The Enneagram 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

In the teachings from Russ Hudson, the three Instincts form a stack, where one will be Dominant, another Secondary(supporting) and the third will be like a Blind-Spot.

The Dominant Instinct 

The Secondary Instinct 

The “Blind-Spot

A mismatch of the stack of two people in relationships, can be the source of contention and misunderstanding.  This and others aspects of our Instincts, are  explored in one of the Enneagram Institurte Authorised Workshops run by Grahame Morgan-Watson in the UK.

Some Enneagram circles often refer to this as a “sub-type”.  Russ Hudson and the late Don Richard Riso, considered this terminology as misleading. Riso-Hudson and the Enneagram Institute see this as a variation of the basic personality style,  rather than a further 'type'.

The Sexual Attraction Instinct is often referred to as “on-on-one” in many Enneagram circles, 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

Reference: Page 70, The Wisdom of The Enneagram by Riso-Hudson

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