People often ask me if someone’s Enneagram type can change. The answer is more complicated than yes or no. The truth is, when you’re relaxed and moving towards growth, you take on some of the traits of another Enneagram type. When you’re under intense pressure or stress you “disintegrate.” The Enneagram Institute states that, “There are two lines connected to each type, and they connect with two other types…You will respond or adapt in different directions, as indicated by the lines of the Enneagram from your basic type.”
The Direction of Disintegration:
When each type disintegrates under stress, they tend move in the following directions:
Ones disintegrate to Four.
Fours disintegrate to Two.
Twos disintegrate to Eight.
Eights disintegrate to Five.
Fives disintegrate to Seven.
Sevens disintegrate to One.
Nines disintegrate to Six.
Sixes disintegrate to Three.
Threes disintegrate to Nine.
Today we’re going to look at some of the signs that you’re disintegrating, based on your unique Enneatype. When you see yourself experiencing these “symptoms” of disintegration, you should take some time to work on your stress levels. A helpful article for this is How Every Enneagram Type Reacts to Stress, and How to Help.
Not sure what your Enneagram type is? Take our questionnaire!
The Disintegration Signs of Each Enneagram Type
1 Disintegrating to 4
Envy and melancholy start to cloud your thinking when you disintegrate to Four. Suddenly you feel alone and without love or understanding from others. In fact, you may even feel that you’re unworthy of love or inherently unlovable. Sometimes these feelings can give birth to a desire for someone who will understand you and find something uniquely lovable about you. You might stumble into fantasies about a confidante or rescuer who will see you for who you really are.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Four:
- You don’t trust yourself
- You don’t feel as productive or driven as usual
- You feel envious of others
- You feel like you’ll never attain your dreams
- You feel indignant that your expectations aren’t being met
- You feel alienated from others
- You have frequent fantasies of a rescuer
- You feel overwhelmed by guilt
- Your feelings cloud your ability to focus on your responsibilities and tasks
Find out more information about your struggles as a One, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram One Type
2 Disintegrating to 8
Normally gentle and gregarious, when you disintegrate to Eight you lose your natural tactfulness and warmth. You feel irritable, angry, and impulsive. You feel overwhelmed by a sense that others are handling life in an incompetent way or that others are trying to take advantage of you. Normally tactful and cautious, you tire of hiding your anger. This transformation is usually shocking and unsettling to the people who know you.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Eight:
- You feel irritable and less in control of your emotional reactions
- You quickly see where other people are to blame for your problems
- You’re not as concerned about what other people think of you
- You feel distrustful of others
- You feel a need to control everyone and everything around you
- You feel alone and without support
- You are more aggressive and direct
Find out more about your struggles as a Two, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Two Type
3 Disintegrating to 9
Typically visionary and determined, when you disintegrate to Nine you feel more detached and apathetic. You lose interest in your goals and ambitions and feel cloudy in your thinking. Normally focused on your appearance and presentation, you suddenly stop caring and embrace a more fatalistic mindset of “Whatever will be, will be.”
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Nine:
- You stop caring about how you appear or what other people think of you
- Your thinking feels cloudy and apathetic
- You are less productive and get distracted from your goals
- You procrastinate
- You want to “numb yourself out” with entertainment, alcohol, food, busywork, etc.,
- You become passive-aggressive towards others
- You have a more fatalistic mindset
Find out more about your struggles as a Three, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram 3 Personality Type.
4 Disintegrating to 2
Normally individualistic and introspective, when you disintegrate to Two you start feeling more insecure about your relationships. As a way to cope, you try to reach out to others and find connection. You want a sense that you belong and that others need you. Rather than focusing on your own feelings or delving into your more imaginative side, you focus on others and try to attain a place in their lives. You worry about your standing with your friends and family.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Two:
- You try to do generous things for others to get some kind of affirmation or reciprocation
- You feel fixated on how others perceive you
- You become more manipulative in an attempt to gain love and loyalty
- You deny or repress your own needs
- You do things to get attention or sympathy
- You feel disconnected from your true self
Find out more about your struggles as a Four, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Four Type
5 Disintegrating to 7
Normally reserved and intellectual, you’re someone who likes to pore over information and develop mastery in a subject of your interest. When you disintegrate to Seven, you try to compensate for feeling disconnected and detached. You suddenly throw yourself into activity, doing whatever you can to distract yourself from anxiety and disconnection. You crave stimulation and look for it through activity and indulgence. This can show up in binge-watching movies, drinking or eating excessively, impulsively spending your money on a vacation, etc,.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Seven:
- You feel impulsive and out of control
- You seek high-sensory experiences and indulgences
- You are more distractible
- You lose your typical focus and ability to concentrate
- You take more risks
6 Disintegrating to 3
Normally dutiful, hard-working, and cautious, you’re someone who focuses on developing security and a sense of belonging in the world. When you disintegrate to Three, you start worrying about your place in the world and in your community. You worry that if your image isn’t just right you’ll be abandoned and lose your security. You start fixating on appearances and impressions that you make on people – worrying that if you don’t give off the image of success and perfection that you’ll lose your sense of safety and support.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Three:
- You start obsessively worrying about your physical appearance
- You catch yourself trying to mention your achievements and successes to others
- You become more competitive
- You feel tempted to inflate your accomplishments to impress others
- You get fixated on details that might show others your status (your car, home, clothing)
Find out more about your struggles as a Six, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Six Personality Type.
7 Disintegrating to 1
As a Seven, you like a varied and active life full of opportunities and experiences. In your pursuit of fun and excitement, you can wind up with half-finished projects and a laundry list of tasks you need to finish. When you disintegrate to One, you feel a need to buckle-down on your tasks. You start worrying that your life is spiraling out of control and that eventually you’ll deal with a lot of pain and frustration from being so distracted.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to One:
- You feel a restless need to turn your life around.
- You feel like you need to work harder.
- You feel restless and scattered or rigid and self-controlled.
- You feel more irritable with people
- You’re exasperated by any hint of incompetence in yourself or others
- You worry about being less ethical or moral than others
- You feel resentful of others and scold or nitpick more than usual
Find out more about your struggles as a Seven, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Seven Personality Type
8 Disintegrating to 5
As an Eight, you often confront life like a battle that needs to be won. You believe in protecting the oppressed, fighting for your freedom, and being invulnerable. When you disintegrate to Five, you withdraw from the world in an attempt to gather your resources and strength. It’s so natural for you to take on challenges directly that you wind up feeling drained from the physical and mental fallout.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Five:
- You want to be left alone
- You want to gather as much information as possible before taking action
- You become preoccupied with ideas, projects, and obsessions
- You feel especially secretive
- You take poor care of yourself physically
- You feel cynical and nihilistic
Find out more about your struggles as an Eight, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Eight Personality Type.
9 Disintegrating to 6
As a Nine, you typically try to handle stress by downplaying your own desires and retreating into your own mind. “Numbing out” is a favored way to cope with pain and anxiety. When this stops working for you, you develop 6 tendencies in an attempt to manage your frustration and stress. You become more focused, hard-working, and security-conscious. You see worst-case scenarios everywhere and work frantically in an effort to circumvent them.
Signs That You’re Disintegrating to Six:
- You feel increasingly skeptical and pessimistic
- You bring up long-hidden complaints about others
- You feel an intense amount of pressure to get things done
- You become passive-aggressive and defensive
- You are more reactive than usual
- You feel like you need to get everything in your life in order
Find out more about your struggles as a Nine, plus ways to cope: 7 Struggles of the Enneagram Nine Personality Type.
The sources are linked to books on Amazon. If you purchase one of these books, I get a small commission that I can use to pay for hosting and other demands of this site. I only recommend books I love.
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut
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