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Sexual 4 In Detail

Envy in the Sexual Sphere

The Envy of the SX4 is closest to the most literal meaning of the word. When Envy comes into contact with this instinct it produces a character competes with others in an attempt to gain approval or recognition. They then make others suffer as an unconscious way of trying to rid themselves of painful feelings of deficiency. They are the kind of people who’d rather be hated for who they are than be loved for someone who they are not. They stick out from other 4s due to their harsh and aggressive attitude, often described as shameless and feeling a strong rejection by the world as their inferiority gets replaced by aggression. Often they have a underlying hatred for their rivals and their rivals are the ones they personally feel is worth striving for.

Ichazo called the SX4 "Competition", someone who believes that if someone is popular they must be worth striving for[1], resulting in hate, competitiveness and an aggressive outlook caused by suffering in childhood.[2] Naranjo said envy in the sexual causes the individual to want to deprive others of what they envy for their own benefit, resulting in "cannibalistic" impulses and a hateful character.[2]

Trait Structure[3]


Devaluation is present in the repertoire of defense mechanisms of this enneatype in all subtypes. The difference in the sexual E4 is that it tends more to projection, to devalue the other, and to openly blame him for his shortcomings and defects. In the enneagram there is no one more devaluing than the sexual E4. Other enneatypes also devalue, but it is in the style that the competition differs; it is the quintessential head trimmer to look comparatively taller. Devaluing the other by belittling and blaming him as a way of not being in permanent contact with his own sense of internal worthlessness.

Guilty and Blaming others

The sexual E4 is, of the three subtypes, the one that projects the most, and in this aspect it can easily reach cruelty, above all displaying a great capacity for verbal aggression, as we have already pointed out. Sexual E4s have a phobia of feeling how little they value themselves, and also of feeling guilty. He tends to blame the other, compulsively needing to find someone responsible for the feelings that he does not want or accept for himself.

On the other hand, he has no problem admitting his guilt dramatically when he feels that all is lost. The fault can even be of life or of God himself, and it can be a form of manipulation. That is to say, there is great mobility between the extremes that go from “I am not guilty of anything” to the tear of “I am guilty of everything.”

“I have always moved between a very high ideal of myself, and on the other hand a very poor self-image. With little packaging to recognize the pain and refusal to accept the responsibility of life. I have always blamed God, my craziest idea has been that God has a plot against me.” - John Lion


What is observed in this way of functioning is the difficulty and little capacity to assume responsibilities in the affairs of life. As we have seen, the sexual E4 tirelessly dedicates itself to making something or someone (normally the couple) take care of those aspects that they do not feel capable of sustaining or developing by themselves, with a feeling of their own right that is difficult to reasonably question. Only with introspection work do they come into contact with what it means to take responsibility for one's own life. They usually deposit in the other the need for material sustenance or emotional support that allows them to put their energy into creativity or navel gazing as really more important matters, which help them perpetuate the sense of being special. If that sustenance does not arrive, they can develop the aspect of being misunderstood, very present in this subtype, justifying outbursts of bad humor, anger, rudeness, etc. They directly relate irresponsibility to complaint and protest, as a way of reacting to the fact that responsibility is not understood: “The complaint and the protest work automatically in me; I live the realities of life, common to all humans, more closely, as if they only happened to me that way. Complaining is a childish mechanism that allows me to remain unaccountable and is perhaps one of my most common neurotic traits. I protest about everything and if I don't express it verbally, I protest in my internal dialogue. It's so automatic that sometimes the only thing that stops me is the idea of ending up as a bitter and curmudgeonly man.” - John Lion

The sexual E4 also presents obsessive tendencies, either towards a person who is the target of his love, or towards some activity in which he finds comfort, and these become the only lifeline and something essential that is out there to solve the problems. Issues that he does not face on his own, and perhaps to control a depression that he could not contain.

“Here came my encounter with yoga and inner work. I went to live in a community. It was a lifeline and I became obsessed, I've always been very obsessed with the things I like. There has always been something that I have placed my obsession on.”


Everything previously developed is basically based on dissatisfaction and the way of relating to it. Although this topic will be illustrated in the section on love, we would like to underline in a sympathetic way the Gata Flora style (“if they put it in, she screams and if they take it out, she cries”) that this subtype boasts and that shows its almost dissatisfaction permanent in all areas. If they don't hit him, he screams, if they hit him, he doesn't know what to do with it and most likely despises it. Dissatisfaction is associated with the belief that nothing and no one is enough and the experience of a bottomless void.

Emotionally labile

The sexual E4 swings a lot between euphoria and depression, there are no grays or nuances, they move in extremes from everything to nothing, always or never, in fact they are common terms in their vocabulary. This manic-depressive or cyclothymic tendency is found at various levels of severity depending on the subject. We can read it from the passion for extremes that leads the person to identify at different times with being the most wonderful or the shittiest. These subjects can go from one state to another in very short periods of time, either due to external stimuli, environmental circumstances, or internal ones, related to fantasy. Emotional lability is characteristic of this subtype. This network of functioning leads to the intense way of life with which these people identify so much, and which they use as another refined way of not being in touch with real lack.

Transgressive and Intolerant of limits

People of this subtype do not easily adapt to limits imposed, either by authority figures, laws or conventions, nor do they have many references to internal limits. We could mention here a certain maladjustment (not as much as the lustful E8), restrained at times by the feeling of guilt that usually appears. The transgression of limits is developed on many occasions at the level of fantasy, before an audience or an imaginary other. It is not so important to break the limit itself, but how this is seen by others; there is a pleasure in causing some kind of stir among the spectators, as if from that place one could obtain a great adhesion or a great rejection, but in short, something intense to enjoy and to talk about.

The sexual E4 is not very reserved, but he feels special pleasure for telling his experiences in a compulsive and shameless way. His position is: “if I don't tell it, it's as if it hadn't happened to me,” and if he feels that this provokes his audience, all the better. Actually, his goal, more than sharing, is to impress and feel superior, even when what he says demeans him.

When they do not obtain with their manipulations (and it finally happens), they can undertake a change and a path inward, taking responsibility, recognizing the lack as such and the drama. In this way, begin to transit creative solitude, inner strength, and finally responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.


This trait makes it sometimes difficult to recognize the character of this subtype as it can appear very humorous, funny, and expressive. He likes to occupy the stage also in a theatrical way and not only through the tragic. When he is in this polarity, he is sustained by a grandiosity that makes him feel superior and that “I can do everything.” Obviously it is a temporary situation that can end quickly, because he is very susceptible and sensitive to any adversity.


Always finding a justification for his great suffering, difficulty, or lack of possibilities, it is easy for him to be a person who is not very available to the needs of the other. He uses his suffering to not carry out tasks or to delegate things to the other that he does not like or that require effort. Egoism is also in the conviction that the suffering of the other is never as important as one's own.


We have already talked about aggressiveness and self-injury, here we want to underline the harmful behavior that they can have towards others, reaching physical violence, which above all acts in the relationship of a couple or family. Violence occurs in a special way when you do not support frustration, or fear when you feel that you are losing control over the other.


Sexual E4s are not afraid of originality and often enjoy feeling different. He loves to be special, unique, and original. And he succeeds. You can speak very explicitly without conforming to good manners, as well as dress flashily and against the grain. His desire to be peculiar makes him also brave and adventurous, minimizing risks and dangers.


Despite being very creative and talented people, they often fail to carry out their projects. The self-ideal is very strong and low self-esteem is often hidden. They have many dreams and aspire to occupy special places, and their thirst to be admired is so great that it is difficult for them to sustain the slightest failure or any obstacle. The difficulty in maintaining discipline and tolerating the necessary path can cause disappointment, and feelings of incapacity that are suddenly masked with anger or devaluation also outwardly.


Jealousy is lived with great intensity and is the reason for enormous scenes, especially in the couple; but also, even disguising more or less well, they feel jealous in any situation: family, work, social, and friendship. The constant competition that keeps them alive makes them evaluate in each situation if they are preferring or choosing them with respect to others, and if they do not feel chosen it hurts them a lot, provoking and jealousy projecting the one who becomes their opponent. But he is also very clever, knowing the terrain, to provoke the jealousy of others.


In relationships, in his impulse to be seen, and by his demand and need for things to be as he intends, unable to be even-tempered or feel equal, he imposes himself many times with a modality that runs over, abuses, oppresses, humiliates, and discounts. Although being polar can also be overwhelming in its generosity, care, and concern for the other.


He shares with the neighboring E3 this characteristic, and with the triad dependent on the image, in this case to hide his envy, as if he would dress up and apply makeup on himself attempting to cover the horror of his internal atmosphere that he is so ashamed of. As we have seen, the perception of oneself is in a continual series of ups and downs, and in the moments of ascent, vanity accompanies it, such as the excessive belief in one's abilities and the attraction it causes in others. If he is in a good mood, he takes great care of his appearance (according to his canons, of course) and likes to be recognized, although compliments make him a little uncomfortable because deep down he never fully believes them. So he can manifest himself as arrogant, conceited, self-centered, and with high points of queen/king narcissism, considering others as mediocre.


The sarcasm of sexual E4 is a mixed fruit of his bitterness, and his wit and talkativeness. He does not laugh healthily at himself or at reality, but rather mocks with scathing and cruel irony, offending or teasing. And they have a lot of ability to do it, only, seeking excessive attention, they ridicule, humiliate, or insult. In effect, the etymological origin of sarcasm is linked to “biting the flesh” (of the victim). In their histrionics, they appeal to humor cleverly, but maliciously seeking to make the other look bad or if they themselves, if they themselves are also the object of their sarcasm. However, this trait sometimes serves as an escape valve for anger, to release it before it becomes uncontrollable and dangerous.

Cheerful and Chatty

They are usually very happy people, especially in moments of euphoria within their manic-depressive peaks. Just as when they are down they are the most dramatic in the enneagram, when they are on top they become the funniest, sharpest, and most capable of laughing at themselves and their misfortunes. Quaint as they come, they can be talkative and very talkative in their attempt to focus the audience's attention on them. If they find the paid field, there is no one to stop them, and they even tire the audience, of course.


Intense for the bad but also for the good, they are usually good lovers, and are well predisposed for sex, since it is something in which they have specialized as a weapon to obtain love. They know how to enjoy sex and also seek their own pleasure, unlike the other subtypes, who may be more content with just giving pleasure to the other. But it's not just about sexual seduction; the sexual E4 seduces even without realizing it. In general, they have a strong erotic charge that permeates all their movements; walking, dancing, eating, talking, and they know how to handle it well when it is directed or focused. Seducing and rejecting often becomes in the sexual E4 the story of never ending, an endless circle. They are attentive to what they like and detect what works and what does not. It is a peacock that only unfolds its beautiful tail when there is someone who, perhaps without knowing it, has previously seduced it. They are good observers, analyze and capture who they want to seduce.

Sensitive and Artistic

When they take the final steps to grow internally, they can reach high degrees of understanding and empathy with the other, and also be experts in the ability to confront in an open and positive way. They have a deep emotional wisdom that translates into a good understanding of the human being, his emotional range and the availability to connect, and be compassionate. They are highly sensitive and spend much of their lives immersed in internal mental landscapes, where they feel free to cultivate and analyze their feelings, and out of a desire to manifest this inner world they tend to have a great interest in the arts and many become real artists in different fields. They have the ability to be very creative, thanks to their emotional richness, and their fertile imagination is usually translated into artistic work or other fields in which they contribute the new, the original. They have an important aesthetic sense of life, they value beauty in all its forms, they are aesthetically concerned with self-expression and self-revelation in the general nature of their lifestyle. If they are given to art they can be profound, peculiar, and novel.

Because of the drama of the character they can be good actors. They seek to give everything an artistic and special touch. They are among the people who investigate, and investigate the most in personal growth. They have an interest in finding ways out of the neurotic. Due to the experience of dissatisfaction and relational problems, they are usually well predisposed to therapies. When they find a bond of trust, respect and affection, they can commit and respond positively to treatment.


Among the E4 subtypes, the sexual is sometimes highly intellectualized. This is revealed in his aspirations, his inclination to knowledge, to study, to research the most varied subjects, but above all humanistic and philosophical. They love to read and be informed and, in many cases, they are strongly involved in social or political commitment. In his stubborn non-conformism, passion for criticism, rebellion against the system, they define him as a revolutionary, although the ideals of justice for which he fights may be based on a very personalized perception of reality that refers to his need to compensate for his feeling of injustice.

Claudio Naranjo's Sexual 4 Description[4]

E4 Sexual – Hate

If the social E4 suffers more than the other subtypes from feeling guilty about any desire, the sexual E4 turns against shame by becoming shameless in order to satisfy its intense desires. Therefore, even if it is embarrassing, it will knock on every possible door. He becomes insistent, even against frustrations, as if he thought according to the saying that the baby who cries the most is the one who suckles the best. "The more I complain, the more I'm going to get," he seems to think. It's just that this strategy, which works well in childhood, doesn't work as well in adult life. People who are too insistent, demanding, demanding, tend to be bothered and rejected, and thus their vicious circle arises, in which rejection leads to protest and protest to rejection.

Ichazo's name for the characteristic passion of sexual E4 was hate, which is descriptively appropriate for these people who are so expressive about their anger. But this may not sufficiently explain his motivation, which is why it seems better to me to speak of competition, or competitiveness.

We could characterize envy of the sexual subtype as aggressive oral envy, which bites. Psychoanalysis speaks of "cannibalistic" impulses. It is not only wanted, but it is wanted with anger. This is the sin of Cain, our ancestor: “I envy you and therefore I kill you”. I envy the rich, and I start a revolution. I envy your intellectual superiority, and for that I will cut off your head (then... I will seem taller!) And when we talk about cutting heads, we are talking about the invalidation, the contempt, the aggression that is expressed in the devaluation of what enviable, as in the case of the fox and the supposedly green grapes.

Sandra Maitri's Sexual 4 Description[5]

4+Sexual – Competition/Hate

Sexual Fours compete with others of their own sex in their attempt to find love. Their competitiveness is based on a sense that love is scarce and so it needs to be fought for. They try to convince their rivals and the object of their affection that they are better than the competition, and their wish to “disappear” their challengers is a form of hatred. The choice of object of desire is determined by how many other people want that person, so that, too, arises out of competition. Sexual Fours are not only competitive in the relationship arena—competition is their dominant behavioral characteristic—but it is there that it is most pronounced. The passion of envy manifests here as wanting someone another has or desires and in their underlying hatred of their rivals.

Beatrice Chestnut's Sexual 4 Description

Sexual (One-to-One) 4 Subtype description (2021)[6]

This subtype externalizes suffering. They are often called the “mad 4” because they express anger easily, usually in response to feeling misunderstood or deprived. They focus on communicating anger to defend against pain, shame, or feelings of deficiency. This is the most competitive Type 4 subtype. Their envy manifests as competition and drives active efforts to be affirmed as special and superior. They want to be seen as attractive, special, or extraordinary compared to others. They may have a tendency toward arrogance.

If this is your subtype, you externalize suffering to avoid feeling painful emotions and allowing yourself to be more conscious of an internal experience of sadness, hurt, or lack. You tend to focus on how others don’t meet your needs as a way to avoid feeling a sense of shame and deficiency. And you may be unaware of how you express competitive tendencies as a way to “act out” your unconscious envy. It will be important to notice if you hold negative feelings toward competitors or others you view as superior to you. You can be arrogant and demanding in response to not feeling understood and not getting your needs met. To grow, you must learn to manage your anger and contact the pain under the anger.

Sexual 4 Subtype summary (2013)[9]

Sexual Fours make others suffer as an unconscious way of trying to rid themselves of painful feelings of deficiency. In denying their suffering and being more shameless than shameful, they express their needs more and can be demanding of others. In seeking to be the best, they express envy in its manifestation as competition. They express “an envy that wants,” unconsciously turning their pain at inner lack into feelings of anger about not getting what they need from others.

Sexual 4 Subtype description (2013)[9]

The Sexual Four: “Competition”

In the Sexual Four subtype, the inner motivation is envy, and its manifestation as competition. These Fours don’t feel consciously envious so much as they feel competitive as a way of muting the pain associated with envy. If they can compete against another person they perceive as having more than they do and win, they can feel better about themselves.

Sexual Fours believe it’s good to be the best. Most people want to present a good image to others, but Sexual Fours don’t care very much about image management or being liked. For them, it’s better to be superior. They are highly competitive, and their intense focus on competition takes the form of actively striving to show that they are the best.

People with this subtype tend to have an “all or nothing” belief related to success: if success is not all theirs, they are left with nothing. This pattern leads to excesses related to their efforts to achieve success, and it also generates feelings of hate.

Sexual Fours are usually arrogant, despite having an underlying sense of inferiority. In the face of the pain of feeling misunderstood, an arrogant attitude is adopted as overcompensation—a means of being recognized. These Fours like to be part of “chosen” group, and they can be very elitist. They may refuse to feel indebted to anyone, and they may have the sense that they have the exclusive right to feel offended by the lack of consideration of others. Any criticism or reproach is seen as an affront or disqualification.

Envious anger dominates the expression of this subtype’s unconscious instinctual impulses. Sexual Fours’ deeper instinctual motivation is about a refusal to suffer the pain brought about by envy, and a need to reduce suffering by projecting the responsibility for meeting their needs onto others and minimizing others’ accomplishments in comparison with their own.

Sexual Fours “make others suffer” because they feel that they have been made to suffer and so need some sort of compensation. They may seek to hurt or punish others as an unconscious way of repudiating or minimizing their own pain. Naranjo observes that this tendency of this Four can be summed up by the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people.” Externalizing pain helps them ease their inner sense of inferiority. Their relationship to suffering can thus best be understood as a refusal to suffer. This gets expressed as an active insistence on their needs being validated and met. (They want with anger.) More shameless than shameful, Sexual Fours are vocal about expressing their needs; they rebel against any shame connected to their desires. This subtype follows the life philosophy that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

When others experience Sexual Fours as demanding, this can lead to a pattern of rejection and anger: Sexual Fours get mad when others don’t meet their needs, but their demanding nature causes people to avoid or reject them, and then they get angry about being rejected. This type can thus get trapped in a vicious cycle when rejection leads to protest and protest leads to rejection.

The Sexual Four is more assertive and angrier than the other subtypes. Naranjo refers to this Four as the “mad Four” as opposed to the “sad” (Social) Four. These Fours can be very outspoken with their anger because expression of anger is their way of defending against painful feelings. When they unconsciously turn their pain into anger, they don’t have to feel their pain anymore.

These Fours may even seek to hurt or punish others as a way of repudiating or minimizing their underlying pain. They feel justified in pointing to others as the source of their own deprivation or frustration, which serves as both a distraction from their own role in their suffering and a plea for help and understanding.

Naranjo says that this Four subtype can be the angriest personality among the Enneagram types. They may express envious anger as a way to establish or assert power when they feel inferior at a deeper level, which can be a way to manipulate situations to their advantage. (This kind of anger was the impulse behind the French revolution: “I envy the rich, so I’ll organize a revolution.”) And Sexual Fours can be very impulsive. They want things immediately and have little tolerance for frustration.

Naranjo calls this type “Competition,” and Ichazo called it “Hate.” While this type can be both hateful and competitive, it is important to remember that the competition and hate expressed by this Four represents a deeper need to project their sense of suffering and inadequacy outward. The painful sense of envy felt by the Sexual Four can motivate a wishing with anger, or a sense of “I’ve got to get what I need, both to convince myself that my needs aren’t shameful, and to feel better about myself with respect to others.” Their competitiveness and anger is a compensation for and a defense against the hurt they feel underneath.

These Fours like and need emotional intensity. Without intensity, everything can seem unbearably dull and boring. When Sexual Fours want somebody’s love, they can be very direct about asking for what they need, or they can become “extraordinary”—make themselves seem special and attractive and superior—in an effort to attract it. In line with their natural intensity (fueled by both their heart-based emotional temperament and their sexual instinct), these individuals tend to be more present and available in relationships because they don’t deny or avoid many of the factors that can inhibit others relationally, like anger, neediness, competitiveness, arrogance, and having to be liked all the time. However, at times it may prove difficult for them to maintain a loving attitude because they confuse sweetness and benevolence with being false or insincere.

Sexual Fours are most likely to be confused with Type Eights or Sexual Twos. Like Eights, they have easier access to anger than most types, but they differ from Eights in the wider range of emotions they regularly feel. Naranjo points out that Eights often don’t need to get angry, whereas this Four frequently feels misunderstood or envious, so they may show anger more often. They can also look like Sexual “Aggressive-Seductive” Twos (because both types can be aggressive and seductive in relationships), but the Sexual Two is more oriented toward pleasing others.

Haiki Sexual 4 Description[7]

Sexual Four: Hate

This subtype is different from its fellow Fours because they are able to take their Anger on a walk and do so with a strong vehemence and righteousness. We could say that the Four’s normal behavior, crying, is substituted with shouting and violent criticism. While we see the Social Four’s constant shame, we see the Sexual Four as a shameless character. They are very loud and insistent on their demands. They can be very annoying and feel a strong sense of rejection from the world. And the more they feel rejected, the more they complain. They are Intensity in its pure form, competitive and arrogant.

This is the subtype we could describe as cutting off people’s heads due to their almost Eightish sadism. Some authors, including Ichazo in 1969, refer to them as the Hate Four. They also have some similar aspects to Sexual Sixes, because when they smell fear, they jump into action without being paralyzed. Even physically they can look like these Sixes, sometimes looking strong enough to survive a bomb attack with a strong chestplate.

Carmen Durán and Antonio Catalán's Sexual 4 Description[8]

SX4: Hate -> Yearning

In this subtype, the desire to love and be loved turns into “Yearning,” which dyes love with an aura of romanticism. We chose the term “Yearning” because it implies desiring what they do not have. The consequence is hatred caused by not being able to achieve what is so desired. In the early childhood relationship with the mother, the bond that is established is very ambivalent because it has what they desire, so they love her and hate her. They also hate themselves for not having it. When this form of bond is taken to the plane of relationships, it is dyed by admiration towards those who have what they do not have and envy, perpetuating the connection between love and hate. In this sphere, desire is bonded to what is unreachable, therefore it can produce a ferocious battle to obtain the love of someone considered valuable; the more valuable they are, the stronger the rejection. In other cases, the battle has a competitive aspect of trying to get the love of someone already committed, where winning the battle entails claiming their own value and overcoming the envy provoked by what the other has and they lack.


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

[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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