Thoughts on Tritype

tritypeAfter some recent conversations I’ve had around accurate typing, I thought I’d address the topic of Tritype, and share some of my personal thoughts.

A couple of years ago, when I first began to consider the concept as an addition to the Enneagram, I was optimistic and curious. I’m a large believer in variety and individuality, that each person is wired in a unique way, and the concept of Tritype supports that belief. Determining my own Tritype was more than simple, as my core and wing make for two of the three fixes. I tried the concept on for a time, even introducing it to friends and others I talked about Enneagram with. It wasn’t long, however, before I ran into conundrums.

Helping a 6 who identified strongly with 3, to determine whether that manifestation was a matter of disintegration, or whether it was a heart fix, was my first “hmm…” moment. I asked myself: could this concept serve as a distraction (or even excuse) from looking at our health patterns honestly? After hearing people speak the reality of that, “That’s not unhealthy for me, I just have a 9 fix.”, or the like, I began talking with dozens of people about what their Tritype might be. Doing so helped me to see how detrimental this new concept could be to the core foundation of the Enneagram– in truth, contradicting it.

I do not doubt at all, that the concept of Tritype was well intended when introduced, but in addition to the above issues, I also find it redundant. Any characteristic that Tritype attempts to explain in an individual, seems easily explained with the original elements of the Enneagram (core, wing, instincts and health).  An Sp-first 1 is already called 6-like (Naranjo) because of their tendency towards anxiety, and security seeking in the form of perfection– in light of this, dubbing a “6 fix” is unnecessary and overly complex.  Likewise, the Sx-first 4 is said to be 8-like (in that their envy becomes “shameless” and demanding) so adding a label of “8 fix” seems silly.

There is such a thing as over-explanation, to the point of convolution– based on my observations in talking with others about tritype, I believe it falls into that category. After exploring it thoroughly, I do not use or teach Tritype because I don’t personally believe it is beneficial (perhaps even the opposite). True understanding of self and others can be had with the original tools of the Enneagram, anything added (thus far) seems merely ornamental.

Clearly, my opinions, observations and thoughts are my own. I only seek to share them to encourage thoughtful conversation on the topic, and to encourage intentional use of the Enneagram.  Thoughts or questions on the subject, or what I’ve written here? Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me at Thanks for reading!

Thoughts on Tritype

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Tritype

  1. An older post, but maybe some response? 🙂

    I’ve only been delving in enneagram for some 2-3 weeks, but tritype really explains a lot of things to me. I find it useful to look at 3 centres in isolation and how people react on each centre.

    1. How they deal with anger (instinct) and take their ground – I realised that I my childhood (primary school) I behaved mostly like my instinctual centre. And makes sense – how to position oneself in the world. What do you do where the conflict arises? Do you try to avoid or keep calm (9), do you strike back (8) or do you seek for rules and authority to settle the matter (1).
    2. How to deal with being accepted (emotional centre). This is the place where other theories just don’t explain my emotional behaviour. My puberty – from 13 to 21 was all about this centre all the time. And of the frustrations I had with it, because it’s not my core centre. It’s not the one I would choose to solve issues with.
    3. Mental centre – dunno, because my main type is here. I only managed to grow into it once I grew older and moved out of my parents. So, it took shape somewhere in my mid to late 20s.

    As far as I could figure out my type is 741 and I found no other theory that could explain this combo of 7 and 4. (I’m 7w6, probably sx/so or maybe so/sx). It’s the weird quality I have of being bitter and optimistic, often at same time (okay this could be 7w6), but the level of how I inhabit 4 under stress, there’s no other explanation.
    (And 741 also are linked with arrows, but jump from 7 to 4 is kinda big to me. And no, I don’t believe I’m a 5.)

    I observed myself under stress – first 7 would try to connect, make everything ok. Engage, talk, but what if things don’t get ok. Then 4 takes over … and feels really really strongly that nothing is ok and runs away. Somewhere down the line 1 kicks in and figures we can’t spiral down like this and we need some basic rules and get our shit in order.


    1. Absolutely, I love conversation around this topic and really appreciate your thoughts! 🙂

      As I’ve alluded to in my post, I believe the tendencies that cause us to relate to fixes are actually derived from our core and instincts. In regards to your example of being a 7w6 (Sx or So, sounds like?) who relates very much to 4, this is actually a pretty common feeling among Sx 7’s in my experience– my husband is actually one, and it’s a conversation we’ve had before. I personally attribute this to the idealist nature of 7 that can easily look similar to the idealist nature of 4, BUT with different motivations. In my experience, 7’s (especially Sx-first) tend to be critical/cynical (like a 4) because they desire the extraordinary and are often disappointed when they can’t have it. Claudio Naranjo describes this as “enthusiastic mania” (lol)– it’s important to differentiate between this, which for 7 is usually anger fueled under stress (going to 1), and the emotionally “stuck” phenomenon that 4’s experience with the motivation of shame in not feeling true identity. Experience and identity can seems synonymous, but are related uniquely to either the head (fear/security) or the heart (shame/value).

      Those are my thoughts anyway! This is still a very new area of Enneagram conversation, and though my opinion is a very unrepresented one, I find very little logic in the construct of tritype. That said, I too am ever learning, so only time will tell what conclusions are reached! Thanks so much again, and I hope my response has been helpful– I definitely feel the need to cover 4 vs. 7 for my next misidentification video after this! 😉


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