Type 4 Instinctual Variants (The Best Guide)

This article will discuss what instinctual variants are in the context of enneagrams and also highlight and explain the instinctual variants of the type 4 enneagram. The article will also explain what instinctual variants are as well as what the type 4 enneagram is and list down some of its traits so the readers have a better understanding of the topic.

Type 4 Instinctual Variants – The 3 Defining Moments

Here are the instinctual variants of the type 4 enneagram:

We will take a look at these in detail but before that we will explain what instinctual variants are when it comes to enneagrams and their behaviour.

What Are Instinctual Variants?

In order to survive and thrive human beings have generally developed three types of behaviours that allow them to respond to threats, socialize with others and form close relationships with people – these are known as self preservation, social, and one to one behaviours respectively.

These behaviours are defined by subtypes and there are a total of 27 subtypes which means that each enneagram has 3 subtypes in total just like the type 4 enneagram which we highlighted above. 

We have subtypes because they allow us to react to different situations immediately with little awareness and effort – this allows us to deal with various situations without putting too much thought and effort into it. Hence, we as individuals may behave differently in different situations but generally in the same manner across a wider continuum.

Some people see their primary subtype quite quickly, while for others it’s a matter of study over time. Those who know us well may offer some useful feedback, since we don’t always see ourselves objectively.

In this article, we will take a look at the subtypes of the type 4 enneagram in detail!

The Instinctual Variants Of The Type 4 Enneagram

Let us take a look at the subtypes of this enneagram one by one!

Self Preservation: Dauntlessness – The Creative Individualist

In some situations the type 4 enneagram takes on this behaviour or subtype and may seem reckless to others however they are just being spontaneous and jumping at whatever opportunity they get! They are willing to take many risks and do what it takes to become part of what it is they see; they will pack up and get ready for the challenge without much thought! The tension here is between wanting to acquire material security and feeling detached from it all.

Social: Shame/Honor – The Critical Commentator

Sometimes the type 4 enneagram will react in a unique way to being around people because they feel uneasy looking at others who have a certain social appearance or standing which may provoke feelings of jealousy. They will have an urge to tell others the truth and reflect what they give out. 

This subtype seeks to establish an acceptable social role, possibly as the emotional truth-teller for the group, and often feels a need to resolve the tension between the quest for individual authenticity and social expectations.

One-to-One: Competitiveness – The Dramatic Person

This is another subtype the type 4 takes on and is usually when they are in direct competition with another person which may affect their self esteem and either raise or lower it. However, the competition they engage in helps them overcome any feelings of deficiency in them. 

Who Is A Type 4 Enneagram?

They are also known as the individualist because of their desire to be self-sufficient and do things on their own terms. Being dramatic innately, expressive and sensitive describes them very well. Such individuals are very honest, creative and remain reserved and personal however they do long to connect with others. What prevents this? Their fear of being vulnerable or abandoned hence they tend to keep a distance. 

Another highlighting feature of such personalities is that they dislike the ordinary lifestyles people have most probably because they feel they cannot achieve something like this in their life.

The type 4 enneagram does have a dark side to itself. These enneagrams can become very toxic to themselves if left alone for too long. They fear that they will never develop a self identity with which they can understand themselves. However, they always feel as if something is missing from their life which they can’t seem to pinpoint. The type 4 enneagram is brutally honest with himself or herself; they accept feelings, thoughts, pain and fear which they experience. Hence they are often more equipped to go through experiences others may break during.

When their fears become too much, they can adopt the path of self destruction and engage in habits of excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, reckless sexual behavior and in the worst cases suicide. 

The type 4 also experiences very negative thoughts. They become extremely pessimistic and torment themselves with their thoughts to the extent that they view themself with hatred and dissent. They will try to drive away anyone who tries to help them. 

Basic Fear.

Type 4 enneagrams are confused about who they really are or what beliefs and values define them. They fear not having an identity or self worth. They feel as though they are not benefitting society and have no place in it. Such individuals become a victim of self pity and self indulgence and want to stay inside their thoughts.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Basic Desire.

Their basic desire stems from their fear; they want to discover themself and hence possess an identity. They want to be known for who they are and be visible in the eyes of others so maybe they can connect with them and experience the life of the ordinary and live the dream they imagine.

Popular Behaviour – The Workplace

Let’s take a look at how this enneagram behaves in the workplace!

Close Relationships With Their Boss

The type 4 enneagram appreciates it when their boss takes the time out to get to know them and actually understand their needs and personal commitments. This not only means a lot to them but they also appreciate that their boss wants to know more about them in case they need some time off from work. 

Having a close and friendly relationship with your boss can do wonders for employees. Not only are they more committed to making things work at the office but they also feel comfortable sharing issues with their boss especially if they need a favor such as time off or something filling in for future assignments if required.

“How Are You Doing?”

The type 4 enneagram is very happy when they are actually asked how they are doing by their colleagues or managers. They like to know that others are genuinely concerned about them and their wellbeing. Furthermore, it makes them happy when people go out of the way during their busy routine to check in on them.

Managers need to ensure that they promote work cultures where employees are made to understand the importance of taking care of their colleagues too and not just their own work. Being a social being, we are not designed to operate or live alone. Sooner or later, we will need someone’s help and the best feeling is when people offer it without you even asking for it!

Lack of Opportunities – Creativity Matters

Enneagram type 4s hate it when they don’t get the opportunity to grow! They want to explore new areas relevant to work that can allow them to try out new skills. They want to grow in a way that allows them to create a unique identity. So doing the same thing everyday or something common is definitely not an option for them!

Critical Bosses

Not to mention that type 4 enneagrams expect a lot from their bosses, being criticized by them can be a huge deal! They not only want to have a good relationship with their boss but one where their boss appreciates their work and understands the value or purpose it serves.

Being criticized by their boss especially when they are unaware of the hard work being put into the work is something that greatly disappoints the type 4 enneagram. When it comes to people like this, bosses need to take more interest in work!

Not Being Taken Seriously

From previous sections, we are aware that the type 4 enneagram wants to be known for who they are and what they do – they want to establish an identity unique only to them. One of the reasons they want this is because they want to be taken seriously by others. If the people at work do not consider their opinions, value their work or respect the input they give in discussions, the type 4 enneagram may become extremely upset and unmotivated.


This article took a look at the type 4 enneagram’s instinctual variants and also discussed both of these terms in isolation to give the readers a better understanding of the topic. The article also highlighted some of the behaviours of the type 4 enneagram at the workplace.



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