According to psycho-spiritual ideas each human personality type represents a core, or essential state of the soul that represents our true being and freedom. However, this state is often perceived as lost or disconnected in childhood due to various environmental and psychological factors.
As a result, we might say that each type develops a psychological defense and a fixation that covers over the apparent loss and creates a false self-image which is also where we suffer the most. The yearning for authenticity that each type feels is actually a direct longing and movement toward their point of being, which is our “essential identity”.
|Type 1||Fixation on being right, good, and perfect||Repression||Pushing unwanted thoughts, feelings, or memories into the unconscious.|
|Type 2||Fixation on gaining love and approval by helping others||Reaction Formation||Expressing the opposite of our true feelings.|
|Type 3||Fixation on achieving success and being admired by others||Identification||Adopting the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors of another person.|
|Type 4||Fixation on being unique and special, longing for deep connection||Introjection||Internalizing the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors of another person.|
|Type 5||Fixation on acquiring knowledge and understanding to feel competent||Isolation||Withdrawing from others and from their own emotions.|
|Type 6||Fixation on security, seeking guidance and support from others||Projection||Attributing our own thoughts, feelings, or behaviors to another person.|
|Type 7||Fixation on avoiding pain and discomfort by seeking pleasure||Rationalization||Providing a logical explanation for our behavior that is not actually the reason for our behavior.|
|Type 8||Fixation on controlling and asserting power to avoid vulnerability||Denial||Refusing to acknowledge a reality that is too painful or threatening to accept.|
|Type 9||Fixation on maintaining inner peace and avoiding conflict||Dissociation||Separating our thoughts, feelings, or memories from our conscious awareness.|
It is important to note that these are just some of the psychological defenses that each type of the Enneagram may use. The specific defense mechanisms that an individual uses will vary depending on their unique personality and experiences.
Here are some examples of how each type might use their primary defense mechanism:
- A Type 1 might repress their anger about a coworker’s mistake by pretending that it doesn’t bother them.
- A Type 2 might use reaction formation to express their need for love by becoming overly helpful and accommodating to others.
- A Type 3 might identify with a successful person in order to feel more confident in their own abilities.
- A Type 4 might introject the thoughts and feelings of a friend who is going through a difficult time in order to feel more connected to them.
- A Type 5 might isolate themselves from others and from their own emotions in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- A Type 6 might project their fears onto others by assuming that everyone is out to get them.
- A Type 7 might rationalize their impulsive behavior by telling themselves that they are just “living in the moment.”
- A Type 8 might deny the existence of danger or threats in order to feel in control.
- A Type 9 might dissociate from their own thoughts and feelings in order to cope with stress and conflict.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO MODULATE AND WORK WITH THESE INNATE DEFENCES?
|Type||Psychological Defense||Description||Some Personal Practices to Consider For Each Defence|
|1||Repression||Pushing unwanted thoughts, feelings, or memories into the unconscious.||1. Practice mindfulness during daily activities to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. 2. Regularly write in a personal journal to explore suppressed emotions. 3. Consciously challenge and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.|
|2||Reaction Formation||Expressing the opposite of our true feelings.||1. Set aside quiet moments to acknowledge and accept true feelings. 2. Practice mindfulness to foster self-honesty. 3. Regularly assess emotional reactions to situations to better understand your feelings.|
|3||Identification||Adopting the thoughts, feelings, or behaviours of another person.||1. Regularly practice self-reflection to promote self-discovery. 2. Stand your ground in a respectful manner when your views differ from others. 3. Practice mindfulness to become more self-aware.|
|4||Introjection||Internalizing the thoughts, feelings, or behaviours of another person.||1. Set boundaries in relationships to distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘other’. 2. Practice affirmations to reinforce your personal identity. 3. Challenge internalized thoughts through rational self-assessment.|
|5||Isolation||Withdrawing from others and from their own emotions.||1. Regularly engage in social activities to promote interaction. 2. Allow yourself time to explore and express your emotions. 3. Practice deep breathing and relaxation exercises when feeling socially anxious.|
|6||Projection||Attributing our own thoughts, feelings, or behaviours to another person.||1. Practice self-reflection to understand your own thoughts and feelings. 2. Challenge your thoughts regularly to recognize cognitive distortions. 3. Improve understanding of your own emotions through regular emotional check-ins.|
|7||Rationalization||Providing a logical explanation for our behaviour that is not actually the reason for our behaviour.||1. Practice mindfulness to foster honest self-awareness. 2. Challenge irrational thoughts through regular self-reflection. 3. Engage in introspection to understand the real reasons for your behaviours.|
|8||Denial||Refusing to acknowledge a reality that is too painful or threatening to accept.||1. Regularly practice acceptance of reality in small increments. 2. Seek solace in trusted friends and family members to validate your feelings. 3. Regularly take time to safely explore and confront your reality.|
|9||Dissociation||Separating our thoughts, feelings, or memories from our conscious awareness.||1. Practice grounding techniques, like focusing on sensory experiences, to stay present. 2. Regularly give yourself permission to safely explore difficult experiences. 3. Practice mindfulness to improve self-awareness.|