Fine Distinctions – Fours – Tom Condon

Fine Distinctions – Fours – Tom Condon


Self-Preservation Fours

• Self-Preservation Fours are often risk takers
• They take chances to stir up emotional intensity, collect new experiences, play out inner dramas or learn about themselves
• Open advocates of the passionate life
• Social and artistic courage; the high side of this subtype brings daring
• Healthy Fours with this subtype often feel driven to express an inner vision and find the courage and skill to bring it into the world
• Often exceedingly practical in ways that support their creative enterprises
• For some their home is an aesthetically soothing refuge, for others home is dank and depressing, prompting fantasies of beautiful places, a stimulant to envy
• May have possessions they keep for a long time that are charged with symbolism and meaning
• Environmentally sensitive react strongly to their surroundings; fussy and hard to please about new purchases
• When less healthy, they take self-destructive risks or punish other by hurting themselves

• Some can be reckless and openly court disaster while others merely flirt with loss
• Sometimes the connection to One is extra strong. Fours with this subtype can harangue themselves in a Oneish way and then rebel with reckless behavior

• Some resist the need to make a living; may hobble themselves with mystery ailments that prevent them from having a “straight job”
• Self-Preservation Fours can be mistaken for counterphobic Sixes
• Some Fours with this subtype struggle with their weight and body image as they relate to identity. Anorexia, overeating or obsessions about food are possible

Intimate Fours

• Intimate Fours love others in a deep way, and possess a sensitive, complex, poetic intelligence about matters of the heart
• This is a highly romantic subtype, visible in the realms of romantic poetry, the troubadour tradition and popular music about love, especially in the lyrics of confessional singers

• Often stay friends with ex-lovers
• A focus on aesthetics; some Intimate Fours are tasteful, flashy dressers • Can harbor a fantasy of perfect union, a redemptive love that will heal the wound of being an unwanted outsider
• Prone to jealousy and may be competitive in close relationships as well as generally; can feel like there is only so much love to go around
• Want to be Number One in their beloved’s heart or the only person their partner has ever loved; could be jealous of their partner’s past relationships
• A stronger connection to Two
• May be surprised to discover that their beloved has different needs; they assume mutuality of purpose and are unprepared to negotiate
• Also prone to professional envy and try to best others at work
• May be unable to enjoy their successes without demeaning the achievements of others
• Intimate Fours can resemble Eights just as romantic Intimate Eights can resemble Fours
• Can believe that without someone to love they are nothing and life is not worth living

• When in love, images of their partner fill the Four’s awareness and attention. The beloved is a muse, necessary to connect Fours to their own life force
• May take no responsibility for their life until Mr. or Ms. Right comes along
• There can be a willful immaturity to this stance, a stubborn refusal to face facts no matter what the practical costs
• Can be love addicts who lack the memory of being loved and believe they are condemned to search the world for something or someone to fill them up
• Some Intimate Fours act markedly seductive to stave off being rejected • May engineer rejection by picking unavailable or inappropriate people to become infatuated with
• A few have ambiguous, confused or exaggerated sexual identities or a chronic identity crisis around their sexuality

Social Fours

• Healthy Social Fours are unusually independent, self-affirming and socially courageous
• Willing to take unpopular stands, initiate innovative projects or create institutions that have humanistic or artistic purposes
• They make good teachers especially of art, poetry, spirituality, realms of the heart and the inner life
• Can be idealistic, drawn to social causes, with a keen sense of justice. The connection to One is especially strong with this subtype
• May play the role of the critical outsider, dissatisfied with the norm
• Prone to shame because they compare themselves with the “normal” world around them, for deviating from imagined group norms
• Highly self-critical although their critical voice often belongs to someone else
• To refute the voice’s criticisms, a Social Four may romanticize her defects or snobbishly counter-criticize the group
• May seek status or feel driven to achieve to get revenge against those who once laughed at them
• Cover their shame with charm

• Social Fours with a Five wing can grow antisocial and depressed, bearing their shame in solitude, in tension to a group that they keep at a distance

Four with a Three Wing

• Fours with a Three wing can seem like Sevens. Can be cheerful, outgoing, with a sense of humor and style
• May be “counter depressive,” in that they stay busy and on-task to avoid getting bogged down in melancholy
• Healthy Fours with this wing marry art and commerce; they are both creative and effective, intuitive and ambitious
• Generally more visual and kinesthetic and have a faster tempo of thought, speech and reaction
• Often materialistic, can have elegant or expensive taste; could prize the rare
• Might dress flashy – albeit in a color coordinated way – in contrast to Fours with a Five wing, who try to be socially invisible
• Can be conscious of wearing a mask to hide their “true” deformed identity
• Some are Three “wannabes”; they imitate Threes to pass in the “normal” world as high-functioning and well-adjusted citizens; underneath they feel like ETs
• Can be exceptionally competitive, sometimes more so than Threes
• Their pleasure in their own achievements may be tainted by jealousy or motivated by revenge
• When recognized for what they accomplish, they may feel celebrated for the wrong reasons or dismiss the recognition as not enough
• Fours with this wing can tend towards melodrama and flamboyance
• Get lost in fraudulence, play the role of the artist or the authentic, unique one
• Generally more conventional and less original than Fours with a Five wing
• May have bad taste but not know it

Four with a Five Wing

• Fours with a Five wing are generally more introverted

• When healthy they have a rich, complex creativity
• Although somewhat intellectual, they have exceptional depth of feeling and insight
• May be multi-talented in ways that they take for granted
• Fours with this wing are often more original and idiosyncratic, unique to the point of eccentric
• Use thinking to suppress or dissociate from their feelings
• Often they are more auditory and kinesthetic and less consciously visual
• They have a spiritual and aesthetic openness and may also have a marked need to pour themselves into creative or artistic pursuits
• Try to use the strength of their minds to manage their emotional intensity
• Some are loners who can seem enigmatic or hard to read
• Externally reserved and internally resonant; when absorbed in a mood they can sit still and expressionless for long periods of time (hypnotic catalepsy)
• An “open or closed” quality; after suddenly breaking hours of silence, the Four won’t stop talking
• Fours with this wing will sometimes polarize against their own Three wing, making Threeness a shadow that they indict in others
• Could see the world as dominated by trashy, materialistic values and pointless hyperactivity – things the Four secretly envies
• Some are nondescript and try to be invisible. Consciously decide to venture into the world
• Some are sedentary and, if not overweight, have no muscle tone
• Especially prone to feeling alienated and depressed; could isolate themselves
• More likely to argue for their limitations or prove they can’t function in the normal world
• Might ignore practical matters or unpleasant but necessary chores, citing the strength of their feelings as an excuse
• Can be whiny or have an air of sullen, withdrawn disappointment
• Prone to sulking and stubborn, passive-aggressive sadness; unusually humorless
• Can inhabit a private world of pain and loss or be morbidly in love with death
• Might have a well-developed eye for the grotesque and the gothic

• Like Sixes they can fear taking action; some complain of having little energy

Four’s Connection to One

• A healthy connection to One helps Fours locate and connect to the objective, factual world, independent of their inner feelings
• Helps Fours balance the intensity of their feelings. They think more rationally and keep things in perspective

• The connection to One brings discipline and diminishes a Four’s self- indulgence
• Brings problem-solving skills and an unexpected practical streak: Fours can be talented at managing money and handling realistic details
• Oneish Fours tend to be idealistic and work hard for what they believe in; morally courageous expressions of principle
• Contributors rather than complainers, committed to living in and improving an imperfect world
• When Fours are less healthy the connection to One devolves into being critical, fault finding and nit-picky
• After the perfect union of falling in love the Four can turn critical and disapproving, focusing only on what is missing in his partner’s behavior
• May have idealized, romantic dreams for which there are no partners or expect so much of partners that they drive them away
Self-critical; may criticize themselves in a Oneish voice that speaks only of their Four’s flaws, reinforcing their sense of alienated difference
• Oneish Fours can block themselves creatively or set themselves up to fail because nothing they produce is up to their own impossibly high standards
• May criticize and tear down others, mainly out of jealousy
• Sometimes latch onto a grandiose, obsessive Big Idea or believe they are attuned to Absolute Truth
• Idealistic and artistic pretentiousness are possible; could feel they inhabit a lofty plane where their endeavors and aspirations can not be understood by mortals – The Great Artist Blues
• Black and white thinking with a moral cast
• Self-punitive and pleasure hating, fanaticism and religiosity are possible

Four’s Connection to Two

• Fours have a built-in connection to Two. When healthy it brings interpersonal skills and the ability to voluntarily empathize with others
• Like Twos, Fours can float over and switch places with others and intuitively sense how they feel. The Four will then filter and interpret other people’s feelings through the Four’s own subjectivity
• Twoish Fours can be supportive, generous “foul weather” friends who understand and accept the pain of others
• May volunteer their services to ease suffering
• Act upon ideals, want to make the world a better place
• The connection to Two brings the ability to teach or mentor, especially about subjective matters. Can accurately read the nonverbal behavior of others
• When this connection is less healthy, a Four may compulsively merge with others, especially their pain, as it unconsciously reminds the Four of their own
• May flatter, charm and placate, hoping to mask their sense of defect
• Twoish Fours are prone to moody instability; by turns needy and then aggressive
• Can put great demands on their relationships and be easily disappointed • Twoish Fours may flee themselves through codependent service to others
• The Four sense of specialness is intensified by Twoish pride
• Loud arguments and histrionic dramas are possible
• Psychosomatic illness and age regression (becoming younger than your years) are stronger tendencies


Excerpted from The Dynamic Enneagram by Tom Condon

Copyright 2009, 2013 by Thomas Condon

Available as an ebook serial at Tom’s website


Tom Condon has worked with the Enneagram since 1980 and with Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP since 1977. These three models are combined in his trainings to offer a useful collection of tools for changing and growing, to apply the Enneagram dynamically, as a springboard to positive change. Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and is the author of 50 CDs, DVDs and books on the Enneagram, NLP and Ericksonian methods. He is founder and director of The Changeworks in Bend, Oregon.

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