Type Five exemplifies the human desire to understand, to look beneath the surface of things, and to arrive at deeper insights about reality. Fives prefer the life of the mind, both as a way of understanding the world and—given the unlimited power of imagination—as a way of escaping from aspects of reality. It would not be farfetched to say that for many Fives, the inner world of the mind and the imagination is more real and vivid than the external world. Fives tend to have an experience and then spend many hours, days—even years—understanding it and its broader context. Fives are also highly innovative and inventive. They love "tinkering around," playing with concepts and overturning the accepted ways of doing things. This can produce extremely valuable, practical, and original works and discoveries or simply entertain them for many hours with no practical results.
Fives are truly the most independent and idiosyncratic of the personality types, the people who could most appropriately be called "loners" and "misfits." They are people who truly march to a different drummer, pursuing their interests and curiosity wherever their investigations may take them. Some Fives can seem downright odd to people while others keep their "weirdness" more below the surface. In either case, Fives are intensely determined to pursue the questions and ideas that fascinate them: so much so that relationships and financial considerations can become unimportant to them.
These qualities result from an extraordinary ability to focus their attention. Fives will stay with a problem or a question that fascinates them until it is solved, or until they discover that it is unsolvable. Boredom is unimaginable to them because there are so many fascinating things to explore, understand, and imagine. The downside is that their capacity for concentration enables them to get deeply engrossed in their complex inner worlds, sometimes to the extent that they forget their surroundings or even to take care of themselves.
Thus, Fives can get involved in work, reading, or in their own thoughts in such depth that they are often late for meetings and don't hear phone calls. They forget to eat or to take adequate care of themselves physically. They will live on soda and candy bars, or stay up all night writing a story or trying to solve an interesting problem. They will pour over the computer terminal for hours, or disappear into the stacks of the local library, only to emerge five minutes before closing with an armload of books as they head to the nearest coffee shop to continue reading.
But this doesn't mean that Fives always want to be alone or that they can't be excellent company when they are with others. When Fives find someone whose intelligence and interest they respect, they are invariably talkative and sociable. Fives love to share their insights and expertise with just about anyone who appreciates what they have to say. They also enjoy sharing their findings with others, and their observations of life's contradictions and absurdities are often served up with a whimsical sense of humor. Fives can be the most enriching of friends since they are a treasure trove of information, speculation, opinions, and intensely felt ideas. But they can also be the most impenetrable of enigmas, a mind bristling with energy and intelligence that signals "Stay away! Leave me alone to follow my thoughts wherever they may lead!" Fives are the kind of people others usually find strange, quirky, and intriguing—they always have more going on than meets the eye.
In brief, Fives want to understand reality, to possess knowledge, to find a niche for themselves that others have not explored, to be free to explore their own inner worlds, to have sufficient solitude and time for their projects, to feel confident and capable, and to unsettle the unquestioned certainties of others. Fives do not want to feel uninformed or incapable, to have their competency questioned, to accept easy answers, to be intruded on (or "managed"), to be forced to respond before they feel ready, to suffer the ignorance of others, or to ask for help.