Instincts & Subtypes

August 9, 2023 | By TNE

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What are instincts?

Our evolution as human beings has required three basic survival strategies, known as the basic instincts:

  • Self-preservation – responding to perceived threats and needs
  • Social – creating social structures within communities
  • One-to-one – primary relationships or coupling; also known as the Sexual subtype

The self-preservation instinct governs our needs for material supplies and security, including food, shelter, warmth and family relations.

The social instinct governs our needs for belonging and membership within the larger group and community.

The one-to-one instinct governs our sexuality, intimate relationships and close friendships, and the vitality of the life force within our bodies.

What are subtypes?

In Enneagram terms, the word “subtype” describes how the three basic instincts are expressed in everyday life, influenced by an Enneagram type’s driving emotional energy or passion. While we each embody all of the basic instincts, one tends to dominate. This explains much of the variation among people of the same type, as all of the nine Enneagram types have three instinctual variations, totaling 27 subtypes – each with a distinct flavor.


The 27 Subtypes

You can learn more about each of the 27 subtypes here or peruse the chart below.

gold and white chart with dark letters describing the 27 subtypes

Please note: We are in the process of a curriculum review and are actively updating this material.

Join us!

Do you want to do a deep dive on instinctual subtypes? To explore how the 27 instinctual subtypes operate in your life and choices? Learn how to better balance work, home, relationships and intimacy? Or practice living with authenticity while adapting to a rapidly changing world?

Then join us at an upcoming EXPLORING INSTINCTUAL SUBTYPES program! Get all the details and register here.

We hope to see you soon!

Instincts & Subtypes Somatics The Enneagram The Narrative Tradition

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