Enneagram Dark Side: Triggers, Struggles, and Outcomes

2 October 2023

Each Enneagram type has its shadows, ghosts of the past, and issues they are afraid to face. Whether these shady corridors of Enneagram personalities will be something they hide or something that makes them more interesting depends on how brave they are to face their Enneagram dark side.

So, welcome to the intricate world of the Enneagram dark side, where even the greatest virtues may look like the greatest weaknesses and the greatest fears may turn into the biggest strengths!

The Dark Side of Each Enneagram Type

One of the greatest advantages of the Enneagram personality test is that it not only offers a deep insight into the human psyche but also reveals how to grow and develop as people.

With that in mind, here is an overview of the nine Enneagram dark side personalities.

Enneagram Type 1

Enneagram Type One’s dark side is filled with anger and resentment. The reason for this is that they were conditioned to behave well as kids, which often meant that they didn’t show anger and always did the right thing. And since it is impossible never to feel anger, they just learned to suppress it.

So, when they are under stress and take on an unhealthy behavior pattern, this suppressed anger emerges and takes the form of cruel, harsh criticism toward others and themselves. When Ones enter this mode, they become merciless to anyone who makes even the slightest ethical or moral mistake.

To illustrate better the kind of energy they exude, think of religious intolerance and prosecution— for instance, witch hunts and similar. Considering the amount of criticism they impose on other people in this mode, they may likely be the most hated Enneagram type when their dark side takes over.

Enneagram Type 2

Enneagram Type 2 dark side is well hidden under the layers of kindness, modesty, and altruism. It is not about them not being all those things, but what they sacrifice to be so kind, understanding, and altruistic. Since they neglect their own emotional needs, they remain deeply dissatisfied and hungry for the same love they so generously give to others.

This deep emotional emptiness and yearning for love sometimes makes them use all their superpowers, like intuition and social intelligence, to manipulate other people. Bitter and frustrated, Twos may start to craft small, silent revenge to punish other people for not reciprocating their feelings.

To understand more precisely what kind of revenge we’re talking about here, think of the Greek goddess Hera, who was a devoted mother and wife but cruel to anyone who jeopardized her way of life and family.

Enneagram Type 3

Enneagram Type Three's dark side reflects their insatiable need for recognition. At their best, the Threes are genuine, driven, and inspiring people everyone looks up to, but at their worst, they are addicted to success and ready to do anything to achieve it. However, if success remains elusive, they shift to being ready to do anything in order to look successful.

So, in an attempt to hide their failures, which they perceive as huge even when they really are nothing more than a bump on the road, the Threes become exploitative and ruthless. Lacking empathy and moral integrity, Threes may step into very moody waters. They may even resort to presenting someone else’s success as their own.

In the face of failure or extreme stress, Threes may resort to unjust means, trickery, and all kinds of deceptions to maintain their fragile sense of self-worth.

Enneagram Type 4

Enneagram Type 4's dark side is related to their chronic sense of failure. In general, Fours enjoy exploring their dark sides, and in an emotional sense, they are one of the bravest Enneagram types. They are ready to dive into and face all kinds of positive and negative emotions and come out better and brighter with deep insights into the human psyche.

However, at their lowest, they give in to self-loathing and see themselves as complete, irreparable failures. Self-destructive behaviors of all kinds are on the menu when they get into this state, and they may behave like rebellious, self-depleting rock stars or lone wolves who see only suffering and pain in the world.

The combination of low self-esteem and self-loathing can be very dangerous, so it is crucial for Fours to turn to someone for help and talk about how they feel.

In some cases, as Fours are very creative and artistic, they make beautiful masterpieces exactly when they turn to their dark side. But they need to learn to tame their demons before they become their source of inspiration.

Enneagram Type 5

The inquisitive, curious Enneagram Type Five’s dark side reflects their deepest fears and paranoid tendencies. When the lucid and insightful Fives who enjoy exploring the outer world step into their dark side, their focus completely shifts to their inner world, and they become overly concerned with their own thoughts.

To picture what happens to them, think of movies like “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind,” where a bright scientist experiences psychotic episodes and becomes obsessed with his imaginary world.

What triggers the Type Five’s dark side is the split between their minds and hearts. Since they are not connected to their emotions, they sometimes surface in the form of repetitive, intruding thoughts and ideas. They may also be prone to all kinds of phobias and paranoia as their fantasy world takes over.

Enneagram Type 6

Enneagram Type Six's dark side is just like their bright side—related to their deep-seated need for security. When they are balanced, they manage to control their fears and insecurities by planning and strategizing about the future. However, when they feel incapable of controlling their lives and their environment, Sixes get overwhelmed with anxiety.

As they become increasingly insecure, Sixes become indecisive, paranoid, evasive, and contradictory. They feel like everything and everyone is a threat and become irrationally suspicious, even of the people who love and care for them.

As their fears and phobias take over, they engage in drafting all kinds of self-protective strategies, believing that, secretly, everyone wishes them harm. The most extreme example of Enneagram Type Six's dark side would be destructive leaders like Bonaparte, Hitler, or similar historical figures.

Enneagram Type 7

The enthusiastic and cheerful Enneagram Type Seven constantly flirts with their dark side, as they easily cross the line between healthy hedonism and excessive escapism. While they are so full of life and positive energy when they are in their healthy mode, they turn into insatiable pleasure-seekers when they step into the dark side.

Since they struggle to face, express, or deal with any kind of unpleasant emotion, Sevens are very prone to superficial amusement, distractions, and all kinds of addictions. When their dark side takes over, they may hide beneath a blanket with snacks and binge-watch TV shows or resort to excessive partying to avoid feeling pain.

In general, they become restless, unpredictable, impulsive, and unreliable but also highly demanding, like a child who’s frustrated for not getting the toy they wanted. As they become desperate, self-destructive habits take over.

Enneagram Type 8

The Enneagram Type 8 dark side is inspired by their need for control. At their best, Eights are protective, self-confident, and inspiring people, full of charisma. They emerge as natural leaders in every situation and easily establish their dominance. However, since their deepest fear is that someone may take advantage of them, they become obsessed with control.

At their darkest hour, Eights become harsh, ruthless, too provocative, and confronting, as though they are only looking to pick a fight. They intimidate and react in an offensive manner, and they are constantly on the verge of exploding. Therefore, they easily make enemies and cause conflicts wherever they show up.

Another aspect of Enneagram Eight's dark side is the need to break all the rules. In an unhealthy mode, they begin to feel constrained and limited and defy every possible rule and restriction. At the same time, they create and impose their own rules on others.

Enneagram Type 9

Enneagram Type Nine’s dark side is motivated by their need to distance themselves from the harsh and stressful world. At their best, Nines are kind and supportive people who find a way to resolve every conflict around them. But, at some point, they get tired of having to deal with other people’s conflicts, rebel internally, and detach from their environment.

Just like Type One, Type Nine suppresses their anger, but in their case, it doesn’t surface in the form of passive aggression or criticism but blocks their willpower and initiative, making them indolent and procrastinating. At this phase, Nines avoid anything that would force them to deal with real life.

Their dark side stresses all the Enneagram 9 negative traits, so they may procrastinate a lot and become irresponsible or apathetic since their willpower is completely blocked. And if you asked them what they actually wanted, they honestly wouldn’t have a clue. They may also be prone to rare but intensive rage outbursts since they need a way to channel all that pent-up anger.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, there is a strong Enneagram dark side relationship with each Enneagram type’s weaknesses, fears, and unfulfilled needs. However, it is important to understand that each Enneagram’s dark side can become the source of their greatest power the moment they decide to bravely embrace it as an integral part of their personalities.

So, let’s finish with some essential traits of each Enneatype’s dark side:

  • Ones and Eights get very harsh and confrontational.
  • Twos become vengeful and bitter, and Sixes have paranoid ideas.
  • Threes turn into masters of deception, and Fours become misunderstood artists.
  • Fives and Nines tend to isolate themselves, and Sevens give in to artificial pleasure.