The Addictive Personality: Disorders by Enneagram Type


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While the Enneagram is a powerful tool for transformation, transformational work is not possible for those actively abusing addictive medications, alcohol, or controlled substances. Those suffering from substance abuse problems must become “sober” on a regular basis before they can sustain any in-depth inquiry into their true nature. Abuse and neglect make it almost impossible to develop the sensitivity and attention necessary to observe oneself with any clarity.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to support the addictive personality in breaking free of various forms of addictions, including books, workshops, support groups, therapy, and even inpatient care. The Enneagram is not a substitute for those resources, but combined with them, can be extremely helpful in understanding the roots of the addictive personality.

All nine Enneagram personality types can have any kind of addiction, and all nine types can be codependent. We find some tendencies toward certain addictions in the Enneagram types, however, and offer the following correlations as a beginning guideline. They are not all-inclusive and are not intended to be a complete discussion of this complex problem. Note also that the addictions and disorders listed below apply not only to each Enneagram personality type, but also each type’s Direction of Disintegration.

The following material is taken from The Wisdom of the Enneagram (pages 350-352), and is offered as a preliminary study of which addictive behaviors and other imbalances coincide with each personality type. These observations are not meant to be all-inclusive or to complete, only that they are a useful starting place for studying this important application of the Enneagram.

Be sure, however, that you or someone else you are applying this information to is correctly typed. You can take the scientifically validated Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI Version 2.5) on this website. Also, be aware that the types connected by a line on the Enneagram from your basic personality type may also show up in your own pattern of addictions, imbalances, and substance abuse.

Eating Disorders & Addictions of the Types

Type 1 – The Reformer

Excessive use of diets, vitamins, and cleansing techniques (fasts, diet pills, enemas). Under-eating for self-control: in extreme cases anorexia and bulimia. Alcohol to relieve tension.

Type 2 – The Helper

Abusing food and over-the-counter medications. Bingeing, especially on sweets and carbohydrates. Over-eating from feeling “love-starved;” in extreme cases bulimia. Hypochondria to look for sympathy.

Type 3 – The Achiever

Over-stressing the body for recognition. Working out to exhaustion. Starvation diets. Workaholism. Excessive intake of coffee, stimulants, amphetamines, cocaine, steroids or excessive surgery for cosmetic improvement.

Type 4 – The Individualist

Over-indulgence in rich foods, sweets, alcohol to alter mood, to socialize, and for emotional consolation. Lack of physical activity. Bulimia. Depressants. Tobacco, prescription drugs, or heroin for social anxiety. Cosmetic surgery to erase rejected features.

Type 5 – The Investigator

Poor eating and sleeping habits due to minimizing needs. Neglecting hygiene and nutrition. Lack of physical activity. Psychotropic drugs for mental stimulation and escape, narcotics for anxiety.

Type 6 – The Loyalist

Rigidity in diet causes nutritional imbalances (“I don’t like vegetables.”) Working excessively. Caffeine and amphetamines for stamina, but also alcohol and depressants to deaden anxiety. Higher susceptibility to alcoholism than many types.

Type 7 – The Enthusiast

The type most prone to addictions: stimulants (caffeine, cocaine, and amphetamines), Ecstasy, psychotropics, narcotics, and alcohol but tend to avoid other depressants. Wear body out with effort to stay “up.” Excessive cosmetic surgery, pain killers.

Type 8 – The Challenger

Ignore physical needs and problems: avoid medical visits and check-ups. Indulging in rich foods, alcohol, tobacco while pushing self too hard leads to high stress, strokes, and heart conditions. Control issues central, although alcoholism and narcotic addictions are possible.

Type 9 – The Peacemaker

Over-eating or under-eating due to lack of self-awareness and repressed anger. Lack of physical activity. Depressants and psychotropics, alcohol, marijuana, narcotics to deaden loneliness and anxiety.

For more information about all of the Enneagram addictive personality types and the self-defeating patterns they form with themselves and in their relationships, see the Enneagram type descriptions and the books Personality Types and The Wisdom of the Enneagram from with the above chart has been taken. For practices that can be helpful to the types to overcome their addictions and imbalances, see Understanding the Enneagram and Enneagram Transformations.