Enneagram Type Nine: Keeping the Peace – Sort Of

peaceHere we are, at the last stop on the Enneagram dial: Type Nine. Being last seems appropriate here, since when Nines are stuck in their personality, they think they’re no big deal and don’t really matter. But of course they do!

Nines sit at the top of the Enneagram symbol, and some teachers believe that Nine is the protopersonality type. That is, the original human personality type is Nine, and all others grew out of it over time during the course of human development. I can’t confirm or deny that, but it is interesting that many cultures that we Westerners would consider primitive have strong Nine characteristics. These include community, egalitarianism and the desire for a peaceful existence.

Nines reside in the Anger triad (8-9-1), but if you know a Nine, this will surprise you. They rarely, if ever, show anger. They seem very mellow, and they are amenable to just about anything. They would not even be aware of their own anger (for the most part) and would deny it as strongly as a mellow person can. But they are angry, all right.

Why? Nines are angry at being ignored. Why are they ignored? Because they don’t put forth their own desires as important. They are not forceful in their opinions, as Assertive types are, for instance. This is because they don’t want to rock anyone’s boat. If the group wants sushi for lunch but the Nine dislikes sushi, the Nine will acquiesce to the group’s desires in order to keep the peace. “It doesn’t matter” and “It’s not important” are favorite phrases of the Nine.

The Nine is called The Peacemaker or The Mediator. These roles are of great value in the world, but the desire for peace in the Nine most often arises from a desire to not lose connection with others. Loss of connection is the primal fear of the Nine and feels like annihilation, like negation of being. That’s heavy. That’s where the desire for unity and peace come from, and why Nines seem to never have a strong preference. Going along with what someone else wants is almost always less scary than staring into the void of non-being.

For this reason, Nines “fall asleep” to their own selves and to their own desires. This makes them sort of invisible, because they don’t contribute strongly like the louder or more assertive types. This strategy of “whatever” works a lot of the time, but eventually Nines notice that they are being overlooked or ignored, and then the anger kicks in. Humans want to feel significant, and Nines start to notice that other people may not think they are. They are most often passively aggressive, but sometimes a mellow Nine will EXPLODE in a rage that shocks those around him or her. Then, steam vented, the Nine returns to “normal.”

Conflict, understandably, is particularly difficult for Nines. A Withdrawn type, Nines will retreat from conflict into a beautiful Shangri-La of fantasy that Riso & Hudson call the “Inner Sanctum.” Only the “good” aspects of relationships are allowed into this secret garden, where the Nine can enjoy all the unity and community without real-world problems interfering. It can be said that Nines are often having a very different relationship than their loved one!

The passion of the Nine is sloth. Not that Nines are lazy in general – they are lazy about connecting with their own selves. Riso & Hudson explain that Nines think that in order to be connected to others, they must not be connected to their own selves. I was going to have lunch with a Nine friend and asked where she wanted to go. “Oh, I don’t care,” she said. I would not choose for us; I waited until she could actually get in touch with what she wanted. That can be very difficult for Nines initially, but it is a necessary growth step.

When Nines wake up to themselves and realize that they do matter, they bless the world with their welcoming demeanor and ability to listen. Nines do make great mediators and can be found bringing peace to situations large and small. Nines make you feel calm and welcomed. They, like the Apostle Nathaniel, are without guile.

Famous Nines include at least three presidents (Reagan, Ford and Lincoln), George Lucas, Audrey Hepburn and Walt Disney. Is there a Nine who’s famous in your heart that you’d like to share about? Or do you identify with this Type? Please share your insights and enrich our understanding of the beloved Nines!


  1. pattyobo on October 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Oh dear … I think I’m a nine.

    Number 9, number 9, number 9 ….

    Yep, don’t do conflict. Don’t choose restaurants either. Peace at all costs. Go figure.

  2. Heath on October 7, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Well, you had to be one of them! (You just had to wait longer than most to find yours because it’s last.) And no Type is better or worse to be than any other. As I say, it’s nine different flavors of brokenheartedness. Gurdjieff would call it nine ways of self-forgetting. So, if you are a Nine, welcome to your Nineness! Time to dive deep and explore your gifts, and what limits you from fully expressing them. It’s a really freeing journey.

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