Enneagram Subtypes & Countertypes

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What are the Enneagram sub-types?

Each Enneagram type has three subtypes. They stand for three different ways in which representatives of the type express its core patterns.

The subtypes are created by mixing the psychological pattern of the Enneagram with the dominant instinct of a person, which is either Self-Preservation, Social or Sexual.

The three subtypes of an Enneagram Type can look very different from each other. Let’s look at the Type 1 subtypes as an example:

  • Type 1 (Self-Preservation): This sub-type tends to worry the most and is the most self-critical. They try to keep things under control to be safe.
  • Type 1 (Sexual/One-on-One): This subtype is less critical of themselves and focuses more on perfecting others. Whilst Type 1s normally suppress anger, this subtype feels more comfortable expressing it.
  • Type 1 (Social): This subtype focuses on being perfect themselves to role model perfection for others.

So, not all representatives of one type look the same, and of course, even within the same subtypes, you may express the patterns of your type in your very own unique way.

Why are Enneagram Subtypes so important?

Many Enneagram tests don’t cover the subtype levels. This may make it difficult for you to find yourself in your report. The Enneagram report you will receive from me does identify your subtype and provides a detailed description of it. This description may well resonate with you more than the generic description for your type.

The growth journey for the three subtypes differs. For example, for the Self-Preservation Type 1, it will be important to work on their inner self-critic and learn to express their anger, whilst for the Sexual Type 1, it will be more about embracing imperfections in other people and seeing how others have different and equally valid perspectives.

Countertypes - The exceptions from the rules

Of the three subtypes of each Enneagram type, there is always one that goes against the typical flow of the main type. These types are called countertypes. They suffer from the same psychological themes but express them in a different way, almost opposite to the other two subtypes.

If you are a countertype, the main description of your report may not resonate with you at all, but the description of your subtype may. When you take an Enneagram assessment with me, I will tell you if your report placed you as a countertype or if I suspect you might be a countertype.

Here is just a very brief headline description of the 9 countertypes. I can tell you more about them in our debrief session:

Enneagram Type 1

Type 1 Countertype (Sexual/One-on-One): Rather than focusing their perfectionist drive on themselves, they apply it more on other people, and they are much more comfortable expressing anger.

Enneagram Type 2

Type 2 Countertype (Self-Preservation): This subtype wants to be liked (like all other Type 2s), but rather than going about it by helping others, they try to attract help from others. They often do it by acting childlike, cute and charming.

Enneagram Type 3

Type 3 Countertype (Self-Preservation): This subtype competes less with others and more with themselves. They may seem less focused on their image, although they do like being seen as hardworking and virtuous.

Enneagram Type 4

Type 4 Countertype (Self-Preservation): Representatives of this subtype do not look like Type 4s at all because they bottle up their emotions. They have learned to live in pain and prefer to suffer in silence so that they don’t bother others. They can be hardworking and look like a Type 1 or 3.

Enneagram Type 5

Type 5 Countertype (Sexual/One-on-One): This subtype is much more emotional and romantic than the other subtypes of Type 5. But they typically only express their emotions to one or a few people they trust.

Enneagram type 6

Type 6 Countertype (Sexual/One-on-One): This is another subtype that does not look like the main type at all. Whilst this subtype is also anxious, like all Type 6s, it tends to attack fear head-on. They can act boldly, seeking out opportunities to challenge their fear. They sometimes also try to appear strong and intimidating.

Enneagram type 7

Type 7 Countertype (Social): This subtype sacrifices its own needs to serve others. It still suffers from the same passion of gluttony but tries to hide it and look good by expressing it in service of others.

Enneagram type 8

Type 8 Countertype (Social): Representatives of this subtype express their strong desire to control and challenge norms to protect others, rather than themselves. This can make them look like a Type 2.

Enneagram type 9

Type 9 Countertype (Social): Whilst Type 9s can be seen as slow in taking action, this subtype is often a workaholic. They try to win the approval of groups through service and subordinating their needs for the benefit of the team.

If all of this seems a bit confusing, don’t worry. I will cover these distinctions with you in our debrief session. In the meantime, let’s keep it simple: If the main type description in your report resonates with you, then great! Forget about subtypes and countertypes until you fully understand your main type and are ready to dive deeper. But if your type description does not resonate with you, check whether the subtype description on page 11 in your Enneagram report does. I will help you with this.

Ready to get started?

Starting an Enneagram Growth Journey is a wake up call. You will gain insights about yourself and others that you can no longer “unsee”. You will learn how most people are driven by subsconsiocus patterns that run on autopilot, with little control over how they feel, think or act. So the choice is yours: Do you want to wake up, take charge and break those patterns or continue to sleepwalk through life?

Let’s take the first step on your Enneagram Growth Journey