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Enneagram Type Nine Explained

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

A Complete Guide to Enneagram Type 9


If you or someone you know is easily satisfied with the simple things in life, gets along with just about everybody, and is deathly afraid of conflict, then they may be a Type Nine Peacemaker.


Also if you’ve tested or been told by others that you’re a Type Two, Four or Six, but you're not quite sure, then this may help confirm or change the Enneagram type you identify with most, because those three types often mistype themselves as Nines and vice versa. You can also reach out to schedule an Enneagram type consulting call.


Major Personality Traits


Type Nine is called the Peacemaker because this type is driven by a deep desire to create and maintain harmony in their environment. They want things to be nice and pleasant all the time. This makes their core fear essentially anything that disrupts that equilibrium--specifically, they’re afraid of disconnection. Nines are terrified of people or things falling away that they’ve become attached to, which is why they work so hard to keep the status quo, for better or worse.


If you take a look at the actual shape of the Enneagram, you’ll see that Nines sit at the very top, and are sometimes referred to as the “Crown of the Enneagram” because they, more than any other type, have a natural sense of empathy for all other Enneagram types.

Sometimes they empathize so deeply with other people’s perspective that they lose touch with their own thoughts and feelings.

This is why Nines get a bad wrap for being “lazy” despite the fact that they can be highly productive and high-earning individuals. This label also comes from the fact that the Enneagram was merged with the Christian idea of the seven deadly sins long ago, and the deadly sin assigned to the type Nine was sloth.


The sloth or laziness of the Nine is more like a deep avoidance of negative emotion--sometimes that can be binging Netflix on the couch for 12 hours to avoid the pain of exercise, but it can also be staying in a terrible job for decades because applying for a better job would require the discomfort of putting themselves out there. Nines are masters at numbing their pain in the sweetest ways so that no one ever really calls them out for it, as they can look very supportive, chill and/or easy to be around.


Ultimately, Nines are super empathetic, observant people that see a lot more than they say, and if they can only risk leaving the safety of their mental or physical cocoon in order to engage with what’s really happening around them, they can be incredible agents of change through their warmth, encouragement, and nonjudgmental sense of empathy.


Childhood


In their earliest years, Nines often start out looking like Threes as they exude a sort of innocent confidence or desire to stand out. They may feel capable of attaining any goal, right up until the moment they experience some sort of deep loss or family drama.


Many Nines experience a familial trauma early on in life, like the death of a sibling, a messy divorce, or even sexual abuse of some kind, which causes them to start a pattern of hiding from the scary or unfamiliar parts of the world. Ironically, Nines rarely describe their childhood as super unpleasant or traumatic as they develop an instinctive reaction to disassociate from painful experiences.

This often causes Nines to endure long term relationships with extremely unhealthy people because they don’t feel the pain of a toxic relationship in a visceral manner.

Type Nine children found that harmony was achieved at home by being a "low maintenance" child, and that expressing their needs or emotions, especially anger, caused way more problems than it solved. Nines then began to over identify with the needs of both parental figures as a way of keeping the peace. This can really stunt the Nine's personal growth, because staying connected so closely to their parents often prevents them from becoming independent people, and they learn to hide in the background of someone else's life. Another way to put it is that Nines learn to suppress their desires, which is an incredibly de-energizing pattern, and so they start looking to other people as a fuel source to motivate or direct their lives.


Wings


Every Enneagram type has what’s known as a “wing”--it’s simply an overlap of traits with the personality type directly to the left or to the right of your primary type. So Type Nines can either have an Eight wing or a One wing. You always have a stronger leaning toward one wing over the other at any given time in your life.


The REFEREE / THE COMFORT SEEKER

Enneagram 1 wing 9

The Nine with an Eight wing (9w8) is one of the most confusing subtypes within the Enneagram because the core traits of a Nine and an Eight are drastically different.


The 9w8 is typically more extroverted, sociable, assertive, and funny with a silly yet sharp sense of humor than 9w1's. Eights are by nature highly energetic and ambitious as they drive towards realistic goals that bring material wellbeing, so this subtype tends to be more focused on attaining a comfortable home life while also pursuing a more vibrant social life than 9w1's. The physical energy of the Eight may also drive this type to be involved in competitive sports, but once the game is over, they crash hard.


This type is full of contradictions, so although they may be deferential and physically lazy in one moment, in the next moment they can be competitive, and even cocky, about their abilities. This goes for their work life too, as 9w8's believe they’re a vital part of the team and yet they don’t typically advocate for themselves when it comes to raises or promotions.

In relationships, Nines with an Eight wing can really confuse their loved ones because they’re prone to intense outbursts of anger, and suddenly shift "back to normal" like nothing happened.


Eights are both very comfortable with anger and very self-assured, while Nines are great at ignoring problems, so this subtype is an expert when it comes to compartmentalizing their emotions. This also makes them very defensive as they’re convinced of their reality no matter how poorly they, or other people, have behaved.


When 9w8's are going through a tough time, they can look like Type Fours because they withdraw from the outside world and can be flat in their expression. You know 9w8's aren’t doing well when they suddenly erupt into tearfulness because they’ve lost their greatest strength of holding back impulses. Yet even at their lowest, the Eight's desire for control mixed with the Nine's inability to ask for help makes this subtype incredibly difficult to support. When they are emotionally stable, Nines with an Eight wing are beautifully accepting, engaging individuals that can balance silliness with stability.


The DREAMER

Enneagram 1 wing 2

Unlike Nines and Eights, Nines and Ones have a lot of complimentary traits: their ability to suppress emotions like anger, their desire to live in an ideal world, and their tendency to have keen observations about other people and their surroundings. All of this makes 9w1's a lot more introspective and self-controlled than 9w8's. It also makes them less concerned with reality because they prefer to live in the world of ideas, symbols, or concepts, hence the nickname “the Dreamer.” This tendency can make them seem almost naive because they’ve got a pie-in-the-sky view of reality.


One of the best traits that Dreamers have is their integrity--they naturally do the right thing. They were often a model child growing up, and may even look like Threes because they never really broke the rules--not because they were scared of getting in trouble, they just didn’t care to.


When 9w1's aren’t doing great, they can be super critical and complacent. They can sit back and smolder with resentment as they justify their lack of participation with the outside world on the basis that society is a broken or unfair system. They can have a “what’s the point” mindset that makes them less likely to take risks or adventure out into the world. The philosophical nature of Ones also keeps Nines from taking practical actions to advance their life or make the changes they wish to see in the world, and instead they read another book or take another class or start a new hobby. All of this can make Dreamers really endearing because it seems so harmless, but their tendency for self-sabotage has lifelong consequences.


Unhealthy Nines with a One wing can end up looking like Type Five Investigators because they completely withdraw from mainstream society and begin to cultivate a weird, neurotic world in which they’re become incredibly isolated. At their best, 9w1's can be incredibly wise, gentle, and caring people that make great therapists and teachers as they have a synthetic mind capable of making fascinating connections in order to present a vision of a far better world, and a far better you.


Integration & Disintegration


The concept of a movement toward integration and disintegration is a central teaching of the Enneagram. It’s the idea that we embody the traits of other personality types depending on how healthy we are.


Disintegrated NINES

Enneagram 1 disintegration to type 4

When Nines are not healthy, their movement of disintegration is to take on the worst traits of the Type Six Loyalist, and they become filled with anxiety. They deal with this anxiety like a Six would, and since Sixes are primarily concerned with their security, Nines begin working frantically to secure their life by doubling down on their work and their relationships. Disintegrated Nines say “yes” to the demands of their family, friends, and/or their job out of fear rather than love, and as a result, they become passive-aggressive because deep down they resent having to sacrifice their true desires in order to quell their anxiety and find some peace of mind.

Integrated NINES

Enneagram 1 movement of integration to type 7

When Nines are healthy, their movement of integration is to the Type Three Achiever. This marks a major shift in the Nine's behaviors as they finally learn to stand up for themselves, to go after their dreams, and take practical steps towards self-improvement. The essence of the Three is naturally assertive and self-confident, so integrated Nines stop all the self-effacing behaviors and find a new level of self-esteem that attracts the kind of opportunities and relationships they knew deep down were always possible.


Instincts


The Enneagram instincts describe the most basic ways we function in our daily lives. The pattern normally goes that we operate out of one primary instinct, then our secondary instinct really just serves the first, and the last instinct is usually repressed due to some formative experience we had growing up.


Instincts are the reason why people typically mistype themselves, or get mistyped by others. Your instinct can operate so intensely that it’s what most people experience when they’re around you, so they make a superficial read ("oh you're so extroverted you must be a Three or Seven").


The three instincts are the self-preservation instinct, the social instinct, and the sexual instinct.


Self-Preservation

The self-preservation instinct focuses on our physical wellbeing, so Nines that operate primarily out of their self-preservation instinct enjoy the simple, material things in life. They like a cozy home and a nice meal. They tend to be super easy going people who don’t ask for much because they don’t want that much. They’re natural minimalists that tend to settle on whatever they grew up with.


Sadly, this instinct makes complacent Nines even more complacent, and despite being very talented individuals, they lack the energy, confidence, or support necessary to go after a better life. As a result, they fall back on enjoying the little things in life--a pint of ice cream, a cold beer, a movie they’ve seen a million times--not out of a refined sense of gratitude, but rather out of a sense of not deserving more.


Self-preservation Nines numb their desires by doing little chores and tasks around the house so they never have to tackle major projects. Self-pres Nines often struggle with their weight because food becomes their main source of comfort, as it keeps people coming together for meals and it keeps them enjoying their life just enough to feel okay.


Social

Nines that operate primarily out of their social instinct are usually awesome people to be around. They’re beloved by their friend groups since they’re typically down for anything and rarely, if ever, have conflicts with people. Their desire for harmonious social interactions makes them super adaptable, and they usually have a quick sense of humor, especially if they have an Eight wing.


Nines see and think a lot more than they say because they’re terrified of rejection or conflict. They often stuff their true feelings and opinions so they can hide safely in the background of someone else's life or community. When social Nines finally feel like their environment is becoming overwhelming, they start to get passive-aggressive or give the silent treatment without actually having the courage to leave.That’s because they have a profound ability to be physically present while being mentally and emotionally absent.


When unhealthy, social Nines begin to fear that their rising anger will alienate their loved one, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because the Nine's arrogance mixed with their distaste for conflict kills any chance of reconciliation.


Sexual

The sexual instinct is all about a desire for heightened experiences, not just physical intercourse. Sexual Nines look for intense, aggressive people to charge them up. They don't feel capable of bringing their own energy to life, so they attach themselves to people with a deep, emotional gas tank to leech off of.


While all Nines have a bit of a hard time being independent people, sexual Nines have the hardest time fostering their own unique identity, which is ironic because those that know the sexual Nine usually experience them as fun, witty, and creative people. This makes sexual Nines a bit of a catch, so they typically don’t have a hard time finding a mate that they can then merge identities with. In a profound act of codependence, sexual Nines start thinking in terms of "our life" rather than "my life with him or her." The merging of identities makes it extremely difficult for sexual Nines to see or accept their partner's flaws because it feels like "our flaws" rather than "his / her flaws." This causes a great deal of dormant rage to fester within the sexual Nine as they cannot bring themselves to leave a loved one despite the chorus of critical thoughts they have about them. In their unhealthiest state, sexual Nines find an equally codependent mate and together they go down with ship.


Triads


There are three triads within the Enneagram. These triads all group personality types based on shared behaviors that can really help you to understand why you’re so similar in one area and so different in another. The triads have evolved over time and are a major way the Enneagram integrates widely held concepts from mainstream psychology. They’re a great reminder of the ways we share so many behaviors with each other no matter what personality type we are.The three Enneagram triads are the Triad Centers, the Harmonic Triad, and the Hornevian triad.


Enneagram 1s as part of the Gut or Body Triad Center

Triad Centers

Type Nine Peacemakers are in the Gut Triad along with Type Eight Challengers and Type One Reformers. Nines are actually the impinged type of the Gut Triad, which just means they’re in the middle of their triad and so they’re the most blind to the issues that all gut types have. So Eights, Nines, and Ones all struggle with rage due to their lack of control over their environment. Eights externalize their rage because it feels powerful, Ones suppress their rage because it feels morally wrong, and Nines just try to ignore the rage completely. This causes Nines to have unexpected explosions of anger and then feel ashamed about it. They have the issues of both Eights and Ones, which is why they are the impinged type.


Harmonic Triad

The Harmonic Triad is all about the way we cope with pain, trauma, or failure. The three groups are the competency group, the positive outlook group, and the reactive group.

Nines are in the positive outlook group alongside Type Two Helpers and Type Seven Enthusiasts. The positive outlook group deals with pain exactly how it sounds, and they’re masters at finding the silver lining. For Nines, they’re often in denial about how bad things are because their greatest fear is a loss of harmony and connection. Nines really need help processing hard feelings like grief in order for their “positive outlook” to be grounded in reality rather than their hardwired instinct to avoid pain.


Hornevian Triad

The Hornevian Triad is describes the general ways each type behaves social situations. Each type's primary instinct has a ton of influence here. The three groups of the Hornevian Triad are the withdrawn group, the compliant group, and the assertive group.

Nines are in the withdrawn group along with Type Five Investigators and Type Four Individualists. Peacemakers deal with social discomfort by withdrawing into themselves. They may be able to stay physically present and stay out partying with the group until late into the evening, but they withdrew into their head hours before the night ended and have been daydreaming about what they’re going to watch, read, or eat when they get home. If Nines don’t have a strong social instinct, it can be incredibly difficult to get them out of the house and into the world to experience anything even mildly adventurous.


Practical Exercises

The Enneagram is incredibly critical and it touches on the most sensitive areas of our lives. That’s because it’s foundational belief is that the ego, or what most people call your personality, is just the YOU you’ve become to survive in this world.


There’s a layer below your ego called your essence, or your “true self.” Think about it like becoming the best version of your personality. Either way, the only process to get that true self out of you is to become aware of that top layer of your ego so that you can make healthy choices to either identify with it or transcend it.


Here are a few ways Type Nine Peacemakers can choose work on transcending their ego:

  1. Get into your body: Nines have a really hard time tapping into their emotions, especially anger or aggression in anyway, and things like exercise, yoga, or even competitive sports are a great place for Nines to start feeling their feelings.

  2. Have honest conversations (even about the negative): Remember that Nines are in their healthiest state when they can comfortably face negative emotions. Nines will also have the healthiest relationships possible when they can share these negative emotions with loved ones. Nines are prone to harboring resentment for others, so it’s a wise practice to have honest conversations in the moment if some one close to you has hurt your feelings.

  3. Speak up: Nines love to go with the flow at the cost of losing their voice in the group. Nines need to practice speaking up for themselves, even if it’s just saying “I’m a bit tired, but if you really want to go, I’ll come with.” Nines should notice when they’ve started to drift mentally within a conversation because they simply don’t want to be there. It’s okay to tap out and let others know what you need.

  4. Shift out of cruise control: Nines really, really need to notice when they’ve put their life into cruise control. Because Nines love the status quo--they will coast in less than optimal situations for decades at a time. Many older Nines report feeling like they never truly lived their life because they got swept up in a job or a relationship that made all their choices for them. Nines are filled with unique interests, but it’s going to feel incredibly uncomfortable for them to put the spotlight on themselves and go after those interests and deeper passions. So Nines would do well to practice making conscious decisions about how they spend their free time, what they do with their money, who they hang out with, and especially what they do for work--because all those little decisions add up to a life they can be proud of.


Bonus Fluff


🇸🇪🇯🇲 Country: For the Type Nine Peacemaker the countries are Sweden and Jamaica--think about remaining neutral in WW2, and having the chillest attitude about life 24/7.


🐘🐬 Spirit Animal: The Nine's spirit animals are the elephant and the dolphin. Such sweet and gentle creatures.


✨ Famous Type Nines: Walt Disney, Mr. Rodgers, Jack Johnson, James Taylor, and Morgan Freeman


🦸 Marvel: In the Marvel Universe, there are two, both up for debate. First is Bruce Banner, since his whole struggle is getting in touch with his subconscious pool of anger, and second is Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy because “we are Groot” is the most Peacemaker statement!



SOURCES: Much of this information comes from an amalgamation of sources, but the primary source of this information comes from the works of Russ Hudson and Don Riso of the Enneagram Institute (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Personality Types, Understanding the Enneagram), followed by Richard Rohr's The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, and Helen Palmer's The Enneagram in Love & Work.

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