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Self-Preservation 4 In Detail

Envy in the Preservation Sphere

The Envy of the E4 when combined with this instinct leads to conservational envy. This kind of envy makes them harder to notice as 4s, the envy turned against oneself leads them to conserve their own suffering, to believe that they can endure and handle much more, they feel the need to protect their own dream of the future. Because of this, it is not uncommon for the SP4 to be very stoic, as they are used to swallowing pain. They have learned to tolerate pain and not dwell in it. Because of the SP need for survival, they demand a lot from themselves and have a passion for effort.

Ichazo called SP4 "Defensive action", someone who's protecting their own dream of the future[1], a self-demanding individual who expects love from his determination and commitment.[2] Naranjo describes it as someone who wishes to take care of themselves because they subconsciously believe that nobody will take care of them, letting themselves sink deeper in this frustration.[2]

Trait Structure[3]

Self-demand and Perfectionism

Closely related to tenacity lives self-demandingness, a self-revolutionary orality that pours on itself the tacit demand, originally directed elsewhere. It feeds on tenacity, since it demands more and more, raising the bar and what is at stake requires, on the other hand, having the resources to sustain this task. But self-demand also has to be accompanied by dissatisfaction and self-hatred; only in this way is the inner emptiness maintained and leaves the door open to self-evaluating confrontation, useful to feel that it is never enough.

“Nothing is enough for me. A task that I tackle and that I finish always leaves me with a point of dissatisfaction, like I have to be aware and say: ‘okay, that's fine, that's enough.’”

Although it is not difficult to confuse the search for perfection of an conservation E4 with that of an E1, the conservation E4 accompanies this attitude with effort and dissatisfaction: the search to be perfect or to do things perfectly is the consequence of a feeling of inferiority and an attempt to compensate for the experience of being insufficient.


Great sensitivity and observation capacity that allows them to capture and understand the characteristics of those who are in front of them. Good listeners, they easily empathize with the suffering of others and are able to contain and accompany, either because they see parts of themselves in the other or because, knowing internal states of deep suffering, they have developed self-support resources. It is a character capable of silence, of enduring the emptiness of the other, of transmitting a deep understanding devoid of judgment. In suffering he feels a bond, as he usually does with his original affections.

Difficulty accepting limits

Another aspect related to the above is the difficulty accepting internal and external limits. Greed, which knows no impediments, does not even take into account the limited individual resources, and demands more and more effort and work. Ignorance of one's own limits, especially in terms of real possibilities, is accompanied by an idea of omnipotence. The deep capacity to endure, to tolerate, sustains the equally profound inability to ask for help, an action that, in order to be practiced, requires above all the awareness of not being able to do it alone, but also the humility to feel the need. He is unable to recognize real needs, even if they are physical (sleep, rest, eat), either because he experiences a certain level of disconnection with his own body or because internally he avoids perceiving the needs that imply the inclusion of the other.

Masochistic attitude

The bad image of oneself, the lack of esteem with which one is in contact, and the idea of not deserving lead him to even tolerate humiliating conditions, especially in the relational sphere. The thirst for belonging, the need for love and recognition are such that they lead the subject to tolerate without limits, with the expectation that this tolerance will be interpreted by the other as a sign of love and appreciation.


Good taste, love for the beautiful and for everything refined, a characteristic shared with the other subtypes and revealing a deep sensitivity. In the conservative E4, this sensitivity is hidden, and masked by bodily rigidity and emotional freezing.

Caregiver of others, Helpful, and Welcoming

The conservation E4 lives the relationship with others, friends and family with a great spirit of service and care. In this approach he finds fulfillment, a sense of worth, and a practical way to express love. He cares for others both materially and emotionally, though often risking taking on more than is necessary. In service he finds an identity, a place that makes him worthwhile and allows belonging.

Stoic and Little hedonistic

The attitude of earning merit through work leaves little room for fun and pleasure, dimensions with which this character is unfamiliar. Pleasure is felt by always finding satisfaction in doing, but directed towards something (a goal) or someone. It is difficult to be aware of what increases the happiness of one without including the other, in fact this character is not clear about what makes him feel good. Contact with nature, silence, being with oneself, listening to music, dedicating time to oneself, are the possibilities that one sometimes allows oneself and that are closest to an idea of pleasure, as well as, on the other hand, the pleasure of endless movement, of spontaneity, and freedom of action and speech is hindered.

Resource finder and Decisive creativity

It is the ability to find solutions creatively, especially when they are needed for issues that concern others and not oneself. Specifically, creativity is expressed in the will to find possibilities through the omnipotent attitude of overcoming obstacles, of seeing alternative paths, of not giving up despite the difficulties.

Compelling enthusiasm

This is even more evident when it comes to supporting the other person to regain their energy and will to live, to transform and believe more in themselves. With a visceral desire for harmony and beauty, he manages to communicate that achieving a state of integration is possible. This stems from her own need, but also from a deep insight that healing (not perfection!) is a possible reality. Finally, he knows how to convey the idea that everyone has value, precisely because it is a need that he has always felt. These attitudes make you a good therapist, should you enter this profession.

Dry in self-tenderness and Difficulty expressing tenderness

Affectionate, benevolent, helpful character, with great drive in friendships and relationships but with deep shame of his own loving gestures. There is an impulse to restrain tenderness and related actions, perhaps because in childhood they are related to total dependence, to showing the fragility of feelings. So much dedication towards the outside world finds no correspondence towards the self.

Difficulty confronting and Unclear on divergent expression

Difficulty clearly expressing a divergent and contrary position, especially if the majority thinks differently. Internally, it remains in a different position that hardly has the courage to declare, such is the fear of marginalization or confrontation.


It is a mental rigidity that finds its correspondence in both a physical and postural rigidity that has to do with a unilateral way of seeing things, self-destructive in favor of the other, but also with a physical and muscular rigidity, as if to simulate a condition of alert and fear always present, being attentive to what is happening around, capturing every signal from a control perspective, to know how to react and prevent.


Ability to save and accumulate both objects that can be useful and experiences. To keep to oneself, a kind of greed, to have more to feel that one can always count on additional inner resources to draw on.


With a brave character, he does not shy away from challenges, he knows how to endure with patience and willpower even the toughest tests, whether they affect him or those close to him. If the stake is high, there is no room for reflection on whether or not to undertake difficult paths.

Constant alertness and Control

Tends to live in a state of alert with a control attitude, and with straight antennas to perceive the signals in time and know how to act preventively.


Capable of being funny, ironic, even sarcastic at times, as a way to sublimate anger. He has humor in a subtle and intelligent way, the irony about his own characteristics, about the heavy events of life, as an attempt to cushion the pain and access a certain lightness.

Sense of justice

He lives a deep desire for justice that arises from his own experience of having suffered injustice. He strives and fights for equality, and believes in the value of solidarity. You can be very disciplined in following your ideals.


Thanks to his contact with lack, he seeks the transcendent as a way to free himself from his painful experience and the feeling of incompleteness that accompanies it, but also as a vehicle to make sense of himself, of life and to seek the Beyond. This aspiration to transcendence, if not freed from the ego, runs the risk of being a stoic search for sacrifice, a narcissistic ideal of holiness to redeem oneself from deprivation.

Claudio Naranjo's Self-Preservation 4 Description[4]

E4 Conservation (Self-Preservation) – Tenacity

Different from the "sufferer" (social E4) and the "insufferable" (sexual E4) is what is called the "suffered" (or “long-suffering”) in Spanish, an expression that speaks to us of a capacity for self-frustration and endurance.

Instead of being a very tearful person, the sufferer is one who does not complain and avoids crying in front of others, and who has learned to swallow a lot and endure pain without blinking.

How could we explain this in terms of motivation? What need can push a person to become a masochist? It is something like saying to a parent or loved one: “Do you see that I am not complaining? Do you want me now? Do you see what a good boy, what a good girl I am?”

The E4 conservation aims to make virtue of resistance to frustration. Many times I have explained it with an anecdote from Lawrence of Arabia, according to the famous film, which shows him in an office in Cairo lighting someone's cigarette and then putting out the match with his fingers. Someone asks him surprised: “What are you doing?” And he explains that, in this way, he trains himself to endure pain. He had developed from childhood this supposed virtue of stoically enduring pain, and it surely served him during his exploits, which earned him the fame of a great hero, for not even among the Arabs had anyone known how to withstand the harshness of the desert in such a way.

In the E4 conservation, supporting is a passion, but how to explain it? I think the key is in the introjection of greed. The visible envy that presents the sexual E4 as a demanding and insistent oral aggressive, becomes here a counter-envy directed against the person himself, now in the form of a self-demand that is also self-devouring.

Sandra Maitri's Self-Preservation 4 Description[5]

4+Self-Preservation – Dauntlessness

The term given by Ichazo for Self-preservation Fours is defensive action, as opposed to dauntlessness, which Naranjo associated with this subtype. Ichazo, quoted by John Lilly and Joseph Hart, defines defensive action as “protecting one’s dream of the future.” Rather than be limited by their circumstances, they will rashly go after what they want and feel that they must have to survive. They take action to preserve themselves but do not consider the consequences, and actually put their survival in peril. A Self-preservation Four, might, for instance, buy herself all sorts of beautiful things that she feels she can’t live without, and end up sliding deeply into debt. Or, feeling unable to bear the constraints of a boring job, she might throw caution to the wind and on the spur of the moment buy herself a ticket to some exotic island. The passion of envy manifests here as wanting the security and material gratifications others seem to possess, and recklessly striking out to get them.

Beatrice Chestnut's Self-Preservation 4 Description

Self-Preservation 4 Subtype description (2021)[6]

This subtype internalizes suffering and feels emotions inside, but doesn’t share them with others. They are stoic and strong in the face of difficult feelings, and sometimes in response to a belief that, to be “loved,” they have to be tough or happy or endure pain alone. They are hardworking and action-oriented. They don’t always feel envy consciously, but instead work to prove themselves worthy. They tend to be more masochistic than melodramatic, and may look happy or “okay” on the outside while struggling to endure hardship on the inside without showing it. They are self-sufficient and autonomous, and try to heal the pain of the world, even if that entails exerting a lot of effort.

If this is your subtype, you tend toward masochism, not realizing that you are excessively hard on yourself and never allow for lightness or fragility. You dislike being identified as a victim, and you likely received messages in childhood that people didn’t want to hear about your pain, so you feel you need to prove your worth by suffering silently and enduring hardship and pain without showing or sharing it. You may put on a happy face, even when you feel deeply sad or stressed inside. You have a tendency to carry a lot of pain without being aware of it—both psychological and physical. You must learn to share your pain with others and allow yourself to be supported.

Self-Preservation 4 Subtype summary (2013)[9]

The Self-Preservation Four is long-suffering. As the countertype of the Fours, SP Fours are stoic in the face of their inner pain and they don’t share it with others as much as the other two Fours. This is a person who learns to tolerate pain and to do without as a way of earning love. Instead of dwelling in envy, SP Fours act out their envy by working hard to get what others have and they lack. More masochistic than melodramatic, these Fours demand a lot of themselves, have a strong need to endure, and have a passion for effort.

Self-Preservation 4 Subtype description (2013)[9]

The Self-Preservation Four: “Tenacity” (Countertype)

The Self-Preservation Four is the countertype of the Four subtypes, and so it may be difficult to identify this person as a Four. Although this Four experiences envy like the other Fours, they communicate their envy and suffering to others less than the other two Four subtypes do. Instead of talking about their suffering, these Fours are“long-suffering” in the sense of learning to endure pain without wincing. These Fours are more stoic and strong in the face of their pain

Envy is less apparent in the Self-Preservation Four because instead of dwelling in and expressing envy, this Four works hard to get what others have that he or she lacks. Instead of hanging out in their longing in a way that prevents them from taking action, they strive to get “those distant things” that give them the feeling of being able to obtain that which was lost. Whatever they get, however, never feels like enough.

Self-Preservation Fours do not communicate sensitivity, suffering, shame, or envy, though they may feel all these things and they have the same depth and capacity for feeling as the other Fours. They learn to swallow a lot without complaining. Endurance is a virtue for them, and they hope their self-sacrifices will be recognized and appreciated, though they don’t talk about them very much.

Like the other Fours, Self-Preservation Fours feel a need to suffer in the unconscious hope that this will bring them love and acceptance; but unlike the other two, they suffer in silence. Their willingness to suffer without complaint is their way of seeking redemption and earning love. Thus, this Four makes a virtue of toughing out difficulties without talking about them, hoping that others will see this, admire them for it, and help them to meet their needs. Instead of displaying the need to suffer, they have a tendency to deny their envy and bear too much suffering and frustration as a result

As Naranjo explains, the other two Four subtypes are too sensitive to frustration. They either suffer too much or they make you suffer too much (as a compensation for their suffering). The Self-Preservation subtype is the countertype Four because they go to the other extreme, developing a high capacity to internalize and bear frustration. They make a virtue of resistance to frustration.

Self-Preservation Fours demand a lot of themselves. They have a strong need to endure, so they develop an ability to do without. They put themselves in situations that are tough. They test and challenge themselves. One of my clients with this subtype says that she “throws herself into the fire.” These Fours have a passion for effort—they engage in intense activity, and may often appear strained and tense. They may experience distress if their activity level slows down, and they can be compulsive about making efforts to achieve what they need to survive, even if their efforts don’t take them anywhere. In some cases, they may not know how to live without the stress and pressure they put on themselves. They don’t allow themselves the experience of living in or from their fragility.

Just as the (countertype) Self-Preservation Three wants to be seen as successful but displays humility about the work they do because they believe outward displays of vanity make them less worthy of respect, Self-Preservation Fours internalize their suffering and strive to get what they want in a more autonomous way than the other Four subtypes.

This Four tends to be a humanitarian with an empathic and nurturing disposition, someone who protests for the sake of others and is sensitive to the needy, the dispossessed, and victims of injustice. This is their way of projecting their pain outward, addressing it through others’ suffering instead talking about their own. They try to take care of others’ pain or work to ease the “suffering of the world” so they don’t have to fully deal with their own suffering.

While the other two Four subtypes can be dramatic, the Self-Preservation Four is more masochistic than melodramatic. For this subtype, masochism is the ego or personality’s strategy for getting love. Self-Preservation Fours devalue themselves in important ways, which can make it even tougher for them to do all the work they do to try to get the security and the love that they long for. Their attachment to enduring can be seen from the outside as masochistic, but it stems from a desire to earn love and acceptance through being strong and resilient. The motivation of this subtype stems from a desire for the parent to see that the child is not complaining, and instead is being a good boy or girl through not asking for very much.

These Fours may also masochistically enact a need to prove themselves by working against themselves: they make efforts to get what they need and want, but unconsciously work against themselves at the same time. They can be impulsive, but they will control and inhibit their impulses to get recognition. They may want to be happy, but they experience an unconscious taboo around happiness. They spend a lot of energy on being afraid of what’s happening instead of dealing with problems and making improvements, so they habitually postpone actions necessary to achieving what they want and then blame themselves for doing so. They wear themselves out seeking and striving in ways and places where they know they’ll fail, which ensures the perpetuation of a cycle of effort and devaluation. They may be ambitious, but they deny and work against their own ambitions.

Formerly called “Reckless/Dauntless,” but more recently referred to by the name “Tenacity,” these Fours move toward activities that require a large capacity for endurance as a way to earn love, without regard for the pain or the danger they may entail.

This Four subtype resembles a One or a Three. Self-Preservation Fours’ focus on autonomy, self-sufficiency, and working hard may make them look like a One; however, this Four feels a wider range of emotions—more ups and downs—than Ones, even if they don’t always express their feelings. Self-Preservation Fours can also look like Threes, especially Self-Preservation Threes, in that they work hard to achieve a sense of security and may be anxious; however, in contrast to Threes, these Fours will often work at crosspurposes, unintentionally thwarting their own efforts, whereas Threes tend to achieve what they are working toward. Fours also feel their emotions more than Threes do.

Interestingly, this subtype can also look like a Type Seven, which in some ways is the opposite of Type Four, because some Self-Preservation Fours express a need to be light. With all the enduring and efforting these Fours do, they may at times display the high energy characteristic of Sevens, and they may also have a need for fun and playfulness as an escape from having to tough things out all the time. This may account for the fact that there are some Fours who do not seem as melancholy as others—Fours that appear more “sunny” and lighthearted. However, these Fours can be distinguished from Sevens in their greater access to their emotions.

Haiki Self-Preservation 4 Description[7]

Self-Preservation Four: Tenacity

Tenacious Self-Preservation Fours, while being the counter-type, look more like Social Fours than Sexual Fours. They show a kind of counter-envy and counter-suffering as their envy is not as obvious due to their enormous capacity for suffering and persevering. They have a tendency toward stoic masochism - a masochism that lives in the Self-Preservation Four from the time they were very young. They could carry carriages and wagons and more without complaining too much. It is as if they have always specialized in swallowing pain.

It is as if the passion of envy typical to this type transformed into a passion for masochism. If we add to this their undeniable tenacity, the Molotov cocktail is served. The self-demandingness is at its maximum. On the other hand, everything we have talked about shame with the Social Four, we also see in this Four, albeit in smaller doses.

Suffering, logically, is also present in these Fours’ lives, but the amount they show externally is smaller. They do not cry as much as Social Fours. However, like Social Fours, it is hard for them to express their anger and they keep it inside.

They also can look a lot like Self-Preservation Threes, but they are not as cold as them. However, they have the same aspect of effort deep inside their DNA. From the outside, they look very similar. For example, as Self-Preservation Threes do not have the same presence as Social Threes, and they often look more like Self-Preservation Fours.

As an example of this type of Four, Claudio Naranjo would talk about Miguel de Unamuno, saying that “he was a very melancholic and religious young man, who loved his girlfriend deeply for ten years before proposing, and through just this alone, we know he wasn’t a Sexual Four! He had high demands for himself, which was shown through the way he learned Danish just to read Kierkegaard and Ibsen, translated Carlyle from English and a bunch of other books from Greek. In any case, we can celebrate him for the courage he showed in his critiques of the buffoons, ignorant people, and authorities of the early Franco period, who kicked him out of his position at the University of Salamanca.”

In their self-demanding nature, they can seem a lot like Ones. However, although it comes close at times, it is not the search for perfection as is the case in Ones. They often have a thousand titles and degrees, etc. We are looking at the antithesis of a Seven, who may have done a crash course in something and feel they are qualified to teach.  All of this being said, the Self-Preservation Four is truly conserving their own suffering. They are born sufferers. Their ego feels worthy of enormous suffering - “I can deal with this and so much more.” They even feel special because of this, and can live their entire lives without a day of peace. For them, suffering and feeling like they are lacking is addictive.

Carmen Durán and Antonio Catalán's Self-Preservation 4 Description[8]

SP4: Tenacity -> Merits

In this subtype, the need is to obtain “Merits” in order to get what life has not given to them, but that others get without effort. The term “Merits” describes their believe that effort and sacrifice turn them into righteous deservers of love and recognition. The way to become special is through sacrificial effort, chosen and conscious, that makes them better people, and more good-natured than others, at the same time redeeming them from the internal image of badness. It is not possible to deny the sacrifice which makes us special, even if it entails suffering. Tenacity is the attitude derived from this mission that cannot be given up on, given that one day this suffering will have its fruits and they will be recognized by all.


[1] Lilly J. C. & Hart J. E. (1975), The Arica Training

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

[3] Naranjo C. (2022). "Psicologia de los enatipos: Envidia - Abnegados, odiadores y melancolicos"

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

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

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

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