this type generally witholds themselves and their knowledge from others. Their strong connection to fear makes this type move away from others, the world is overwhelming and their energy is limited, so they pull away and research, study, prepare, so that when they need to adapt or share, they can do it with utmost precision and clarity. They take pride in their position away from others, in being beyond others.

          Type 6 walks the line between both sides of the social/Adaptive complexion
          > this type knows how to adapt, connect and share and get into people's good graces, but the type just as easily separates themselves from others, refusing to connect and share anything. Sixes always doubt whether they chose right, dit the right thing, trusted the right people. Their strong connect to fear pulls them both away and towards others.

          Type 7 lingers on the light side of the Adaptive/Social complexion
          > this type is strongly driven towards making connections, they feel strongly pulled to get involved in a great many things. They are smooth, positive, somewhat enchanting even, but their strong connection to fear lies in their inner world. They are afraid of it, the lack and pain that it might contain. So they are strongly motivated to get away from that as much as possible.

          Heart / Relational complexion (SX)

          Type 4 lingers on the shadow side of the heart/relational complexion
          > This type withdraws and withhold themselves and their feelings and desires, in order to perfect their expressions of themselves to make it as authentic as possible. This type's strong connection to shame makes them withdraw, feel utterly vulnerable in their expression, especially in their most intimate relations. While the four is vulnerable, and feels this shame clearly, the type basks in it's own suffering transforming it into passion for their projects. This type can get too stuck in basking in their own suffering and darker sides of their personality, which they amplify by identifying with it and throwing aside other aspects of their personality which might not fit within the image they have build up for themselves. In the end, if they don't reflect, their endless burning desire for authenticity can lead them to tossing aside and sublimating important desires and feeling to portray an image that is actually not authentic.

          Type 3 walks the lines between both sides of the heart/relational complexion
          > This type neither basks in their shame and pain nor tries to deny it. The type is essentially confused, they don't know what they are. They look towards others or at least the values of the outside world. They try their best to embody an image they can be proud of. Their strong relation to shame is visible in that they adapt to the world outside as they fear being empty, they are ashamed. Threes are disconnected from the reality of themselves, what they really want to feel and express and do. This shows in intimate relationships as threes are difficult to get to know, they share and can be vulnerable when they deem it appropriate, but it can be hard to know where the image ends and the real three begins.

          Type 2 lingers on the light side of the heart/relational complexion
          > This type is convinced of their good image. They know that they represent what is good, they won't overstate it, but they won't let themselves or their actions go unnoticed. This type has a strong relation to shame. People of this type are ashamed of their own desires, their needs even. This types give love to get, they fear they might never get it otherwise. In continuing to give and hide their desires and needs even from themselves they are able to push away their shame from consciousness. Doing this, even in their most intimate relationships, two's still need to play the game of love, their real needs and desires are not revealed, not even there.

          ----

          I also don't know if order matters for the complexions/triad/instincts that are not dominant. I think there might perhaps be some variability in what you draw from in time. I for example have had my moments where I embodied type 3 much more, while I embody much more of type 9 right now, but then again, I integrate and disintegrate towards those types too, so that might also be the reason why it changed.
          Last edited by Vive; 05-16-2020, 11:08 AM.
          "Distress, whether psychic, physical, or intellectual, need not at all produce nihilism.
          Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations."

          Nietzsche

          Comment


          • Daeva
            Daeva commented
            Editing a comment
            I really like the way you look at these!
            When I mentioned the law of three, and I mentioned Positive-Negative-Neutral, it's not to be taken as a moral judgment. It's similar to the idea of overdoing vs underdoing a center's emotion (like what you just did) - I believe it was Beatrice Chestnut who talked of this. She has 4's as overdoing sadness/grief, 3's underdoing sadness/grief, and 2's suppressing sadness/grief (and thus feeling conflicted about it). 8's overdo anger, 9's underdo anger, 1's suppress anger (thus feel conflicted). 6's overdo fear, 7's underdo fear, and 5's are in the middle.
            Anyway.
            Positive-Negative-Neutral can be interpreted as Masculine (Phallic), Feminine (Yonic), and Neutral (Androgynous). Think of the Positive-Negative-Neutral as being the poles on a magnet (.. or a planet, or a sun,...), with Positive being the South pole and Negative the North pole. The Enneagram as an electro-magnet circuit.

          • Animal
            Animal commented
            Editing a comment
            This is a great post. It makes me really happy since there's so much confusion about so many types, yet you seem to really get them and articulate them well! You're really good at this I was going to write a long response just because I like it so much, but I don't really have much to add that you haven't said already. I'll keep thinking about it but just wanted to say this post is tops.

          #25
          Depends on what you're using the system for. I mean, Enneagram isn't really necessary for inner work in the first place, you can work on yourself without knowing your type in some system, but I like it as a way of understanding other people and the different inner experiences of the different types. And it can be good for explaining certain things, like I've realized that people are gonna project all kind of weird stuff on me regardless of what type I type as or what type they see me as, and a typology system isn't going to capture a person 100%, but still tritype and such does help with giving somewhat of a clearer picture (except for when it's used to muddle things further, of course =P)

          Comment


            #26
            The way I judge various sub-theories is basically "If I were to tell someone I'm XYZ would that help them understand me better? Does it contain something that is meaningful for me and reflects some idea that's essential to my experience and my way of interacting with the world?"
            Like for me Sx/So comes the closest in terms of temperament, I am a fiery, desirous, intrigue-loving, romantic, impractical person focused on relations and wants and feelings, but...for whatever reason I don't feel like any of it needs Sx, calling it Sx feels arbitrary and I would rather call it something else.

            Mostly the problem is that nothing that's associated with instincts actually feels any more instinctual to me than everything else that's not associated with instincts, everything that can be said about instincts could also be said about types.
            I used to think that you have a dominant instinct and then depending on your type instinct gets expressed in different ways, but I'm starting to think of it as the opposite, you have a type and depending on your experiences, learned behavior, patterns you consciously or unconsciously pick up on as well as just unclassifiable parts of how your brain simply is, you express your type depending on that.

            Also I'm thinking about this theory.
            https://www.typologycentral.com/foru...3490-temp.html
            I don't exactly agree with it the way it is and I don't even think there's any reason to actually type as low temp or high temp, but just the idea of things like:
            "have the least sophisticated filters when it comes to the expression of their fixation"
            "most politically correct filters when it comes to the expression of their fixation"
            "the most sophisticated filters when it comes to the expression of their fixation"

            "swing between the levels of health for their type more rapidly than other temperaments and have an easier time than the other temperaments getting themselves out of a depressive period. "
            "moderate swings up and down the levels of health for their type and rarely experience the highest or lowest levels"
            "the least rapid swings up and down the levels of health for their type but when a low temp goes down in health, they tend to get dug in for a longer duration of time"


            To me those seem like some real distinctions.

            Comment


            • Princess of Hearts
              Princess of Hearts commented
              Editing a comment
              To clarify, don't think this is a real typeable category the way it is, I just think that *separately* these things they are talking about seem like significant factors that include bits of what people think of as instincts?

            #27
            Although I have found use in the instincts as well, because like... the more I look at the issues in my life I can see how a lot of it stems from social anxiety, which seems related to the Social instinct. So it has been interesting to try and get into the nuances of the instincts and get deeper into what the Social instinct is about for example. But things like subtypes and stacking might be unnecessary because I agree that the instincts seem to be fairly fluid in nature and you can find something to learn in each instinct.

            And I don't necessarily see the correlation between Head=Social, Gut=Sp, etc. that neatly. Because for myself I associate Sp with head/fear, and Social to me seems more related to shame... or even anger! After all, anger in the context of Enneagram is associated with justice, and social and justice certainly goes together. Meanwhile, it's more obvious to associate Sx with the Heart center, but I don't find all heart-types to be that Sexual.
            Last edited by [redacted]; 06-02-2020, 07:35 AM.

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              #28
              When this thread first was posted, I was reluctant to let go of instincts because I thought the differences between people with different stacks were "clear" even if I couldn't explain where they were coming from. Since then, we have returned to basics and refined our typing methods. Now that people's tritypes are making much more sense - including close friends who have been on this enneagram journey with me, and also how we conceive of celebrities' types - I'm seeing that the trends we once thought are "instinct stacks" are actually explained by the combination of core, tritype, and CT. Once those things are sorted out correctly, I don't see anything else that needs to be explained by another system such as instincts.

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