Type 4


Key Traits

Defence mechanism: Introjection, something external becomes a self-inflicted problem, ex. if someone criticizes you, you criticize yourself

  • Individuation: moment-by-moment constant individuation of the "self" as something to be crafted that's alien from others

  • Obsession with who I am: crafting how you're different, envy is the problem of being alien

  • Focus on suffering: psychologically creating a "problem" that is insurmountable in order to amplify the feeling of "frustration"

  • Emotional Sensitivity and Reactivity: amplifying pointed feelings of hatred which stem from the innate sense of lack, dipping into emotionally impressions experientially

  • Artistic sensibility: artistic process is a way of communicating authentic truth, worship of beauty (other types can be equally artistic, but with 4 there's just a specific connection to art as a way of presenting their identity rather than just for the sake of beauty, everything has to be "me")

  • Frustration: idealizing what you cannot have or cannot be, subtly sabotaging your own ability to solve those problems

  • Over-personalizing negatively: over-amplifying every negative emotion as if the upsetting underbelly of life is the "truth" and everything else is a shallow veneer, calling out those truths, not afraid to bring things "down" because that's what "real"

  • Shadow/Lost self: can't always access their positive self-image and the things that connect them to the world, they see that as too basic

  • Core Fears: Being easily understood, ordinary, flawed, too happy, too satisfied

  • Wants Depth


There is a lot of mistyping at 4 in the enneagram community, mostly due to misinterpretation of texts. This large-scale mistyping has even caused a feedback loop where the texts about 4 are describing mistyped people. The reasons for this are multitude but two main ones are: 1) people attracted to typology relate to the need to be unique/different, and 2) people confuse type 4 with trauma or their dark side. It's important before discussing what 4 is to discuss what it's not.

Type 4 is NOT:

  • Being candid about traumatic experiences (this can be anyone, but less likely a withdrawn type)

  • Self-deprecation (this is seen most often in 6's and 9's especially if there's 4 in the tritype, also 7w6)

  • Being artistic (any type can be artistic, 4's just have a specific aesthetic expression need that's tied into their type structure)

  • Being depressed (depression and/or sadness are emotions/conditions that can be experienced by all types, even bright 7's, and many 4's are not depressed at all)

  • Being moody/dramatic (4's do tend to be reactive and moody, but so do 6's)

  • Being unique or weird (4's individuate constantly, but any type can do unique and strange things, ex. Lady GaGa is a 7, Björk is a 9)

  • Being overly emotional (all types have emotions, not all types identify with them, but I would but type 6 as the most outwardly emotional type in some cases)

  • Enduring pain on the inside and having to smile on the outside (this is highly 9ish and not ever 4ish)

  • Feeling detached from mainstream things (this is true of 4, but any type can be sardonic and biting about "basic" people or mainstream things, type 6 for example can either be the one doing what everyone else is doing or the one who's sarcastically speaking out against it)

Some people think that they are a 4 in private and not in public. "You can't see the real me." The fact is that everyone is special, everyone wants to be unique, everyone fears being flawed, and everyone has the capacity to be artistic or emotional. Actually being core type 4 is more than just these things. You can't turn it off, you can't pretend to be happy for others, or more importantly, you would never ever want to because that's not pure, unfiltered authenticity. 4's are not modulating themselves to anything if it contradicts their inner experience. They have an aesthetic of "brokenness" that they can't turn off.

Being part of the image triad, the type 4 structure is based around creating a particular crafted self. For 4’s, the image that they create is a crafted image of being “un-crafted.” 4’s want to be seen as raw, true to themselves, and exactly who they are. However, “who they are” is something they consider so often that it’s an image of authenticity. Which begs the question for the 4, what is truly authentic and real? The thought that they could be something crafted or predictable makes them sick, so they insist on crafting themselves into something that is completely and utterly separate because that’s what being “real” means. The 4 self-image is a constant re-submerging and re-crafting of all the hypersensitive impressions taken in via introjection. 4 has an obsession with trying to craft "who I am" in a way that is consistently different/alien from any external circumstance. They want to build all of those immediate feelings that swim around inside them into a gilded, weathered-looking sculpture. Part of this obsession with "who I am" is the need to express oneself or curate a specific aesthetic or art. 4's can get stuck in trying to hard to fashion an image of themselves in their art that they fail to just let go and allow the artistic process to happen.

4's are processing a moment-by-moment constant individuation of self-image from others. They are hypersensitive to everything and then have to constantly try to refashion their own sense of self based on those impressions to ensure they are alien from their external circumstances. This is often simplified as "wanting to be unique." However most human beings in this social climate want to show their own unique colours in some way. However with 4, this is a problem that can affect them even when things are good. It's not the same as simply being different. The internal messages for 4 are such that the 4 isn't allowed to have a good time even if people are looking to them or sending positive energy their way. Any time common ground could happen, the 4 will find a way to individuate themselves. You'll see 4's not being a good sport, not playing along, and being very particular about what they are and how it differs from what other people are saying to them. The heart centre is concerned with image, but image is not concrete like the body centre. It's something that needs to be produced. At 4, the mental centre is constantly trying to make sense of the emotional centre by over-processing internal states and over-individuating to create a solid sense of self that will never be solid enough. 4's can get so concerned with how they're coming across in the most self-absorbed way that they forget to empathize with others. This is the opposite of image type 2.

4’s are addicted to being frustrated. They will consistently come up with problems in relation to their instinct/tritype and often project this deficiency in that area to others. Part of the image of 4 is that they are broken and unfixable with regards to their instinct, and they broadcast the amorphous problem that they have. This is not the same as being depressed, because any type can experience depression and sadness. Even in a happy state of affairs, 4’s seem to pick out the screaming blood-red elephant in the room and make sure they (and/or others) can see it. The state of mind of a 4 (especially 4w3) is an active frustration rather than a resigned depression (which more fits some versions of type 9). 

Do not attempt to help a 4 see how everything is going to work out, or spout any kind of inspirational cliché. No, everything does not happen for a reason. Because in this moment, the 4 has suffered more than you. The 4’s problems are unsolvable. The 4 needs you to know that they can’t be helped, and they want you to experience them as such being in the image triad. The 4 will look inside their own selves, walk through every battered hallway and torn down room and find whatever it is they “are” and over-identify with the completely personal emotional state in an attempt to present their authentic truth to the world and prove that others couldn’t possibly understand them. 6's can also at times do a similar "everything happens to me" episode, and they can be just as reactive and immutable about their problem. However with 6, the focus is more projection of an internal issue as an external problem/threat, whereas with 4, the focus is more introjection of an external issue as a pathway to focus more on "me and my issue."

Again, this does not imply that 4's can't be happy or that they are always in a state of negative feeling. However it does mean that they are comfortable expressing negativity, complaining, etc. and will generally have a specific set of issues that they can't ever seem to solve. And they have no problem expressing those issues. For example, if the 4 has complained about never being able to have the lifestyle they want, and then they objectively accomplish that goal, there's a part of them that won't accept that they're content or happy and won't be comfortable with others congratulating them. They'll need to create a new problem. However it's important to note that almost any type can relate to feeling dissatisfied even when things are good. The difference is that 4's or types with 4 in the tritype will actively seek the dissatisfied state, perhaps finding some kind of comfort and beauty in that problem area, whereas some other types might feel the dissatisfaction and do things to lighten up. 

4's tend to feel "hate" as an underlying driving emotion. They can have articulated and pointedly-directed feelings of hatred towards specific people or situations without any of the superego/connectedness of 9 to send the message that "hate is wrong." Many of the 9's mistyped as 4's will mistake their bubbling anger or the hidden shadow of their positivity as this kind of 4ish hatred. 4's have no superego need to be open-hearted, kind, or compassionate. This is not to say that they can't be all of these things, but it's not an idea built into their type structure and not something for which they will strive. 6's with 4 in the tritype, for example, will be comfortable being negative and have no problem expressing this verbally. However, 6's will still display a need for acceptance, a fear of being cast away, and they will emphasize how different/problematic they are as if it's a problem/danger to be put on the table right away. Even when 6's are at their worst, they still tend to be funny and likeable.

4's at their best can sometimes still come across as unreachable and rude. 4 is less likely than a 6 or 7 for example to come into a space and splat their problems on the table or be wildly bold and self-revealing right off the bat. 4 is a withdrawn type, so there's a part of them that doesn't even want to share themselves because they feel superior anyway. It's best to just sit up on your throne in jewels where everyone can see you but not actually reach you. Getting too close implies that you're "one of them," and of course you're not.

4’s run the gamut in style. 4w3's will generally do things to appear untouchable, elite, royal, and delicate. 4w5's are more eclectic and can be grungy. In any case, they can have a stylistic personal statement that reflects who they are that they are over-identified with. In an attempt to nurture the false belief that they are a separate outsider from others, they seek depth and deeper meaning in everything they encounter. Since everyone else is a common plebeian, the 4 must be the only one who can squeeze the emotional juices and oceanic depth out of life in order to transform the mundane into the tragically beautiful.

At their best, 4’s have a large capacity to be empathetic with a person’s darkest secrets, avoiding the superego responses of 1’s or 2’s, but not quite matching the ability to hold space for others like 9’s. That being said, there is nothing in the type 4 structure that feels compelled to be warm-hearted or compassionate as an underlying goodness. 4's are not judgemental in a right vs. wrong way, but can be super judgemental about things they hate. 4w3's can have a long list of aesthetic things that disgust them, whereas 4w5's can ted to direct their judgement/disgust at 5ish introspective concepts like politics/philosophy, etc. 

Lines of Movement

4 moves to 1

  • Positive: become disciplined rather than allowing emotions to control their life, learn practicality, get things done, become less negative as a result of emotional level-headedness, use strong principles to take action

  • Negative: become overly picky and critical of how no one does anything right, superiority anger, preach at people, self-loathing for not living up to their expectations

4 moves to 2

  • Positive: become less self-absorbed, focus on other people's needs in a healthy way

  • Negative: take a more hands-on approach to attracting love by using manipulation and clinginess, give out of desperation and deny their own needs, become dependent on object of need, feign illness to get love

comparisons with other types

4 vs 1:Both frustration types, 1's don't indulge in their inner states as much, 4 views inner states as authentic and need to be displayed, 4's are reactive

4 vs 2: 2 is a positive type and 4 is a reactive type, 4's don't want anyone to make their problems seem solvable, 2's are other-oriented and 4's are self-oriented, 4's are elitist and have no desire to appear nice or sweet

4 vs 3: 3 focus on self-development and success, 4's focus on self-expression and emotional truths, 3's present their best, 4's present their fabricated version of brokenness

4 vs 5: 4's indulge inner feelings and states searching for an identity, 5's indulge inner thoughts searching for understanding 

4 vs 6: 4's are elitist and/or see themselves as separate, 6's are adverse to narcissism and are prone to tribalism (many comparisons of 4 and 6 written above) 

4 vs 7: Both frustration types, 4's focus on the negatives, 7's on the positives, 4's complain about how they'll never have what they need, 7's blindly believe they'll get what they need 

4 vs 8: Both reactive types, both intense and biting, but 8's are the tough exterior with the marshmallow core underneath while 4's are the opposite, 4's use vulnerability as a point of strength and 8's avoid vulnerability to maintain strength/control

4 vs 9: Both withdrawn, both have capacity to be emotional or angry, 4's like to be separate, 9's innately feel like there's no identity boundary between them and others, 4's are constantly cultivating who they are and presenting it to others, 9's feel like who they are can shift to different landscapes that are all "them" depending on who they're with, 4's are reactive and present their darkness, 9's feel some need to be a positive face for others and suffer on the inside, 4's are out of touch with their bodies and 9's are stuck in their bodies; 4's are more prone to hate, 9's are more prone to anger, anger is less specifically targeted than hate, rather a reaction to send the message "I exist" where as 4 hatred sends the message "I'm not worthless"