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Self-Preservation 3 In Detail

Vanity in the Preservation Sphere

When Vanity gets distorted by the self-preservation instinct, E3 becomes worried with his safety and conservation, manifesting vanity into believing he's productive, responsible, and "good" – it is deceitful not for the sake of prestige and status like SOC3, or for its ability to be attractive and desirable like SX3, but "to get what they think will give them the security they hunger for."[1] 

Every E3 sells an image, but this subtype sells the idea of someone who apparently doesn't care about their image; they avoid being self-assuming and often portray themselves as reliable, helpful and hard-working individuals. In this aspect, their motto is:

"There is no problem without a solution". The doing is constant, the agenda never ends. The underlying thought is that if the agenda ends "I do not exist”. He is a person who is constantly busy with something, is not able to stop being alone without something to tie his mind and hands. There is no contact with himself: "My being is the doing". This is a source of suffering because it wants to be recognized by itself... but in reality, there is no self. There is what he does.[2]

Ichazo called SP3 "Security", a need for security, power, money and position[3], which then results in a preference for being efficient that leads to them identifying themselves through what they produce.[4] Naranjo described it as an individual who ends up confusing being as appearing reliable, becoming unaware of his motivations and identifying himself with his roles, behaviours and performances.[4]

Trait Structure[2]

To be the best and To be useful

A childhood environment between deception and seduction can be the origin of the base of mistrust and the feeling of being in danger of this subtype. The record of childhood would be a “they tell him: I’ll give you, but they don't give him anything”; a mere flattery with a promise was included, with which the child cannot trust who cares for him.

Hence the great capacity of the conservation E3 to: guess the “needs” of the other, to be at his service, to do what is thick for him.

Children who live in a dangerous environment try to protect themselves, and the conservation E3 usually does is avoid drawing attention to himself, remaining frozen and expressionless. As Herman notes, “avoiding any physical expression of his inner turmoil.” And sometimes, when all this fails, “children try to appease their abusers with displays of automatic obedience.” Similarly, the future conservation E3 kids redouble their efforts to control the situation in the only way they think possible: by trying to be good.

In the conservation E3, a history of implicit psychological abandonment by the parents is characteristic. As a child he learns to get by in life with different ingredients; do not disturb, do not cause problems, go unnoticed, take care of the parental figure, and solve problems of any kind. And so, over time, the attitude becomes more and more “tough,” and gives way throughout life to a constant putting oneself above others, to a lack of confidence in organismic self-regulation, and to ideas of: “I'm only worth it if I'm the best” and “I only exist if I'm useful.” His constant struggle to be the best or useful is born of a silent demand not to be abandoned.


One of the central features in the conservation E3 is power alone. This power of action and resolution of situations with the use of their own resources reinforces their capacity and the image they have of themselves: that of a self-sufficient person, with great resolving and efficient capacity. A self-image that in turn compensates for the deep sense of awkwardness and shame that lies behind the mask of a conservation E3. Shame and awkwardness were early repressed feelings; on the other hand, the capacity and improvement were valued positively by the environment. They are usually precocious children in speech, walking, and the development of adult responsibilities.


Control is the reverse of anguish, and anguish or fear is for an E3 an overwhelming and not allowed experience. The avoidance of internal anguish is controlled by turning outwards, without paying attention to the internal world. Hence, the conservation E3 is available for everything that comes from outside.

This feature assumes the crazy idea that life can and should be controlled. This means that the inner life is automatically under control and there are no internal movements, with a continuous self-cleaning based on not containing or resting anything internal, and resolving conflicts in such a way that the other stays well with one. That is why it does not support the anger of the other or the conflict in any way. Paradoxically, and due to his need for things to be done and to be as he believes, there is great difficulty in giving space and validity to the other, and to his way of being and proceeding.

One of the singularities of the chameleon is graphic, with each eye looking in a different direction. This is how the conservation E3 could be seen: with one eye controlling the one next to him and the other focused on what he is doing.

This movement of control, which responds to his need for security, leads him to control absolutely everything around him, from everyday life (order inside the house, in objects) to the family (giving advice, resolving issues), through the job. It is a control with which he manipulates the people he lives with so that they do what he needs for the sake of his safety: “if you do what I think is good, I will be calm.” He does not realize how he truly is to others, and there he also masks reality. Well, on the other hand, his great arrogance, putting himself on top of others with the attitude of: “I know and you have no idea how things are,” comes from a hidden fear of the other, of life, of movement and lack of control.


Another facet of conservation E3 is multitasking, feeling all the better the more you do. In this sense, action energizes this personality, which finds satisfaction in multifunction. Being busy is therefore a way of feeling safe, and moving quickly from one thing to another, a way of controlling.

Multitasking does double duty. On the one hand, it reinforces the idea of power and capacity. That idea of “how good and how smart I am” must continually strengthen it because that is how the internal clumsiness is hidden. On the other hand, it prevents him from contacting the inner world; that is, it makes it difficult for him to stop with himself.

Helpful compulsion

Another inseparable feature of emptiness is an automatic tendency to take care of the need of the other, which dynamically depends on not being able to hold the emptiness of “not satisfying” since there is a deep fear of real contact. The conservation E3 does not know how to deal with reality and this clumsiness is not supported or shown, but translates into “not knowing how to say no”: he does not know how to defend himself, nor ask nor enter into conflict; making it easier for him, apparently, to be there for the other and thus avoid confrontation.

Covering the needs of others has a double function. On the one hand, conflict with the other is avoided, who does not get in touch with the dissatisfaction of his need and therefore not with frustration, so he does not direct his destructiveness towards the helper. On the other hand, the conservation E3 is so busy with others that they don’t take charge of themselves. The feeling of not needing induces an apparent strength and perfection, which gives him power over himself; a feeling that is reinforced by the fact of beginning to be a reference figure for the other and thus earn a place.

It is also true that the helping compulsion is sometimes a projection of one's need. In this sense, the conservation E3 must learn to ask, to allow himself to be nurtured by others, to abandon the role of strength, to show fragility, to ask for forgiveness, to say no, and to live and let live.

Be a reference person

As we have just seen, another trait to consider is that of the person of reference, which is dynamically dependent on the helping compulsion. It comes from the tendency to do what is expected of one, for not sustaining the conflict of being inadequate. This attitude becomes not knowing how to be silent or still, which leads to a tendency to be the leader of any meeting, although not in an “obvious” way, but rather by weaving a network to become essential. By always having something to say and something to offer, the conservation E3 creates dependencies.

Through his well-intentioned way of being, he can take the conversation where it is expected, always seeking recognition from others and adapting his feelings to what he believes is expected of him. It is characteristic that this conceited person drives his “wedges” constantly, without having finished listening many times to what the other person has to say, already having the speech prepared and, contrary to what he neurotically believes, saying almost the same thing that was just said, only with his finishing touch.


If we consider the confluence of the conservation E3 as a form of survival, we can understand the demand to be for the other as a lifestyle. This aspect leads to the development of highly intuitive individuals, who in this facet resemble the E9, although with very different motivations.

The pain of individuation, the risk of being, and fear are hidden under doing what is expected of one, which is a way of not being aware of the automatism that covers the existential void of not knowing what to do for oneself, of having no idea where to direct their steps without someone else to mobilize them towards constant action.

It should be added that the fission or confluence with the other is a way of feeling power. By creating dependency from goodness, the idea that one is necessary is fed. However, this entails enormous difficulty in being alone, in recognizing one's own feelings, needs and limits. In addition, this confluence or being for the other makes it possible to blame them if something does not work, in an evasion of the responsibility of being, feeling, and needing.

This not knowing how to be oneself without the look and approval of another person is similar to the fusion that E9 experiences, but instead of being an automatic and indolent servility, in E3 it has a background of helping, advising and listening so as not to feel alone, and to be loved. It is a long-term investment, where the ingredients of patience, restraint, hindsight, and endurance are common.

The banishment of error

Related to the image of goodness and efficiency is not allowing the error. A conservation E3 does not distinguish the thought from the action: it acts without digesting the thought. In this way, the first “mistake” for an E3 would be to stop with oneself, “be selfish,” focus on what he wants for himself.

The mistake that there is in not wanting to make mistakes comes from the fear of disqualification, of rejection. We are facing a vital need: rejection is like death for this subtype, who understands that if someone censors his way, he is censoring him. In short: if doing is censored, being is annulled.


Another characteristic feature of conservation E3 is to feel that overcoming is a lifestyle. It's not just about doing better, but about being a better person. Adapting to the values expected of him reinforces the idea of being someone adequate and perfect.

It is a way of keeping vanity at “the right level,” not lowering the bar and doing a little more each time to surpass the previous mark, in front of others and in front of oneself. The conservation E3 is a character that strives to do well and bears similarity to the E1, which is a perfecter from morality, while the E3 is a self-perfecter from doing. From this position, he teaches others how things have to be at peace so that they go well, without error and if possible the first time.

Something very typical of this subtype is the “don’t do what I already did,” because it underlies the belief that he does it better and in less time than the others. Buying time is important, so it turns quickly to have more time to do more things, thus gaining a greater sense of efficiency and capacity. Forgetting oneself with vanity here takes the form of fattening the ego through wear and tear.


When he loses control and an overflowing emotionality appears, the conservation E3 usually gets angry with himself or with the person or situation involved. Because “what are emotions for?” He considers that feeling is a waste of time and that it does not solve anything. Emotions break the feeling of order and having everything under control.

Linked to perfectionism, order is a value that makes a lot of sense in the life of the conservation E3, who is ordered in the different aspects of his existence, from the material order in the house, to the family, or work.


Self-demand is like a runaway force that leads the conservation E3, by yet another way, to disconnect. It prevents you from accepting things as they are and containing what you don't like (such as anger with someone), demanding even more to be better.

Self-demanding has to do with not allowing mistakes and with things not going as planned, something that generates a lot of contained anger, since the great effort that he undertakes many times does not help him at all.

The persistent dynamic is not giving in to anything or anyone, controlling each step, reviewing each other's gesture, and blaming oneself when what was intended has not come out. That is why surrender means defeat, being characteristic of trying to solve or overcome a setback in “all” imaginable ways to reach the intended goal.

Knowing how to sell

The image that an conservation E3 sells is that of a safe, reliable, kind, available, strong person, who does not need help, who does it alone, who is not going to bother, who knows how to have a good time, who does not get angry, who makes it easy, who is not going to create conflicts. But unlike the persuasiveness of E7, where being admirable is in the service of complacency, at E3 the ability to sell an image is in the service of being accepted. For this reason, it is easy to love but also not to be taken into account, because its availability and its good work ends up being boring.

Claudio Naranjo's Self-Preservation 3 Description[5]

E3 Conservation – Security

When considering enneatype three in a panoramic way, we are struck by its social and sexual manifestations. But when we meet people of the conservative E3 type, we cannot exactly say that we are dealing with a third type of vanity, because just as the proud of the conservative subtype do not seem proud, the vain of conservation do not seem visibly vain to us either -and I have come to characterize them as countervailing, using a language analogous to that of psychoanalysis when it introduced the notion of the “counterphobic” character, which hides its fear through visibly audacious attitudes.

Over the years I have found that the same is true in the case of conservation of each of the passions. In E1, for example, the fact that he does not seem angry and that he masks his anger while defending himself behind benevolent attitudes is striking.

The case of the conservative E3, which seems not very vain, resembles that of someone who is so determined to be a good person (that is, to follow the perfect or ideal model of the good mother, the good housewife, etc.) such a way translates into an implicit taboo on vanity. Therefore, it can be difficult for an inexperienced person to recognize a conservation E3, who could be confused with an E1 or other traits.

If we ask ourselves what is his neurotic need, what does a conservational three need above all else, it might seem that he would try first and foremost to be good; but that is a universal commandment, present in almost everyone's life (although some people rebel against it). More specific to E3 conservation is the concept, underlined by Ichazo, of security, and it seems to me that a threatened security makes these people also develop a special autonomy. Since they were not taken care of enough, they learned to take care of themselves, and later they also take care of others. There is an atmosphere of security around E3, and they are often people you turn to for advice, as they seem to specialize in problem solving. This passion for security can oversimplify their lives, however, by narrowing their interests to what is most practical and useful. Furthermore, when you want to give efficiency too much priority, you end up making efficiency itself efficient.

Sandra Maitri's Self-Preservation 3 Description[1]

3+Self-Preservation – “Security”

Self-preservation Threes equate inner security with having enough money and a reliable position in the world. To this end, they strive relentlessly to assure their survival, which feels perpetually in jeopardy to them. This is the subtype of the workaholic who cannot take a break, and the self-made man who accumulates a fortune and yet feels that his survival is still precarious. The passion of lying arises here as deceiving oneself that amassing huge amounts of wealth will give the soul the security it lacks. Lying is also used by Self-preservation Threes to get what they think will give them the security they hunger for.

Beatrice Chestnut's Self-Preservation 3 Description

Self-Preservation 3 Subtype description (2021)[6]

This subtype wants to be good, not just look good. They focus on providing good models for whatever role they play, as determined by social consensus. They can be the most extreme workaholics of all twenty-seven personalities. Their survival strategies, along with a self-preservation instinct that fuels anxiety about material security, make them work really hard. They want to present a good image, but their need to be good means they don’t want to be seen as excessively self-promoting or to brag about their achievements. They are more modest, less vain, and not as competitive as the Social 3 subtype.

If this is your subtype, you may have a difficult (or impossible) time slowing down. Your anxiety about survival and being good means that your ego tells you that you can’t stop working. You are likely overly autonomous and self-sufficient and may find it hard to depend on or connect with others. You not only strive endlessly to look good, you also want to do things right. Unlike Type 1s, however, you determine what’s “right” by looking outside yourself. You probably have great difficulty feeling deeper emotions and expressing vulnerability. You can be excessively modest and get trapped in a vicious cycle of wanting to look good, wanting to be good, and wanting to do good. But you may not be able to relax and feel successful in any of this.

Self-Preservation 3 Subtype summary (2013)[10]

The Self-Preservation Three has a sense of vanity for having no vanity. This Three also wants to be admired by others, but avoids openly seeking recognition. Not just satisfied with looking good, the SP Three strives to be good. They are determined to be a good person—to match the perfect model of how a person should be. Being the perfect model of quality implies virtue, and virtue implies a lack of vanity. SP Threes seek a sense of security through being good, working hard, and being effective and productive.

Self-Preservation 3 Subtype description (2013)[10]

The Self-Preservation Three: “Security” (Countertype)

Following Ichazo, Naranjo calls this subtype “Security” because these Threes work hard to achieve a sense of security, both in terms of material and financial resources and knowing how to do things effectively. Self-Preservation Threes express a concern with security in that they have a need to feel autonomous and self-sufficient—to know how to take care of themselves and others.

People with this subtype often had a childhood in which they didn’t have enough protection and resources. In response to those conditions, these Threes learned to be active and efficient doers, oriented to taking care of themselves without help from others. They have developed a special focus on autonomy in the face of a jeopardized sense of security.

This preoccupation with security can also extend out to others. This person emanates a sense of security; they are solid people who you might go to for advice. They seem outwardly calm and organized, like they have it all together, but they are anxious underneath. These are assertive people who specialize in solving problems and getting things done in a high-quality way—and while they work very hard, they don’t show their stress. They are usually financially secure, highly productive, and “in control,” but they also report feeling an underlying sense of anxiety related to the effort it takes to achieve the sense of security they crave.

Self-Preservation Threes strive to be the ideal model of quality in whatever they do. They want to be the best example of how to be in whatever role they play: the best parent, the best partner, the best worker, the best at whatever they do. They feel a need not only to be seen as good, but also to actually be good. They do this both to achieve a sense of security and to inspire admiration in others without being obvious about their vanity. They want to be admired because they do things well, and they want to do the things they do in the best way possible—not just to have a good image that people will find attractive, but also to live up to that image. Their tendency to adapt to a “model” also motivates them to forget their own feelings.

Following the perfect model of how things should be done means being virtuous, and being virtuous implies a lack of vanity. In this sense, the Self-Preservation Three “has vanity for having no vanity.” This means that while this Three wants to look attractive and successful in the eyes of others, they don’t want other people to know they want this —they don’t want others to see that they have actively created an image to look good to others. They don’t want others to catch them in the act of wanting or working to look good because they have an ethic that says that “good,” or virtuous, people are not vain. Some Self-Preservation Threes are aware (and will admit) that they want people to admire them for their good image—though, generally, they want to keep this a secret—but some Self-Preservation Threes believe so firmly that it is wrong or superficial to want the approval of others that they won’t admit this desire even to themselves. These are people who want to be so perfect that it’s not in their code of honor to allow for vanity.

In denying the presence of vanity, the Self-Preservation Three represents the countertype of the three Three subtypes—that is, this Three is the “counter-passional” type, the Three that doesn’t necessarily look like a Three. Though these Threes are motivated out of vanity, just like the other Threes, they deny their vanity to some extent, and so their character is shaped more around going against the energetic pull of vanity. And there is a natural opposition between the vain desire to attract attention and a primary instinctual drive toward security and self-preservation. Unlike Social Threes, who will more openly brag about their accomplishments, Self-Preservation Threes avoid talking about their positive characteristics and high-status credentials because they believe it’s bad form to advertise their strong points, even if they also want others to see them as successful. They may be either modest or falsely modest.

In terms of the mental habit of deception, this subtype is also anti-deception in that they try to tell the truth. The deception in this Three comes at a more unconscious level; when it comes to knowing their true motivations, Threes often confuse their image-based reasons for doing things with their real feelings and convictions.

Self-Preservation Threes display a strong workaholic tendency and are motivated to work very hard to achieve security. They have a compulsion to be self-reliant and to feel in control of their lives. They also feel responsible for making everything happen, and can even have a sense of omnipotence. Along with their need for control and their underlying anxiety, they may experience a sense of panic when they need help or lose autonomy.

The passion for security in this subtype leads them to oversimplification in life, reducing their focus and interest to what is “practical and useful.” These individuals have an imperative need to know they can handle it all and that all will be good for everyone surrounding them. They don’t show weakness. They may think things like, “I have to do everything, because I do it better.” Situations that feel beyond their control can leave them confused and lost internally, causing them to freeze up, and in an effort to reestablish control, they can become invasive. These are the most rigid of the Threes.

With so much energy focused on work and efficiency and security, there can be little mental and emotional space left for these Threes to be able to engage deeply with others. Though they may work hard to maintain relationships, they may have trouble making deep connections. When Self-Preservation Threes—especially less self-aware SelfPreservation Threes—do make connections, they can be superficial. They can view feeling their emotions as a waste of time, and this inhibits their ability to connect in intimate relationships, since a true relationship comes through each person being in touch with their feelings and their “real self.”

It can be hard for a Self-Preservation Three to be recognized as a Three. They may be easily confused with Ones or Sixes. This Three looks like a One in that the type is rigid, responsible, and self-sufficient. These Threes, like Ones, try to be a model of virtue in the things they do. They can be distinguished from Ones in that they move at a faster pace, pay attention to creating an image (even when they don’t acknowledge it), and conform to a perfect model of how to be as judged by social consensus, not according to internal standards of right and wrong (as Ones do). They differ from Sixes in that they are fundamentally image-oriented and work harder in response to insecurity, while Sixes find protection in other ways. And while Threes may question their sense of identity, they generally don’t allow their productivity to get slowed down by too much doubt or questioning.

Haiki Self-Preservation 3 Description[7]

Self-Preservation Three: Security/Doer

This is what we truly see as a counter-type. Not all of the types have an example as clear as this one. These Threes conserve in such a way that they do not seem much at all like normal Threes. Because of this, oftentimes they seem like other types at first, like Sixes. In this case, they transmit their passion for vanity into a passion for security, which makes them seem like Sixes. Like the Self-Preservation Two does not seem very prideful, this Three does not appear to be very vain. At least, not in the way we commonly understand the concept of vanity. Therefore, as Claudio Naranjo said best, here we see a counter-vain person. In fact, many people that end up being this type did not see them as Threes initially because vain people often annoy them more than most.

Their natural tendency, differently from the Social Three, is to be good - not necessarily only good at what they do, but also to seem like good people. In this way, they can even seem like good-natured Nines, but without the masochistic air so implicit in the Type Nine. Love in the form of admiration never completely encompasses or fills everything that the heart needs. This being said, Self-Preservation Threes feel a strong and obvious admiration toward certain people, whether they be spiritual teachers, scientists, or relevant people in whatever environment is important for them.

In some ways, this subtype’s compulsion to do, always being through doing, prevents them from being open to pleasure. Because of this, it is not strange that they tend to make work (or any other environment they are passionate about, especially one with people they admire) their lives, not paying attention to pleasure and other aspects of daily life. As Mateu says well, the passion for doing in this subtype also lends them the name the Doer Three and they can be confused with the tenacious Self-Preservation Four, especially in women.

They are hyper responsible and never stop doing things. This being through doing disconnects them from their emotions and even though they are not as cold as Social Threes, they are often unable to get into authentic relationships with others. They do not show this to others because they do not want to be the center of attention, but from their hiding spot, they desire the look of others, recognition, and above all, acceptance. They focus so much on getting results and making plans to get them that it seems they feel their worth depends on what they have gotten and not how they really are. This subtype, like Sixes, avoids situations that are risky and uncertain, even if they do not want money to brag about it (it’s quite the opposite), they feel they need it to feel secure and out of danger.

Carmen Durán and Antonio Catalán's Self-Preservation 3 Description[8]

SP3: Security -> Achievements

In this subtype, the need to feel secure through money, possessions, etc., appears in the foreground. Having becomes a symbol of who they are: someone who can take care of themselves and can get what they and others want. Having whatever could be wanted and having achieved it through the capacity to conduct oneself in the world generates a sensation of autonomy and efficacy that allows them to feel secure and not helpless. We propose the term “Achievements” to designate this neurotic need.

La Mirada Libre's Self-Preservation 3 Description[9]

E3 Conservation: Security

The 3 conservation was accepted later in his family function, only after adopting a behavior that provided him security. They did not see him in their needs, and that is why 3C has the need to show themselves but discreetly, without being noticed (the vanity of not having vanity).

He does what is expected of him, not what he feels, wants, or needs. He has a compulsion to be good and not see the other's destructive attitude towards him. It can be easily confused with an enneatype 1. But, it is a perfection that does not manifest as a sense of superiority, and can even appear to have errors if that is what has to be done.

They do sell and offer security (things will be done as planned by conservationist) with the perfectionism of wanting to do things well. The basis to continue would be by becoming accepted by the other.

He has great difficulty confronting the people he loves, because he believes that they will not love him or that they will leave him (fear of abandonment like other 3s). This also entails a great fear of being seen as ridiculous or making mistakes.

For a 3 conservation, unlike the social, the car of his choice would be the safest and the house would be one closest to his work. He is completely involved in his work because it is a place where he stops feeling insecure that they will not accept him and abandon him. Failure generates great anxiety in him, so he does not accept challenges as high as the social does so as not to take risks.

He has a hard time delegating tasks to others, and his favorite phrase is "It's okay, I'll do it,” which shows his need to have everything under control and to be recognized for his effort. All of this while also being seen as the one who knows how to do things best. (We see here again the emphasis on doing and not on shining as is in the case of the social worker, who usually delegates the field work to others and takes the merits of the final work or exhibition).

In a critical situation, emotion is suspended, giving rise to action. He does not support devaluation or criticism, which if given in public are absolutely unbearable for him.

If at any time he is vulnerable and the other is not up to the task, he does not forgive them and also tends to ignore the other in advance in case they fail him. He looks for an unbreakableness in the other that he has himself (albeit false).

Self demand, control, order, knowing how to sell, helping compulsion, self-sufficiency, being useful, and being the best are character traits of this subtype.

Its movement is "towards the other'' and it is the active-instinctive of the three subtypes, enneatype 3 being a basic emotional character.


[1] Maitri, S. (2001). "The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram"

[2] Naranjo, C. (2014). "Psicología de los eneatipos: Vanidad" (Translated by members of the community, trait structure translated by mel)

[3] "The Arica Training according to John C Lilly and Joseph E Tart"

[4] Naranjo, C. (2017). "Ensayos sobre psicología de los eneatipos"

[5] Naranjo, C. (2012). "27 personajes en busca del ser"

[6] Chestnut, B. (2021). "The Enneagram Guide to Waking Up"

[7] The Haiki Enneagram Website (Link To Subtype Translations)

[8] Durán, C. and Catalán, A. (2009). "Los engaños del carácter y sus antídotos"

[9] Psychology of Ennea-types Volumes by Claudio Naranjo Interpreted by La Mirada Libre

[8] Chestnut, B. (2021). "The Complete Enneagram"

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