Misidentifying Fours and Nines

Some average Nines think that they are Fours because they have artistic talents and creative inclinations of one kind or another. As in the case of love not being the sole domain of Twos, artistic capacity is not the sole province of Fours. Other types can be, and often are, artists.

Even so, the artistry of Fours is much more personal and self-revealing than that of Nines. The art of Nines often expresses idealized, mythological, and archetypal worlds–usually the real world glossed into something fantastic and wondrous. Nines are often gifted storytellers in which “…and they all lived happily ever after” is assured. (There are no unhappy endings in the Nine’s world of make-believe.) By contrast, the art of Fours is generally more personal and realistic, the expression of the Four’s (and of everyone’s) deep longing for love, wholeness, and meaning. Fours often deal in the tragic, finding redemption in self-transcendence; Nines deal in the commonplace, finding comfort in ordinary lives and simple situations.

The principal reason these types may be confused is that they are both withdrawn types. (PT, 433-36). Fours withdraw from others so that they can protect themselves and give themselves time to deal with their emotions. Nines, on the other hand, are withdrawn in the sense that they remove their attention from people or situations that threaten them, disengaging themselves emotionally so that they will not be anxious or upset. They cut off their identification with others (or never identify with them in the first place), identifying instead with a private idealized version of reality. Average to unhealthy Nines tune out any unpleasantness by dissociating from whatever upsets them, whereas Fours do just the opposite, brooding over their anxieties in an attempt to come to terms with them. Fours are certainly not detached from their emotions–just the reverse, they are keenly aware of them, perhaps too much so.

Both types can therefore be shy, absent-minded, confused, and detached from the real world. The difference is that Nines are detached both from the external world and from their emotions, whereas Fours withdraw from whatever has caused them pain. (In the end, that may add up to quite a lot.) Nines see the world through rose-colored glasses, and their view of it is comforting, whereas Fours see the world from a garret window as outsiders and are not comforted: everyone else seems to be living a happier, more normal life. Contrast the personalities of Mahler (a Four) and Aaron Copland (a Nine), Saul Steinberg (a Four) and Norman Rockwell (a Nine).