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Enneatype 3 - The Achiever

Characterological Structure

Fixation: Vanity

Strives for degrees, positions of importance, power over others.

Trap: Efficiency

He has little patience with inefficiency in others, and is looking for more effective and quicker methods of achieving his goals. Thus he may be rather inefficient himself.

Holy Idea: Divine Harmony

The seeker for efficiency, resting in his essence, finds that all things are functioning and will continue to function most efficiently according to the cosmic laws. The continual functioning of the cosmos doesn’t depend solely upon his efforts; there is hope for the future, whatever he does or doesn’t do.

Passion: Deceit

One wants to be known for his accomplishments, positions of influence, and efficiency finds it difficult to admit anything that might mar his public image, so he often is forced into deceit to protect his ego.

Virtue: Truthfulness

Truthfulness will help him realize that he is who he is. He does not have to use deceit to maintain an outward image of importance

Modern Enneagram

Passion and Fixation

Although Ichazo had originally designated "Deceit" as the passion of the E3, Naranjo revised it and replaced it with "Vanity'' because he felt it was most appropriate in conveying what Ichazo was trying to get across.[4] He subsequently also envisioned that "Deceit" would better serve as the titular word for their fixation, considering that the fixation of the E3 reinforces the active division between the "true" self and the propagated self-image, which in turn leads to deluding both the self and others. He didn't, however, interfere with any of the fundamental definitions Ichazo provided.

Given that it has been recorded that Ichazo ascribes the fixation of the E3 as "Ego-Go. Vanity: Strives for degrees, positions of importance, power over others," and their trap as "Ego-Go Efficiency: He has little patience with inefficiency in others, is looking  for more effective and quicker methods of achieving his goals. Thus he may be rather inefficient himself,"[2] it becomes noticeable that this is an ego-structure built around a need to be (and to be recognized as) the best at whatever it is they choose at all costs.

Vanity, in regard to the E3s, has often been miscomprehended as a conscious and petty feeling of inflated pride in oneself and one's physical appearance. As their ruling passion, however, it goes deeper than that. It represents an unconscious self-abandonment, in a misguided attempt by the ego to achieve value and worth.

Vanity is a passionate concern for one’s image, or a passion of living for the eyes of others. Living for appearances implies that the focus of concern is not in one’s own experience, but in the anticipation or fantasy of the experience of another, and thus the insubstantiality of the vain pursuit.

To speak of vanity as a living for a self-image is not different than speaking of narcissism, and indeed we may regard narcissism as a universal aspect of egoic structure, mapped on the right corner of the enneagram.

— Claudio Naranjo

In the E3 character, therefore, there is an ambitious ego demand to attain and maintain an objectively defined idealized image. This stems from a need to impress and be valued by the environment, and in response, there is a deep emphasis on their ability to always stay in control, efficient and on the grind.

Vanity is present especially in the “hysteroid” region of the enneagram (comprising ennea-types II, III, and IV), yet in the case of pride, as we have seen, it is satisfied through a combination of imaginative self-inflation and the support of selected individuals, while in ennea-type III, instead, the person mobilizes herself to “prove” objectively her value through an active implementation of the self-image in the face of a generalized other. This leads to an energetic pursuit of achievement and good form as defined by quantitative or generally accepted standards.

— Claudio Naranjo

Where the E2 and the E4 think of themselves as being gifts to the environment, therefore, feel naturally superior to others; the E3 thinks of themselves as being above all their peers because they can achieve whatever it is they seek to achieve. They strive to always be in control, composed and inviting, therefore, forgo whatever emotions that would threaten to disrupt their quest to attain their idealized self-image.

Also common is the image of oneself as a competent person, as someone who can do things, who has capabilities.

Naranjo: In contrast to the comic vein of ennea-type II and the tragic vein of ennea-type IV, the characteristic mood of ennea-type III is one of neutrality or feeling control—where only “correct feelings” are acknowledged and expressed.

—Claudio Naranjo.

As part of the Heart triad, the E3s deal largely with Shame.[6][3] The shame of having to confront the constructed self-image as being deficient, and having to confront it as being inauthentic, underlies the Heart types. But where the type 2 identifies with their restrictive positive self-image and thrives on the adulation of others, and the type 4 identifies with their specific negative self-image, and disdains others, especially when they are good to them, or if they, the type 4, depend on them; the type 3 dissociates from the self and its values, and identifies with an idealized self-image, and thrives on the admiration and exaltations of others based on socially accepted standards.

Self-appreciation becomes dependent on the appreciation of a spectator who approves, wants, and distinguishes—or more precisely—the world’s appreciation becomes a palliative that distracts one from experiencing emptiness, artificiality, and loss of identity.

— Claudio Naranjo

They are, therefore, characterized by their pragmatism, marketability, exhibitionism, narcissism, hostility, ambition & efficiency. They craft an image of success, excellence, polish and perfection, and in response to this, are drawn to those who affirm said image and shun and antagonize those who don't.

Threes are more directly hostile in a wide variety of ways, from arrogantly distancing themselves, to snide humor at others' expense, to sarcastic putdowns, to sabotaging and betraying people. Hostility serves Threes in two ways: first, it compensates for their own feelings of inadequacy, and second, it keeps away people who, for one reason or another, undermine their fragile self-esteem. In this latter regard, less healthy Threes may even be hostile to people who they admire or to whom they are attracted.

— Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson

To further illustrate the type 3 characterological structure Naranjo offers some observations:

What is more, the desire to shine and to have more success entails the development of an ability, and goes hand in hand with an active, practical, expedient, and efficient disposition that is also characteristic of this style of personality.

— Claudio Naranjo 

From Eric Fromm's assessment of the "marketing orientation" he notes of the characterology of the E3: “One has to be in fashion on the personality market, and in order to be in fashion one has to know what kind of personality is most in demand. This knowledge is transmitted in a general way throughout the whole process of education, from kindergarten to college, and implemented by the family. The knowledge acquired at this early stage is not sufficient, however: it emphasizes only certain general qualities like adaptability, ambition, and sensitivity to the changing expectations of other people."

More precisely the person is his idealized self and seems to adore it. This basic attitude gives him the buoyancy or the resiliency entirely lacking in other groups. It gives him a seeming abundance of self-confidence, which appears enviable to all those chafing under self-doubts; he has no (conscious) doubt; he is the anointed, the man of destiny, the prophet, the great giver, the benefactor of mankind. All of this contains a grain of truth. He often is gifted beyond average, with early and easily-won distinctions, and sometimes was the favored and admired child. This unquestioned belief in his greatness and uniqueness is the key to understanding him. His buoyancy and perennial youthfulness stem from this source. So does his often-fascinating charm. Yet clearly, his gifts notwithstanding, he stands on precarious ground. He may speak incessantly of his exploits or of his wonderful qualities and needs endless confirmation of his estimate of himself in the form of admiration and devotion. His feeling of mastery lies in his conviction that there is nothing he cannot do and no one he cannot win. He is often charming indeed, particularly when new people come into his orbit. Regardless of their factual importance for him, he must impress them. He gives the impression to himself and others that he ‘loves’ people. And he can be generous, with a scintillating display of feeling, with flattery, with favors and help—in anticipation of admiration or in return for devotion received. He endows his family and his friends, as well as his work and plans, with glowing attributes. He can be quite tolerant, does not expect others to be perfect: he can even stand jokes about himself, so long these merely highlight an amiable peculiarity of his, but he must never be questioned seriously.

—Karen Horney.

From Johnson's account of the "rigid character:" "More generally he observes that the rigid “is more able than any other character to attract, achieve and be self-sufficient. Her illusion is that she can buy love with this accomplishment but, because she can not let true love in, all that she really gets is attention … Love-sex relationships are the most consistently troubled parts of life. She may, for example, find she can be sexually attracted to but not love one man while she can love another but experience no sexual arousal with him. Or, she may find herself sexually attracted to unavailable men but lose interest when these same men become available. Alternatively, she may be very skilled, satisfying and satisfied in the initial seductive phases of love relationships, but unable to sustain any of that as the relationship becomes more intimate."

From Keirsey and Bates' descriptions of the ESTP, he notes descriptions that illustrate the characterology of the E3: “When someone of this personality is present, things begin to happen. The lights come on, the music plays, the game begins … If only one adjective could be used to describe ESTPs, resourceful would be an apt choice. Their attractive, friendly style has a theatrical flourish which makes even the most routine, mundane event seem exciting. ESTPs are ruthless pragmatists and often offer the ends as justification for whatever means they see as necessary …"

And from Coulter's descriptions of the "Phosphorus individuals" he notes of the E3, “Emotionally,  Phosphorus  is sympathetic, responsive, and sensitive to another’s wavelength. The whole manner betrays a readiness to establish warm communication with his interlocutor, and he immediately senses how best to establish rapport. Finely intuitive in his dealings with people, he predisposes others toward himself by little verbal kindnesses, warm praise, or touching consideration, and at times by almost undue generosity. When assistance is required, he will drop whatever he is doing and be the first to arrive… 

He has a performer’s temperament. Beneath his genuine sociability lies the need for an audience, whether of one or of thousands, for whom he is prepared to supply entertainment and affection and to give his all. For he needs others’ appreciation and attention to bring out the best in his own nature and to feel alive.

—Catherine Coulter.

Defense Mechanisms

Naranjo assigns one of their defense mechanisms as Identification which is an identification "with an ideal self-image built as a response to the expectations of others, and thus we may assume that in early life this involved identification with parental wishes, values, and behaviors." As such the E3s constantly model themselves after an external model, that they forget who they really are. He goes on to say that "in the elaboration of a personal self-image the type III individual seems to conduct an implicit marketing research to know the expectation of the generalized other. It is this “computed” image of what is valued and desired that the individual pretends to be and seeks to implement with characteristic effort."[4]

He also goes on to assign "negation" as another defense mechanism, which is the "means of which they affirm something that is not true in order to distract (themselves) from the awareness of what is."[5]

As has been observed of this type, there is a deep appreciation and value for ambition, success and esteem, as such there is a profound investment in how they achieve and maintain these attributes (in whatever form they may present) embedded in the E3 psychology. They are, therefore, capable of leveraging opportunities wherever they show up, however they show up, in the service of their goals. In the E3 character, of all the types, there is an implicit desire to value and be valued and an equally implicit incapacity to realize and recognize who they are without their achievements & accomplishments (whatever they may be) and without commodifying themselves.




E3 and E2

In comparison with E4 it is a contrastingly positive character, and it exists on an axis with this character describing sadness (E4) and joyfulness (E2). Like E3, it identifies with a happy image, but E2 is more so characterized by the "positive" image and E3 by the "successful" image. This means that the E3 is more tightly bound by the expectations of society, standards that are consensus, and by satisfying these standards it achieves a sense of success for itself. The E2 on the other hand has an image referenced from itself, its greatness is self-evident and doesn't need to fall back on any standard, because a standard supposes a limit.

Vanity is present especially in the “hysteroid” region of the enneagram (comprising ennea-types II, III, and IV), yet in the case of pride, as we have seen, it is satisfied through a combination of imaginative self-inflation and the support of selected individuals, while in ennea-type III, instead, the person mobilizes herself to “prove” objectively her value through an active implementation of the self-image in the face of a generalized other

- Naranjo


The picture that these traits create characterizes an individual who not only asserts his own value, but also does so with an aggressive self-elevation vis-a-vis others and a disregard for established values and authorities.

Character and Neurosis, Naranjo

E2 E3
Self-evident value Standardized self-value
Limitless sense of value Proof of value
Little to no contact with shame Greater contact with shame
E3 and E7

Theophrastus & Commedia Dell'arte

Theophrastus - "The Vain"

Vanity is the unhappy desire for distinction. The vain man is one who when invited to dinner wants to sit next to the host. He takes his son to have his hair cut in Delphos. He has a black slave who accompanies him on his walks. When he pays a silver mina, he makes sure he does so with new coins. He has a tame rook at home for which he has bought a ladder and has had a little bronze shield made, so that it can jump up the steps. If he sacrifices an ox, he nails the head to the door to his house, so that the whole world can see that he has sacrificed an ox. ... He gets his fellow members of the assembly of honor to announce to his fellow citizens the result of the sacrifice and he dresses for the occasion in a white tunic with a gar- land on his head. He climbs up to the tribune and proclaims: ‘Athenians, we the senators have made the due sacrifices in honor of the Mother of the Gods. The omens are favorable.’ And when he has made his proclamation, he goes home to announce to his wife the incredible success he has reaped. He has his hair cut frequently and takes care that his teeth are really white; he changes his clothes, even though they are in good condition and he is well perfumed. In the agora, he frequents the tables of the bankers; he frequents the gymnasiums in which the youth train; in the theater he sits near the people who hold important positions. He buys nothing for his personal use, but rather for his foreign friends: olives for Byzantium, Spartan dogs  for Cyzicus, and Hymmetian honey for Rhodes. This way, all the city is informed about his acts. He possesses a small gymnasium with a court for ball games, and he goes around the city inviting sophists, fencing masters, and musicians to perform there; and he makes sure to arrive late at the exhibition so that people can say: He is the owner of the gymnasium.

Commedia Dell'arte - Florindo

Is he intelligent or stupid, brave or vain, is he ignorant or wise, this gentleman dressed so elegantly, with a velvet tricorn decorated with small, costly feathers that is so well-positioned by the hand of an expert on his curly wig? It is not so easy to know, it depends on the occasion. Maybe it is not of interest to know. What can be said without doubt is that he is handsome and elegant, that he chooses well his words, his gestures, and how he is dressed. He seems made for the role of the lover. We shall ask no more.

His fingers are weighed down with rings, across his belly hangs a chain with many pendants and two watches. Yes, two; because this gentleman wants people to see that he always has the exact time, as he can control this with one more watch than the single one common to others.

Before the ladies he is most ceremonious. Notice what a masterpiece his way of inclining is—he places one hand over his heart while with the other he describes a wide semi-circle with his feathered tricorn. His eloquence is made up of complicated discourses, of well-chosen words, that surpass everyday language.

Idealized Aspect - The Pearl

The Pearl, or Personal Essence, is the state of being a person whose consciousness, life, and interactions are informed by Being. It is the state of being truly autonomous, free of all object relations and mental constructs defining who you are, and so it is the state of being a real person—an individuated embodiment of True Nature. Threes want to fulfill their potential and fully realize themselves, but this gets translated by the personality into cultural, material, and sometimes spiritual success rather than into actual unfoldment. They imitate the characteristics of the Personal Essence by believing they are functioning independently, while they are actually being shaped by and conforming to prevailing cultural images. They transform themselves into the image others want to see, and focus on their activities and accomplishments. Their sense of value is determined by how successful their performance is, and so they have difficulty not being active. Getting the job done is the most important thing to them, and so they overexert and subordinate physical needs, feelings, and inner experience in that pursuit. Focusing on their presentation, they deceive themselves and others to fulfill the image they are trying to present. Threes often seem slick and polished, as well as slippery, disingenuous, and sometimes just plain fake.



Fixation: Vanity

Strives for degrees, positions of importance, power over others.

Trap: Efficiency

He has little patience with inefficiency in others, and is looking for more effective and quicker methods of achieving his goals. Thus he may be rather inefficient himself.

Holy Idea: Divine Harmony

The seeker for efficiency, resting in his essence, finds that all things are functioning and will continue to function most efficiently according to the cosmic laws. The continual functioning of the cosmos doesn’t depend solely upon his efforts; there is hope for the future, whatever he does or doesn’t do.

Passion: Deceit

One wants to be known for his accomplishments, positions of influence, and efficiency finds it difficult to admit anything that might mar his public image, so he often is forced into deceit to protect his ego.

Virtue: Truthfulness

Truthfulness will help him realize that he is who he is. He does not have to use deceit to maintain an outward image of importance


The efficient starts by claiming his freedom [II], the active, until he finds that he needs good reasons [IV] to sustain this freedom, the attractive. After finding the good reasons, the function, he will move to his point where he is going to become over-efficient, the result.

Point 3 is known as “Ego-Go”. The fixation is also known as “Over-Efficient”.

The over-efficient character is always preoccupied with acting over-efficiently outside. He overdoes everything, and this overdoing ruins what he is trying to do. He cannot match reality because his efficiency is excessive. When he turns inside, he turns his over-efficiency against himself and he ruins himself.

This ego derives from the Image Ego, which is a response to the Relation instinct, awareness of the fact that connections are a necessity for ourselves, and that the connections we make can dictate our lives. From this point, in order to connect with those at the top of the food chain we must reach that pinnacle ourselves. The 3rd point is focused on efficiency, and this is an efficiency that is required in order to be able to connect with whoever it is that we need to connect to. It is a necessity to be able to become someone else at a moments notice in order to forge the connections that are required. The psychic poison of the Relation Instinct at the root of Ego-Go is Hate since others will not necessarily accept us for who we are at our very core

Ego-Go experiences a sense of being ignored in the childhood relationship with a Father figure. This ignorance creates a hollow internal identity equated with worthlessness and a vain image materializes as compensation, leading Type III to work incessantly and perpetually in order to quantify the worth of that image. They identify with a resume to get the attention they never received in childhood.

The main ego-characteristic of this fixation is Hyperactivity, which wills one to be in perpetual motion and to always be moving in order to be active towards whatever it is that we need to be efficient in. Practice makes perfect and in order to reach such a great pinnacle it's not surprising that perpetual practice is required. The Passion which feeds this ego is Deceit, a deceit of both others and of the self so as not to mar the perfect image. The primary defense mechanism is Identification with a successful figure or image. Worsening of this fixation can lead to Histrionic Personality Disorder. A secondary defense mechanism is Compulsion, a compulsive need to stay in motion so that emptiness is not found at rest. Further worsening leads to psychosomatic illness.


Domain of Creativity










Becoming fixated in the Domain of Creativity, there is a swing to the dichotomies of that domain. In order for us to be able to become someone else it is a necessity to be in-tune with our own creative nature so that we can create the person that we would like to become. This can manifest in a positive sense as a focus on Know-how on one side, or Fantasy at the other side. It can manifest in a negative sense as Cunning at one extreme or Daydreaming at the other extreme. These dichotomies are represented by two characters: the Schemer character at one end, the Bullsh*tter at the other. Lies invade the consciousness in this domain. The stress of being fixated and imbalanced in this domain can lead to Over-exertion as a compensatory mechanism. The poison of this domain is Avarice.


The Trap which simultaneously restricts but potentially liberates this ego is its focus on Efficiency. The Way of self-realization of this ego is the Way of Creativity, which goes with art. In order to escape the trap set forth, it is necessary to embark on the way of creativity and express our true selves. This is not an expression of higher knowledge which is characterized by the 4th point, but rather an authentic expression of our true nature.

The Holy Idea which acts as a catalyzer for the transformation of this ego is Holy Harmony, or Divine Harmony, it is within this spirit that the expectation ones has are not a part of a universal law which brings about a sense of hope: What is wanted can be attained with our true selves. This can lead to the Virtue (energy) of Truthfulness.

According to Ichazo, Divine Harmony is:

The awareness that there are no exceptions to the natural laws which govern the Cosmos, and that these laws are completely objective, operating as an interconnected unity. The highest law is the totality of Reality itself. Certitude in the objectivity and the total applicability of those laws is true hope.

On the Symbol

Screenshot (35).png

Lines to E6 and E9


Inhabits the center of the right wing of the symbol as part of the inner equilateral triangle, establishing this corner as one plagued by vanity.

Antipode to E6


Antipode to E6, corresponds to the "excited" phallic disposition in Psychoanalysis; cocky, vain, exhibitionist, reckless, and narcissistic.

E2 and E4 Adjacence




Emotional - Active

Being the principal of the heart triad, it is no surprise that this type is dominated by the emotional orientation. It has the chief passion of vanity, which is the obscuration of real identity through the identification with an idealistic and socially acceptable image, one that is honed and refined to a degree of absolute perfection in the E3. Because of this, they are very controlled in their interactions with other people, they have a subconscious filter on everything they say that projects a specific desired image they want others to impress.

The active auxiliary comes from the E3's heavy marketing orientation and need to prove their success. For other types the proof behind a valuable image is not necessary, but for the E3 they feel the need to build up a resume that is the general identifier of who they are. The act of building this is itself the active auxiliary, which pushes them to be ambitious achievers with many accomplishments under their belt. Hence why Ichazo explains that their chief ego-characteristic is "hyperactivity."



Forceful and single-minded in how they pursue their desires. Strong focus on swaying the environment and demanding what they want. Value efficiency, attaining (and maintaining) their idealized self-image, above everything else. Are forceful and can be hostile to everything and everyone, in favor of attaining that image. Goal-oriented, action-oriented, constantly active and productive. Psychically moves against others.


Erotic (eros) - Admirative (philia)

The love of the Enneatype 3 is a narcissistic one, as the chief concern for them is not the attention given to a significant other but the way they appear and the image they are able to convey. This is an expression of child-like love, the eros which needs to be seen and have love directed at itself, demanding attention; it is also fitting for this character who may often become hedonistic if it affirms a sense of success for them. The admirative secondary comes as a complement to eros, as the E3's narcissistic love is not only selfish and self-directed, but detached from others. They want to achieve an image ideal that others can look up to and admire, without the guiding effect of principal admiration.

I would say that the competitive desire for efficiency asphyxiates the person’s capacity to love and makes the love of others irrelevant.

Enneagram of Society, Naranjo



The E3 is the principal manifestation of the ego types, which may be confusing because the E3's sense of identity and worth comes from external consensuses of society, and this general appeal is their entire aim. However, this is not a type who is bound by the conventions of tradition, intellectual canons, moralistic principles, and guilt. E3 is a synthetic type that shapes the standards of the superego and the impulses of the id into a fluid ego-ideal. It can adapt easily to standards and ethical demands, but it can also become hedonistic and assertive with its needs, and the creation of a perfect image in the middle of these characterizes the ego dominance.

Such are the characteristics of the E3, which, on the one hand, adapts itself smoothly to the ethical demands or social expectations of the environment, and on the other hand, can explosively manifest its own needs when these have become too much postponed, as was described in the past with regard to the hysterical; the very vanity that characterizes this personality can be described as a form of indulgence of the childish, impulsive, attention-seeking part. What is most characteristic of the E3, however, is self-control, whether on the level of behavior or emotional life.



  • As babies felt psychically satisfied with the care provided by their environment, therefore, acknowledged it as a natural source of their survival.
  • Are psychically connected to the nurturing figure, take on their agendas, and seek to impress them. When there is conflict (perceived or real), the child works hard at attempting to mend it. 
  • Unconsciously seek to replicate or replace their relationship with (or the role of) the nurturing figure in their interactions with the environment as they get older.

Harmonic Triad


  • Maintains objectivity, rationality and neutrality in conflict, and when under stress. 
  • Forgo emotions that disrupt their quest for efficiency and productivity, success & superiority in conflict and when under stress.



  • 3s achievement and action orientation flavoured by the 2s positivity and people-orientation, therefore, a structure more sociable, personable, vivacious than the 3w4;
  • More aggressive than the 3w4;
  • Overtly exhibitionistic and attention seeking than the 3w4;
  • More prone to being resentful than the 3w4.


  • 3s achievement and action orientation flavoured by the 4s negativity and self-absorption, therefore, a structure more reserved than the 3w2;
  • More self-absorbed, disagreeable and stand-offish than the 3w2;
  • More prone to secretly comparing themselves to others and feeling "less than" than the 3w2;
  • More prone to having intensely felt melancholia than the 3w2;
  • More prone to seeking personal distinctions in their self-expression and endeavors than the 3w2;
  • Subtle showoffs than the 3w2


[1] Ichazo, Ó. (1976). "The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom" 5th ed. Arica Institute. The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom: A Series of Five Lectures

[2] Lilly, J.C., & Hart J.E. "The Arica Training" The Arica Training

[3] Luckovich, J. (2021). "Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram"

[4] Naranjo, C. (1994). "Character and Neurosis: An Integrative Study." 4th ed. Gateways / IDHHB, Inc.

[5] Naranjo, C. (1995). "Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World." 2nd ed. Gateways Books and Tapes.

[6] Riso, D. R., & Hudson R. (1996). "The Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-discovery." 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin Company.

[7] Simone, J. "Triads"

[8] Beatrice Chestnut(2021), The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge





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