By Steve Purdom, Type 3, SP/1:1/SC

A separate and important part of the enneagram is the Instinctual Subtypes.  There are 3 subtypes which are called Self Preservation, One on One and Social.  For most people, these are unconscious and yet all pervasive.  Ichazo, recognized by many as the founder of the enneagram,  described the 3 subtypes as “three fundamental reactions of our organism to sustain life.”   They are indeed three distinct approaches to long term survival.  Each Instinctual Subtype represents 1/3 of the truth.  The best option for survival is to have all 3 subtypes fully developed and available to us.

In general, we do have and use all 3 subtypes, but one is usually dominant and the second subtype is strong but the third is underdeveloped.  There are people who seem to move fluidly from SP to 1:1 to SC  and these people approach problems with more flexibility and more options for decision making and resolving conflict.  Our goal should be to have equal access to all three subtypes.

The Self Preservation Subtype is about our individual survival and the 1:1 Subtype is about intimacy and emotional intensity in our relationships.  The third part of our interactions with others is community or the Social subtype.  This subtype is about being part of a group and not socializing necessarily.  An introverted or withdrawn personality type might go to large meetings and not socialize but feel comforted by being part of the organization.  The end goal is to be part of the group.  They are also concerned with social hierarchies and tend to be attracted to people who have status in the group.

The Social subtype thinks that organizations such as our governments can make society a better place for all of us.  Our self preservationist friends would say that we are responsible for ourselves and government intervention in our lives is a negative event.  Understanding these different views of the world allows us to discuss difficult issues without judgment or name calling.

As I mentioned, all 3 instinctual subtypes are available to all of us but our first and second options are the most accessible.  For myself, I have determined that my stacking of my instinctual subtype is about 55% Sp/35% 1:1/10% SC.  If you know this about me, you would not expect me to join social clubs or simply be a member of numerous groups.  I have a strong 1:1 and my interactions in the enneagram community are based around this subtype.   I want very much to interact in intense, emotional relationships in a 1:1 manner and EnneagramLasVegas provides me with that opportunity.

Since we know that Social Subtypes want to belong to groups, how does this show up in their lives?

  • They are happy to work in large organizations where they can be part of a team and have a role in society.  For instance, non-profit charitable organizations, government agencies,  or educational institutions.
  • Their free time might be spent in running/tennis/biking clubs or in community activities such as church, homeless shelters, or other volunteer work.  Their choice of sports will be group oriented.  Golf is a very social activity and group sports in general are social activities.
  • Even our choice of books will be impacted by our instinctual subtype.  “The Social Animal” by David Brooks or “It Takes a Village” by Hillary Clinton are examples of books written by people with a Social subtype.
  • In music, “We Are the World” is the perfect example of how Social subtypes see are place in society.

In summary, all 3 subtypes have valid world views and hopefully we can learn to respect each others understanding of how the world works even if it is very different from our own.  The more we develop all 3 of our instinctual subtypes the easier it will be to see other people’s point of view.  In my case, that means working on appreciating the value of social organizations and seeing how they can support and improve my independent, self preservationist view of life.  Wholeness always includes all the options available to us.