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Defense Mechanism--Type 4

My apologies for the lag between posts. We spent a good chunk of March moving. We decided to downsize and relocate after 25 years. We discovered you accumulate a lot of stuff raising 5 children and living in one place that long.

Now back to the subject at hand--defense mechanisms.

Each of us has automatic defense mechanisms that we employ when our anxiety escalates. elevates. We use defense mechanisms to overcompensate for the anxiety we experience over what we believe is unacceptable about ourselves.

  • What is your automatic response when you feel insecure?

  • When negative thoughts and feelings threaten your self-esteem?

  • What happens when you receive feedback from others that contradict the image of your self that you work hard to project and like to believe is true and accurate?

Welcome defense mechanisms!

Defense mechanisms are automatic, often unconscious, responses we employ to cope and protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety, threat and guilt. They serve the dual purpose of warding off unpleasant feelings as well as amplifying and idealizing good experiences.

Each Enneagram Type has its signature go-to defense mechanism that coincides with the personality structure it forms around its core needs, fears and motives. The manner in which each Type exercises its primary mechanism provides useful information to the other Types on the inner workings of the defense mechanism at play.

The primary defense mechanism for Enneagram Fours is Introjection. Introjection is an attempt to overcome negative feelings of deficiency by identifying with value and meaning from outside sources.

Fours pull those messages inside and create internal messages from them.

Fours fear being ordinary. They strive to validate themselves by being authentic, unique and understood. This drives Fours to add meaning to experiences and events, and they tend to over-identify with those meanings.

Another factor in the practice of introjection is that Fours carry a fatal flaw of sorts--never sensing they are enough in and of themselves. This leads to looking to external feedback to assure themselves that they measure up.

Thus, Introjection cuts both ways. On the one hand, Fours tend to idealize experiences, relationships and work and over-identify with these in order to feel good about themselves and complete what they perceive is missing within themselves.

But Fours also introject the negative. They blame themselves for what is wrong in relationships, work situations or even world events.

Negative introjection reinforces the meaning of loss and abandonment that often characterize the Fours' experience.

While Ones have an inner critic, Fours create a self-rejecting inner voice.

When Fours relax into knowing they are already enough and possess what they need to make it--that they are the complete package in their essence--they no longer need to introject external meanings.

Identity and validation comes from their core.

Fours aren't the only Types to use introjection, of course. We all do it in some situations. But, Fours give us useful insight on how introjection impacts us.

How does introjection operate in your life?

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