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Enneagram Type Nine

Updated on December 8, 2010

The world of the Nine

There are a lot more Nines than you think. One of their talents, as we’ll see, is not standing out. They blend in. They get by. They take it easy.

Nines like to fit into a social structure that supports them. They are comfortable in traditional roles, like Sixes, but unlike Sixes, their egos do not get caught up in the role. Nines have the weakest egos of any of the types, or to put it in a better light, they have the least identification with their egos of any of the types. As my friend Nick points out, Nines are the only type whose egos get more and more diffuse under stress. They zone out.

The stronghold of the Nine is the US Postal Service. It will be filled with Nines going about their rounds dreamily, secure in their job, with few demands made on them, and certainly no novelty to disrupt their routines.

What motivates them

Nines get a good deal of pleasure from things just rolling along on an even keel. They feel a part of the flow of life and nature. They will act to smooth over differences and restore calmness and good feeling.

Since Nines don’t stand up and yelp out their grievances, claw and bite in competition, or otherwise call attention to themselves, they fly under the radar. There are a lot of Nines out there just carrying on from day to day, making our world work.

What professions appeal to them

Well, the Postal Service, for one. I had to chuckle at Kevin Costner’s movie The Postman, which features a postman who rekindles the American spirit after a war pushes the USA to the brink of extinction. Kevin’s a 9/1. They are organization people who will gravitate to organizations that support them and give them a place from which to act.

The dreamy innocence of Nines can be quite endearing. I once knew a 9/1 who had been a semipro tennis player and who was approaching retirement. I asked him what his plans were, and he got a faraway look in his eye and said, “I know, thinking...of moving to Florida where it’s always nice and warm. And, it would be so nice to have little chain of laundromats.”

Talents and Traps

Nines make good diplomats, peacemakers, and family members. Their lack of ego involvement lets them take a wide view of situations; their innate humanity lets them act in the interest of others in a principled way, especially the 9/1 subtype. The 9/8 subtype, which is one of the rarer subtypes in general, has more energy and extroversion. They may often seem like they have a reservoir of energy right under their surface.

If Nines are betrayed, disillusioned, or subjected to a lot of conflict or angry emotional situations, they may become cranky and despairing, somewhat curmudgeonly, especially the 9/1 subtype. More often, they simply drift away mentally from the disliked conditions and become mentally and/or emotionally remote.

What they avoid

Nines do not gravitate to situations that, for example, a Seven would find stimulation: lots of movement and action, situations that call for rapid thinking or responding, situations that involve ordering others around or supervising them minutely.

What they seek out

When I think of Nine heaven, I think of Sunday afternoons in the park in late summer, where the children splash in the wading ponds and the sunset seems to go on forever. Families sit and enjoy each other’s company while keeping an eye on the kids. They share all the commonalities of life without paying attention to the divisions or disputes.

How they deal with fear and greed

Nines can be quite fearful, as they do not have the self assurance of the aggressive types (3, 7, 8). A large number of UFO contactees seem to be Nines, some of whom are greatly troubled by their experiences, and some of whom derive reassurance and comfort from positive interactions with the visitors. Greed is foreign to Nines.

How they handle money and resources

Nines probably fall into the middle of the pack as far as spending, but they do tend to trust their impulses, so they may be impulse buyers.

How you can spot them

Nines often have a childlike look, with large open eyes. Carey Guffrey, the child actor in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, is a 9/1. A person’s type may be observable from 24 months or less - certainly Carey, at four years of age, looks and acts like a Nine. I observed him as an adult and he still seems like a 9/1.

Healthy Nines will often look more like Threes. They will have a layer of polish and self confidence that other Nines may lack.

Some famous examples of the type

Perry Como, Bing Cosby, Geena Davis, Jon Anderson, Kevin Costner, Ronald Reagan, Donovan, Carey Guffrey, Queen Elizabeth, Augustus Caesar (as portrayed in I, Claudius), Al Gore, Tom Daschle, Roger McGuinn, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Walter Cronkite, Bob Crachett, Dinah Shore, Whitley Streiber, and Arlo Guthrie.


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