If you know anything about Enneagram countertypes, you wouldn’t be wrong to borrow a Stranger Things term and call them the “Upside-Down” components of the Enneagram world!
Countertypes (not the same as subtypes) are those Enneagram types that don’t match the generalized descriptions of the type they belong to. There are nine Enneagram countertypes—one for each type. Countertypes, because they’re so different from the main type, are often confused with other Enneagram types.
Here’s what you need to know about the nine Enneagram countertypes.
1s are hardworking, reliable perfectionists, with a focus on quality control, attention to detail, and an insane ability to contain their anger. Sexual 1s, though, are very expressive with their anger. Though still self-critical, they tend to be more critical of others and want to fix the world, instead of looking inwards.
Because of this, sexual 1s are confused with type 4s and 8s.
2s are giving and helpful, working hard to be like and indispensable to those around them. However, the self-preservation 2 smartly invests in only certain people, as this type is aware of how energy-expensive connections (especially for 2s) can be! This youthful, child-like type often needs to be taken care of, unlike other 2s and is mistaken for types 6 and 4.
3s are confident folks who chase ambition—they’re the typical Patrick Bateman (minus the psycho serial killing—unless you troll them), with the sharp, tailored suits, the shiny cars, and the constant upward traversal of the corporate ladder.
However, the self-preservation 3 is modest, humble, and motivated by being a good person. This type, if successful, feels embarrassed flaunting its success and at the end of the day, would rather be known as a good type than a successful type. This type is often mistaken for a 1.
The drama queens of the Enneagram world who are more obsessed with what they don’t have instead of what they have, 4s constantly compare themselves to others, feel bad about said comparison, and let the world know they’re sad about said comparison!
The self-preservation 4 is the exact opposite, preferring to internalize its pain and suffering. This type hates sharing its feelings and can do such a good job of hiding its pain that you’d think nothing was wrong. This type can be mistaken to be a 3 and 7.
This type is often generalized as a private type that hates intrusions, compartmentalizes its feelings, and uses logic and analysis to figure out its life.
The sexual five prefers to paint its world with romantic idealism and emotions, instead. Unlike other 5s, they search for intimacy and relationships. They also love expressing their emotions artistically. This type is often mistaken for type 4.
6 countertypes are the celebrities of the Enneagram world, as there exists not one but two countertypes here! The self-preservation 6, unlike regular 6s, is phobic and highly defensive, seeking alliances that will protect it.
The sexual 6, on the other hand, is highly offensive and aggressive, going to great lengths to intimidate others to appear strong and non-vulnerable. These are the troublemakers and rebels and are often mistaken for 8s.
Usually seen as party animals, 7s are optimistic and love a good time. However, social 7s find happiness in healing others’ pain and making the world better. They are often in service fields, such as therapy, nursing, and medicine, and love being seen as forgiving, selfless, and good. Because of this, they’re mistaken to be type 2s.
Often seen as aggressive and confrontational, 8s are direct, straightforward, and unafraid to go against authority and convention.
Social 8s, though, are gentle and calm, mainly supporting and protecting those around them. They’re not dominating or aggressive like other 8s, and hence, mistaken for 9s and 2s.
9s are seen as lazy, with a focus on their own comfort. However, social 9s are often workaholics, working not just for themselves but also for the betterment of their family, friends, and work. These 9s are leaders and can be excellent friends. They’re often mistaken to be 2s, 6s, or 3s.
If anything, the existence of countertypes goes to show that the Enneagram system is flexible and one that you can’t take as definitive. While each type gives you a broad outline of personalities, each type can be much more or much less than what is generally written!
If you’re a countertype, don’t berate yourself for being different from the norm—celebrate it!