Defense Mechanisms and Enneagram

People are complicated beings. There is a lot of love about human beings. If we want, we can impact the world positively with our compassion and self-awareness. But at the same time, we’re also always dealing with frustration beyond our control. How do we deal with things when it gets overwhelming?

Defense mechanism

When we feel like we’re backed into a corner, we activate our defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies we use to deal with overwhelming situations. For one, it shields us from threats that shake our core beliefs. It also gives us time to reflect on the situation with some deep introspection.

So, why is it bad?

More often than not, defense mechanisms stand between us, reality, and our true self. It keeps us from overcoming challenges because it protects us from negative feelings. Sometimes, it even makes us feel worse. It stops us from experiencing real freedom over our responses and environments when we employ it over every little thing. Eventually, you’ll find that your personality is formed around your defense mechanisms. You don’t want to be known as the person who always denies everything, right?  

Enneagram and Defence Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are inevitably a part of our lives – we can never truly get rid of them. That being said, being aware and making a personal commitment to personal growth can make a huge difference. It sends ourselves a message and a promise to root out behaviors that are preventing us from becoming the best versions of ourselves.

We can stop defense mechanisms from being who we are by understanding how it manifests. Enneagram is a good tool for us to understand ourselves and discover these behaviors. It uses a nine-point diagram to explain nine distinct personality structures. These structures are equipped with individual strengths and flaws. Enneagram also tells us the underlying emotions and motivations of these types. It tells us our core beliefs and our sense of self.


It’s useful to look at our types to determine our defense mechanisms. Our type plays a role in determining what defense mechanisms we’re most prone to falling back on. We’re not bound by a particular form of defense mechanism. But observe yourself and you’ll find yourself using a predominant defense mechanism.  

In this article, we’ll outline some of the core beliefs of your type that your defense mechanisms protect. Besides, we’ll also discuss why these behaviors manifest and why they’re bad.

Type One (Perfectionist): Reaction Formation

Ones love perfection You want to be the person with the right answer and attitude. Most of the time, you’re guided by your inner compass, which tells you from right to wrong as well as what steps to take next. You strive to work as hard as possible so that you leave the best possible mark on the world.

However, since you rely on your inner compass a lot, you’re often worried that you’re wrong. Worse, you’re afraid that you’re bad. Being bad means you’re not good enough to co-exist will all the other great things in the world. That makes you angry and ashamed at the same time, so you cope by suppressing your emotions. 

Actions speak louder than words for you. It doesn’t matter what you think inside, as long as you’re acting right. But since you judge yourself harshly, you can’t help but to think 

Because you’re motivated by this, you suppress your true feelings and respond appropriately. Actions speak louder than words for you. It doesn’t matter what you think inside, as long as you’re acting right. This makes you prone to hypocrisy since the high standards you have for how other people should think doesn’t seem to apply to you.

Type Two (Caretaker): Repression

It’s hard for people to not love or like you. You’re warm, caring energy envelopes the room as you walk in. Few people don’t enjoy your generosity, and you love giving love out to everyone who wants it.

Little do people know, your sense of self-worth comes from being needed. You equate giving to love. So, the only way for you and other people to show their love is to offer service. Because of this, you constantly offer your help to people because you want them to love you. You’re afraid of expressing your emotions freely – people will stop loving you if you do.

Caregiver (Type 2) Weaknesses

There’s always a constant struggle of wanting to be loved but feeling unloved at the same time within you. When someone hurts your feelings, you repress these thoughts so that they won’t love you less. When someone hurts you, you tend to double down on goodwill so that they’d love you again. By repressing hurtful feelings and emotions, you put yourself in the lowest priority. This causes other people to take advantage of you, which can be detrimental to your well being.

Type Three (Medallist): Identification

You’re a bona fide workaholic because you always want to feel like you’re at the top of the world. All the hard work pays off – your charisma and success make you a very easy person for other people to look up to.

Your sense of self is closely related to your work and feelings of success. So when you’re not producing satisfactory results, you feel like a failure. You feel worthless when you’re not achieving as much as you’d want. To cope with this feeling, you cultivate an identity that you’re proud of.

You start telling other people how busy you’ve been. You start talking about expensive watches you’d when you get your million-dollar bonus. You want other people to still think you’re successful even though you don’t feel as if you’re achieving as much. Stepping into a winning personality can be a cause for motivation. At the same time, it can also cause a disconnect between your inner self and how the world sees you. Many Threes struggle with finding their way because they get lost by playing the role of a successful person. Since society rewards these successes so much, you don’t feel as if you can drop the role whenever you want. You might find yourself trapped in self-deceit when you can’t tell how much of your success is real and how much of it is fake.

Type Four (Artist): Introjection

Artists are unique individuals with a keen eye for beauty and out-of-the-box perception of the world. You’re in touch with your inner feelings. People often think of you as an authentic person because you’re able to express yourself without restraint.


This need for authenticity stems from your insecurity about being ordinary. So, you build your persona around separating yourself from the commoners. When you’re reminded of how normal you are, you use introjection to avoid it and maintain your uniqueness. Introjection is an unconscious process of adopting the ideas and attitude of others. 

You feel shame when you feel like you haven’t lived up to your fantasy. To deal with that, you absorb everything that’s been going on around you as part of you. Other people’s opinions, circumstances – everything. You internalize this combination of voices into a self-rejecting voice. You feel like you have to give up your individuality to fit in. This further continues the cycle of self-imposed melancholia.

Type Five (Detective): Isolation

You’re very confident in your knowledge of the world. In whatever you pursue, you tend to do as much research as possible for your self-worth and self-esteem. This stems from your fear of not being enough to cope with the world. You think gaining enough knowledge will give you the tools to thrive in the physical world.

You deal with feeling like you’re not enough by isolating yourself. This happens when other people disprove something you thought you knew well. You might isolate yourself physically by moving away from other people. You might also isolate yourself mentally by withdrawing from your emotions.

Staying within the logical part of your head helps you because logic is easy to understand. This prevents you from connecting fully with yourself and other people. You lose touch with your emotions while distancing yourself from people who love you. As much as you like to be alone, you don’t want to feel lonely. And you don’t have to, as long as you put down your defenses.

Type Six (Strategist): Projection

You’re great at forging relationships and forming a network of trust and companionship. You’re great at maintaining relationships as well. People would often say that you’ll never betray them. And you agree with that given how much effort you put in to maintain this image of loyalty.

This image you cultivated isn’t a façade. Rather, it’s the way you deal with your anxieties and doubt. After all, if you build your own tribe, you don’t have to worry about them abandoning you. But, when it gets too much for you, you project these feelings onto other people.

You attribute negative feelings onto other people. You do all this to justify the internal fear and anxiety you have. Projection causes you to lose touch with reality because what you see might not be the truth. It would also stop you from reaching out or reaching within yourself to find the truth. In addition to that, people might start distancing themselves from you when you accuse them of your feelings. Eventually, you’ll start feeling alone because it seems as if everyone is against you. When in actual fact, you’re the one project your own feelings on other people.

Type Seven (Explorer): Rationalization

Sevens are advocates of adventure. You love exploring and doing things on the go. Because of this, you’re an excellent and creative problem solver. You’re also great at thinking on your feet.

All your spontaneous adventures come out of your deep fear of missing out. So when you need to solve this problem, you talk to yourself. Rationalization is explaining away or justifying things in your head. You rationalize possible solutions so that you get to do what you want. 


The problem with this is that you stay in your head. You don’t consider the hard facts or external circumstances. You can reframe everything with a positive spin. This causes you to distance yourself from painful feelings and thoughts. You might also hurt someone else as a result of your rationalization. Rationalizing too much traps you in a cycle of impulsivity, since you don’t have to think about anything else.

Type Eight (Fighter): Denial

Eights are the classic “macho-man/woman” stereotype. People would often describe you as strong and impactful, which is the way you want it. Because of this strong self-image, you equate vulnerability to weakness. So, you refuse to express any kind of vulnerable emotions to anyone.

So where does the vulnerability go? You use denial to deny its existence. You’re afraid of giving up vulnerability because you’re afraid of it being used against you. You’re afraid of looking weak to your peers.

So, you put away these feelings and redirect this energy towards controllable circumstances. And it works! Denying vulnerability exists helps you focus your energy towards better, more impactful endeavors. But this also causes you to unwittingly stunt your emotional growth. It serves as a barrier between you and other people since you need to be vulnerable to form connections. If you’re not aware of it, you might isolate yourself from connection and even love.

Type Nine (Diplomat): Self- narcotization

Your main goal in life is to maintain peace and harmony. You try to avoid conflict as much as possible since you don’t like confrontation. So, to stay comfortable, you “drug” yourself.


Anything can be narcotizing to a Nine. It could be food and drinks, entertainment, and even habitual thoughts or behaviors. As long as it induces you into a comfortable and simple routine for you to numb out and forget the troubles of the world. It prevents you from fully experiencing life since conflict is a necessary part of life. You can also forget yourself, where you forget your goal in life and go with the flow.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *