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Learn about the common defense mechanisms of each enneagram type and how that holds you back from becoming fully yourself!

Defense mechanisms, we all use them. We all use many of them. They are a way to help us maintain our self image and to avoid our fears.

Any enneagram type can use any defense mechanisms. However, there is one defense mechanism that fits each type rather well based on what that type fears and what self image they want to maintain.

It does not mean you definitely use the defense mechanism related to your type. It also does not mean you only use that defense mechanism (which is why it’s a good idea to read them all!)

Once we become aware of our defense mechanism, we can begin to observe ourselves while using it and once we do this we can start asking ourselves what is really going on, what are we wanting to protect ourselves from, do we actually need to protect ourselves?

Below, we’ll look into the defense mechanisms of each enneagram type (but remember, you can use any of these defense mechanisms so it’s not a bad thing to read up on all of them)

Not sure what your type is? Learn how to find your enneagram type before reading below!

Common Defense Mechanisms Of Each Enneagram Type

Common Defense Mechanisms Of Each Enneagram Type


Common Defense Mechanism For Type 1 – Reaction Formation

In order to avoid anger or other “bad” emotions/thoughts/actions and in order to keep their self image of being right, 1s will make use of reaction formation.

Reaction formation is feeling one way but then doing the exact opposite. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Reaction Formation: being angry with a friend but expressing friendliness instead or “righteous” hatred against a topic that they actually do.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 2 – Repression

In order to avoid being needy and in order to keep their self image of being helpful, 2s will make use of repression.

Repression is hiding one’s “unacceptable” needs/feelings from oneself and instead showing a more acceptable kind of emotion/action. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Repression: being overly nice to someone who hurt them or remembering the past only positively and thus continuing to make the same mistakes.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 3 – Identification

In order to avoid being failure and in order to keep their self image of being successful, 3s will make use of identification.

Identification is taking on the positive traits of another person in order to appear better, more acceptable, or fit in better than the person feels like they would have on their own. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Identification: adopting the traits of colleagues in order to succeed in the workplace or taking on the traits of a parent in order to be liked.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 4 – Introjection

In order to avoid ordinariness and in order to keep their self image of being authentic, 4s will make use of introjection.

Introjection is taking external negative feelings/actions/critiques and internalizing it so that the person feels like it’s easier to control or handle. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Introjection: picking up on clues that someone “may” be upset with them and believing it to be the case or internalizing someone’s opinion and making it their own.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 5 – Introjection

In order to avoid the experience of inner emptiness and in order to keep their self image of being knowledgeable, 5s will make use of isolation.

Isolation is detaching from painful emotions/thoughts and instead focusing on thinking in hopes of removing painful feelings. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Isolation: compartmentalizing a stressful job from family life or acting neutral to something that most would find upsetting.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 6 – Projection

In order to avoid rejection and in order to keep their self image of being loyal, 6s will make use of projection.

Projection is attributing their negative feelings/thoughts/actions onto another person/source. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Projection: thinking someone dislikes them when in reality they are the one who dislikes the person or saying their spouse has an anger problem when they are the ones who are angry.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 7 – Rationalization

In order to avoid suffering and in order to keep their self image of being okay, 7s will make use of rationalization.

Rationalization is reframing their negative emotions/actions in a way that avoids or obscures their true motive or effects. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Rationalization: justifying an expensive car since the old one was unreliable or failing to get a promotions and saying “I didn’t want it anyway”.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 8 – Denial

In order to avoid vulnerability and in order to keep their self image of being strong, 8s will make use of denial.

Denial is blocking out negative/vulnerable feelings/needs/thoughts by refusing to accept reality. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Denial: denying that they have an alcohol problem by saying they function just fine or refusing to acknowledge that they injured themselves.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Common Defense Mechanism For Type 9 – Narcotization

In order to avoid conflict and in order to keep their self image of being comfortable or harmonious, 9s will make use of narcotization.

Narcotization is numbing oneself to avoid feeling something that feels too difficult/uncomfortable/painful. Like all defense mechanisms, this is mostly done subconsciously.

Examples of Narcotization: ignoring an uncomfortable task/feeling by indulging in a favorite hobby or zoning out in the middle of a hard conversation.

Defense mechanisms protect our ego but keep us from being fully ourselves and developing deeper relationships.

Once you know what your defense mechanism is:
1) Notice WHEN you use it
2) Ask yourself WHAT is really going on
3) Ask WHY you are wanting to protect yourself
4) Ask do you NEED to use the defense mechanism
5) Be vulnerable and step out of your fear of losing your self image

Once again, these are just common defense mechanisms of each enneagram type. It does not mean you definitely use the defense mechanism related to your type. It also does not mean you only use that defense mechanism.

defense mechanisms