Common Enneagram Mistypes – Which Mistype Are You?


Enneagram mistypes

Is your desire to help other people from the 9, 2, or 8? Let's talk about where each enneagram type stops and where each begins. This series will be included in the next update of "The Power Of Persona" - my ebook on the Enneagram. It also describes the core vices associated with each of the types.

Enneagram One

At the core of this type is perfectionistic tendencies and a chronic dissatisfaction with one's situation and performance. The one feels like the Enneagram 2 that he needs control over his own life and to walk his own path, and like the Enneagram 9 that he needs stimulation, energy, and fun. The Enneagram One can be occasionally confused with the Enneagram 3, but the one ultimately does not care about impressing other people, where for the 3, to be impressive is more important than to perform well or to have fun. The one also has stronger ideals than the three.

The Enneagram One can occasionally like the Enneagram Eight seem self-motivated and driven but often the enneagram one has a personal ambition where the eight tends to have ambitions that extend beyond themselves, into how they want other people to live. At other times, you can see some of the Sevens tendencies in the One, as both want to have stimulation and a way forward at all times. But the one's vision usually comes at expense of the self as the one believes they have to compromise their own interests and needs to achieve their ideals. 

Enneagram Two

When looking at the two, you will see a prideful person who inherently wants to feel good about themselves, who they are, and their own life and decisions. Often, they will set their own interests aside to focus on other people. The two lives in the intersection between the one and the three. Like the one, the two needs control and to feel like they are making their own decisions.

Like the three, the two ultimately has a strong code of conduct and an idea of who they "need to be" for other people. But the two has a strong sense of self (perhaps too strong) where the three can feel at times identity-less, and the two feels strongly understimulated and drained by relationships, compared to the one who pursues their own interests at the expense of often feeling alone in their struggle. The two struggles with self-deceit because they will often struggle to see their own flaws and misgivings, so sure of their own position as the "good guy or gal". I see two's as the most common type to say "I don't have an enneagram type." because they won't acknowledge themselves as having any bad qualities. 

At times, you will see the two misidentifying as the sexual type, because both share a need for intense and deep connection. But the two needs a degree of control in relationships that the sexual type does not require. Other times, you will see the two misidentifying with the eight, because the eight also tends to involve and give and share with other people. But the eight is ultimately more self-serving and values win-win situations, where the two will occasionally appear martyr like, valuing a situation where they lose and other people gain. 

Enneagram Three

The three is vain and image-oriented, preoccupied with gaining the feedback and appreciation of other people, but also performing well and doing a good job. The three exists between the 2 and the 4 as a true heart type, with a strong code of conduct or idea of how to be and how to live. It has the desire to do good shared with the two. It also has some of the more envious elements of the four, valuing power and control and individual expression.

You will find the three to sometimes mistype as the eight, as both can at times be boastful and in need of being admired by other people. But the three takes on a much more submissive role, as the person trying to look well to their parents or to their superiors, where the eight is generally seeking to acquire higher power and status and to navigate competition. You will find the three to also somewhat resemble the social type, who values most of all to fit in and to be a part of the crowd, but the three wants to not only live up to the communities ideals, but also to be the most beautiful, impressive, and valued member of the community. 

Enneagram Four

The four has an envious personality, focused on individual expression and standing out and being one's own person, while feeling that other people do not like them and that other people are always trying to change them. You will find the four sharing in the threes desire to stand out, while also sharing the social type's focus on how other people see them, what other people think. (Though, the four will reject what other people think, where the social type will conform.)

You might as a four sometimes misidentify with the one, but fours struggle with a lack of confidence in their own visions and ideals. The four will often hide their own ideals and creations from other people, as they don't want their work or creativity to become subject to other people's opinions and thoughts. The four can also occasionally misidentify with, surprisingly, the seven. This is because both value walking their own way in life but the seven wants to always have fun in what they do, and the four will actually want to be bored. Perhaps because they think there is more hidden depth in the mundane than in what is fun.

The social instinct

I will address the instincts here because they are far more important than people realise. The social type is primarily one who values fitting in and being a part of mainstream society and their community. They may fear most of all to become isolated or to be branded as a witch or a troublemaker, and so they work hard on their front and on keeping up a polished surface.

The social type is, like the four, concerned with how other people see them, and like the sexual type, wants to be desired. The social type, unlike the four, is ready to change and adapt their behaviour to become more liked, and the social type, unlike the sexual type, struggles to know who they are outside all their responsibilities and obligations to their community, family and coworkers. 

You might misidentify the social type as the two, but the two has more personal pride, and the social type is always preoccupied with improving themselves and fitting in better. You might also confuse them with the nine, because both are somewhat self-compromising. 

The sexual instinct

The sexual type values primarily love and closeness to other people. They are primarily driven by being and becoming closer to someone, needing their warmth and needing to be adored and wanted by another person. So the sexual type is often on a project to become more interesting, appreciated, and loved. You will find the sexual type, to like the social type, value being good, but the sexual type values to be loved for who they are rather than what other people want them to be. This is an understating type, one that sweeps their problems under the rug and pretends there are no issues, while they focus predominantly on the feelings and experiences of other people. 

So the sexual type wants to be appreciated for their deeper qualities and to attract a mate that accepts them as they are. The sexual type also exists close by the self-preserving type, but you will find the self-preserving type to be more prepared to isolate themselves from other people in the pursuit of their interests and personal hobbies. 

The self-preserving instinct

In the self-preserving type, you find a person who values harmony and peace above all, and someone who wants to maintain and abide by the natural flow of the world. Still, this type often feels ashamed of their power and their ability and pursues it in secret, away from the world, where they can't do. There is also a lack of ambition in this type. 

The self-preserving type exists in the hallway between the sexual instinct and the five. Like the five, the self-preserving type has become somewhat isolated from their community as they explore personal hobbies and interests. Like the sexual type, the self-preserving type is driven by guarding and helping those close by. Unlike the five, the self-preserving types will often have personal beliefs and values that are somewhat strange or eccentric. Unlike the sexual type, the self-preserving type will often avoid becoming too close or attached to other people.

Enneagram Five

The five primarily struggles with avarice and isolation and keeping too much to themselves, feeling perhaps that they burden other people, or feeling that other people would not understand them. You find the five standing in the intersection between the self-preserving type and the enneagram six. First, the five and the self-preserving type are both afraid of asserting themselves in the world. Second, the five and the six both struggle with insecurity about their own ability to do well in society.

The five, unlike the self-preserving type, is more detached and has fewer interests and entanglements, and more focused on doing well at work or acquiring skills, money, or safety. The five, unlike the six, believes they have to do everything on their own, where the six believes they can't achieve anything without other people.

Fives sometimes misidentify with fours, as both tend to lack energy and clear passion. However, the five is attached to calm, peace, and an environment that makes sense. They want to avoid surprises and upsets and they want to remain aware of what is going on. The four is attached to power, being in control, not being manipulated by other people. 

Enneagram Six

The six is primarily an anxious type, someone that worries about their own skill and ability to perform well. The six feels chronically flawed or inferior to others, and therefore works hard to be a good friend, loyal, supportive, and reliable. You find the six in the intersection between the fives drive for stability and the sevens drive to be fun and interesting to other people. But the six has a tendency to give other people power and control at the expense of their own opinions, unlike the seven, and the six will be acting out of personal interest to bond, where the five will pull away from other people "because other people are happier without me."

You see the enneagram six sometimes confused with the nine, but the nine is constantly going through a process of change and self-reinvention and transformation, a process the six avoids if it will make them less reliable. The six is also occasionally confused with the self-preserving type. Both are very knowledgeable and secure types, but the six lacks the sense of harmony associated with the self-preserving type - they feel constant disharmony with other people and fear of saying something wrong or hurting or letting other people down in relationships and losing close ones. 

Enneagram Seven

I find the enneagram seven to be gluttonous and capricious, someone who values stimulation, self-direction, and control over their own life choices. An adventurious type. They exist close by the six, in that they always want to know what is going on and always want to stay ahead of everything happening. They also exist close by the eight, that always has an idea or a vision or something they want to do. The seven however differs from the two in that what the seven wants is often a) an impossible fantasy the eight would never consider and b) different from what their friends and family members might want for them, unlike what the six would consider.

I see the seven sometimes misidentifying with the nine, because both maintain a busy attitude where something is always happening. But the seven is much more independent and personally oriented, they want to decide for themselves what they want to do next, even if that means going against the flow or doing something differently than other people. 

I also see the seven sometimes misidentifying with the four, but the four is about personal freedom even when it comes at the expense of comfort and having fun. The seven will avoid sad and difficult things, and can ignore important truths and notions of what is realistic, where the four can be self-defeating and overly dismissive of their own ideas and values. 

Enneagram Eight

They eight is a lustful character, dominant and passionate. Like the nine, the eight always has something going on in their life. There is a project, dragon to slay, or a new position of responsibility. Something to fix or to take care of. Like the seven, there is a desire to keep moving forward, to walk your own way in life, to call the shots, and to stay ahead of the competition. Unlike the nine, the eight needs control and becomes angry when obstacles appear. Unlike the seven, the eight has a sense that they are important, needed, and that what they are doing matters, where the seven will often focus on projects of a more frivolous, but fun nature. 

I find the eight to often be confused with the two. The two is, of course, warm in a way similar to the eight, but without the idealism, energy, or inspiration of the eight. The eight on the other hand, lacks the stability, peace, and calm associated with the two's well ordered, often mentor-like personality. The eight is often quick to become angry or anxious, where the two keeps a calm head at most times.

Other times, you might find the eight to be similar to the healer type, as both are very powerful and energetic types, but the eight is in full control of their powers, where the people with a strong self-preservation instinct are more afraid of their own powers and the potential repercussions of this power. The eight is also far more hot-headed than the self-preserving type. 

Enneagram Nine

The nine is a sloth-like, passive, creative character. A person with a lot going on - too much really - to the point where the nine is always in a state of confusing surplus. The nine struggles with prioritisation and doing things in the right order. 

I find the nine to easily be confused with the six, but the six has a stronger need to protect themselves and their energy. The six, because of this, worries about being used by others. The nine is confused, where the six is insecure. The nine can also easily be confused with the social type, but where the social type is mainly about fitting in and doing what is right, the nine is about ideas, inspiration, things to do, projects you should be working on.. later. The motivation is different, though both the nine and the social type are often characterised by an inability to assert themselves and the lack of a strongly developed sense of self. 

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About Erik Thor

I am an INFJ and I want to combat the stereotypes and help promote personality psychology that doesn’t limit or mistype you.