Some people see the world as dangerous, and some see it as safe. Some see it as just or unjust. Nevertheless, we all live in the same world. Elements of our personality color our views, and human perception is little more than an inkblot test. One purpose of the Enneagram of Personality is to describe the various lenses that distort our perception of the world. If you believe that the world is ultimately more interesting than your inner world, that you must go with the flow, and that the objective of life is to find and maintain peace, then you might be:
TYPE NINE: THE PEACEMAKER
(Also known as “The Mediator”)
I. Introduction to the Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a personality classification system comprised of nine types. Each one of these nine types represents a distinct set of motivations, fears, desires and virtues. This article (and the other articles in this series) are designed to present each of the nine types in an understandable and comprehensive way. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, as it is the most popular personality instrument discussed on PersonalityCafe. The Enneagram is a fantastic compliment to the MBTI test because the Enneagram deals with core motivations, while MBTI deals with information processing. When taken together, MBTI and Enneagram can provide an accurate description of an individual's personality.
These articles are intended to describe each Enneagram type from the ground up, starting with the most fundamental motivations of that type and moving up to how those motivations are expressed in the real world.
II. Quick Facts about Type Nine
These facts will be described throughout the article.
Holy Idea: Love
Enneagram Triad: Body (Anger Fixation)
Hornevian Triad: Withdrawn
Harmonic Triad: Positive Outlook
Basic Drive: Peace
Basic Fear: Loss and Annihilation
Basic Desire: Stability and Peace of Mind
Freudian Association: Ego
III. Type Nine Description
Everyone is alone, but we're all alone together. This statement is implicitly acknowledged by all the Enneagram types, and each type has a unique way of dealing with it. Type Nine is characterized by a desire to see peace in both themselves and in the world around them, hence the moniker “peacemaker” or “mediator.”
The “Holy Idea” of Type Nine is love, a word that is so often used but so rarely analyzed. In this context, it does not refer to romantic love, it refers to a general sense of affection and appreciation. In Enneagram theory, a Type Nine individual is naturally sensitive to the concept of love (their Holy Idea) from a young age, which leads them to develop the traits normally associated with Type Nine in later years. As a Type Nine individual becomes more accustomed to the world, they are presented with the reality that things just aren't going to go smoothly. The ideal mental state of a Nine would be one of serenity and contemplation, but the world does not give up its conflict easily. The solution is for the Nine to withdraw from one's self and get absorbed in the outside world. At the same time, they are likely to seek peace in their endeavors, as it challenges the serenity they associate with love.
But not all conflict is in the outside world; conflict exists in the inner world as well. Type Nine individuals are confronted with conflicting emotions, thoughts and desires, just like any type. There may be a great deal of tension between what the Id wants (the basic drive for immediate gratification) and what the Superego wants (the code of morality and ethics learned in childhood). Type Nine deals with this conflict by looking outside of themselves, ignoring it wherever possible, and focusing on the world around them.
Type Nine is a body type, which means that they are primarily concerned with the relation between themselves and the world around them. In this case, Nines can see their inner world as dull and thus focus on the observing the beauty of the outer world in order to compensate for that.
The behaviors that Type Nines exhibit are defined, in part, by where they end up focusing their attention. Some Type Nines (usually on the more unhealthy side) will preoccupy their thoughts with “time waster” pursuits and can appear to be lazy. But some Type Nines will focus their energy on other people, becoming very active in the lives of others. In that case, they can be extremely helpful and attentive. In either case, the Nine wants to get out of themselves because they may see their inner world as dull. Interestingly, this is why most Nines are really Extroverts, despite being considered a withdrawn type.
When stressed, Type Nines can become jaded, detaching from themselves and others, while become disinterested and bored with life. At their best, though, Type Nines can become engaged and self-confident.
Ultimately, the title of Peacemaker for Type Nine is appropriate. Type Nine wants to maintain a sense of peace and serenity in whatever field they concentrate, whether that be with intimate relations, between individuals, and even in their own leisurely pursuits.
IV. Developmental Progression of Type Nine
Early in life, the Type Nine is sensitive to the concept of love (appreciation for the world in general, both themselves and others.)
The material world (life) corrupts this ideal into the delusion that they should focus their appreciation on the external world. This leads to the idea that the Nine's inner world is dull, because the exterior world is so complex.
The Nine relies on indifference to maintain the illusion that their inner concerns aren't really a problem.
The Nine’s virtue, serenity leads them to their growth point of Three, as it allows the Nine to become more in tune with their inner desires and thoughts.
Enneagram theorists quickly discovered that each Enneagram type can have traits of the types around it. This is called “wing theory”, and while some theorists dispute the finer points of it, it's generally agreed that each type has a connection to the types around it and one of these connections will be dominant. For example, Type Two is surrounded by Types One and Three. Someone could therefore be a Two with a One Wing (Two as their main type with some Type One traits), or a Two with a Three Wing (Two as their main type with some Type Three traits.) The notation for this is 2w1 and 2w3, respectively. It is generally held that one wing is more dominant than the other; while you may have traits of both wings, one is more pronounced. Some believe that you can have balanced (equal) wings, but this Enneagram type description operates under the “dominant wing” theory, which is the most prevalent in the Enneagram community.
Type Nine shares wings with Type Eight and Type One.
Type Nine with an Eight Wing:
Type Nine is normally associated with serenity and contemplation, while Type Eight is associated with pushy aggressiveness. This combination is sometimes described as paradoxical, but it actually makes perfect sense, as long as we keep in mind that serenity and aggression are secondary consequences of the core motivations of Nine and Eight.
Type Nine wants to detach from their own world and find fulfillment in the world around them, or the world of others. Type Eights are hyper-aware of the boundaries between themselves and others and will react aggressively if those borders are crossed harmfully. 9w8s, therefore, want to extend themselves into the outside world while simultaneously protecting themselves from harm. 9w8s tend to want to do their own thing, and will react aggressively if that is threatened, but their modus operandi is to wander throughout the world at their own direction and anyone who wants to tell them what to do can haul off. 9w8s can also be incredibly protective of their friends, because the 9 component lets them “merge” with others and the 8 component takes an attack on friends as a personal attack. (Contrast this with Type 1 – Type 1 will act aggressively in that situation because they perceive the enemy as “wrong”, Type 9w8 will act aggressively because they see their friends as part of themselves.)
Type Nine with a One Wing:
Type One is associated with self-critical, perfectionist, and moralistic/idealistic tendencies. Some of those elements are present in a Nine with a One wing.
9w1s are more likely to repress their anger than a 9w8. 9w1s have a hard time expressing their personal needs and wants, so resentment might build up until it explodes. 9w1s who are particularly socially-oriented may put great efforts into understanding what other people want, and if other people do not show that same level of dedication, they might feel marginalized. 9w1s, though, are usually very uncomfortable with their own anger and might try to deny it or channel it into other things instead of confronting it head-on.
9w1s tend to be more open to others than a 9w8 and is liable to place a premium on the well-being of others. 9w1s are far more gentle than a 9w8 and they tend to be good team players. Out of all the types in the Enneagram, 9w1 is probably the most peaceful.
VI. Growth and Stress Arrows
One theme in the study of the Enneagram is interconnectivity. Each type is distinct, but it does not stand alone. We discussed Wings earlier, which shows how a type can have traits of the types next to it. Another example of interconnectivity are stress and growth arrows. When an individual is in a state of stress or growth, they can take on traits of other types. There is some disagreement within the Enneagram community as to what precipitates a stress or growth condition, but I believe that the most logical interpretation of this is that a type becomes stressed when they succumb to their vice, while a type grows when they are following their virtue. Following a vice is a natural response, as it is the easy way out. Virtues are risky because they cause a person to confront their “dark sides” or fears and may result in a radical reassessment of one's thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, the Enneagram is a system of personal growth and the stress/growth arrow dynamic reflects that, as it embodies the concept that transcendence is hard work, and it's always darkest before the dawn.
This is also in line with the overarching theme that the Nine types are basically just different means of perceiving reality, and no type is more correct than any other.
Growth Arrow to Type Three:
Type Threes are self-assured, energetic and sometimes quite aggressive. Type Nine individuals, as they become more confident and centered, take on these traits of a Type Three.
Type Nines are often neglectful about details in their own life. They may find their own life to be sort of dull. However, as they grow, Nines become more engaged in their own lives. Type Nine is not normally suited toward the high-powered, active nature of the Three. While a Nine is inclined to lay back and watch the world around them, Threes want to make their mark on the world. But as Type Nine develops, they come out of their shell and “wake up”, whilst simultaneously becoming more active with the world around them.
Stress Arrow to Type Six:
Unhealthy Sixes develop a great deal of stress and anxiety, and a Nine can move in that direction when they are stressed. Nines are normally laidback, but that also makes the Nine vulnerable to a sense of powerlessness that can create feelings of helplessness and despair. In that case, the Nine would withdraw into themselves and can “shut down” due to anxiety.
VII. Type Nine Variants
Self-Preservation Nines can be very cautious. They tend to form fewer social connections than the other variants, but when they do, they want them to be pain-free and smooth.
Social Nines are very concerned with the connections and bonds between members of their social group. This makes them important for group cohesion, as they'll often want to settle out disputes between group members.
Sexual Nines tend to focus their energies on close personal relations, whether intimate or otherwise. They see one-on-one personal relationships as one means to achieving inner harmony.
VIII. Comparison within Triads
Within the Head/Body/Image Triads:
Head: These types are primarily concerned with their own thoughts.
Image: These types take action when it comes to their image, which they equate with reality.
Body: These types focus on the border between themselves and the world around them.
Within the body triad…
(Compared to Eight) Although Nines may certainly engage in conflict, they wouldn't approve of it or enjoy it like an Eight. One of the biggest misconceptions about Type Nine is that Nines must be passive and peaceful all the time. This isn't the case. Nines can indeed be assertive, although it would not necessarily be an enjoyable experience.
(Compared to One) Ones are self-critical and uptight, while Nines are more relaxed.
Within the image triad…
(Compared to Two) While Nines may seek approval from others like Two, it isn't a core drive for them. Nines prefer to get along with people, but they don't require other people to like them.
(Compared to Three) Threes are more aggressive about achieving success than a Nine. Nines are less likely to feel proud about their own accomplishments than a Three would.
(Compared to Four) Nines do not feel the fundamental alienation from others that a Four feels. Nines can engage others much more easily than a Four.
Within the head triad…
(Compared to Five) Fives will generally keep other people at arm's reach, while a Nine is less likely to do that. Fives are naturally cautious, recognizing the danger that other people (and the world in general) will present. Nines are generally not aware of such a danger; in fact, they feel more comfortable in the “outside world” than in the “inside world.”
(Compared to Six) Nines do not feel the same kind of stress and anxiety that a Six would feel. Type Six individuals tend to be aware of all the different “worst case scenarios”, which can produce a great deal of anxiety. Nines are generally more optimistic.
(Compared to Seven) Nines are not as expressive of their own desires as a Seven. In fact, Nines may have a hard time vocalizing what they need while a Seven is likely to be pushy about it. Nines may also feel bad about pushing for what they want, while a Seven is used to it.
Within the Hornevian triads:
The Hornevian triads describe how each type copes with a situation. They were originally developed by psychologist Karen Horney.
In this context, “aggressive” means “action-oriented.” It doesn't mean belligerence.
Type Three – Takes action to gain success.
Type Seven – Takes action to keep engaged in interesting activities.
Type Eight - Takes action to secure more resources and to continue to consume.
Type Four – Withdraws to protect themselves from being absorbed into the crowd; to maintain their uniqueness.
Type Five – Withdraws to defend themselves and to get a better/clearer view of the situation.
Type Nine – Withdraws to maintain peace.
In this context, these types are compliant to their superegos. It doesn't mean that they are pushovers.
Type One – Complies with the superego because they will feel corrupt if they don't.
Type Two – Complies with the superego because they will feel useless if they don't.
Type Six – Complies with the superego because they will feel insecure if they don't.
Within the Harmonic triads:
The Harmonic triads describe the primary problem-solving skill employed by each type.
Type Two – Twos focus on their own goodness and virtue.
Type Seven – Sevens adopt an “it doesn't affect me” mentality.
Type Nine – Nines focus on the “silver lining” in a situation instead of negative aspects.
Type One – Ones must be competent to maintain their set of ethics.
Type Three – Threes must be competent to avoid challenges to their success.
Type Five – Fives must be competent to survive in the “outer world.”
Type Four – Fours may take things very personally, which makes them very emotionally intense.
Type Six – Sixes are observant of their world and react accordingly.
Type Eight – Eights are quick to react to challenges and to assert their boundaries.
IX. Enneagram and MBTI Interaction
The Enneagram describes motivations, while the MBTI describes modes of information processing. It would stand to reason that MBTI is subordinate to Enneagram, as the Enneagram deals with more basic motivations. Imagine that two people want to tell the same story, but one is a writer and one is a musician. One will write a book while the other will write a song but both have the same origin point.
So let’s look at each type and how that form of information processing would appear when directed by the primary motivation of Type Nine.
Extroverted Sensation Types (ESTP and ESFP)
Extroverted Sensation is associated with a strong connection to the “present moment” and places an emphasis on practicality in life. Instead of concentrating on abstract plans, ESxP Nines enjoy the “simple pleasures” in life and are generally very practical people. They can be laidback and creative individuals who naturally get along with others. Their practicality can lead to a sense of humbleness that makes them unusually easy to get along with.
Extroverted Intuition Types (ENTP and ENFP)
Extroverted Intuition is essentially the opposite of Extroverted Sensing: instead of focusing on present information, Extroverted Intuition brainstorms a myriad number of possibilities that may or may not be true. ENxP Nines are inventive in the pursuit of activities outside their inner world. If they are more Social, then they are more likely to channel this into encouraging support for others. Otherwise, they can direct their energies toward creativity in a different venue. Either way, they generally like to avoid conflict and are typically very pleasant and passionate people.
Extroverted Thinking Types (ENTJ, ESTJ)
Extroverted Thinking breaks a process down into its logical components and checks it for logical consistency.
Extroverted Thinking Nines have a sense of how the world “fits” together yet they lack an aggressive attitude. Extroverted Thinking is stereotypically associated with a desire to control others, but that isn't the case. In fact, an ExTJ Nine would have little desire to domineer over people, but rather to work alongside people with their talents.
Extroverted Feeling Types (ENFJ, ESFJ)
Extroverted Feeling refers to an awareness of the emotions or hidden beliefs of another, but does not necessarily imply that an Fe-dominant person must bend to those emotions.
ExFJ Nines are some of the most caring people out there. The natural Nine tendency to ignore one's own needs combined with the Extroverted Feeling awareness of other people's unspoken desires means that the ExFJ Nine can easily forget that they have needs at all.
Introverted Sensation Types (ISTJ, ISFJ)
Introverted Sensation types tend to use their experience to guide them; Si dominant Type Nines can share a similar practicality to the ESxJ Nines, although they tend to be more withdrawn than ESxJ Nines.
Introverted Intuition Types (INTJ, INFJ)
Ni-Dominant types tend to have brilliant insights into “what’s going on”, although they do so in different ways. INTJ Nines tend to be more detached from others, and may occupy their desire to get outside of themselves with pursuits that engage their mind. INFJ Nines, on the other hand, may use their insight to better integrate themselves with others.
Introverted Thinking Types (INTP, ISTP)
Introverted Thinking types (IxTP) emphasize the particular meanings of words and how each individual piece fits together within a concept. Introverted Thinking Type Nines can be the most introverted MBTI/Enneagram combinations, because they use their internal thought processes to detach from their core needs. They may spend so much time wrapping themselves up in complex thought processes that they do not have much time for the outer world. This can be said about IxTP Fives as well, but IxTP Nines are less likely to assert themselves than Fives. IxTP Nines would be happy enough on their own, to explore their thoughts without needing to be pushy about it.
Introverted Feeling Types (INFP, ISFP)
Introverted Feeling types are concerned more about the essence of a particular subject than the gritty particulars. (This is the opposite for Introverted Thinking types.) As a result, an IxFP Nine may be more extroverted than an IxTP Nine because they aren't getting as bogged down by the details. They tend to be easygoing and appreciative of the world around them. An IxFP Nine is very apt to see the beauty in everything.
X. Paths to Security
Type One - “I will be secure if I'm perfect.”
Type Two - “I will be secure if I'm loved, appreciated or respected.”
Type Three - “I will be secure if I am successful.”
Type Four - “I will be secure if I am unique.”
Type Five - “I will be secure if I withdraw from harm.”
Type Six - “I will be secure if I am always aware of danger.”
Type Seven - “I will be secure if I can plan for the future.”
Type Eight - “I will be secure if I can control the world around me.”
Type Nine - “I will be secure if I have peace.”
XI. Freudian Association
From my article, “The Freudian Theory of Enneagram”
Type 9: Ego Mediator.
Basic Fear: To be lost, to be annihilated.
Basic Desire: To have stability and peace of mind.
The ego is the rational mediator between id, superego, and the outside world. Type 9 individuals focus their energy on this ego function, making them the regulators of their own mind. They want every facet to mesh well, and their ideal state is one of inner harmony as the id, superego and outside world coexist within them perfectly.
You could think of the Type 9 as loving balance: they want to make sure their id is not too pushy, and their superego isn't demanding too much, and the outside world is minding their place. If one or more elements becomes out of balance, the Type 9 can get paranoid and suspicious like an unhealthy 6 because they lost the harmony that they invested so much in.
The Type 9 is often called "the mediator" because they seek to eliminate threats to their harmony within their universe, and this sometimes entails settling disputes with other people. But look at the word "mediator" in a broad sense: they want to mediate their inner world, and sometimes they mediate things in the outer world because of it.
The Type 9 is probably the best representation of the ego in the enneagram. It's my opinion that the purest form of love is created by the ego, and that shines through in the Type 9.
To Encourage Integration: Be selective about what you do; don't put yourself in situations that will unbalance you. You want to meet and maintain your ideal inner harmony.
To Avoid Disintegration: In tough situations, don't let the stress paralyze you. Because Type 9s are constantly mediating their id, superego and the outside world, they may succumb to simply "shutting down" when it gets too hard. Don't withdraw like that; power through it.
Type 9 Wings:
Type 9 with an 8 Wing (Ego-Id): The 9w8 has a slight id edge that makes them assertive and powerful like a Type 8. However, their aggressive tendencies are looked at in the light of maintaining harmony: they are only going to act like an 8 when it's to maintain the inner peace. Type 9w8s in difficult situations can often mistype as Type 8s because of this.
Type 9 with a 1 Wing (Ego-Superego): The 9w1 has elements of the superego Type 1 in their personality. They embrace the ego ideal of being calm and collected and tend to back off in a conflict. They are more likely to solve a situation by withdrawing instead of fighting, like a 9w8 would. This makes the 9w1 generally more apt to solve interpersonal problems between other people than a 9w8.
“The only journey is the journey within.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke