As discussed in my post on Enneagram – Myers-Briggs correlations, Enneagram types 4, 5, and 9 all lean toward the Introverted end of the spectrum. True to Introvert fashion, they tend to keep the world at arm’s length. The Enneagram 9 aims to maintain inner peace by avoiding sources of stress or conflict. Both Fours and Fives are introspective and Intuitive (N), with Fours focusing more on their feelings and tastes and Fives on their thoughts and theories.
I first started thinking about this post when I was contemplating where Carl Jung’s personality might fit on the Enneagram. In my favorite Enneagram book, Personality Types, Don Riso and Russ Hudson type Jung as a Nine (9w1). Many of you may find this surprising and hard to believe, as I did when I first encountered it. After all, Jung was nothing less than an intellectual giant. So why not type him as a Five? On second thought, he also had a mystical bent—exploring matters like dreams, symbolism, synchronicity, etc. So maybe he was actually a Four?
If we take Jung’s self-depiction as a Thinker (T) and investigator at face value, we’d have to consider him a Five. But it’s also possible that Jung made these claims as a way of buttressing his reputation as a respectable psychiatrist who took truth and science seriously. There’s little doubt that Jung wanted people to trust his investigative methods and remain open to his observations and insights.
In order to get to the bottom of this issue, we need to reckon with some key questions such as: What was the primary motivation behind Jung’s work? What was it that drove his prolific creative achievements throughout his adult life? Exploring these questions should shed some much needed light on Jung’s personality type in particular, as well as Enneagram types 4, 5, and 9 in general.
Jung’s Primary Type / Role: Enneagram 4, 5 or 9?
I like to think of the Enneagram types in terms of the foundational roles or archetypes they represent. These roles—be it peacemaking (9), investigating (5), or otherwise—are what drive, sustain, and define them.
Let’s now return to Riso and Hudson’s assertion that Jung was a Nine. If Nines’ primary role is one of peacemaker, especially maintaining their own inner peace, then how does this square with what we know about Jung and his work? Namely, is there a sense in which his writing served as an avenue to his personal peace and comfort? If so, how?
Fours, and especially Fives, aren’t afraid to confront the darker sides of life and humanity. Both want to know and convey truth, however ugly or uncomfortable. Nines, by contrast, tend to shy away from certain realities that have the potential to make them or others feel uncomfortable. Simply put, peace and contentment are higher priorities for Nines than objective truth-seeking. According to Riso and Hudson:
Nines… have a philosophy of life that enables to quiet their anxieties quickly… their view of life is open and optimistic. But we may fault Nines when they refuse to see that life also has difficulties which must be dealt with. Their refusal to fix the tire when it goes flat, so to speak, is symbolic of their problem.
In other words, Nines look for ways of comforting themselves rather than engaging more honestly and directly with the messiness of life. They “don’t want to be affected by the environment.” I therefore see Nines as embodying “The Innocent” archetype.
In typing Jung as a Nine, I think Riso and Hudson may have been emphasizing the fact that Jung’s work contains an overarching message of hope and optimism. Namely, Jung believed that by communing with the unconscious—be it through dreams, insights, synchronicities, etc.—we can all live richer and more meaningful lives. Although Jung opted not to follow his father into Christian ministry, one could argue that his ultimate concern remained essentially spiritual in nature. He seemed to find the spiritual life he was seeking through his explorations of the unconscious.
By contrast, one might contend that Fives are interested in discovering truth irrespective of its spiritual implications. Indeed, many (although certainly not all) Fives seem content to self-identify or function as atheists. While they may stumble their way into a spiritual type of experience when deeply absorbed in their work, many will interpret it in physical (e.g., neuronal firing) or epiphenomenal terms. Even Fives with a religious bent may be more interested in tinkering with theological constructs than with spiritual experiences per se.
The Enneagram 4 seeks intensity of feeling through nature, romance, or various forms of aesthetic expression. Identity is another overarching concern for Fours, who invariably see themselves as special or unique in some way. It’s hard to say to what extent the average Four sees herself as religious or spiritual, although I suspect most would prefer the latter descriptor over the former. Compared to Nines, Fours are more disagreeable. They’re more likely to push the envelope in order to make a statement, even functioning as provocateurs. They’re not opposed to stepping on a few toes to get their message across. If Nines prioritize inner peace, Fours prioritize intensity of feeling and authentic self-expression.
So where might Jung fall on the Four-Five spectrum? Despite his prodigious creative activity, one doesn’t get the sense that he was an artist per se. He clearly prioritized content over style as a writer. Thus, from an Enneagram perspective, his work seems more Fivish than Fourish.
Having ruled out the Four, we’re left with two contenders: Nine or Five. So was Jung ultimately a seeker of spiritual comfort and reassurance (9) or objective truth (5)? Hard to say. To a certain extent, I can imagine both motivations co-existing in the same person. I think it’s possible to have a go-to source of spiritual meaning while simultaneously taking up investigations related to that foundation. This is essentially what scientists do, only their foundation is scientifically rather than spiritually oriented. It’s also possible that Jung’s observations regarding the spiritual benefits of engaging with the unconscious were, in a sense, objectively true; and this doesn’t make Jung any less of a scientist. So even if his work was spiritually concerned, this doesn’t rule out his being an investigator at heart or make him guilty of fudging or feigning objectivity.
All things considered, I think the incisive and penetrating nature of Jung’s work is more consistent with that of an Enneagram 5 (5w4) than a Nine. His writing suggests he was conversant with an incredible breadth of historical and literary sources. This bespeaks a willingness to confront reality in its myriad permutations rather than relying on only a few sources of comfort and reassurance. While Jung never stopped heralding the importance of the unconscious mind, I suspect his research and experiences—both personally and professionally—continued to provide good justification for doing so.
Learn more about personality theory and the 16 Myers-Briggs types in our books:
My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions
The 16 Personality Types: Profiles, Theory & Type Development
Enneagram Profiles: Four (4) | Five (5) | Nine (9)
Myers-Briggs / MBTI & Enneagram Correlations
Enneagram 4 & 5: How Myers-Briggs Type Affects Wing Preference
Kathryn Jackson says
Thanks for this thoughtful article. It’s a nice diversion to think about Jung’s type. Here’s an argument for 9w1. 9’s ability to empathize and their tendency to blend with others would have helped Jung in his work on personality. 9’s (above all others) are able to understand other types. The skill of seeing all sides to an issue helps in their peacemaking ability. The wing 1 could give Jung the motivation to be “right” and to write with accuracy and completeness which could be an alternative reason for the “breadth of historical and literary sources” you mentioned. Ironically, Enneagram purists would frown on trying to type another person! I guess only Jung really knows :) Thanks for your work!
Almost There says
If Jung is a 5, would you then say he’s an intj. I identify a lot with Jung. The things he said make so much sense to me. More sense than anything else. I’m not sure which enneagram type I am. I sometimes feel that the 4 type gets interrupted as an “artist”, who produces tangible art. Isn’t creative thinking just as much of an art form as anything else. Does art have to be tangible? If I said my purpose or vision in life was a Rembrandt painting. Detailed perfection. And the reality of how I feel about the tangible outcome of my vision was closer to a Picasso. Those two things are quite opposite. Perhaps the “gold” for me lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe “The Starry Night” by Van Gogh is a perfect combination. Impressions of reality. A combination of perfect detail and distortion. Is being an artist about making art or is it about understanding art? Is art about a persons ability to apply paint to a canvas or is it about an artist’s expression of the conscious and unconscious? If the ladder is true, I more inclined to think of Jung as a 4, infj. I’m also incline to put myself in the same category, so perhaps I’m projecting. I agree he is analytical, so am I. At the end of the day, for me the question comes down to, If Jung felt he would be taken seriously by his colleagues, would he have been so scientifically focused. And really can much of anything that Jung said really stand up to clinical scientific proof? Oh, maybe a better question is what came first, the creative emergence of his dreams and imagination or learning/reading/studying history and science? Did those studies lead to the emergence of Jungs work or did Jung already have these emerging thoughts and while reading about alchemy he started to connect the dots…..he found the “gold” that lay between science and art. Keep in mind, I define art as ANY expression of the artists inner landscape…….it has a soul/spiritual quality.
Namely, Jung believed that by communing with the unconscious—be it through dreams, insights, synchronicities, etc.—we can all live richer and more meaningful lives. Although Jung opted not to follow his father into Christian ministry, one could argue that his ultimate concern remained essentially spiritual in nature. He seemed to find the spiritual life he was seeking through his explorations of the unconscious.
He seems like a true artist to me…..but perhaps I’m wrong.
Rachel Miller says
Thank you for your article. A fun look at the three introverted intuitive types. (Before I finally realized I was a 9, I thought I surely must be a 4 or 5!)
However, an alternative perspective:
The whole, original purpose of the Enneagram is a spiritual tool to acknowledge and then ascend your type. For example, the 6’s are incredible worriers and bent out of shape by fear more than any other type. Therefore, when a 6 transcends his/her fear, they are one of the most courageous types. Source Richard Rohr on this perspective.
I myself am a 9w1. The past 5 years of my life have been upheaval. I am facing all my inner pain and baggage, and learning how to set boundaries with others and be okay with upsetting the basket and staking a claim for what I want. Perhaps I will be better than most at saying what needs to be said in a tactful yet clear manner.
Also, I am an INFJ. I used to think my strength was in Thinking (vs Feeling). And up until recently, I felt a great need to prove myself (my inner knowings and observations of patterns at large) because they wouldn’t be honored and taken without proof merely at face value. But a consultant in MBTI advised that the Thinking function is in my childlike position. Therefore, it is not as strong as my sense of Extroverted Feeling, and less yet than Introverted Intuition, yet I would get a childlike sense of joy from using it, when it may not be totally accurate on its own.
I don’t doubt that Carl Jung could have been 9w1 – self-actualized.
I was wondering if you are familiar with the work of Katherine Chernick Fauvre? Jung could have been all three in varying quantities. Katherine suggests that we all have a strong point in one triad followed by two more out of the other triads.
Thank you for the research that you do.
Hello, A.J., this article about Jung’s type makes so much sense to me. I’m very curious to know if you have any thoughts and feelings about Enneagram Subtypes ( the way a person’s instinctual sequence – Self-Preservation, Social and Sexual, in order of dominant, secondary, repressed – combines with the passion of that person’s Enneagram Type to arrive at a more specific nuanced type? And/or how the instincts might play into your analysis of Jung?
Almost There says
So after digging down deeper on the comments I made above, I was thinking in terms of Ni/Se. Perhaps the question is more of Te/Ti? I could say Jung created a system based on brain function? Was that system a Te system that he applied to the world at large? Or was it a Ti system that he used as a place within himself to apply scientific measures? Perhaps, I have limited understanding between Te/Ti? Obviously, he eventually extraverted these ideas, but was it more of intuitive expression tied to something scientific or was it a wide spread system that he applied to others and recorded the data? I’m not a Jung expert by any stretch of the imagination. These are questions. And again maybe I’m caught up in a loop of introversion.
Wonderfully explicated, as always. Funny how this post has me (INFJ 4w5) questioning whether I have a second ‘9’ wing. I often find myself seeking comfort rather than engaging directly with the messiness of life, as you describe of 9s. That said, I wonder if the passionate and intense truth seeking of the 4/5 at the end of its fuse just needs a known, familiar place of comfort to rest, in between forays into the artistic and theoretical wilderness. A home-base philosophy for the itinerant psyche, so to speak.
Understanding nines as “peace at all costs” types is not a complete understanding of nines. It’s not that it isn’t ever true of us; it’s just that it represents us in our very beginning stages of self-awareness (perhaps even prior to true self-awareness). Nines’s avoidance of conflict is a inversely proportional to our self-awareness–even moderately self-aware nines can be uniquely direct and empathetic simultaneously. Nines are also gut types, and VERY drawn to spirituality, even more so than to a specific dogma. INFJ nines in particular are looking for the ways that their spirituality and ideas has commonality with those of others’ and how (an admittedly herculean endeavor) to define ideas and spirituality in broad terms that include everyone. I have no problem whatsoever believing that Jung was a 9 (most likely w1) as a result. Just my humble opinion, though!