Some people see the world as dangerous, and some see it as safe. Some see it as just or unjust. Nevertheless, we all live in the same world. Elements of our personality color our views, and human perception is little more than an inkblot test. One purpose of the Enneagram of Personality is to describe the various lenses that distort our perception of the world. If you believe that the world is ultimately cut off from you, that you must be competent, and that the objective of life is to sustain, then you might be:
TYPE FIVE: THE INVESTIGATOR
(Also known as “The Observer”)
I. Introduction to the Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a personality classification system comprised of nine types. Each one of these nine types represents a distinct set of motivations, fears, desires and virtues. This article (and the other articles in this series) are designed to present each of the nine types in an understandable and comprehensive way. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, as it is the most popular personality instrument discussed on PersonalityCafe. The Enneagram is a fantastic compliment to the MBTI test because the Enneagram deals with core motivations, while MBTI deals with information processing. When taken together, MBTI and Enneagram can provide an accurate description of an individual's personality.
These articles are intended to describe each Enneagram type from the ground up, starting with the most fundamental motivations of that type and moving up to how those motivations are expressed in the real world.
II. Quick Facts about Type Five
These facts will be described throughout the article.
Holy Idea: Omniscience
Enneagram Triad: Head (Associated Emotion: Fear)
Hornevian Triad: Withdrawn
Harmonic Triad: Competency
Basic Drive: Conservation of Resources
Basic Fear: Helplessness
Basic Desire: Competency
Freudian Association: Ego
III. Type Five Description
One of the most fundamental concepts in the Enneagram is that every type is associated with some facet of Being. This facet is called the Holy Idea, and all other type traits flow from it. For Type Fives, their Holy Idea is omniscience, which refers to limitless knowledge.
In a perfect world, the Type Five would be all-knowing. But this is not a perfect world, and the Five is confronted with the unpleasant reality that there are a myriad number of unknown possibilities and variables. This is fundamentally shocking to the Type Five, and they withdraw to compensate for it. They become observers; reserved, but planning, and always watching.
Type Five is a Head triad, and so, the fixation for Type Five is fear. But what is the fear of a Type Five? Type Five is naturally withdrawn, existing in a state of separation from others that is not easily remedied. This is more than just introversion, this is a fundamental and existential belief that the Type Five cannot ever completely connect with others. There will always be some part of them that remains withdrawn, no matter how extroverted they happen to be. Thus, the fear is helplessness; that they will end up stranded on their existential island of isolation.
That fear is addressed through careful observation and planning. They operate from a conservative position, looking to act when the benefits are the greatest and the risks are the lowest. This is one manifestation of their Freudian ego fixation, which rationally balances out the impulsive desires of the Id against the cautious, risk-adverse Superego.
The vice of Type Five is avarice. You can think of a “vice”, at least in the context of the Enneagram, as representing an illusory means of pursuing the basic drive. In this case, greediness is one way that the Type Five can appear to satisfy their existential crisis. However, this is merely deception because the fear of helplessness is more fundamental than anything that can be satisfied with material gain.
The virtue of Type Five is detachment. Detachment provides the Type Five with security, as they are capable of observing and planning without being put at risk. This trait causes Type Fives to often be uncomfortable with their own emotions, seeing them as a hindrance to detachment. Fives often fear becoming too attached to a situation, and prefer to observe from afar.
Type Five is not necessarily the most “academic” or “intelligent” type. One misconception is that Type Five’s tendency toward observation has to translate into academic knowledge. In reality, that tendency can be channeled into any number of different ends. This is important to note because some people who are truly Type Five may dismiss that as a possibility because they’re not interested in academic pursuits. The key elements of Type Five are withdrawal, isolation, fear resulting from that isolation, and the use of observation as a coping mechanism for that fear.
This means that, generally speaking, Type Fives are withdrawn, thoughtful, cautious and inquisitive.
Type Five reminds me of a piece written by Khalil Gibran, who I believe was a Type Five. In his book The Madman, he writes:
“My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear – a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
The ‘I’ in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain forever more, unperceived, unapproachable.”
IV. Developmental Progression of Type Five
Early in life, the Type Five is sensitive to the concept of omniscience (the concept of unified, limitless knowledge.)
The material world (life) corrupts this ideal into the delusion that no such unity exists and the self must divide from the world to acquire this knowledge. (In reality, it’s the opposite.) This creates the fixation on observation that is characteristic of a Five.
The Five relies on avarice to give the illusion of retention; it gives the appearance that they won’t “lose themselves” existentially.
The Five’s virtue, detachment leads them to their growth point of Eight. As they become more confident in their knowledge, they can become assertive and bold like an Eight.
Enneagram theorists quickly discovered that each Enneagram type can have traits of the types around it. This is called “wing theory”, and while some theorists dispute the finer points of it, it's generally agreed that each type has a connection to the types around it and one of these connections will be dominant. For example, Type Two is surrounded by Types One and Three. Someone could therefore be a Two with a One Wing (Two as their main type with some Type One traits), or a Two with a Three Wing (Two as their main type with some Type Three traits.) The notation for this is 2w1 and 2w3, respectively. It is generally held that one wing is more dominant than the other; while you may have traits of both wings, one is more pronounced. Some believe that you can have balanced (equal) wings, but this Enneagram type description operates under the “dominant wing” theory, which is the most prevalent in the Enneagram community.
Type Five shares wings with Type Four and Type Six.
Type Five with a Four Wing:
The presence of the Four wing creates a certain flavor of Type Five that can best be described as an “incompatible outsider.” Both Type Five and Type Four are withdrawn types that see themselves as alienated from the world, so 5w4s generally care less about making their observations fit with the rest of the world. As a result, 5w4s tend to be more withdrawn and tend to pursue more eclectic endeavors. Many “spiritual gurus” are probably 5w4s. A 5w4 seeks to expand their knowledge of the world in a unique way and are often called iconoclasts because they are willing to ignore the established order of things and go their own way.
Type Five with a Six Wing:
Type Six is a superego type, and because of that, is primarily concerned with systems (whether internal or external) to help alleviate their existential fears. Type Five with a Six wing, therefore, checks their knowledge against the concreteness of the outside world. For this reason, 5w6 is the stereotypical “Scientist” type as they tend to be more methodical and concrete than 5w4. I have no doubt that the “scientific method” as currently known was formulated by a 5w6 at some point.
5w6 is typically associated with strong Extroverted Thinking tendencies, and is traditionally associated with the MBTI types ENTJ and INTJ. However, as will be noted later in this article, Enneagram exists separately from MBTI and any MBTI type can be any Enneagram type.
VI. Growth and Stress Arrows
One theme in the study of the Enneagram is interconnectivity. Each type is distinct, but it does not stand alone. We discussed Wings earlier, which shows how a type can have traits of the types next to it. Another example of interconnectivity are stress and growth arrows. When an individual is in a state of stress or growth, they can take on traits of other types. There is some disagreement within the Enneagram community as to what precipitates a stress or growth condition, but I believe that the most logical interpretation of this is that a type becomes stressed when they succumb to their vice, while a type grows when they are following their virtue. Following a vice is a natural response, as it is the easy way out. Virtues are risky because they cause a person to confront their “dark sides” or fears and may result in a radical reassessment of one's thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, the Enneagram is a system of personal growth and the stress/growth arrow dynamic reflects that, as it embodies the concept that transcendence is hard work, and it's always darkest before the dawn.
This is also in line with the overarching theme that the Nine types are basically just different means of perceiving reality, and no type is more correct than any other.
Growth Arrow to Type Eight:
One key distinction between Type Five and Type Eight is that Five will meticulously plan while Eight will take intuitive (gut) action. As a Five accumulates a better understanding of the landscape around them (whether that be academic, social, or otherwise), they experience a growth arrow toward Eight. While in a growth state, they will be more inclined to act assertively based on their “gut reactions.” They can be forceful, self-assured and headstrong in advancing their interests.
This would normally be a dangerous thing for a Five; after all, the fear of existential helplessness would be exacerbated by a reckless charge into action. Type Fives want to conserve (hence the vice of avarice), so acting reflexively could put that all into jeopardy. However, growth arrows, somewhat counter intuitively, reveal the delusion of the enneatype by placing it in a position contrary to its basic drives. In this case, embracing intuitive action shows the Type Five that they are not so vulnerable and do not require the kind of withdrawn protectionism that leads them to over-planning and over-cautiousness.
Stress Arrow to Type Seven:
When in a stressed state, the plans and observations of a Type Five tend to break down, putting them in an impaired condition until they can reorganize themselves. Their thinking tends to be scattered, resembling the often-unplanned thought of a Type Seven. They lose the focus that they normally depend on.
Stress conditions are almost analogous to a fever; while unpleasant, it helps clear the body of disease. In a way, a temporary condition of stress for a Type Five allows a reset and reorganization of plans that were obviously deficient, since they led to the stress condition in the first place.
VII. Type Five Variants
Self-Preservation Fives tend to be very withdrawn, taking advantage of their existential “safe space.” They also tend to be extremely careful with the resources under their command, such as spending. Self-Pres Fives are especially sensitive to issues involving their physical security or health.
Social Fives are usually very perceptive of other people, particularly their motives. They may see social relationships and connections as something to be conserved, as opposed to money or other material goods.
Sexual Fives are the most extroverted of the Type Five variants, and tend to be more willing to put themselves in harm’s way. They may take delight at occasionally (but not often) jumping into things without planning them out all the way.
VIII. Comparison within Triads
Within the Head/Body/Image Triads:
Head: These types are primarily concerned with their own thoughts.
Image: These types take action when it comes to their image, which they equate with reality.
Body: These types focus on the border between themselves and the world around them.
Within the body triad…
(Compared to Eight) Fives plan first and then act, while Eights are more likely to act and improvise as they go. Eights rely on instinctive action, while Fives rely on planning.
(Compared to Nine) Fives are more defensive than Nines and are usually more guarded.
(Compared to One) Fives are not driven by a strong morality complex like a One. Although they are certainly capable of possessing a strong moral code, it is not their primary motivation.
Within the image triad…
(Compared to Two) Fives may see the helpful behavior of Two as a liability. If they want to help, they are likely to help from afar.
(Compared to Three) Fives would be interested in maintaining a good image when it is advantageous to their role as an observer. Contrast this with Type Three. (Fives may fall in love with their own image, though.)
(Compared to Four) Fives, unlike Fours, will continue to try to connect to the world around them through understanding and observation. Both are withdrawn types, though, and they have two different perspectives on being withdrawn.
Within the head triad…
(Compared to Six) Fives, like Sixes, are driven by fear but a Five tends to worry less.
(Compared to Seven) From a Five perspective, Seven-like behavior would seem reckless and dangerous. This is the Five stress arrow, so it’s natural for a Five to see this behavior as something negative.
Within the Hornevian triads:
The Hornevian triads describe how each type copes with a situation. They were originally developed by psychologist Karen Horney.
In this context, “aggressive” means “action-oriented.” It doesn't mean belligerence.
Type Three – Takes action to gain success.
Type Seven – Takes action to keep engaged in interesting activities.
Type Eight - Takes action to secure more resources and to continue to consume.
Type Four – Withdraws to protect themselves from being absorbed into the crowd; to maintain their uniqueness.
Type Five – Withdraws to defend themselves and to get a better/clearer view of the situation.
Type Nine – Withdraws to maintain peace.
In this context, these types are compliant to their superegos. It doesn't mean that they are pushovers.
Type One – Complies with the superego because they will feel corrupt if they don't.
Type Two – Complies with the superego because they will feel useless if they don't.
Type Six – Complies with the superego because they will feel insecure if they don't.
Within the Harmonic triads:
The Harmonic triads describe the primary problem-solving skill employed by each type.
Type Two – Twos focus on their own goodness and virtue.
Type Seven – Sevens adopt an “it doesn't affect me” mentality.
Type Nine – Nines focus on the “silver lining” in a situation instead of negative aspects.
Type One – Ones must be competent to maintain their set of ethics.
Type Three – Threes must be competent to avoid challenges to their success.
Type Five – Fives must be competent to survive in the “outer world.”
Type Four – Fours may take things very personally, which makes them very emotionally intense.
Type Six – Sixes are observant of their world and react accordingly.
Type Eight – Eights are quick to react to challenges and to assert their boundaries.
IX. Enneagram and MBTI Interaction
The Enneagram describes motivations, while the MBTI describes modes of information processing. It would stand to reason that MBTI is subordinate to Enneagram, as the Enneagram deals with more basic motivations. Imagine that two people want to tell the same story, but one is a writer and one is a musician. One will write a book while the other will write a song but both have the same origin point.
So let’s look at each type and how that form of information processing would appear when directed by the primary conservation motivation of Type Five.
One note before we begin: Type Five is a withdrawn type, so some may wonder how a Type Five could possibly be an extrovert. Type Fives are not necessarily withdrawn all the time, and they can be extroverted; but there is always some part of a Type Five that remains in secret. Therefore, Type Five extroverts may seem less extroverted than other types. This effect may be “doubled” if the Type Five is an ENTP or ENFP, both of which are considered the “least extroverted of the extroverts.” This could lead some ENxP Type Fives to think that they are INxP Fives.
Extroverted Sensation Types (ESTP and ESFP)
Extroverted Sensation is associated with a strong connection to the “present moment” and places an emphasis on practicality in life. Instead of concentrating on abstract plans, ESxP Fives are more likely to seek out concrete details in an effort to better understand and master their world. They likely have a low tolerance for abstract planning, as it may seem like a fool’s errand to them. ESxP Fives are therefore some of the most extroverted Fives.
Extroverted Intuition Types (ENTP and ENFP)
Extroverted Intuition is essentially the opposite of Extroverted Sensing: instead of focusing on present information, Extroverted Intuition brainstorms a myriad number of possibilities that may or may not be true.
ENxP Fives can therefore create expansive plans, some of which are abstract and some concrete. ENxP Fives can enter cycles where they are very extroverted (when they are out seeking information to add to their plans) or very introverted (if their plans become expansive enough to essentially overwhelm them.)
Extroverted Thinking Types (ENTJ, ESTJ)
Extroverted Thinking breaks a process down into its logical components and checks it for logical consistency.
Extroverted Thinking Fives can therefore become masters of administration, particularly in groups or in a business setting. Their knowledge of whatever system they happen to be in will likely contribute their rise to authoritative positions, leading some ExTJ Fives to think that they are really ExTJ Eights. The difference between the two is simply rising with your natural aptitude (ExTJ Five) versus assuming authoritative positions out of a need to control others for safety (ExTJ Eight.)
Extroverted Feeling Types (ENFJ, ESFJ)
Extroverted Feeling refers to an awareness of the emotions or hidden beliefs of another, but does not necessarily imply that an Fe-dominant person must bend to those emotions.
This means that Extroverted Feeling types often have a unique insight into the intentions of others. ExFJ Fives use their talents for observation to carefully watch others and plan their interactions with them. ExFJ Fives likely have a keen sense for who they should interact with and who they shouldn’t, making ExFJ Fives probably the best at coming up with accurate first impressions of others.
Introverted Sensation Types (ISTJ, ISFJ)
Introverted Sensation types tend to use their experience to guide them; Si dominant Type Fives may be cautious and decide to master already-established systems to satisfy their need for safety in the outside world. I speculate that most expert chess masters are ISxJ Fives. Chess is a perfect analogy to the ISxJ Five outlook; it’s not a question of inventing new chess moves, it’s a question of learning the techniques and mastering what already exists.
Introverted Intuition Types (INTJ, INFJ)
Ni dominant types tend to have brilliant insights into “what’s going on”, although they do so in different ways.
INTJ Fives are natural planners and probably the most skilled planners in the Enneagram. They intuitively know what their plan should look like, and they logically organize incoming data to better understand that plan.
INFJ Fives are more person-oriented, and can do the same, but are usually more focused on social circles and the people within them. They are very likely to be social scientists.
Introverted Thinking Types (INTP, ISTP)
Introverted Thinking types (IxTP) emphasize the particular meanings of words and how each individual piece fits together within a concept. Introverted Thinking Type Fives do not have the wide array of observations that an Extroverted Intuitive Type Five might, but they analyze their observations in such great detail that they can easily get lost in their own head. For this reason, IxTP Fives are probably the most introverted of the introverted types.
ENxP – Many observations, quick to discard the ones that seem false. (Tendency toward brainstorming)
IxTP – Fewer observations, but analyzed in great detail, only thrown out after substantial analysis. (Tendency toward detailed exploration)
Introverted Feeling Types (INFP, ISFP)
Introverted Feeling types are concerned more about the essence of a particular subject than the gritty particulars. (This is the opposite for Introverted Thinking types.) As a result, an IxFP Five may move from subject to subject, gathering what they consider is the essence and moving along quickly. They may not see the little details as important, thus making them think that they couldn’t be a Five because Five is traditionally associated with Introverted Thinking-like behavior. However, this is not the case.
X. Paths to Security
Type One - “I will be secure if I'm perfect.”
Type Two - “I will be secure if I'm loved, appreciated or respected.”
Type Three - “I will be secure if I am successful.”
Type Four - “I will be secure if I am unique.”
Type Five - “I will be secure if I withdraw from harm.”
Type Six - “I will be secure if I am always aware of danger.”
Type Seven - “I will be secure if I can plan for the future.”
Type Eight - “I will be secure if I can control the world around me.”
Type Nine - “I will be secure if I have peace.”
XI. Freudian AssociationFrom my article, “The Freudian Theory of Enneagram”
Type 5: Ego Knowledge.
Basic Fear: To be useless or helpless.
Basic Desire: To be competent.
Type 5 is an ego type, and like the Type 4, the Type 5 feels the stress caused by balancing the id, superego, and the outside world. However, they deal with it in a different way than the Type 4. The Enneagram Institute describes the key motivation of five: "To understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment." This "defense of self" aspect can only exist in the ego sphere.
The Type 5 is the most likely to declare that knowledge is power. And this makes sense: in an ideal world, the Type 5 would be all-knowing and thus able to handle any problems the ego might face. As the Type 5 becomes more confident in their knowledge, they become assertive like a healthy 8. If they feel that they are useless, they can stop caring and become apathetic like an unhealthy 7.
The cerebral nature of the Type 5, combined with the Type 5 tendency to withdraw into one's self, creates a rich inner world that's often inexplicable to other people.
To Encourage Integration: Recognize that you can do a lot of good with your knowledge; it's not just for your own mind alone. Feel free to be assertive but magnanimous with what you know.
To Avoid Disintegration: Don't over-think things. Type 5 is probably the most likely type to over-analyze and end up never taking action. This can lead to feelings of helplessness. As a 5, you'll have a tendency to pull away from your emotions. Don't let this alienate you from yourself.
Type 5 Wings:
Type 5 with a 4 Wing (Ego-Ego): 5w4s have the motivation of a 5 with the strong ego identity of a 4. The identity-focused four wing makes the 5w4 more iconoclastic and artistic, as they use their knowledge to drive their own path through the world. A 5w4 is likely to be more in touch with their emotions than a 5w6, although they're still not comfortable with them. 5w4 often resist the influences of others and can sometimes be mistaken for a Type 8 because of it.
Type 5 with a 6 Wing (Ego-Superego): The superego wants to create structure. Type 6 is a superego type, and so a 5w6 will be a more concrete thinker than 5w4 because of it. 5w6s are more likely to be scientific than a 5w4 - instead of using their knowledge to form an identity, they use their knowledge to make all the pieces of the world fit. This means that a 5w6 is less likely to be iconoclastic as they would favor logical systems; for example, the scientific method was probably formulated by a 5w6.
“The only journey is the journey within.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke