Are You Frustrated, Rejected or Attached?


One of the great aspects of the Enneagram is that the nine Types share certain characteristics that are grouped in sets of three. These groupings help us identify Type and also provide a better understanding of what’s going on beneath the surface of personality.

So, let’s take a look at one of those groupings this week: Object Relations. It’s an odd term that I always have trouble with, because the “objects” are not actually objects but people and experiences that a person has in early childhood. Each of us develops a personality at this early stage, and the thinking behind object relations theory is that we develop our personality in relation to others in our childhood environment.

Each personality Type works from the premise set forth by its object relations. Now, no one really knows whether the experiences a child has creates their Type or whether their Type causes them to interpret experiences a certain way. I’m a proponent of the latter idea, because I have three siblings who all grew up with the same two parents, and each of us has a different Enneagram Type.

It’s unlikely that the debate will ever be definitively settled, so let’s just look at the three object relations groups.

Frustration: Types One, Four and Seven fall into this group. Ones are frustrated most of the time; if you know a One, you can see it on their faces quite often. Their frustration comes from living in a world that is not fair or rational. They are also frustrated that they are not perfect.

Fours are frustrated by never feeling that they get what they need. Happiness is always just out of reach. For Sevens, their many adventures, experiences and collections of stuff fail to satisfy them fully, causing frustration and the cyclical need for more.

Rejection: The members of this group are Types Two, Five and Eight. These types expect to be rejected, ostensibly because they experienced rejection early in life. Nobody wants to be rejected, so the Types come up with strategies to avoid it. Twos do everything they can to please and serve others so that they will become indispensable; who could reject someone like that?

Fives, as Thinking Types, rely on their brain to be seen as useful to others by creating a niche for themselves where they can be experts. Eights don’t really come across as rejection types, since they are assertive, instinct-based people, but their need to be powerful come from the underlying fear that unless they display their power, they will be rejected. This is at least part of the reason that they have difficulty showing vulnerability.

Attachment: The core Types—Three, Six and Nine—are members of the attachment group. People with these personality types get into trouble by attaching to something that, ultimately, limits their life experience. Threes attach to external validation from others, causing them to strive for success and make sure they get noticed.

Sixes attach to the external support of individuals or groups to feel safe and allay their fears – remember that Sixes are part of the Fear triad. Nines attach to an inner sanctum where everything is as it should be (to them): peaceful and comfortable.

Which of these is your go-to premise? For me, it has been the frustration of not finding lasting fulfillment in possessions and more knowledge and new experiences (Seven). As I have begun to create distance from my Type by working with the Enneagram, the impulses to get more of these things has lessened significantly.

Uncovering the typically hidden patterns and compulsions of the personality is a first step toward taking their power away so that you can be who God made you to be. Get a book (I recommend this one), attend a workshop or seminar, or contact me for one-on-one training and coaching. It’s a decision you will never regret.




  1. […] at several ways in which the nine human personalities can be segmented into threes: the Centers, Object Relations and Hornevian groups. Let’s take a look now at the other manor grouping of threes: the Harmonic […]

  2. […] Object Relation Group: Frustration […]

  3. […] Object Relation Group: Frustration […]

  4. […] Object Relation Group: Rejection […]

  5. […] Object Relation Group: Rejection […]

  6. Myrnal Hawes on at

    I was intrigued with Object Relations Theory when it was posted on my Enneathought for the day. When I googled for more info, I came across what you wrote about it, which caused me to explore your book (Becoming your true you). I liked your book, and thought it would be a good introduction to the Enneagram in our Bible study group. Although I have loved Riso and Hudson’s Wisdom of the Enneagram and B. Chestnut’s Complete Enneagram, I thought your book would be more appropriate for a beginner’s group because of the overt Biblical basis of it. So far, people are enjoying it and we are finding much to ponder. I like that you start with the instincts. I hadn’t come across the Object Relations Theory and the enneagram before, and hope to include it sometime. Thanks for this.

  7. hhavlick on at

    Hello, Myrnal – This is one of the best comments I’ve ever received! I’m pasting it into my special file of encouraging comments, in fact. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I’m so thrilled that your Bible study group is enjoying the book; that’s actually a dream come true for me. You’ve made my week!

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