I’m an Enneagram Type 4: An Introduction

The first time I heard of Enneagram, I thought it was spelled “Anyogram.” I thought it was a board game. I figured the objective was to make up “any” word you could along with a faux-definition for it.

Alas, Enneagram is quite different from Anyogram, the board game currently not sweeping the nation. Enneagram is actually a personality model that defines the human race into nine particular “types.” I’ve become such a sucker for personality stuff, so I quickly set to determining which of the nine types I was. Even before taking the short test, though, I knew.

I’m an Enneagram Type 4: “The Individualist.” I am sensitive and introspective and expressive and dramatic and self-absorbed and temperamental.

I am good, and I am not-so-good. “I am both,” as Prince Charming says. Today’s post is the first in a brief series that will delve into both halves of my Type 4 being, the appealing and the awful.

Enneagram 4

Enneagram Types: We’re All Connected

The cool thing about Enneagram Types is that everyone is connected. A healthy/growing Enneagram Type 4, for example, takes on the redeeming qualities of an Enneagram Type 1, and an unhealthy/stressed Enneagram Type 4 takes on the less desirable qualities of an Enneagram Type 2.

I particularly enjoy this Enneagram graphic of numbers and arrows and lovely looking geometry:

Enneagram Type 4 Growth and Stress

Additionally, you can be any of the nine Enneagram types and also have a “wing” for either of your two neighboring types. So, even though I’m predominantly an Enneagram Type 4, I also have an Enneagram Wing 5 for “The Investigator” since I seek understanding and the need to be deemed capable.

It’s fascinating, really. How connected we all are.

Enneagram Type 4: My Positives/Negatives

In the subsequent parts of this Enneagram series, I’ll delve deeper into my healthy “growth” and unhealthy “stress.” For now, though, here are some common positive/negative Enneagram Type 4 traits of which I completely resonate:

+ At my best, I am inspired and creative. I write blogs and write books and, you know, tweet and stuff. The world and her inhabitants amaze me.

– At my worst, I fear I have no significance. I look around me and see nobody there, and I have no purpose, and I deduce I’ve fallen off the cliff of significance. I feel lost and forgotten in the fold as everyone else finds their way.

+ I long to surround myself with beauty and inspiration so that I can create. From my work to other people to simple geography, I yearn for beautiful things at every turn to photograph and film and most of all write about.

– I withdraw from others to protect my self-image. I want to be fully known, and yet I cannot bear the thought of being too great a burden on others.

+ I want to attract a rescuer. I long for genuine friends who will see the mess I am and still extend their hand to pull me from the mire.

– I feel vastly different from the rest of humanity. More complex. More needy. Just more issues. I feel like nobody will ever fully get me.

+/-/? I am more suited “to endure suffering with a quiet strength” compared with all the other Enneagram types. Yay suffering?

+++ I am Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp all rolled into one: two famous Enneagram Type 4sI basically couldn’t ask for anything more in life.

Enneagram Type 4: Me in a Single Paragraph

This snippet from the Enneagram Type 4 page really jumped out at me. The focus on shame feels quite apt of my personality:

Fours attempt to control their shame by focusing on how unique and special their particular talents, feelings, and personal characteristics are. Fours highlight their individuality and creativity as a way of dealing with their shameful feelings, although Fours are the type most likely to succumb to feelings of inadequacy. Fours also manage their shame by cultivating a rich, romantic fantasy life in which they do not have to deal with whatever in their life seems drab or uninteresting to them.

I’m a handful, I know. Honestly, researching Enneagram Type 4s made me overwhelmed by me. But from Strengths Finder to Enneagram, I’m learning that the more I understand me, the more growth and confidence comes.

So, stay tuned next time to see what Unhealthy Tom looks like. Oh boy; I dare you.

What Enneagram Type are you? Take the free quiz and let me know in the comments! I’d love to learn more about the other eight types or bask in a beloved community of 4s. Don’t worry; this is a safe place, my fellow 4s.

  • Ken Skelton

    My tagline is “A 50 something rediscovering life and where I fit into this world.” so there is no surprise that I am an Enneagram Type 4.The description fits so well “Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental”. My scores in the other types also seem to be spot on.

    Now to explore this further and build upon and make better use of the positive aspects – such as my creativity. I also have to work on the opposing forces of withdrawing from others and wanting a rescuer.

    • Ah yes, the desire to “fit into the world.” You’re speaking my language, Ken. A lot of times I use my withdrawing time to create. Kill the negative with a positive. It’s a process, but I’m learning to find the balance. Hope you find yours too! Nice to know another 4.

  • Marshall R

    The test said I am type 2, “the helper” and anyone who knows me well would probably agree. In fact some of the descriptions of that personality type were just so accurate they were embarrassing.

    • Definitely see you as a 2, Marshall! And yes, the descriptions are so scary accurate. Makes me trust Enneagram all the more.

  • Edward Basanese

    Type 7: Enthusiast. Fun test! Thanks!

  • Brady

    I’m a Six, the Loyalist. The basic desire of having security and support is really true for me. And I like the Enneagram a lot because it points out both the strengths and weaknesses of your personality. Strengths Finder just focuses on the positives, but I like that the Enneagram also acknowledges the fact that we’re all broken. It’s important to understand how that brokenness affects us.

    Side note – you can get daily emails from the Enneagram Institute that contain a daily “thought” for your type. Sometimes, those things are disturbingly accurate. For example, a recent one said, “For average Sixes, career choices, or decisions which directly affect their families or the stability of their employment, become sources of major anxiety. Watch for this tendency in yourself today.”

    I’m going through a job search process right now, and I was just like, “HOW DO YOU KNOW MY LIFE?!” It’s kinda funny, and also a little uncomfortable. But I think that means it’s doing its job well.

    • I haven’t read up too much on the other types, but I definitely want to after I finish analyzing myself. Thanks for sharing some of your 6 self, Brady! I also like that Enneagram focuses on both the healthy and unhealthy versions of ourselves and ways to improve. I’m honestly loving it more and more everyday.

  • Rebecka

    I’m a Four too. Hello friend, nice to know this is a safe place!

  • Jackson

    I’m a 2! Man, how’d you find this test, cause I like it! It’s always interesting to take tests that seem to get people’s personalities right on point (and even more interesting to read about from that person’s point of view since I studied some psychology).

    Thanks for sharing Tom!

    • One of my good friends introduced me to Enneagram a couple years ago. It’s still fairly obscure, but it’s definitely gaining traction. I hear a lot of bloggers and people I follow talk about it. Figured it was finally time to blog about it myself! I’m especially looking forward to reading about the other 8 types once I become more familiar with my own. I think it will be hugely beneficial to understand other people better — when they’re healthy, and especially when they’re unhealthy.

      • Bryon

        Have you looked into where it came from and why it was created that way? Very interesting.

  • Clare

    I took this test a few weeks ago and I’m also a 4. It’s crazy accurate, both the positive and the negative. Creative, inspired, introspective, artistic, feeling different, self-absorbed, depressed when dreams fail. Yeah, that’s me. Recently I managed to reach Level 1 on the healthy/unhealthy level scale and it felt so good, but unfortunately I only stayed there for a day or two. I don’t think I’ve gone as low as level 9 since leaving high school (although I have had one or two “hopeless” moments).

    I think that this is a useful tool, particularly for those of us who are introspective, to help us see what personality aspects to embrace in order to be healthier.

    And yay for Johnny Depp being a Type 4!

    • Yeah, level 9 is the lowest of the lows. Thankfully I haven’t been anywhere near there in a long time, too. I haven’t had time to analyze all the levels of healthiness yet, but I imagine I’d be somewhere near the middle right now.

      Welcome to the 4 Club, Clare. 🙂

  • I got a tie between a 4 and a 6 on the 10-minute test, and while I can see qualities of both of these types in myself, 4 definitely seems more in sync with who I am (yay for 4’s!). Several parts of the descriptions were so accurate they were chill-inducing. Haha. I really like this system. I might have to do some more research and maybe take a longer test. Thanks for sharing!

    • YAY YOU’RE A 4. What you said seems to be the common theme: the accuracy of Enneagram. I really think they’ve landed onto something momentous here. I hope you do decide to do some further research! I’m already excited about my own journey forward with Enneagram.

    • Bryon

      I’m a 4 and 6 too Laura. I didn’t find it very encouraging though because the descriptions seemed largely negative with the test that I took (the long one). I’m trying to find more descriptions.

  • Kate

    Well I am the wierd one and scored a five in type 4, 5, 6 and I can’t really connect with one single one, because I read each of those three and say “Hey that’s me!” I always score in multiple personality types, I feel like it’s just me…

    • That’s awesome that you resonate with so many different types. More opportunities to relate with the rest of us! For me it was about 90% for Type 4 and a smidgen of Type 5. You could be predominantly any of those three types with a wing for the neighboring type since they’re all next to each other.

  • Logan81

    It’s kinda funny, I was just talking about Enneagram types with a friend the other day. I’m a Type 9, The Peacemaker. This part is very true of me: “They are typically “spiritual seekers” who have a great yearning for connection with the cosmos, as well as with other people. They work to maintain their peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in their world.”

    On the negative end, though, I’m very prone to sacrifice my own needs and desires in the name of peace. It took me a long time to realize that my own needs were indeed legitimate, and that a little discord isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

    • I have some “peacemaking” in me as well (as you might remember from that Strengths Finder post), so I can relate with some of what you described. As great of a thing caring for others is, it’s definitely important to take care of yourself too. Can’t wait to read more about Type 9s soon enough! Thanks for your perspective, Logan.

  • Pingback: Life as an Enneagram Type 4: Unhealthy Tom | Thomas Mark Zuniga()

  • Pingback: Life as an Enneagram Type 4: Healthy Tom | Thomas Mark Zuniga()

  • Pingback: Life as an Enneagram Average Type 4 | Thomas Mark Zuniga()

  • Cate

    I stumbled across this blog entry last night and I’m so glad I did! I am also a 4, but with a 3 wing (just like Donald Miller, apparently). How awesome to find fellow Christians in the “same boat”! 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Cate! I’m glad you stumbled here. Jealous that you’re following in Mr. Miller’s footsteps in Enneagram Land. He and I differ on the wing, but still share a lot in common with our 4ness. It’s always fun to find similar personalities in our midst. I might blog more about the other Enneagram types someday. Such a fascinating system!

  • Bryon

    So I’m a 4 and a 6 and I’m just starting to appreciate why those qualities can be good. I think shame is my biggest struggle and yet I wonder if in time, I will have a different score. I think shame is much less a part of how I feel and react and I hide a lot less. Do you think you could score differently over time Tom?

    • As I understand the Enneagram in my ongoing research, you only ever exist as one type at your core. As you mature and grow, however, you may adapt the redeemable qualities of all the other types. You can also have a “wing” of your neighboring type and possess more of those qualities than the other types.

      There’s a two-question test in the Wisdom of the Enneagram book, and the book breaks down all the types in much more detail than the website. Highly recommended for further insight — not only into your own being but also for everyone else in your life. The book has opened my eyes to how my friends and family of different types operate.

  • Pingback: That Time I Hosted the Same Couchsurfer for Two Weeks | Thomas Mark Zuniga()

  • Pingback: I Got Triggered Today | Thomas Mark Zuniga()

  • Alexander Brooks

    I’m Enneagram Type 4 with my wing between 3 and 5 always changing. Almost always I’m 4 wing 5, but just recently I took the Enneagram RHETI 2.5 (the online version), and had a score of 18 for BOTH type 3 and type 5 (type 4 was still my overall highest). What I can’t wrap my finger around is the directions of integration and disintegration. David and Katherine Favure, Personality experts, on Enneagram.net told me in an email that the directions of integration/disintegration was based on an old theory that turned out not to be accurate. Anybody’s type, can pick up the highs and the lows of both of the other two personality types connected to your basic type, and for me that makes alot more sense. As an Enneagram type 4, I seem to pick up the traits of Type 1 in the negative ways, becoming self-righteous, dogmatic, dealing in absolutes, etc. …When picking up the traits of Type 2, it’s almost always for the better, actually, which is the opposite of Don Richard Riso’s theories of integration/disintegration. But if I were to go in the “direction of integration”, how would I do that without trying to convert to type 1? or faking it to make it? How can I make myself more “objective and principled” like type 1, without pretending to be that type? In Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s book: The Wisdom of the Enneagram, it say’s not to ACT like the other type in the direction of integration, but to let go of the defenses of the agenda of my ego and personality’s agenda… But HOW? What does that REALLY mean, I go into ever more complex thoughts (like type 5) thinking philosophically about that ALOT, and become so confused.