Instinctual Variants

There is a significant “variation” we can identify and need to be aware of for each type, that is important to a) establish the basic type is correctly being identified, and b) influences many behaviours, in addition to the basic type. It is also a major factor that impacts our intimate and personal relationships.

Instinctual Variant, and it is part of the “Instinctual” Moving Centre in the lumber region of the spinal cord. 

The Instinctual Variant tells us the way we prioritize our basic human needs.

The Three Variants are:

Self Preservation Instinct:
concerned with warmth, food, nesting, money, well being, personal safety and personal comforts.

Sexual Attraction Instinct:
concerned with energetic experience of others and life. Living for the spice of life, what attracts and repels.

Social Adaptation Instinct:
concerned with reciprocity, social cohesion, Non-verbal clues, Bonding, the idea that we are safer and more productive when we work together.

The Instinctual Stack

They form a stack, where one will be Dominant, another Secondary(supporting) and the third will be like a Blind-Spot.

The Dominant Instinct is the one we get most neurotic over when it is not being met.

The Secondary Instinct will can either be  in-support  the dominant instinct or we use it as a way of having a break – a holiday, from the dominant instinct.

The “Blind-Spot” is the Instinct that we feel less capable of  dealing with, and yet, if we were to address this instinct, it would undo much of our angst derived from over-doing the dominant instinctual variant.

A mismatch of the stack of two people in relationships, can be the source of contention and misunderstanding. However, with awareness of our stack, it can also be a way for couples to learn and grow from each other.

In many Enneagram circles the Instinctual Variations of each of the Nine Types,  are referred to as a “sub-type”.  Don Riso and Russ Hudson of the The Enneagram Institute, consider this terminology as misleading, and that it is a variation, rather than a further typology.

The Sexual Attraction Instinct is often referred to as “on-on-one”, implying that people with this as their dominant instinct, are the only people who would be drawn to one-to-one interactions over group conversations or interactions.
In our experience, this is a misrepresentation of this instinct. Thus, it is not a terminology the Enneagram Institute encourage the use of in this context