The Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram

What are the Instinctual Drives and how do they relate to the Enneagram?

Self-Preservation, Social and Sexual Instincts

What are the Instinctual Drives?

(Also known as Sub-types, Instinctual Subtypes, Instinctual Orientations, Basic Instincts, Instinctual Variants, Animal Instincts or Sub-orientations.)

The Power of our Instinctual Drives

How do the Instinctual Drives relate to the Enneagram?

While the three Instinctual Drives can be a separate study unrelated to the Enneagram, when we overlay them on our Enneagram Types, they become an extremely accurate and insightful tool as why we behave the way we do, and what motivates us. All three instincts are found in each Enneagram Type making for 9 x 3 = 27 variants.

The Three Instinctual Drives

Self-preservation (SP)

Self-preservation Instinct

Social (SO)

Social Instinct

Sexual (SX)

Sexual Instinct

Do we keep the same dominant drive throughout our lives?

While we can shift between them, we typically, have the same dominant instinct throughout our lives, and one we favor less. Some Enneagram schools refer to these as “stacks.” The way the three instincts stack in order of strength, defines much of our instinctual behavior. A balance between all three would be ideal.

How they affect relationships

I’m often asked what Enneagram Type makes the best partner. When it comes to looking for a relationship, more important than what Enneagram Type you are, is if you share the same major Instinctual Type.

An example of how an Enneagram Type is affected by the Instinctual Drives

Let’s take a Type One; the controlled, perfectionist “Reformer.”

Finding Balance

Enhancing your Self-preservation Instinct

Ann Gadd is in iEQ9 Enneagram Coach and the author of Sex and the Enneagram, The Enneagram of Eating, an Enneagram illustrated kids’ series and 22 other books.

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