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Understanding the "passion" of Type 4 on the Enneagram

Updated on March 13, 2013

Passion "Envy" of Type 4 on the Enneagram

The Enneagram is a personality typology system. It can tell you a lot about your personality but because it is a very vast body of knowledge, attempting to understand it in its entirety can literally take years. This HUB focuses only on what is called the “passion” of Type 4 – “Individualist” or the “Tragic Romantic”– on the Enneagram system. I am also writing HUBs about the passion for each of the nine Enneagram personality types. If you do online research, you won’t find much written about the “passion” of Enneagram Types. Sandra Maitri’s book about the Virtues and Passions is overly technical, not an easy to understand book, and unhelpful.

The “passion” of Type Four is called “Envy.” This doesn’t mean that Type Four’s are envious or jealous. Instead it is more like a built-in insecurity that controls the Four’s heart and makes them follow heart energy. Fours are attracted to heart energy. If someone’s heart gets excited about something, that immediately causes the Four to gravitate towards that person and want to engage them. They themselves want that heart energy and although they probably don’t feel envious or envy itself, it is as if they are in fact jealous or envious of that other person’s heart. Fours see what other people have and long to have it in their life. They seem to have an internal sense of something missing, thus we call them the “Tragic Romantic” because something is always lost, something is always not there filling them up and satisfying them. If you were to ask a Four if they were satisfied with their life, they might say yes. If they say yes, it doesn’t mean they will stop their Enneagram passion from kicking in. A satisfied Four doesn’t stop gravitating towards heart energy in another person. Their “envy” still persists. That is why the Enneagram is such an amazing description of the inner workings of each person and each Type. It is a description of built-in behavior that one cannot control. Thus, the Four will always act as if they were envious of another person regardless of whether they truly think or feel they are jealous or envious. The passion controls the Type, the Type is a depiction of anyone who is a Four. Thus the “envy” passion is shared by all Fours in this world.

What triggers the Four’s passion to kick in is heart energy. Like a Five on the Enneagram retreats into his mind when emotion arises, so too the Four gravitates towards heart energy. A Five’s fear of invasion is what triggers the need to retreat. A Four’s sense of inner loss or feeling of something being missing triggers their passion of envy. Thus, there are triggers for each Enneagram passion. And each passion is like an insecurity built into their hearts. The passion isn’t something you can escape. But becoming aware of it is a helpful form of self awareness. Understanding that every Type Four on the Enneagram shares this insecurity/passion is like generating a sense of relief. It isn’t just me who has this problem, it’s everyone. It’s every Type Four that has to gravitate towards heart energy because when they see heart energy they have a fear of not being whole, of something missing that they feel the need to chase after to make themselves feel better.

What is heart energy? Basically heart energy means excitement, animated behavior, or energy that one can observe coming from the heart. A Five might generate heart energy about an intellectual topic. That would cause a Four’s envy to kick in and then cause the Four to want to engage that Five on the mental intellectual topic. Thus, heart energy generates envy. Because Four’s see themselves as lacking in some way and not having a sense of adequacy in their life, they tend to chase after the dream. Thus the “Tragic Romantic” is a term used to describe Type Four because the sense of victimization and lack of contentment inside a Four makes them feel like always wanting that lost sense of themselves. They are always chasing the dream, without every realizing they either already have it, or that they don’t need it. Thus they are “tragic.” And they are “romantic” in the sense that they have an inner drama that manifests in wanting what others seem to have. The heart energy is the trigger, the inner “tragic romantic” self is the condition.

For more on passions of the Enneagram, please see my other HUBs on the topic. One HUB per Enneagram Type is written on


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