Enneagram Type 4

Type 4 ~ The Romantic

Basic Proposition

The original ideal state of deep and complete connection to all things goes into the background in a world that Type 4s perceive abandons them, leaving something important missing. Type 4s come to believe that they can regain the lost ideal love or perfect state by finding the love or situation that is unique, special and fulfilling. Concurrently, they develop envy and longing over what they idealize but is unavailable. Their attention naturally goes to what is missing and deemed important. Introjection glues the structure together by helping them take inside the idealized other to lessen the pain of loss. Their ultimate concern or fear is being deficient and abandoned. As compensation Type 4s sometimes control and dominate by becoming disappointed in others, self-absorbed, unsatisfied with what is, moody, demanding to feel understood as special and unique, and repeatedly feeling unfulfilled.

Where Type 4’s Attention Goes

Type 4s’ attention goes to what has been judged as special but is missing or unavailable. As a result, they fall into the push-pull habit of noticing what is negative about the here and now and what is positive about the distant and yet to come. When focusing on these negatives, Type 4s turn their attention to augmenting these feelings, especially sadness, and to self-referencing their own disheartened emotions. Constantly depending on an external locus of control and fixating on the extremes weighs down their consciousness with despair.

Type 4’s Stressors: What Makes Them Most Personally Reactive

Type 4s’ fixation on uniqueness results in numerous stressful preoccupations. To avoid the perceived dullness of the present and flatness of the middle, they long for the special or unavailable object (whether it be love, a job, or some other romanticized idea), and are often disappointed when they cannot realize this intense or elite ideal. Type 4s refuse to succumb to the ordinary, resisting any change in themselves that will dull their shine. They fear not being recognized or understood as special, and being left because of their deficiency. Type 4s also worry that others will not live up to their romanticized ideal, disappointing the four and repeatedly leaving them feeling unfulfilled. At other times, Type 4s may fear that their normalcy will let down others. To spice up life, Type 4s might map their current feelings as the truth, or create a crisis out of minor issues.  

To self-develop, Type 4s should work to diminish these preoccupations, as such reactions block their ability to feel loved, regardless of deficiencies, and ultimately their experience of gratitude and equanimity for what is present.


Type 4’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Type 4’s Strengths

  • Sensitivity
  • Empathy, especially with suffering
  • A creative disposition
  • Attunement to feelings
  • Intensity
  • Romantic
  • Passionate
  • Idealism
  • Appreciative of the unique, extraordinary, and singular
  • Being passionate and idealistic

Type 4’s Weaknesses

Difficulties Produced for Self

  • Dissatisfaction and anger with life as it is, “nothing is good enough”
  • Rejects help
  • Dominated by fluctuating feelings
  • Pain is associated with the D’s: depression, devastation, disdain, drama, disappointment, deviancy
  • Experiencing the painful side of uniqueness as a misfit who feels different from others
  • Experiencing difficulties in sustaining a relationship or path
  • Feeling pain associated with the self-created crisis, a sort of “addiction” to suffering
  • Envy of those that allegedly have fulfillment

Difficulties Produced for Others

  • Experiencing that you are not enough for the Four or properly satisfying them – feeling like a child of a lesser god
  • Feeling Type 4’s oppositional tendency towards resistance and biting sarcasm
  • Feeling guilt for “failing” a Type 4
  • Feeling hurt and angry from Type 4’s rejection
  • Coping with Type 4’s recurring crises


Personality Dynamics

When Type 4s suffer from personality biases, the resulting features are biased mental and emotional dynamics. Fortunately, if Type 4s work to diminish their personality biases, they are able to return to their Essential Qualities and, consequently, attain a higher mental and emotional capacity. 

Mental Center Dynamics: Melancholy and Origin

Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation): Melancholy

Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea): Origin

When a Type 4 has a biased mental dynamic, they experience a Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation) called Melancholy. In Melancholy, Type 4 focuses attention on what is important but missing. As a result, they resent what is negative in the present, and yearn for what is positive in the distant and currently absent. Type 4 resists the ordinary, and as a result, oftentimes becomes disappointed.

When Type 4 restores their mental dynamic, they experience an Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea) called Origin. In Origin, Type 4 appreciates life for what it really is, and realizes that wholeness and realness exist in the present according to universal principles. As a result, Type 4 can see what really matters at the core of issues, and can become an idealist for others. 

Emotional Center Dynamics: Envy and Equanimity

Emotional Reactivity (or Passion): Envy

Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue): Equanimity

When a Type 4 has a biased emotional dynamic, they experience an Emotional Reactivity (or Passion) called Envy. In Envy, the Four expends emotional energy on desiring what others have which they do not. They become depressed over what they wish for but either do not deserve or deserve but cannot have. Their feelings of frustration and jealousy become augmented. 

When a Type 4 restores their emotional dynamic, they experience a Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue) called Equanimity. In Equanimity, Type 4 is able to live in harmony with the present by feeling satisfied and fulfilled with having just enough. Type 4 feels balance, as nothing of substance is missing. As a result, no emotion is dominant and Type 4 can experience equilibrium with the external circumstance. 

Instinctual Center & Subtypes

When any of the Enneagram types suffer from biased passion and emotional reactivity, they can either contain or compensate for the associated preoccupations through their subtypes. 

Self Preservation (Self-Survival): Dauntless | Reckless

Type 4s with a self-preservation subtype cope with emotional bias by refusing to play by the usual and mundane rules, and instead “playing on the edge.” This rebellious act is an attempt to gain specialness and uniqueness, separating them from the ordinary. They believe that by refuting the rules, they cannot be missing out. Defies the envy.

Sexual (Pair Bonding Survival): Competition

Type 4s with a sexual subtype cope with emotional bias by first making someone else a worthy competitor or adversary, then competing against that person with a mentality that proclaims, “I could have it. I am worth it. I am special.” They strive for the very best to outdo their competition. Combats the envy.

Social (Group Survival): Shame | Elegance

Type 4s with a social subtype cope with emotional bias by creating feelings of uniqueness and importance through asking themselves how they stand out against the group. They might ask themselves questions regarding their own shame (such as how they are lacking, missing out, or isolating themselves as a misfit), or questions regarding their own specialness (which indulges in their pride of elitism). Either types of questions work to make them feel more unique. Expresses envy.

As the Enneagram types are quite dynamic and intercorrelated, Type 4 is influenced by:

Left Wing Type 3: The Achiever

Right Wing Type 5: The Observer

Security Point Type 1: The Perfectionist

Stress Point Type 2: The Giver


Self-Development Strategies: Attaining Higher Personality Qualities and Reuniting with Essence  

The Central Theme for Type 4’s Healing and Development

 Ironically, healing and development for Type 4s involves turning away from the outward search for the ultimate, ideal, deep, heart connection and the complete fulfillment when nothing of substance is missing. This pursuit only serves to perpetuate their current dilemma as all of the well-intentioned searching in the wrong place will not give your desired result. Instead, the search just creates more intense feelings of deficiency and longing. Type 4s are blind to having abandoned their own heart and need to love themselves as they are. So, the primary task for Romantics is to realize that wholeness and completeness come from their acceptance and appreciation of what the present moment offers – in other words, from the inside out, not from the outside in. Disappointments and deficiencies are part of the fabric of life, and not a signal of a deficiency of being.

How You Can Self-Develop and Fulfill Your Relationships

  • Accept that wholeness and realness exist now in the present moment
  • Practice equanimity by stabilizing attention on what is positive and present, rather than what is missing
  • Resist domination by your strong and sometimes fluctuating feelings while still acknowledging their authenticity
  • Sustain a steady course of action even in the presence of intense feelings
  • “Fill in the middle” by your appreciating the ordinary
  • Separate your self-esteem from being special or extraordinary
  • In meditation, noticing how feelings come up and attention goes to what is missing and longed for
  • Observing the intense feelings and resisting acting on them, which can create more suffering and crises 
  • Realizing that sarcasm, suffering, specialness, and self-absorption are the addictive substitutes for loss and feelings of abandonment
  • Developing a balance of feelings, thoughts, and actions
  • Building appropriate action plans to keep from absorption in your feelings
  • Staying consistent when you “lose it”
  •  Appreciating idealism while separating your identification from it

How You Can Help a Type 4 Self-Develop and Fulfill Their Relationships

  • Encourage your Type 4 to not be overrun by feelings, and to appreciate what is positive in the present moment
  • Encourage your Type 4 to stabilize their attention and to “fill in the middle” by valuing the ordinary
  • Show them that you understand by showing empathy first before offering help
  • Stay steady when their feelings are intense, and reveal your own feelings and reactions
  • Appreciate their ultimate idealism
  • Let your Type 4 know that they are lovable, regardless of their identification with specialness, a flawed self, or unworthiness


Need help finding your Enneagram type? Take the scientifically validated Enneagram test online or through the paper-back book version found in Dr. David Daniels’ The Essential Enneagram.

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