Instinctual Variant Tests
Similarminds variant test
Eclecticenergies Enneagram Test with Variant
Related Articles and Forum Discussions
Enneagram Tests and Resources
Naranjo's Instinctual Variant Profiles
The Three Ranges of Instinctual Stackings
Instinct Stacking Facial Composites
Instinct workshop notes sp,so,sx
Instinct "Blindspot": Descriptions of last instinct manifestations
How to tell primary from secondary instinct
The Three Instincts: Self-Preservation, Sexual, Social
In course of our evolution as human beings, we developed a set of three core instincts referred to in the Enneagram as the basic survival instincts, instinctual energies, "drives" or "subtypes". These instincts are part of our body-based intelligence and key to our biological imperatives. They are built deep into our unconscious nature and aid in our survival as individuals and as a species. Instincts are thus more fundamental than enneagram type; they relate to our 'animal soul'. From the perspective of the enneagram, we want to know how these drives manifest and function both as defined by each instinct alone and in terms of their alignment, known as "stacking".
Self-preservation instinct is the first instinct to have evolved. This is an orientation towards survival, health, and comfort. SP drive checks in with the body: "Is this not enough or too much?" and orients by what the body reports on its needs. Of the three instincts, this is the oldest one; it dictates: “I must survive.” Animals are highly attuned to their self-preservation needs. Modern humans, however, are somewhat more distant from basic survival needs. That is, we have more sophistication in the sphere of physical needs and more complex regulation—once survival is taken care of, we aim for comfort and pleasure.
The SP energy manifests as "conserved", "grounded", "tightly coiled", "planted", "immovable". The energy is usually heavy in its nature, as if the person is carrying some great weight on his or her shoulders and conserving energy for later personal use. This subtype will "sacrifice for self" to insure survival, rather than look to their group or mate to resolve their problems and challenges. Self-preservation types may forgo social standing or intensity of experience for physical comfort, security, and other factors that ensure their own survival. For example, a sp-first person may have "princess and the pea" syndrome, refusing to sleep on most mattresses because they simply don’t feel right. These people "look inward" based upon an inherent recognition that "I'm on my own" and "I have to take care of myself."
Self-preservation instinct responds to practical concerns of everyday life. SP types express concern centering around issues of security, food and health, employment, sustainability. At times this may make them look like enneagram head types, because they be in habit of planning to predict unforeseen mishaps or possible breaches in their security. In addition, the comfort seeking element to SP types can cause them to appear like gut types because of their desire to avoid too much complication or “fuss”.
In relationships, sp-first people focus on nesting, building a cozy home with someone, or may fantasize about such scenarios. Key words: self-maintenance, domesticity, practical know-how, finances, work, establishing practical foundation in life, back-up plans, fear of scarcity.
In neurotic SP types, there is fear of not having enough resources, food, shelter. This fear can distort the natural use of the instinct and turn into eating disorders, compulsive buying, or hoarding. There is a tendency to shore up resources and possibly a strong sense of being frugal or sometimes even downright cheap. This is because resources must be properly maintained to ensure survival for themselves and those within their sphere.
Self-preservation drive is fundamental to virtually all life forms. In threatening conditions all of us are become dominated by survival instincts. However, in circumstances where our health, life or security are not in any immediate danger, this instinct will take a back seat in individuals dominated by the sexual or social instincts.
Topics SP types might bring up in conversation: food, dining out, dieting, nutrition, health, fitness, appearance and looks, money, savings and sales, shopping, quality or durability of objects, clothing, design, home decor, employment, benefits, insurance, comfort, strength, vitality, sickness, death, discomfort, noise, safety, security, environment, resource management, physical sciences, engineering, architecture.
Summary of SP instinct:
- primary concerns - physical safety, comfort, and well-being; securing an orderly and aesthetically pleasing way of life (food, clothing, money, housing, and physical health)
- primary focus - security, comfort, and well-being of the environment (lighting, temperature, comfortable furniture, aesthetics, food quality)
- primary ambition - using practicality and financial sense to create a secure environment in the home and workplace (paying bills, acquiring skills to ensure the orderly flow of life)
- primary stresses - money, sustenance (how they will get food, when it will come, if they will like it, if it fits their diet)
- coping methods (unhealthy) - over-stocking, overbuying, overeating, overpurging, oversleeping, undersleeping, overindulging in aesthetics or comfort foods, mistreatment of comfort and security as is skewed by the secondary instinct
Sexual instinct can be called the instinct of attraction. It’s aggressive, competitive, single-minded, "all-or-nothing". Use of this energy is intensely fiery and affirmative, go-get-it approach, a life-and-death matter e.g. salmon swimming upstream to mate and die. With this instincts you are either turned on or you're not - it is what it is; you cannot fight mother nature. With this instinct one's attention is wholly captivated energetically by someone or something.
The SX energy is described as "high energy" and is often experienced as "intense", "assertive", "laser-like", "intently focused", "playful yet penetrating" in nature. The feeling of SX-first is sometimes compared to being on a roller-coaster ride even though you aren't on one. This subtype will "sacrifice for the relationship" to insure intensity connection. This intensity does not have to be met by another person—it can be satisfied by a project, hobby, or special interest. Rather than looking inward or to the group to resolve their problems and challenges, these types tend to look to close relations and activities that can guarantee them an experience of liveliness and intensity.
SX-first people enjoy feeling invigorated. They may fantasize about scenarios that make them feel alive and that are emotionally stimulating. Key words: activation, immersion, charisma, broadcasting displays, fusion, inspiration, volatility.
Sexual subtypes are not to be confused with having a healthy sex drive or being sexy, which is a common reason for many people misidentifying themselves as SX-primaries. The name of this instinct is misleading as, in the end, all instincts play into sexuality. SP is the body-to-body part - cuddling, sensuality, autonomic regulation. SX is riding the waves of energy, the invisible forces of attraction between the people, but it doesn't need to be actively physical. In a union, all three instincts combine—warmth (self-pres), energy (sexual), affection (social). One can have the sexual instinct operating in a group of friends—being in the heat, stimulated, energized, engaged. In relationships, there is a desire for endless engagement and fascination.
Topics SX types might bring up in conversation: their personal experiences, personal attractions, personal likes and dislikes, innermost wants and wishes, relationships, their family, children, and friends, friendship, closeness, intimacy, sex, mating, beauty, attractiveness, personal feelings and mental states, excitement, intensity, desire, obsession, liveliness, rebelliousness, action sports, gender and gender roles, femininity/masculinity. (sx-first people often report having strong personal preferences)
Summary of SX instinct
- primary concern - intense experiences, connections, and contacts, wide-ranging and exploratory, in order to find something to "complete" them inside (sky diving, deep conversations, exciting movies)
- primary focus - people and attractions promising intense energy and charge
- primary ambition - looking outside themselves for the person or situation that will complete them, and then obsessing over that completing element
- primary stresses - lack of intense mental or emotional stimulation, lack of an intense connection or experience
- coping methods (unhealthy) - scattered attention, lack of focus, sexual promiscuity, intensely avoiding intense experiences and connections with a fearful and dysfunctional attitude toward sex, intimacy, and other intense "completing" experiences, as is skewed by the secondary instinct
Social instinct is not the same as socializing. This instinct is aimed towards species survival as a whole. It acts in species where families and groups exist to protect the vulnerability of mother and child. The social instinct provides a holding environment. It needs group viability for a sense of well-being.
Emphasis on cooperation, reciprocity, roles aimed at mutual survival. There is a need to be involved and contribute, a desire to be wanted and accepted by the group. It can sense when a behavior is damaging to group survival. It forms a sort of unconscious clusters where mutual support is an issue. This instinct is also attuned to hierarchy and possesses political awareness. It has a good sense and understanding of group boundaries and what groups can accomplish.
The SO energy is often described as "split energy" experienced as "scattered" and projected outward, appearing personable, superficial, and cursory in nature. This subtype will "sacrifice for the group" to insure status. These types tend to "look outward," based upon a belief that "my value is dependent upon how I am perceived by the group." The survival strategy is an emphasis on sociability or unsociability. There is a noticeable inclination to categorize oneself in terms of others. The question "who am I?" is defined by "how comfortably and successfully I experience my group". Focus is on the issues dealing with how the person is being perceived by the group.
Topics SO types might bring up in conversation: cultural and political movements and developments, social activism, social values, societal standards, rules, guidelines, social power structures, appropriateness/inappropriateness, friendship, family, inclusion/exclusion, popularity, popular songs books movies memes, manners, fashion, glamour, fame, notoriety, organizations, clubs, group divisions pertaining to nationality religion race, etc., patriotism, civic engagement, influence (so-first people sometimes refer to themselves using pronouns "we" or "us" or "our" as if they are the group)
Summary of SO instinct
- primary concern - building their sense of personal value, accomplishment, and a security of place with others via interaction with people in a broader sense (through family, group, subculture, mainstream culture, community, nation, world)
- primary focus - the status, approval, and admirability of themselves and of others in the minds of any number of different groups; "subtle" power structures and politics; knowing what is going on in the world; a contextual intelligence that allows them to see both their efforts and their broader context in the world
- primary ambition - interacting with people in ways that will build their personal value, their sense of accomplishment, and their security of place with others; to touch base with others to feel safe, alive, and energized; may include pursuit of attention, success, fame, recognition, honor, leadership, appreciation, and the security of being a part of something bigger than themselves
- primary stresses - being able to adjust to others and be acceptable; others' reactions to them, whether they are being accepted or not; may include intimacy, which is tended to be avoided
- coping methods (unhealthy) - antisocial behavior, detesting or resenting society at large, displaying poorly developed social skills, fear and distrust of society, resentfulness at having had to change to gain approval causes a stubbornness against doing what is necessary to get along with people, social resentment and avoidance as is skewed by the secondary instinct
Instincts in Stacking
The dominant variant is the one given top priority, since this is the instinct that the person is most attuned to. It represents an overarching preoccupation, and may even remain overarching in situations where a reasonable person would at least temporarily rearrange his priorities. There is certain rigidity to this instinct—it is non-negotiable; its needs must be satisfied. We are highly attuned to the needs of this instinct in ourselves and in others, however, as one moves down the health levels, the priorities of this instinct may become overly compulsive. Dominant instinct will grip your attention, cause sleepless nights, it is where your buttons get pushed, where you may start compensating. One may conceal the needs of this instinct and instead put the secondary instinct on display, since primary instinct serves as a greater source of anxiety than the secondary instinct. It may be said that a person comes to embody his or her primary instinct.
The secondary variant provides support to the first instinct. It is much less self-conscious than the dominant instinct. There is more flexibility to it—people generally does not stress as much about this area. They may experiment more in the realm of their second instinct, or just ignore it and put it off for a while.
The application of secondary instinct is creative and even more exhibitionistic than that of the primary instinct. While primary instinct is constantly monitored and held in check, the secondary instinct is allowed to roam freely. Often, one has an exploratory attitude towards secondary instinct and may be inclined to start experimenting in this area—turn it into a hobby or use it to supplement their main occupation. It can be said that while people come to embody their primary instinct, the secondary instinct is akin to a creative field that envelops them.
Secondary instinct gets summoned in aid of primary instinct. In situations where people are not sure that their primary instinct will be welcomed, they often extend and offer 'products' of their secondary instinct by conversing on related topics. Sx/sp and so/sp types may talk about health, monetary, domestic, or culinary topics. Sp/sx and so/sx—about their family, friendships, personal experiences and preferences. Sx/so and sp/so—about cultural, social, and political events.
The third (last or bottom) variant in the stack is can be called one's “blind spot”—it is akin to an unused muscle that on occasion feels sore. One believes that this area is uninteresting and unimportant, that one can do without it. At the same time, there is shame associated with the 'blind spot' variant - a sense of deficiency. One constantly feels like one is lacking skills and refinement in the areas pertaining to your last instinct.
Often a negative reaction develops in response to seeing your last instinct operate in others. For example, SP-last people might grow impatient with those who devote a lot of time and effort into making themselves well fed and comfortable - fiddling with the room temperature, checking seat cushions, arranging their bottled water, etc. SP-last people can grow bored if they find themselves trapped in a conversation about food, home decorations or furniture, local deals, home prices, salaries. SX-last people might feel uneasy when they see people openly demonstrating their sexuality, gender orientation or sexual preferences, engaging in PDA, discussing private feelings and experiences, etc. SO-last people might get impatient with 'shallow' socialite chit-chat, get frustrated when required to network, and wonder how others can keep up with so many acquaintances. One takes the dominant instinct as a given and believes that everyone should be this way, hence people become surprised and even frustrated when they meet others who show no concern for their primary area of preoccupation.
Tip: Concerns of the 'blindspot' instinct counterweight those of dominant one. When one is feeling anxious, depressed, or frustrated due to inability to satisfy the needs of the primary instinct, temporarily devoting one's attention and efforts to the third instinct may alleviate anxiety and compulsive behaviors prompted by fixation on the primary instinct.
Instincts operate at a deeper level than enneagram type and should be properly understood in their own right—without reference to Enneagram type. The Passion of person's main enneagram type plays itself out in the realm of the dominant instinct. Your dominant instinct will also be dominant in your enneagram type's wing as well as integration and disintegration points.
Alternative way of looking at instinct stackings:
Primary - The instinct taken in its most literal, concrete sense.
Secondary - The instinct taken in an abstract, creative sense.
Tertiary - This instinct remains dormant, little attention and time are devoted to this area.
Instincts in Pictures:
Triune mind hypothesis: It has been speculated that the three instincts are related to the truine structure of the brain. SP instinct can be correlated to the first and the most ancient part of the brain, the "R-complex", SX instinct - to the second layer of the brain, the "limbic system", and the SO instinct - to the third layer, the "neocortex". Under this interpretation, positioning of instincts in one's stacking reflects the order in which the needs and directives of these three structures are coordinated with one another, and which are given precedence within one's conscious experience. Short introduction to the triune mind model: PDF.
Note on MBTI, Socionics, Enneagram and Variants
Those who have spent some time studying MBTI, socionics, and enneagram types usually notice that they overlap in several traits, making it easy to mis-attribute traits from one system to another. Here are a few common "crossroads":
- SO-first need for connection with the greater social scene may be mistaken for extroversion. SO-last stackings, to the contrary, highlight traits commonly attributed to introversion.
- Social instinct is sometimes mistaken for Fe, ethics in general, and "Aristocratic" trait in socionics. This is because stackings with SO instinct have a proclivity to interpret events within socio-cultural context and may exhibit a pronounced interest in 'soft' sciences.
- Social, inclusive, friendly, and sometimes bubbly nature of SO-firsts and SX/SO can lead them to be taken for Ethical types.
- SX-first craving for enlivening, intense experiences and sometimes lowered barrier to confrontation can be mistaken for extraverted sensing (Se) and extraverted feeling (Fe). SX-firsts may inadvertently draw attention to themselves in a way that overlaps with socionics Fe-HA. SX/SO stackings often exhibit contarian, revolutionary attitudes that is often confused for belonging to Beta quadra. On a more rare occasion SX emphasis and insistence of their personal preferences, likes and dislikes, is also mistaken for preference for Fi.
- Self-preservation (SP) instinct's focus on practical and pragmatic matters may be easily confused for sensing and logic. Income and salary concerns, planning, scheduling, budgeting, can be mistaken for strong sensing orientation, Si/Se, as well as extraverted logic, Te. In particular SP/SX's interest in things that serve as common denominators of life (family, food, daily activities and chores, etc.) can lead them to consider themselves to be Sensing types.
- The dry sobriety in communication of SX-last stacking can lead them to view themselves as Logical types. This is further reinforced if their main enneagram type is within the head triad.
- Eneagram's head triad, 5-6-7, can be mistaken for T-preference.
- Adventurism and search for more satisfying experiences of type 7 can be confused for extraverted sensorics, Se, resulting in erroneous typings of ENxPs and ENxJs - as ESxPs.
- Focus on emotional needs, friendship and family bonds, and social obligations of type 2 can be mitaken for preference for extraverted ethics (Fe).
Dominant and Blind Spot Expressions of the Instincts
SP dominant or secondary - survival, comfort, resources, security. SP-first individuals often have a grounded or practical quality and frequently develop a high degree of self-sufficiency. They people take care of their basic needs and needs of those who are close to them. Some may have a habit of setting up little homes and cozy nests for themselves wherever they go. When fear and habit distort this instinct, it can become neurotic and spill out as eating disorders, hoarding, stinginess, selfishly avaricious behaviors and attitudes, obsessive concern with questions of survival and health, excessive focus on diet or exercise, and worries about mortality, finances, and security. SP people may experience “issues” that drain energy and cause one to lose Presence. SP firsts are the grounded version of their type, while SP-seconds have similar concerns but in lighter, more exploratory and creative form.
SP blind spot - lack of solid foundation, lack in comfort and coziness, lack in attention to health, maintenance, and personal safety. Such individuals often have a hard time focusing on issues such as financial security or the commitment to the development of practical skills. There is fear is of being an "eternal child" who won’t take care of one-self and expectation of failure in dealing with self-preservation matters. At the same time these people tend to look down on SP-domain and may express cynicism towards it e.g. call it "fearful" and "fussy", state that SP people "don’t know how to really live". When the instinct for self-preservation is last in the instinctual stacking, the individual will often be somewhat ungrounded or seemingly "immature." The more extraverted SP-last individuals often find it difficult to develop a degree of “inwardness.”
SX dominant or secondary - focus, intense attraction, charge, electricity, addictions, days without sleeping, moth-to-flame attraction, obsessions, stalking, “loose cannons”, may make inappropriate remarks in social settings. On the high side, sexual subtypes often bring a certain passion and experimentalism to their lives; they are generally willing to take risks in order to attain their ideals. It is as if they constantly set themselves on fire. They may find it hard to settle into anything, including stable careers and committed relationships, out of fear that the need for intensity won’t be sustained for a long time. Their life may become erratic as they search for the next enlivening experience. The desire for intensity of experience can lead sexual subtypes to take unnecessary risks, to be somewhat impatient and to grow bored or frustrated with mundane reality. The merging tendency, when taken to extremes, can lead to an inability to protect important boundaries. When the overall personality is unbalanced, thrill seeking or self-medication sometimes enter the picture, and can lead to various forms of addiction. They have high cost—“all or nothing” attitude.
SX blind spot - subvert the fiery energy, tame the fire, don’t honor your passions, procrastinate and postpone if you need to, avoid anything stimulating. Inertia. When the sexual instinct is least developed, the personality can lack a certain charisma and momentum. These people may fear of being a boring, bland person, without passions, be afraid of having 'no juice', and feel flattered that someone wants to spend time with them. Their personal relationships can suffer from a lack of attention or attention that is too scattered.
SO dominant or secondary - being included is important, focus on finding one's place in the world, neglect of other things in favor of group contributions (e.g. a workaholic), need to be plugged into something, danger of being overly accommodating. On the high side, social subtypes are the most likely to sacrifice their narrow interests in service of that which is larger than themselves. They extend themselves toward others and often have a sort of generosity with their time and energy. On the down side however, social subtypes are the most prone to feelings of social shame; as they are the most acutely aware of the opinions of others, they suffer the most when they feel a sense of social rejection. In less balanced personalities, this can lead to a need to conform to the standards of the group in order to achieve acceptance. Social subtypes can sometimes fail to focus on the needs of the self as they are searching for their identity in terms of the larger whole. In some cases SO can be a narcissistic need satisfied through social manipulation, with focus on politics and jockeying for positions and roles. They may not want to join but feel too aware of the price, so the question arises: do I participate or not? SO-firsts want to know what’s going on with other people as a way to uncover the hierarchy - talk is currency, discourse and gossip are welcome. Exploring - Are we on the same team? Who can I trust? Healthy expression—how can this help everyone? Unhealthy expression—what’s in it for me? Is this worth my while?
SO blind spot - finds it hard to concern self with another’s agenda, dismissive. When the social instinct is least developed, the individual is going to find it difficult to see why it is important to form social connections or to cultivate multiple relationships. This, in turn, can lead to a certain amount of social isolation. As we all must find a niche in the larger whole, those whose social instinct is least developed, can find it difficult to negotiate the needs of the social realm which make this possible. They may feel that connecting socially will cost them something and consider interactions to be draining. They may find interdependence difficult and dependence on others barely tolerable, and thus attempt to attain a type of independence and self-sufficiency which is not possible for human beings. This “false independence” can lead to unnecessary suffering and impoverishment of experience. They would rather act as a lone force, lone wolves, I'm-on-my-own attitude, feeling that they don't need others and others don't need them. Fear of being emotionally crippled, being unable to connect with many people, self-conscious of being socially ungracious. It’s hard to take in the gifts and generosity of others. Projected fear - if I ignore others, they will ignore me. There’s an expectation of humiliation. A desire not to impose self on people in fear of not being wanted or being klutzy.
Overview of Instinctual Stackings
Motivation: to create lasting connections with those they are interested in - the "best friend."
This type has very strong one to one social skills, but is usually uncomfortable in group settings. They enjoy cultivating multiple relationships, and can be intensely involved when in the presence of someone they are interested in, but have difficulty sustaining these bonds when apart. This may give the impression of being flighty and rootless, willing to adapt and mirror others in order to connect, but lacking a defined approach that would give their relationships a more solid standing. They may have political interests, but are generally more pragmatic and less partisan than the other social variant. They are often attuned to pop culture and the latest trends.
- Expression: bright smiley, intense expression
- Energy: outward energy expressed intensely, broadly
- Behavior: bright, smiley, erratic and scattered
- Mindset: "If I can get close to people with merging/intensity, I can make sure of and keep improving my position and inclusion in the group/world."
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to seek intense connections and experiences for the sake of their primary concern of building their sense of personal value, accomplishment, and security of place with others, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the body's need for food or sleep, or of the need to accumulate wealth for reasons of security, or of the need to manage time or resources to establish an orderly lifestyle.
Motivation: to attain status within their chosen sphere - the "social climber."
This type is often the most comfortable in group settings, but tends to be a bit formal and awkward in one to one relations. This is the natural political type, affiliating themselves with groups or theories which best defend their social and material interests. They may lack warmth and individual identity and this could lead to problems in forming meaningful relationships outside of a shared social interest. They know what they like, but often find it difficult to get deeply excited or enthusiastic about anything.
- Expression: bright smiley, calm expression
- Energy: outward energy expressed calmly, steadily, broadly (more flow and steady energy to their engaging and less jerkiness, gushiness, or over-the-topness like the so/sx)
- Behavior: bright, smiley, calm and thoughtful
- Mindset: "If I can establish an orderly and pleasing lifestyle, I can make sure of and keep improving my position and inclusion in the group/world."
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to maintain physical saftey, comfort, and an orderly lifestyle for the sake of their primary concern of building their sense of personal value, accomplishment, and security of place with others, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the need to stimulate the mind or emotions, of a sense of deep excitement or enthusiasm, of a need for intimate experiences, of the need for the unfamiliar. May fall into routines and, despite social connection, may feel a strange disconnection even from spouses, friends, and family. They may often limerence but struggle to develop deeper attachments.
Motivation: to live in a secure, comfortable environment where they can pursue their private interests in depth.
These people often have an earthy, mysterious quality to them. They are quietly intense, but to others may seem oblivious to the greater social world around them, instead favoring personal interests. They are slow to commit, but once they do it is with an attitude of life commitment, to the establishment of an impermeable bond. Others can be taken aback by how suddenly and completely this type can lock into them, and by the depth of understanding of the other's condition. They attach to others at an organic, root level, in contrast to the other subvariant's surface formality. Somewhat hesitant to enter new relationships, they instead preserve the select few enduring bonds they carefully form along the way. The sanctuary of home is of paramount concern, and this type takes particular delight in decorating their spaces to reflect their cherished sense of taste and depth. Depth and discrimination characterize this stacking.
- Expression: wistful self-absorbed expression, sighing, magic is in their head
- Energy: calm, steady energy expressed intensely, withdrawing
- Behavior: withdrawn, calm, wistful and self absorbed
- Mindset: "I can have merging/intensity without having to leave my orderly & pleasing lifestyle." (imagination, safe people and relationships, when the safety of these are challenged they withdraw)
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to seek intense connections and experiences for the sake of their primary concern of maintaining physical saftey, comfort, and an orderly lifestyle, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the need to connect in a broader sense with the world, of a sense of security or in groups or of the need to seek it, or even of the need to foster approval, support, and understanding of themselves within groups they are connected with, often causing misunderstandings with allies, supporters, friends, and family members.
Motivation: to attain a position of material and societal security.
This type is generally private and reserved, and especially serious and practical minded in their focus to gain material security and in making useful connections that support their goals. When they do form a connection, loyalty is very important to them and they will not hesitate to end a relationship on grounds of disloyalty. This type may lack a certain degree of interpersonal warmth which can give the impression of coldness or disinterest in others, even a sense of selfishness. May be drawn to groups that attract like minded individuals, as in business clubs or volunteer organizations where a shared professional culture can facilitate social bonds. They tend to live conservatively and dress in an inconspicuously appropriate fashion befitting their status in life. May have a characteristically blunt and direct style of communication that can take others some getting used to. They are particularly strong in matters of commitment and sacrifice, and enjoy being the benefactors in assisting society's practical needs.
- Expression: withdrawn calm, smiley expression
- Energy: calm, steady energy expressed outward
- Behavior: withdrawn, calm, smiley and submissive
- Mindset: "If I can maintain position and inclusion in the group/world, I can make sure of and keep my orderly and pleasing lifestyle." (May try to be just appealing and connected with groups enough for everyone to get out of their hair.)
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to build their sense of personal value, accomplishment, and security of place with others for the sake of their primary concern of maintaining physical safety, comfort, and an orderly lifestyle, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the need to stimulate the mind or emotions, of a sense of deep excitement or enthusiasm, of a need for intimate experiences, of the need for the unfamiliar. May fall into routines and, despite social connection, may feel a strange disconnection even from spouses, friends, and family.
Motivation: to know the heart, reconcile inner conflict, form a secure union.
This is perhaps the most internally conflicted of the stackings, and potentially the most inconsistent in behavior. This may occur as a blockage of the sexual instinct which can be redirected as a more generally brooding and troubled personality. They may isolate themselves for long periods of time before reemerging. They live according to a strictly personal outlook and are not particularly concerned with the approval of others outside of their immediate concern. They seem to be searching for something, the missing piece. If they find a soulmate they will unite without fanfare, forming a secret bond, dealing with formalities as an afterthought. Powerful sexual impulses facing inner resistance may manifest symbolically in the psyche, giving way to soulful interpretations of the unconscious. Under periods of stress severe sexual tensions may manifest as erratic, impulsively destructive behavior. Can seem restless, torn between the comforts of a stable home life and the urge to wander. May be prone to self-medicating.
- Expression: intense, self-absorbed expression
- Energy: intense energy expressed calmly, steadily, assertively
- Behavior: intense, assertive, troubled and self absorbed
- Mindset: "If I can make (us) have an orderly & pleasing lifestyle, I can keep up and escalate all this merging/intensity."
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to maintain physical saftey, comfort, and an orderly lifestyle for the sake of their primary concern of seeking intense connections and experiences, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the need to connect in a broader sense with the world, of a sense of security or in groups or of the need to seek it, or even of the need to foster approval, support, and understanding of themselves within groups they are connected with, often causing misunderstandings with allies, supporters, friends, and family members.
Motivation: to impact others, question assumptions, challenge convention.
This is the type that exudes the most raw charisma and sexual energy. They may identify so strongly with whatever they're involved with that they often become the symbol of its core essence, and sometimes its lead agent for change. Hardly content with the status quo, this sub-variant seeks to alter the fundamental structure of something while at once embodying it's purest or most extreme form. Possibly attracted to radical views on politics, philosophy, spirituality or creativity that reflect their penchant for testing boundaries. They enjoy pushing other's buttons, especially those resistant to their modes of expression. It's not uncommon for them to have a pet social, political or spiritual cause which they're able to support with heartfelt conviction. May exploit and seek to redefine sexuality to reflect their own colorful and uncertain understanding of it. While prone to exhibitionism, they are strongly attracted to grounding influences which can anchor them and provide stability. Failure to satisfy an especially intense desire for connection may cause this sub-variant to spite others at the risk of jeopardizing the need for an equal, stabilizing force. Can feel pulled between wanting a life of maximum intensity and reassuring episodes of peaceful convention.
- Expression: intense, outer-focused
- Energy: intense energy expressed outwards, assertively
- Behavior: intense, assertive, sultry and aggressive
- Mindset: "If I can maintain position and inclusion in the group/world, I can keep up and escalate all this merging/intensity."
- Blind spot: Likely to neglect their desire to build their sense of personal value, accomplishment, and security of place with others for the sake of their primary concern of seeking intense connections and experiences, in average-healthy levels. May not have an awareness of the body's need for food or sleep, or of the need to accumulate wealth for reasons of security, or of the need to manage time or resources to establish an orderly lifestyle.
Flow of Instinctual Energies & Compatibility
When we invest our energy, most of it is devoted to fulfillment of our primary instinct. The remaining energy radiates or flows onto the secondary instinct and finally onto the last instinct, which receives the smallest share. There are two possible configurations or directions for this flow. In first configuration, energy is invested in the order of sx→sp→so→sx. This direction gives rise to three stackings: sx/sp, sp/so, so/sx. In the second configuration, energy is invested in the order of sx→so→sp→sx, which gives rise to the other three stackings: sx/so, so/sp and sp/sx.
Syn-flow: sp → so → sx → sp
Stackings involved: sp/so → so/sx → sx/sp → sp/so
Direction: Compelled toward people. Acting upon and with others as a born insider i.e.- deeply human.
Contra-flow: sp → sx → so → sp
Stackings involved: sp/sx → sx/so → so/sp → sp/sx
Direction: Compelled against people. Seething belligerent outsiders; 'antisocial', provoking, reverse-flow change catalysts. In some profound sense, rejecting the human condition, their own and/or that of others.
The two flows move in the opposite directions. This antithesis can be seen if the instinctual stackings are compared in pairs:
so/sx - including, associating, affiliating, networking, incorporating, interconnecting, introducing, unifying, linking, bonding, annexing, cooperating, receiving
sx/so - excluding, eliminating, dividing, separating, contradicting, subverting, confronting, rebuffing, ridiculing, challenging, interrupting, reforming, rupturing
sx/sp - intensifying, escalating, rising, surging, enlivening, invigorating, accelerating, stimulating, energizing, vitalizing, reviving, animating, inspiriting
sp/sx - dulling, calming, quieting, grounding, descending, lowering, dampening, numbing, desensitizing, exhausting, deadening, extinguishing, making still
sp/so - conserving, protecting, maintaining, preserving, supplying, repairing, sustaining, stewarding
so/sp - utilizing, employing, implementing, expending, exercising, spending, capitalizing, expropriating
It has been proposed that people of stackings that are part of same flow progression generally have mutually reinforcing and supportive interactions as they are channeling their attention, efforts and energies in the same direction. The stacking located upstream within the flow progression has the ability to cover for the blindspot instinct of the downstream stacking, by this also reinforcing the energy flow of downstream stacking. For example: a person of sx/sp stacking is directing energy in the following manner sx→sp→so, in which case someone with sp/so stack can reinforce the sx/sp's weaker secondary sp→so link and support their social-last blindspot.
The relationship between people of downsteam and upstream stackings within the same flow can be compared to relations of Benefit or Supervision in Socionics i.e. they contain elements of asymmetry; partners seem to one another simultaneously talented in some way and also somehow lacking.
The person of downstream stacking usually feels a measure of attraction for a person of their upstream stacking; feeling drawn towards them, they may attempt to become acquainted. In they become close, the downstream stacking person may attempt to provide for the upstream stacking person by help and activities channeled through their secondary instinct (e.g. so/sx may try to draw out sx/sp out of their shell into the social sphere, invite them to partake in some social activities, introduce them to new people, sensing that sx/sp is too insular). The downstream stacking person at the same time feels some kind of deficiency in the individual of the upstream stacking. This is reflected, first of all, in inflexible and overly emphatic focus on their first instinct, which for downstream stacking is an adaptive, flexible, creative area only of secondary importance; and secondly, the deficiency is felt in lack of attention to their primary instinct (e.g. sx/sp may feel that sp/so doesn't know how to creatively provide for their sp-needs and that sp/so is not as emotionally responsive or immersed). The upstream person, meanwhile, comes into awareness of downstream stacking's deficiency in their blindspot instinct which for upstream stacking serves as a creative area. If their relations are friendly, the upstream person will attempt to provide for the blindspot of the downstream person, guiding them away from committing mistakes and towards beneficial and constructive actions in this sphere (e.g. sx/sp will try to guide so/sx away from doing anything that may threaten their self-preservation needs, their well-being, health, and livelihood, and direct them towards ensuring greater degree of sustainability, practicality, and well-being in their lives). The downstream person may be reluctant to accept such help, since this is not something that they generally concern about, but at the same time sense that it is supportive and reinforcing of their lifestyle, since it helps them to deal with their blindspot issues. Such help may also feel invigorating, inspiring, and uplifting, since influence exerted on one's blindspot instinct has the effect of alleviating the neuroses and insecurities related to the fixations of the primary instinct. However, if these people are on unfriendly terms, the upstream stacking person may be openly critical and derisive of the weaknesses of downstream person in their blindspot areas, and look down on the downstream person for what they see as misguided and deficient orientation.
Relations between stackings of opposite flows may feel attractive initially due to their novelty and contrast. However, in the long run, the interaction may feel somewhat boring, unrewarding, uncomplimentary, disorienting, correcting, stifling, and otherwise frustrating to the people involved.
Interaction between opposite flow stackings that share the dominant instinct (e.g. sp/so-sp/sx, sx/sp-sx/so) are usually attractive, interesting and compelling; such pairings are frequently encountered. Both partners share the same primary drive and orientation, which evokes mutual sympathy and respect. However, eventually they discover that they tap into different spheres to try to fulfill their primary need due to having different secondary instincts. At this point, each may attempt to pull the other into the realm of their secondary instinct, but find that while the other person appreciates this invitation in at least for its novelty, their partner doesn't feel comfortable within this sphere and will withdraw. This can lead to disagreement, loss of interest in one another, and even mutual reproaches (e.g. sx/so may complain that sx/sp is too socially unaware and unrefined, while sx/sp will find fault with what they see as sx/so's social vassalage and disregard for their privacy). It is as if both partners have similar strivings and end goals, but end up pulling it into different directions to reach them, which brings about friction and over time loss of interest in one another. Nevertheless, among the opposite flow matches, this pairing is often the most attractive and frequently encountered one.
Opposite flow stackings that share both instincts (e.g. sp/so and so/sp) often have overlapping areas of interests, concerns, and desires, and same area of disinterest and disregard (same instinctual blindspot). They may appreciate what the other person brings into relationship in terms of content, feel camaraderie with one another on basis of sharing the blindspot instinct (e.g. sp/sx and sx/sp may appreciate each other's disregard for the social convention and "lone wolf" attitude). However, partners feel somehow elusive to one another: what constitutes the primary drive, desire, and concern of one partner, the other approaches in a creative, flexible, lighthearted way as something that is only of secondary interest and importance. Thus, while inverse stackings can sense some kind of similarity, they manage to constantly unbalance and throw each other off by displaying an impudent attitude toward the area that the other considers to be "sacred" and not to be played around with. Since these stackings are channeling their attention and energies in the opposite directions, they may enter a cycle of mutual reorientation, correction, extinguishment, and criticize the other for what they see as a misguided focus, not being able to take the other's primary instinctual value in a serious manner. Both of them might feel as if they are constantly pulling the rug from under each other's feet.
Stackings that share the same middle instinct but not the leading one can be said to be most opposite in their orientation. If there is any attraction between people of these stackings, it usually forms on basis of overlap of their middle instinct (e.g. sx/sp and so/sp may have involving discussion about sp-topics). They soon discover, however, that their primary motivations and desires couldn't be any more different, that they do not truly understand each other's orientation and primary desires. Feeling that it is difficult to bridge the distance, they often part ways. Often it happens that one of them finds that the primary orientation of the other is too disruptive to their own world (e.g. so/sp feels like sx/sp is too sharp and socially unrefined in self-expression). In such worst case scenarios, one of the people involved may try to eliminate or somehow suppress the other person. This pairing holds the most potential for misunderstandings and conflicts of all other stacking combinations.
Bhavacakra Representations of Instinctual Stackings
The Bhavacakra is a symbolic representation of samsara that has been depicted on the walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries. Samsara translates as continuous movement - it's the continuous cycle of birth, life, and death from which one liberates oneself through enlightenment. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, it is believed that the drawing was designed by the Buddha himself in order to help ordinary people understand the Buddhist teachings.
The Buddha taught that there are six realms that one can go to through this cycle of Samsara. These six realms can be correlated with the six instinctual energies:
sx/so - The World of Devas (Gods) - cultural revolutionaries, directional shift in popular culture, the cultural zeitgeist
so/sp - The World of Asuras (Titans) - culture warrior, shift by force and principle, the lightning of God
so/sx - The World of Humans - multichannel communication and attraction, the festival of the four corners of the earth
sp/so - The World of Animals - practical cooperation, honoring the land and the work of the harvest
sx/sp - The World of Pretas - (Hungry ghosts) - urgent bonding, the huddle of seekers and searchers
sp/sx - The World of Hell - anti-cultural solipsism, the counterculture, the underground
The three upper realms are:
Sx/so God realm: the gods lead long and enjoyable lives full of pleasure and abundance, but they spend their lives pursuing meaningless distractions and never think to practice the dharma. When death comes to them, they are completely unprepared; without realizing it, they have completely exhausted their good karma (which was the cause for being reborn in the god realm) and they suffer through being reborn in the lower realms.
So/sp Demi-god realm: the demi-gods have pleasure and abundance almost as much as the gods, but they spend their time fighting among themselves or making war on the gods. When they make war on the gods, they always lose, since the gods are much more powerful. The demi-gods suffer from constant fighting and jealousy, and from being killed and wounded in their wars with each other and with the gods.
So/sx Human realm: humans suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, separation from friends, being attacked by enemies, not getting what they want, and getting what they don't want. They also suffer from the general sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Yet the human realm is considered to be the most suitable realm for practicing the dharma, because humans are not completely distracted by pleasure (like the gods or demi-gods) or by pain and suffering (like the beings in the lower realms).
The three lower realms are:
Sp/so Animal realm: wild animals suffer from being attacked and eaten by other animals; they generally lead lives of constant fear. Domestic animals suffer from being exploited by humans; for example, they are slaughtered for food, overworked, and so on.
Sx/sp Hungry ghost realm: hungry ghosts suffer from extreme hunger and thirst. They wander constantly in search of food and drink, only to be miserably frustrated any time them come close to actually getting what they want. For example, they see a stream of pure, clear water in the distance, but by the time the get there the stream has dried up. Hungry ghosts have huge bellies and long thin necks. On the rare occasions that they do manage to find something to eat or drink, the food or water burns their neck as it goes down to their belly, causing them intense agony.
Sp/sx Hell realm: hell beings endure unimaginable suffering for eons of time. There are actually eighteen different types of hells, each inflicting a different kind of torment. In the hot hells, beings suffer from unbearable heat and continual torments of various kinds. In the cold hells, beings suffer from unbearable cold and other torments.
Generally speaking, each realm is said to be the result of one of the six main negative emotions: pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger. Dzongsar Khyentse states: So we have six realms. Loosely, you can say when the perception comes more from aggression, you experience things in a hellish way. When your perception is filtered through attachment, grasping or miserliness, you experience the hungry ghost realm. When your perception is filtered through ignorance, then you experience the animal realm. When you have a lot of pride, you are reborn in the god realm. When you have jealousy, you are reborn in the asura (demi-god) realm. When you have a lot of passion, you are reborn in the human realm.