The Innate Nature of Enneagram Type 4

On another page we were discusing the nature of sx 4... So I am including my response here.

Do 4s tend to mistype as Sx 4s at first?

Yes, I have found this to often be true...beginning in my 1995 research on the Instincts. Then, 18 months later, in April of 1996, I had the good fortune to attend Naranjo's first Enneagram Intensive in the US in Bolder, Colorado.

I had been teaching what had emerged in my findings in Instinctual Subtype workshops… and the sx 4s had completely related to the findings and their ability to have and call off ‘raw’ truthful and intense emotions.

Naranjo had moved ‘Reckless’ from sp 4 to sx 4 saying that sx 4s were ‘emotionally reckless’ whereas the sp 4s were more ‘self-contained and enduring’. And, that the sx 4, when triggered, could have intense "out of control" emotions that could make even an 8 back down. ;))

So, the sx 4’s ability for raw, outspoken emotional truth was confirmed by Naranjo’s teachings as well. Naranjo’s new teaching about sx 4 further validated what the sx 4s had shared in interviews for my research study and what they had revealed about their inner world.

Jack Labanauskas interviewed me regarding my experience of Naranjo's Intensive for Enneagram Monthly in 1996. The article is titled ‘Reflections on Type’. There are a lot of gems about the types from Naranjo in that article. It is available from Enneagram Monthly and on

In 1997, after two years of research on the 3 Enneagram Instinctual Types and 27 Subtypes, I shared my findings at the IEA Conference in Baltimore. In the presentation, after listing the study findings and describing the 27 combinations, I had 3 panels of exemplars for each instinct and all 9 types for each. In the interviews I asked each type to share what it meant to have their instinctual subtype.

This served to explained what it felt like to have that defense strategy. And, why for example, the sx4 is ‘reckless’ and has the words of competition and hate as their dominant words. Research also yielded that sx 4s felt that ‘idolatry’ was key as well as they seek their ideal in every situation and tend to idolize intimates and then when hurt, can denigrate and diminish them…sharing that both feelings co exist.

I laugh when sx 4s say I don’t use the word hate very often at all... and within minutes they will often say something like "Don't you hate it when ______ ". It is in their vocabulary, the water they swim in, so to speak.

I see these 3 Instinctual Types and 27 Subtypes as biological imperatives. We as a society need the 27 combinations to support each family, group, tribe, community, culture, country and so on. 
So if your defense strategy is sx4, you must find the way you hate. The sx4 is mobilized by 'angry envy' as it is the fire to their engine. They are a dynamic force and often mistaken for 8s. In contrast, the intensity of the 8 is solid and cold like concrete... it is immovable and resistant. It is only when the 8 is over the top that you see fiery anger. For the most part, when fixated, 8s believe that revenge is best served cold. ;).

The sx 4 is also a strong flavor. But they are liquid, emotional, mercurial and fiery. and as Naranjo said ... "The sx4 won't budge...even for the president, stating that they pay taxes and it is their road too." To contribute to the greater good, this defense strategy notices what is missing… even the tiniest thing will be noticed when absent. This is how we as a society can excel, become more individuated and possess the values that meet our ideals.

Every society needs someone that won’t budge for the president…someone that will say the emperor has no clothes…. someone that will hold to their emotional truth and seek that which is exquisite. The sx 4 has that role in society. They are fierce, competitive and intense seekers.

So, sx 4s will naturally feel disappointed when their defense strategy is on overdrive and is constantly finding what is missing in their lives… what is plain, ordinary and lacking in esthetics. The truth is that they find themselves the most painfully lacking. Their journey is to recognize when they are in fixation … and when to speak… and when their drive for beauty, perfection and emotional truth will not serve the greater good.

On the panel in my 1997 presentation, David was the poster child exemplar for the sx 4. True to expressing the high side of the sx 4, he was willing to share the raw, unedited truth of what it meant to have sx 4 as his primary defense strategy. It was so compelling and revealing that sx4s came up to me and to us throughout the rest of the conference and shared how much it meant to them to know that there were other people that felt the same way they did… and struggled with the emotional intensity.

They were relieved to have their gifts acknowledged and to understand more about their challenges. Until that panel, when they compared themselves to other 4s, they thought they were the 'bad' difficult, flawed, outspoken 4. When they had been with other 4s that did not have the sexual instinct they felt like they were too much… So they felt misunderstood by the other 4s and felt ashamed to mention their fiery intensity and emotional outbursts.

The reason for this is that until then, nothing had been written about the sx 4’s fiery emotional intensity. From the first books written in the late 80s to those written in the early 90s, 4s were described more in terms of the so 4 and sp 4. In the chapters on 4s, they were described as sad, shy and withdrawing.

This is what the sx 4 feels as well… at first…. but if the issue is about a mate or a strongly help passion, their fear of abandonment is triggered and they react with intense, angry emotions. We all know what happens if we feel intense angry emotions… imagine if this was your primary defense strategy. wink emoticon So, it was easy to see why sx 4s had concealed their fiery emotional reactivity. When triggered, they are feeling that they are not enough and all is lost. Afterward an outburst they feel intense shame. When they finally heard about this fierce intensity from other sx 4s they finally felt met and more understood.

What I learned from the sx 4s is that on the high side, they are fiercely protective of intimates and when inflamed will more than go the distance in service of those to whom they are intimately attached.

What was so key for me to learn in that first study was that the sx 4s felt that ‘everyone’ had the right to express thier individuality. And, if you have known and/or loved a sx 4, then you know how they can see someone’s uniqueness and individual gifts better than others. It is an amazing gift when they shine their light in someone’s direction. They see tiny nuances about people that most miss. They call off the beautiful and the ugly with the same ease. They are amazing troubadours that share their inner world and what makes us all human… and more specifically, our flaws and imperfections. They can make people feel truly seen. 
In fact, when coming from the high side, sx 4s are by far the most inclined to see what is innately human.

To enter the world of sx 4 in pain but calling off her emotional truth in a beautiful way, listen to Why by singer/songwriter Annie Lennox. 

©1995-2019 Katherine Chernick Fauvre