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Skeptical of Instinct theory

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  • Animal
    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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  • [redacted]
    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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  • Princess of Hearts
    commented on 's reply
    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?

  • Princess of Hearts
    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.
    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.

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  • [redacted]
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • [redacted]
    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)

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  • Animal
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • Daeva
    commented on 's reply
    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.
    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.

  • Vive
    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.

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  • Quindary
    commented on 's reply
    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.

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

  • Animal
    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
    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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  • Daeva
    commented on 's reply
    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.

  • Daeva
    commented on 's reply
    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
    commented on 's reply
    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.