Posted with permission from Ocean Moonshine

Instincts – Self Preservation, Social, Sexual.

These three instincts are built into our bestial nature, which resides at an unconscious level helping to ensure our survival, both of ourselves and our species. From the perspective of the enneagram, we want to know how these drives appear and function, both within personality and as distinct patterns, as defined by each instinct alone or the alignment of two or three (stacking).

Sexuals attract others without really trying. They also repel others in the same way, like an anti-pheromone. This works like a screening function in the mating process. People typically have a strong reaction one way or another towards Sx’s, and vice versa.

Self Pres people instinctively avoid certain foods and environments, and are likewise drawn to those things that nourish and sustain them. Sp’s have a strong reaction against things that threaten to harm their comfort or health.

Social is driven towards gaining protection and empowerment within larger entities.
Soc’s typically react strongly against things which would jeopardize or displace their position or reputation.

The instinct is always trying to work for our survival, whether we know it or not. Personality can only get in the way. Animals, as more or less fully instinctual beings, don’t have this problem. But integrating our personality with instinct requires that each side of ourselves is fully aware of the other side. Otherwise we are automated, automatic, and on autopilot.

Basic Instinctual Subtype Stackings The Sexual Stackings


This is perhaps the most internally conflicted of the stackings, and potentially the most inconsistent in behavior. This may occur as a blockage of the sexual instinct which can be redirected as a more generally brooding and troubled personality. They may isolate themselves for long periods of time before reemerging. They live according to a strictly personal outlook and are not particularly concerned with the approval of others outside of their immediate concern. They seem to be searching for something, the missing piece. If they find a soulmate they will unite without fanfare, forming a secret bond, dealing with formalities as an afterthought. Powerful sexual impulses facing inner resistance may manifest symbolically in the psyche, giving way to soulful interpretations of the unconscious. Under periods of stress severe sexual tensions may manifest as erratic, impulsively destructive behavior. Can seem restless, torn between the comforts of a stable home life and the urge to wander. May be prone to self-medicating.
Motivation: to know the heart, reconcile inner conflict, form a secure union.
Familiar roles: the devotee, the seeker, the wanderer
Examples of sx/sp: Prince, Carl Jung, Johnny Depp, Ozzy Osbourne, Johnny Cash, Joan Crawford, Princess Di, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Frollo from “Hunchback of Notre Dame”

This is the type that exudes the most raw charisma and sexual energy. They may identify so strongly with whatever they’re involved with that they often become the symbol of its core essence, and sometimes its lead agent for change. Hardly content with the status quo, this subvariant seeks to alter the fundamental structure of something while at once embodying it’s purest or most extreme form. Possibly attracted to radical views on politics, philosophy, spirituality or creativity that reflect their penchant for testing boundaries. They enjoy pushing other’s buttons, especially those resistant to their modes of expression. It’s not uncommon for them to have a pet social, political or spiritual cause which they’re able to support with heartfelt conviction. May exploit and seek to redefine sexuality to reflect their own colorful and uncertain understanding of it. While prone to exhibitionism, they are strongly attracted to grounding influences which can anchor them and provide stability. Failure to satisfy an especially intense desire for connection may cause this subvariant to spite others at the risk of jeopardizing the need for an equal, stabilizing force. Can feel pulled between wanting a life of maximum intensity and reassuring episodes of peaceful convention.
Motivation: to impact others, question assumptions, challenge convention.
Familiar roles: provocateur, activist, exhibitionish
Examples of sx/so: Madonna, John Lennon, Yukio Mishima, Robin Williams, Drew Barrymore, Richard Simmons, Elvis, Bono, George Michael, Sinead O’Connor, Joan of Arc.

The Self-pres Stackings


This type is generally private and reserved, and especially serious and practical minded in their focus to gain material security and in making useful connections that support their goals. When they do form a connection, loyalty is very important to them and they will not hesitate to end a relationship on grounds of disloyalty. This type may lack a certain degree of interpersonal warmth which can give the impression of coldness or disinterest in others, even a sense of selfishness. May be drawn to groups that attract like minded individuals, as in business clubs or volunteer organizations where a shared professional culture can facilitate social bonds. They tend to live conservatively and dress in an inconspicuously appropriate fashion befitting their status in life. May have a characteristically blunt and direct style of communication that can take others some getting used to. They are particularly strong in matters of commitment and sacrifice, and enjoy being the benefactors in assisting society’s practical needs.

Motivation: to attain a position of material and societal security.

Familiar Roles: the businessperson, the responsible citizen, the pillar of society.

Examples: Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Harrison Ford

These people often have an earthy, mysterious quality to them. They are quietly intense, but to others may seem oblivious to the greater social world around them, instead favoring personal interests. They are slow to commit, but once they do it is with an attitude of life commitment, to the establishment of an impermeable bond. Others can be taken aback by how suddenly and completely this type can lock into them, and by the depth of understanding of the other’s condition. They attach to others at an organic, root level, in contrast to the other subvariant’s surface formality. Somewhat hesitant to enter new relationships, they instead preserve the select few enduring bonds they carefully form along the way. The sanctuary of home is of paramount concern, and this type takes particular delight in decorating their spaces to reflect their cherished sense of taste and depth. Depth and discrimination characterize this stacking.

Motivation: to live in a secure, comfortable environment where they can pursue their private interests in depth.

Familiar Roles: the mate, the mystic, the quiet supporter.

Examples: George Harrison, Jackie Onassis, Eric Clapton, Emily Dickinson

The Social Stackings


This type is often the most comfortable in group settings, but tends to be a bit formal and awkward in one to one relations. This is the natural political type, affiliating themselves with groups or theories which best defend their social and material interests. They may lack warmth and individual identity and this could lead to problems in forming meaningful relationships outside of a shared social interest. The motivation for this type is to attain status within their chosen sphere – the “social climber.”

Examples of soc/sp: Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Nugent

This type has very strong one to one social skills, but is usually uncomfortable in group settings. They enjoy cultivating multiple relationships, and can be intensely involved when in the presence of someone they are interested in, but have difficulty sustaining these bonds when apart. This may give the impression of being flighty and rootless, willing to adapt and mirror others in order to connect, but lacking a defined approach that would give their relationships a more solid standing. They may have political interests, but are generally more pragmatic and less partisan than the other social variant. They are often attuned to pop culture and the latest trends. This type’s motivation is to create lasting connections with those they are interested in – the “best friend.”

Examples of soc/sx: Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, Howard Stern, Margaret Cho, Jack McFarland from “Will & Grace”