"I'm like this, and you're like that." Studying the similarities and differences between self and others, and discerning a (preferably desirable) identity to cling to, is a primary preoccupation of Type Four. Types Two and Three, the other Image Center types, do a lot of this as well, but since Two and Three are compliant and assertive types respectively (and also generally extroverted), they tend to be a lot more wrapped up in doing than withdrawn, introspective Type Four. Type Two is busy trying to win the love of others through kind actions and be a responsible and involved member of society, Type Three is busy trying to excel in some chosen field, and neither of them usually takes as much time to ponder these things at length as Type Four does.
The Type Two's positivity might lead him or her to focus mostly on seeing good qualities in self and others (except when hurt, spurned, or disappointed, which as stated before would make the Type Two "go to Eight"), while Type Three's rationality is capable of seeing both good and bad qualities in others but is not inclined to dwell on those facts -- "just make an executive decision accordingly and move on already" would be the Three's approach. Type Four, however, belongs to the Reactive Triad: 4, 6 and 8. One potential slogan of the Reactive Triad is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." When a problem is noticed or experienced, these types don't smooth it over. They dwell on it and call others' attention to it until it has been healed. Although the annoying side of this trait is that these types complain about things that to others might seem small enough to ignore or bear cheerfully (I've read that Type Four has a strong tendency toward pessimism, and pessimism is obviously a lot less attractive to and appreciated by others than optimism), the fact that they're fully aware and conscious of problems rather than ignoring them often serves a very important purpose for themselves as well as society, allowing things to be fixed much more quickly. So, Type Four is sensitive and perceptive (capable of noticing details -- in some cases, in emotionally charged issues, they may be seen by others as blowing them out of proportion), and dwells internally and speaks aloud honestly at length on whatever he or she happens to have noticed or felt (be it good, bad, or hideous), and because of these strengths, though Fours do have a basic tendency to jump to conclusions in a quick, irrational, emotional, subjective way rather than being objective, an ability to classify or characterize self and others in interesting ways might also be perceived in them; sometimes highly intuitive, right-brained methods may be used by them to detect similarities between seemingly unrelated things in a creative and novel fashion.
These strengths in the Type Four, plus the wealth of turbulent, powerful, undiluted emotions they discover in themselves in the course of all their introspecting (as stated several times in previous posts, Fours are in the highly passionate and intense Idealism or Frustration Triad along with 1 and 7), lead to Fours generally being extremely creative people, who will often feel they cannot live without expressing themselves through writing, art, music, or some other medium. Like magma in an active volcano, their creativity can't be held in. Sometimes Fours endure a tortured existence -- producing works of exquisite, enduring beauty out of their great pain. Others are able to cope somewhat better with life. But highs and lows characterize the emotional life of Fours no matter what -- at least as long as they don't seek a way off the roller-coaster of their programming.
Twos and Threes find identities for themselves that fit more easily into society. Fours, however (the rarest type on the Enneagram) see a vast gulf of difference between themselves and most others around them. In order to counteract the demon of self-doubt, they must pride themselves on being different. A certain amount of this independent spirit is a good thing; the ability to "think outside the box" is required for many new and valuable ideas to be generated for the benefit of human society. Awareness that great people ahead of their time have often been perceived as eccentric bolsters Fours' egos, allowing them to feel like part of a special, elite, superior segment of society, and cements their determination that they must follow their own muse; nothing is more loathsome to them than the idea of conforming to whatever is commonly done just because everyone else is doing it. If, however, they remain too deeply under the spell of this compulsion to be original and nonconformist, it is possible for them to completely lose touch with good sense (after all, many rules and traditions came about for good reason) and, with the desperation of a dog backed into a corner by enemies, defend to the death their right to "do their own thing" no matter what -- even if it happens to be dangerous for themselves or others. Self-doubt may plague them; they may be able to see (or have it brought to their attention by friends, family or counselors) that their unreasoning attachment to being different from others might NOT lead them to spark beneficial revolutions in human awareness, but rather to a lonely, unappreciated and forsaken spiral into defiant and ever-more-unhinged behaviors. Since Fours (like any other Image Center type) really long for the favorable and admiring attention of others -- for others to love, appreciate and value them as wonderful and brilliant -- the realization that they might just become crazy and rejected would be a very grim one.
Much of the time when the Type Four withdraws from others, he or she is hoping to be pursued and drawn back out by someone. The Type Four loves it when others are interested in him or her; loves when others ask how he or she feels about something, and thanks to frequent introspection, is often full of answers all ready to be shared. If others fail to pursue the Type Four when he or she withdraws, the Four will feel sad and unloved, maybe morose and self-pitying.
Since Fours are perfectionists (members of the Idealism Triad, and somewhat snobby and elitist -- determined to be a cut above the commoners), doing their creative (or other) work the way they wish to (and feel they must) necessarily makes them take more time and energy to accomplish it than a less-perfectionist person would. Also, they have a strong tendency toward Perceiving in Myers-Briggs: whatever comes along, they want to experience it fully, to thoroughly feel and extensively study the feelings it generates in them. If the mood strikes, they may wish to immerse themselves in some sort of artistic creation for extended periods of time, but if misfortune befalls them or their muse has flown, they may nurse their misery with unhealthy self-indulgent behavior, letting responsibilities slip by with stubborn heedlessness. For these reasons, it can sometimes be quite difficult for a Type Four to realize his or her dreams without practical and moral support from a loving admirer. Due to Type Four being in the Frustration Triad, he or she may have many desires and ambitions, but may feel rather helpless to accomplish them. Also, the yearnings to be sought after, to receive others' attention and appreciation, and to be rescued from difficulty in a romantic, exciting fashion by a dashing admirer can all add to the Type Four's neediness. Considering all these factors, it is no surprise that the prospect of losing relationships that the Type Four perceives him- or herself as needing to hold on to would cause him or her to freak out and "go to Two" -- i.e. to try to cling to the affection and regard of the "needed" person(s) by pointing out everything the Type Four has done and is doing for them. If Fours are even more unhealthy or insecure, they may actually hide their own needs and pretend to be all about satisfying the needs of the other person, in classic Twoish fashion -- vastly different from the "it's all about me" image that Fours can unfortunately project at times when they're being their normal, relatively-healthy selves!
Type Fours are well-known lovers of romance, beauty and fantasy. Oftentimes they may have a strong conviction that they don't belong in the present day and age, but ought to be living in some bygone era -- or that this world isn't their own, that they belong in some fantasy realm. Their penchant for feeling every emotion to the fullest, including tragic ones, combines with their nostalgia for their "rightful home" or days gone by to immerse them frequently in a painful, yet powerfully sweet melancholy. If they choose to give too much power to this, they may waste a lot of time relishing the imaginary, and even temporarily letting it steal away their strength or will to do things in real life. This sort of thing is common with Fours. But pressuring them to change this behavior against their will, while they are too attached to it, does nothing good. They can be shown a different way to live, but the will to choose it must come from inside them.
The path of progress for Fours involves "going to One": deciding, through their own healthy and happy inner inspiration, to put aside some aspects of their fanciful, flighty and undisciplined nature; discovering the inner wisdom to make
rational, intelligent, prudent, sensible, careful, and
well-considered choices; and finding their way to a life of stability, hard work for a good cause and the great satisfaction, fulfillment and pleasure that come from that.
The wing types:
Four with a 3-wing is of course more attention-hungry than Four with a 5-wing. Consequently, although exploring their internal worlds and figuring out how they feel about everything AND then telling others about it through various means of self-expression are both classic activities of Fours of any wing prominence, comparatively speaking, 3-wingers will tend to engage in more self-expression while 5-wingers do more internal investigation. 3-wingers are flashier; I've read that the most outrageous outfits worn in public will usually be on either 4w3s or 7s, whereas 4w5s are described as sometimes liking to wear grim, black, torn, tattered, old or frumpy clothing. A 4w3 would be more likely to love being in the spotlight and unhesitatingly seize any opportunity to show off his or her flair for fashion, acting, singing or other artistic/creative skill, whereas a 4w5 might not mind doing those things on occasion (if somewhat of a 3-wing is present too) but would prefer to spend more time alone, reading, endlessly exploring his or her thoughts and feelings about deeply-beloved interesting subjects, and engaging in more solitary, possibly quieter creative projects. Due to the social instinct (desire to fit in) of the 3-wing, a 4w3 might find it easier to relate with others and fit comfortably into the social scene; when the 4ish snobbery/superiority shows up, it might exhibit itself via a competitive attempt to be recognized as having the best taste or skill, or the most superior-quality possessions that can be admired and appreciated by others -- the 4w3 might think of him- or herself as more "high-class" or "cultured" than common folk (though not necessarily to an obnoxious degree). 4w5s, on the other hand, are more careless of what others think, more genuine outsiders in society. They answer to nothing but their own tastes and convictions; they would scorn any attempt to be fashionable. One last point is that the 3ish drive, energy and ambition might make it easier for 4w3s to make it in the world, to accomplish their dreams and goals on their own steam, whereas the doubly withdrawn 4w5 would be more likely to spend a lot of time thinking about what they'd like to do, maybe even making extensive plans and preparations, but seldom feeling ready to actually dive in to doing it. However, since Type 3 is the diametric opposite of Type 4 in many ways (false where 4 is authentic, shallow where 4 is deep, willing to do anything just to earn accolades whereas 4 believes in being yourself at any cost), the 4w3 might become disgusted and appalled with him- or herself more readily than the more undivided and uncompromised 4w5 would, and that self-loathing might become a handicap for the 4w3.
4s add much loveliness and insight to the world; their special vision, when shared, can enliven, invigorate, thrill, or inspire others. They give voice and validation to beauty, magic, and deep truths that we'd all like to believe in. A world without 4s would be missing out on a lot of romance, drama, intensity, pathos, highly-acclaimed artistic/creative works and rich literature.