The Ocean of Emotion: Enneagram Type Four

mubariz-mehdizadeh-371032-unsplash.jpg“I’ll stop wearing black when you make a darker color.” — Fall Out Boy

“I feel too much. That’s what’s going on.’ ‘Do you think one can feel too much? Or just feel in the wrong ways?’ ‘My insides don’t match up with my outsides.’ ‘Do anyone’s insides and outsides match up?’ ‘I don’t know. I’m only me.’ ‘Maybe that’s what a person’s personality is: the difference between the inside and outside.’ ‘But it’s worse for me.’ ‘I wonder if everyone thinks it’s worse for him.’ ‘Probably. But it really is worse for me.” ― Jonathan Safran FoerExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Type Four in Integration – Health

Enneagram Type Fours swim in a deep sea of emotion. They are in the Heart Triad and on a daily basis their fast emotions, the ones that crash over them moment by moment, are waves—truer, more authentic emotions are the ocean itself. In health, Fours know how to ride the waves and become emotionally adept, able to attune with precision to what’s happening inside of them and to what others are feeling, as well. They can be some of the wisest, most attentive listeners, empowering others in a way that brings to light each person’s specialness. Fours also have a talent for making space for pain; you will want them by your side during trials because they will be the ones to sit and cry with you—not trying to fix or solve your problems like many others would do.

toa-heftiba-215379-unsplash.jpgType Fours are often quite creative; the artists and writers and musicians and photographers and dreamers of the world. Though any type may be an artist, Fours are the most common because they desire authenticity and unique expression above all else. They want to be the truest version of themselves and bring an idiosyncratic perspective to whatever they do. This can show up in their outward appearance; Fours usually have a certain aesthetic in the way they dress. They will have kooky, artsy, or highly fashionable clothes or an avant-garde hairstyle—whatever they feel expresses their inner-self best. Some Fours go through a “goth” phase, being drawn to dark makeup and clothing.

At their best they can be amiable, affirming, empathetic, and very nurturing, almost as nurturing as a Type Two. They search for answers to the complex questions in life like: why we are here, what is the purpose of life, and what are people supposed to do? They “have a natural gift for understanding the deeper emotional level of experience and [see] the beauty in darker emotions that other types would rather not feel, much less acknowledge.” (The Complete Enneagram, Beatrice Chestnut, pg. 268) They use engaging language and symbols to express whatever they turn their energy towards.


A Four working on integration will be actively seeking to regulate how they perceive reality. They stop focusing on lack and instead trend toward a more optimistic outlook on life. Positivity frees them from the hold that their constantly moving emotions has on them and allows Fours to actually produce the art, writing, music, etc. they dream about all the time. Optimism also helps them to accept the mundane aspects of life, which is helpful because a productive creative process is usually very disciplined and routine.

Type Four in Disintegration – Autopilot

“Fours have huge hearts, encompassing all the emotions that could possibly be contained within a heart. Yet the heart of the Four is a paradox; it can seem remarkably present to itself while simultaneously seeming to be cut off from itself. The near-yet-distant heart of the Four fuels the lie ‘I am what other people think or say about me’.” (The Sacred Enneagram, Chris Heuertz, pg. 214)

shamim-nakhai-69202-unsplash.jpgFours in autopilot get lost in longing. They long for love above all else and feel that there is something broken or missing inside of them that prevents them from finding or keeping love. They fabricate an ideal of love and can lose themselves in fantasies about it. This fantasizing fulfills them—but just for a while—and then the need for real love takes over and they search for it in others. The tricky thing is that they’re almost addicted to this longing; it’s like a cat and mouse game inside their hearts. The longing itself is what feels special, but once they find love, they quickly become dissatisfied with messy reality and push their lovers away. Back and forth, around and around they go.

The inner landscape of a Four is an intense focus on their own emotions and the ever-present feeling of not being enough or having enough. They can easily shift into melancholy or dark moods, wallowing in shame for not living up to their own imagined ideal. They deal with envy a lot. Their emotions shift rapidly, moving from ecstasy to despair in a matter of minutes. This constant ebb and flow can make the Four think their emotions are unmanageable, wild, or out of control.

Body Language and Speech

In conversation, a Four is recognized by how often they look down to the right or left—this is a sign of being stuck in an inner dialogue or processing emotions as one speaks. A Four will give off signs of their base-level melancholic tendency by their shaded eyelids, sometimes watering eyes, slack shoulders, draped bodies, and a head nearly always tilted to the side. They smile but in a sad way.  A Four in autopilot likes to converse about the finer things of life; about art, beauty, design, and fashion. They desire to look unique; one of a kind. When talking they will often pause for long periods of time, or sigh, to give themselves time to contemplate the exact right words to express their inner emotional landscape.  A big tell that someone is a Four is a special talent they possess to steer a conversation so it always comes back to them. They come across as self-absorbed and arrogant and can manipulate any topic so that either it relates to them or so that they seem to be the expert on the topic.


A Type Four will either have a Three Wing or Five Wing—or both.

Arrow to Two in Stress

  1. Entitlement and feelings of uniqueness become worse. Put themselves on a self-righteous pedestal.
  2. Loved ones move away from the Four as they become more self-absorbed and in response the Four experiences longing. They then take on the “giving to get” mindset in order to manipulate others back into a relationship.
  3. Intrude into other people’s lives with the attitude that they know better and are “helping” the person.
  4. Have emotional rages like a Two, sudden onset of crying bouts, bursts of anger—and they cease to take responsibility for their own feelings. It is always the other person’s fault.

max-brown-505252-unsplashArrow to One in Health

  1. Their emotions and thinking become clearer, they communicate less in metaphor and more in precise ways that others can understand.
  2. Become more practical, less lost in the sea of emotion and more focused on daily tasks and what actually needs to get done to accomplish goals.
  3. More neat and methodical. They care about the proper way things are done and are less lost in fantasy.
  4. Feelings of “otherness” dissipate and the Four can engage in life according to their will. Their moods cease to dictate their actions.
  5. Less apt to hog the conversation and speak only about themselves. They become more interested in others.
  6. They do more and become attuned to their bodies.


*Photos by Toa Heftiba , Matias Rengel  , Mubariz Mehdizadeh , Shamim Nakhai on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “The Ocean of Emotion: Enneagram Type Four

  1. “..a special talent they possess to steer a conversation so it always comes back to them. They come across as self-absorbed and arrogant and can manipulate any topic so that either it relates to them or so that they seem to be the expert on the topic.”
    You didn’t have to rip me a new one so hard 😭😭😭
    Lol It’s so funny, I think about this all the time! I worry about this so much! I feel and see and notice myself doing this (especially with friends who hypefocus on a subject i don’t care for) and I feel so bad. I literally have to force myself to focus on them and their subject. It’s not that I don’t actually care, it’s just that I want to get back to a realm where I can give actual input and enjoy it. I’m trying to fix this about myself but it’s ehh.. a work in progress haha

  2. “steer a conversation so it always comes back to them.” is not out of self-absorption, but out of a need to feel connected and more intimate. If you are talking about an experience you had at Disney World, and I am listening, and I just sit without talking about my experience, then I AM NOT CONNECTING TO YOU. Versus when I say “yes, I rode that ride too” that creates connection. To a 4, the only purpose of having a conversation is CONNECTION. Without feelings of connection, you might as well go wash your hair instead.

  3. “Steer a conversation so it always comes back to them”, That is a truth with modifications and needs to be clarified. 4s likes to talk on a personal level so if someone is babbling about something shallow (we hate shallow) we want to stear them in the direction of the personal level, ha ha. It is not that we don’t care about others. I talk about personal stuff to invite them to do the same. I admit that when I was in my early twenties I did not want to listen to others because my experience was that they just talked about trivial things. I wanted people to talk about deep things and to be there for them with my understanding of deep emotions and horrible loss. When I met others who wanted to be personal I started to listen with interest.

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