Enneagram Series: Type Nine
~converting vice to virtue on the path of personal transformation
The Peacemaker or The Need to Avoid
“At the cognitive level, the most decisive aspect of [type Nine] is the person’s deafening to his or her inner voices — a loss of instinct well hidden by an apparent animalization,” (Naranjo, 1990, p. 143)
Claudio Naranjo named type Nine, “Going With The Stream,” and Oscar Ichazo called this disposition, “Ego-In[dolence].” Nines are peace-loving, self-effacing, welcoming, and easy-going. They are great mediators who effortlessly see all sides of an argument, often without being in touch with their own opinions. For Nines, avoiding stress and conflict is everything. They can easily lose a sense of their own identity in an effort to keep the peace and would rather be asleep than awake when trouble comes. Stubbornness and staunch passivity are often problems for Nines. A type nine may say, “It is better to go with the flow, than to rock the boat. It doesn’t really matter if I take action. It is more important for me to feel comfortable and maintain peace.”
When aligned with Essence, Nines are steadfast and an oasis of hospitality, able to bring healing to conflictual circumstances and unite people. The invitation for Nines is to be ambassadors of healing and peace. The holy idea or inherent truth of type Nine is Holy Love, which states that the inherent quality of beingness is love.
Nines are part of the instinctual triad who try to manage sensations and most readily feel anger. According to Don Riso and Russ Hudson, in childhood, Nines, “. . . most wanted autonomy: they sought independence, the ability to assert their own will and direct their own life” (1999, p. 63). Ego boundaries are important in the instinctual triad, and Nines wall off portions of themselves, suppressing their feelings and instincts in an effort to resist outside influences, and depleting their energy by maintaining these borders.
Nine’s core temptation is sloth (squandering energy on nonessential activities/numbing), and their mental fixation is indolence or the desire to avoid exertion. While situated in the middle of the instinctual triad, Nines are typically out of touch with their anger. Helen Palmer described the Nine’s focus of attention as sectioning off awareness while on autopilot; a form of listening while also zoning out. According to Riso and Hudson, the internalized message is, “It’s not okay to assert yourself” (1999, p. 31). In pathological terms, Naranjo correlated unhealthy Nines with dependent personality disorder, over-adaptation, and the defense mechanism of narcotization.
Nine’s basic fear is of losing connection with others, and their basic desire is to remain peaceful, which can lead to “stubborn neglectfulness” (Riso & Hudson, 1999, p. 33). Nines identify with a self-image of being stable through detachment from their own feelings and impulses and most need to hear that their presence matters. They resist recognizing their own capability and vigor; wanting, instead, to be seen as gentle, friendly, steadfast, laid-back, and peaceful.
Nines attempt to solve inner conflict by withdrawing. Their conscious and unconscious feelings get muddled, and they retreat into the comfortable inner space of their imagination. Nines defend against loss and disappointment by maintaining an upbeat outlook and creating a positive narrative. They idealize their circumstances by focusing on the goodness in their environment and others. They prioritize adjusting to things as they are so that they do not feel overwhelmed by the demands of life, others, or their own needs. The thought is, “What problem? I don’t think there is a problem” (Riso & Hudson, 1999, p. 68).
When Nines handle stress unskillfully, they feel anxious, worried, cynical, and become passive-aggressive, like the unhealthy Six. When Nines respond maturely, they cultivate their talents, develop their potential, and engage with the world in a proactive way, like healthy Threes. At their most mature, Nines embrace the virtue of decisive action and embody inner peace.
The path of growth for Nines is toward developing themselves, cultivating their talents, and becoming a presence in the world. Nines must learn to value their own worth. Ultimately, Nines must take the decisive action needed to fully embody their great potential.
I hope you have enjoyed this series on each of the nine enneagram types. If you would like to engage in enneagram mentorship with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almaas, A. H. (2000). Facets of unity: The enneagram of holy ideas. Shambhala Publications.
Chestnut, B. (2013). The complete Enneagram: 27 paths to greater self-knowledge. She Writes Press.
Hudson, R. (2021). The enneagram: Nine gateways to presence [Audiobook]. Sounds True. https://www.amazon.com/Enneagram-Nine-Gateways-Presence/dp/1683645790#:~:text=With%20The%20Enneagram%3A%20Nine%20Gateways,self%2Dknowledge%20and%20spiritual%20attunement.
Lilly, J. C., & Hart, J. E. (1975). The Arica Training. In C. Tart (Ed.), Transpersonal psychologies, (pp. 329–351). Harper & Row.
Naranjo, C. (1994). Character and neurosis: An integrative view. Gateways/IDHHB.
Naranjo, C. (1990). Ennea-type structures: Self-analysis for the seeker. Gateways/IDHHB Incorporated.
Palmer, H. (1988). The enneagram: Understanding yourself and the others in your life. Harper & Row.
Riso, D. R., & Hudson, R. (1999). The wisdom of the Enneagram: The complete guide to psychological and spiritual growth for the nine personality types. Bantam.
May your mind be peaceful and calm, may your body be relaxed and comfortable, and may your heart be filled with love.
Thank you for reading.
Blessings and gratitude, Ani