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Mistyping Series: Type Four vs. Type Nine

One of the hardest parts of the Enneagram is finding your Type--Nine Types with 54 combinations can create a lot of confusion and lead to mistyping. If you are unsure which Type you are between Type Four and Type Nine, read on for ways to find your true Type

Why Are These Types Mistyped? Because Both Types Can Be:

Withdrawn and Detached

Type Nines and Type Fours are a frequently mistyped duo partly because these Types are both part of the Withdrawn Triad--meaning that they move away from others into an internal world where they can find everything they need (Nines, to find the perfect amount of harmony and autonomy and Fours to find the ideal amount of significance and attention). Though they both withdraw, the intent and result of the withdrawal is different for the Types. Nines are more likely to withdraw from the physical world to maintain harmony in themselves. In this withdrawn state, though they may experience negative emotions, they attempt to find a more positive, harmonious frame of mind that allows them to remain connected to others. This determination to remain connected to others by smoothing out all emotions and situations to something harmonious results in a foggy sense of self for the Nine. Fours, on the other hand, withdraw in order to feel and process the depth of their emotions and can even slip into brooding and stirring up even more complex emotions. While in this state, Fours will meditate on and reinforce their differences from others, their sense of self (which they have a clear grasp on), their disconnection from others, and how there is really no way for others to truly know them.

Very Creative

Many Types will try to find themselves in descriptions of Type Fours since Fours are labeled as the creative Types. This is obviously too narrow a view of creativity as a whole and is a result of conflating ego structure, behavior, and interest in a broad term such as "creativity". All Types can be incredibly creative and have the ability to meaningfully contribute to creative arts and deep, meaningful expression. Type Nines (as all Types) are able to be creative and have productive, meaningful outpouring of creativity. They are particularly gifted in seeing the beauty in all things and illustrating the connectedness of humanity as a whole. When Type Fours are described as creative (which of course they are as well), this description speaks not only to their creative output as artists and human beings (which they are particularly prone to valuing this in themselves and fostering it for creative output), but also to the Type Four's hyper-individualization that causes them to live and express themselves in particularly singular manners. With their focus on individuating themselves to the point of establishing points of view totally distinctive to themselves, Fours will be able to create solutions, ways of living, and methods of expressing themselves that is unique and, indeed, highly creative.

Internally Experience a Myriad of Moods and Emotions

Though not commonly known by other Types, Type Nines and Type Fours both have deep feelings and experience themselves as having highly intense and varied emotions (i.e. moody). For anyone who knows a Type Nine, this could come as a shock since Nines seem to be pleasant, even, and amiable 99% of the time. Internally, they may be battling a storm, but we only see the calm seas. For Type Fours these emotional storms are more obvious and are more frequently expressed to others, since to keep their inner experience a secret from others would not be authentic to themselves nor useful in helping them in their quest of being individuated and deeply understood by others. This is not to say that Fours are unpleasant, but that they are less likely to question the need to express what they are feeling to others.

How Are These Types Different?

Frustration Type vs. Attachment Type (Object Relations Triad):

How Their First Relationships Shaped Them:

Looking at Types from a stance of Object Relations can provide a lot of clarity to the meaning behind some of the characteristics we see as similar between Types.

Type Four: Frustration Type

Type Nine: Attachment Type

What Does "Frustration Type" Mean?

When the Type Four's ego was developing, they did not feel adequately mirrored by the Nurturing Function and they did not feel adequately supported in their search for individuation by the Protective Function. The Four interpreted these first two "misses" as indication that they would NEVER get what they needed in these two areas and felt almost helpless under the weight of having to both mirror themselves and help themselves individuate. The feeling of frustration (and thus, The Frustration Triad) resulted from not only failing to receive what they needed as a developing ego, but also feeling that they would never reach the ideal amount of mirroring and support that would help them feel whole.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

Frustration (a sharp, totally dissatisfied frustration) will show up in relationships with the Type Four when the Four feels misunderstood or unsupported in their pursuit of individuations since this harkens to times when these areas were also not met and foreshadows that what they truly need to feel whole is really out of reach. The Four's frustration could result in sharp words or a withdrawal into the interior life that is much more satisfying to them and promises a possibility of gaining what they need.

What Does "Attachment Type" Mean?

When the Type Nine's ego was developing, they didn't feel adequately mirrored by the Nurturing function or adequately supported to individuate by the Protective function, which they understood as a deficiency in themselves that they did not elicit what they needed. As a result, the Nine anchored their sense of identity externally and decided to change and morph all parts of themselves that were inadequately "seen" or supported in order to (hopefully) get what they needed and avoid any feelings of disconnection from others. These changes that the Nine made to be seen, supported, and connected ultimately resulted in a muddy sense of self and a feeling that they didn't matter as much as others.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

Type Nines will frequently merge their preferences, ideas, opinions, and moods with others both because they feel that this prevents disconnection and also because their external anchor of identity muddies their sense of self (what is them and what is not them). They will struggle establishing and maintaining a separate "self" from the other and will adopt many of the preferences and characteristics of others to prevent any disconnection.

Heart Type vs. Body Type (Instinctual Triads): How Types Initially Process Information:

Type Four: Heart Type

Type Nine: Body Type

What Does "Heart Type" Mean?

Type Fours are members of the Heart Triad meaning that they first process information through their feelings. As a member of this Triad (along with Type Twos and Type Threes), Fours struggle with feelings of shame as well as issues around their identity. Fours try to establish their identity by hyper-individuating themselves and becoming a unique individual that is completely and totally self-understood and expressed perfectly to others for full understanding. This almost obsession with individuation can cause the Four to explain (and over-explain) their uniqueness to others, how they are NOT something that can be easily understood and will easily become frustrated when others do not understand or don't care.

What Does "Body Type" Mean?

Type Nines process information first through their gut or their instincts. Nines share this Triad with Ones and Eights and share a deep desire for autonomy and struggle with issues around justice and anger. Nines may not always express the anger they feel at the situations they are put in that threaten their autonomy or around the injustice that they witness or experience, but they feel it--sometimes to the point of needing to narcotize or numb (the Type Nine's Defense mechanism) the feelings in order to maintain connection.

Reactive Type vs. Optimistic (Harmonic Triad): Type: How Types Cope When They Don't Get What They Want

Type Four: Reactive Type

Type Nine: Optimistic Type

What Does "Reactive Type" Mean?

When the Type Four does not get what they want from a situation, they will react strongly (usually with intensity and passion) and will try to demand or provoke a similar response in others. Trying to "call out into the room" the issues at hand is a common value held by all members of the Reactive Types (Sixes and Eights), which Fours will do in order to fully express themselves and their experience of the situation. When Fours withdraw to think, they do so to more fully understand their feelings and may fall into brooding and working themselves up.

What Does Optimistic Type Mean?

When the Type Nine does not get what they want from a situation, they will first try to escape the situation in order to maintain a positive view of themselves and others; avoid seeing problems and conflict; and try to go along to get along. Many times, if they cannot physically escape they will mentally withdraw to be able to see the situation more positively than they do in real life. This escape often leads to the Nine feeling more positive about the situation than they did initially.

Helpful Typing Questions:

Ask "Why", "What Does It Mean", "How Would You Feel", and "What Would Happen"

Asking these questions in regards to any characteristics that a person claims as the reason for choosing their Type will help them gain a layer of clarity on the motivation behind the behavior.

Question: Though you feel emotions deeply and experience yourself as moody, how do others experience you?

Answer Hint: Both Types claim to have deep and ever-changing emotions in their internal lives, but Type Nines will find that others experience them as even and pleasant. Type Fours are more obvious about their moodiness to others as this helps themselves feel more understood.

Question: When you read descriptions of the Four what are you drawn to? Do you feel that the description could be more broad? Do you think it needs to be more narrow and specific?

Answer Hint: Type Nines, being an Attachment Type, will try to avoid things that could disconnect them from others. Nines who misidentify as Fours may be initially drawn to identifying as Fours because Fours are commonly described as creative and empathic (though these could describe many Types). Nines may try to broaden the description to encompass more elements from other Types in order to avoid committing to any characteristic that could disconnect them from others ("I'm a Four, but I also love be a part of a larger whole and belonging and helping others get along, etc."). True Fours, on the other hand, may initially disagree with the description of Type Fours because it's not specific enough ("It's not just green, it's pantone 13-2551 but a little more purple undertones"). They will limit and narrow the description enough to emphasize their uniqueness and separateness in attempts to accurately describe their eternally specific inner experience.

Ask Questions That Clarify Their Triad:

Asking for reactions based on the Type's Triads can also give a lot of clarity based on how they act in certain situation:

Question (Attachment vs. Frustration):

Question: How do you experience the idea of disconnection from others? How does it change how you act?

Answer Hint? Listen for answers that indicate a high level of fear of the possibility of disconnection (Type Nine) as opposed to a feeling that the disconnection and abandonment has already happened and a feeling hopelessness and resignation that it will happen again (Type Four)

Question (Heart vs. Body):

Question: How do you feel when others say that you are normal (about anything)?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that indicate an acceptance of being part of something (Type Nine) versus answers that are highly offended that someone would presume to know their experience of a situation and then class their experience as normal (Type Four) (this is offensive to Fours because being hyper-individuated IS their path to a significant identity).

Question (Reactive vs. Optimistic):

Question: When you withdraw to process a conflict or something that didn't go your way, what emotions do you try to emphasize?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that indicate a preference and preoccupation with staying positive and avoiding more dark emotions (Type Nine) versus answers that indicate a level of comfort with staying with (and even pursuing) darker emotions (Type Four).

For Typing help, questions, or to schedule a personal coaching session, email Kimberly at


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