Enneagram Series: Type Five
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
~converting vice to virtue on the path of personal transformation
Utilizing the enneagram personality typology system (EPS) to make meaningful and lasting changes in our lives happens through recognizing and acknowledging the cage of conditioning from which we typically navigate the world. Then through present moment awareness, we are able to make life-giving and liberating choices. Each EPS type reflects a different perspective, none more or less valuable than the other. Being able to transcend that narrow perspective is where our freedom lies.
The Investigator or The Need to Perceive
"We may say that the implicit interpersonal strategy of holding on implies a preference for self-sufficiency in regard to resources instead of approaching others. . . Seclusiveness is, of course, part of the broader trait of detachment, since it requires emotional detachment and repression of the need to relate, to be in isolation.”
(Naranjo, 1990, p. 83, 85)
Psychiatrist, Claudio Naranjo, named type Five, “Seeking Wholeness Through Isolation,” and EPS developer, Oscar Ichazo, called this disposition, “Ego-Stinge.” Type Fives are curious, reflective, insightful, observant, natural mediators, and information synthesizers. For Fives, knowledge is power, and being self-sufficient is everything. Engaging with the world does not feel as safe as pondering its mysteries. Isolation, detachment from emotions, and quirkiness can be issues for Fives. A type five may say, “Commitments are draining, and I don’t need anyone. I must conserve my resources to guard against insufficiency.”
When aligned with Essence, Fives are innovative and offer a fresh, visionary, and open-minded perspective of the world. The invitation for Fives is to offer non-judgmental awareness as they engage fully with life. The holy idea or inherent truth of type Five is Holy Omniscience, which states that the reality of interconnectedness is experienced through engagement.
Fives are part of the head triad who try to manage thoughts and most readily feel fear in the form of a dread of insufficiency. Being on the edge of the heart triad, Fives can easily drop into guilt or shame. According to EPS experts, Don Riso and Russ Hudson, in childhood, Fives, “. . . most wanted security: to know that their environment was safe and stable” (1999, p. 63). Having a sense of support and inner guidance is important in the head triad, and Fives respond to fear by minimizing personal needs and disengaging with life in favor of inhabiting their own inner world of safety.
Five’s core temptation is avarice (retentiveness), and their mental fixation is stinginess/withdrawal or the desire to conserve their resources. Helen Palmer, renowned EPS teacher, described the Five’s focus of attention as the habit of detaching from emotions in order to observe. Fives typically withdraw so that others will not intrude or try to control them. According to Riso and Hudson, the internalized message is, “It’s not okay to be comfortable in the world” (1999, p. 31). In pathological terms, Naranjo correlated unhealthy Fives with schizoid personality disorder, aloof retentiveness, and the defense mechanism of isolation.
The Five’s basic fear is of being without competence, usefulness, or capability, and their basic desire is to display competence, which can result in pointless and endless ponderings. Fives identify with a self-image of being the detached observer and most want to hear that that their needs are important and not disruptive. They resist acknowledging their physical needs and natural emotions; desiring, instead, to be understood as one who is self-sufficient, intelligent, perceptive, objective, and novel.
Fives attempt to solve inner conflict by withdrawing. They respond to perceived pressure by retreating to their own inner sanctuary of ideas and concepts. Fives defend against loss and disappointment by being competent. They prioritize objectivity, clarity, logic, and abstraction, with an emphasis on separating from their own feelings. The thought is, “There are a number of hidden issues here: let me think about this” (Riso & Hudson, 1999, p. 68).
When Fives handle stress unskillfully, they move toward the unhealthy Seven. They become consumed by restlessness, chasing distraction and feeling ungrounded and a lack of centeredness. When Fives respond maturely, they drop out of their thinking minds and allow themselves to be fully embodied, live with gusto, participate whole-heartedly in life, and turn their knowledge into action, like healthy Eights. At their most mature, they embrace the virtue of non-attachment/benevolence and embody clarity.
The path of growth for Fives is to practice moving out of the realm of ideas and into actual physical presence. Fives must learn to let the world in by opening their hearts and participating, rather than just observing from the sidelines. Ultimately, Fives must learn to engage fully with life, sharing their deep insights and rich understandings in a tangible, integrated way.
Coming soon: Enneagram Type Six
Almaas, A. H. (2000). Facets of unity: The enneagram of holy ideas. Shambhala Publications.
Chestnut, B. (2013). The complete Enneagram: 27 paths to greater self-knowledge. She Writes Press.
Hudson, R. (2021). The enneagram: Nine gateways to presence [Audiobook]. Sounds True. https://www.amazon.com/Enneagram-Nine-Gateways-Presence/dp/1683645790#:~:text=With%20The%20Enneagram%3A%20Nine%20Gateways,self%2Dknowledge%20and%20spiritual%20attunement.
Lilly, J. C., & Hart, J. E. (1975). The Arica Training. In C. Tart (Ed.), Transpersonal psychologies, (pp. 329–351). Harper & Row.
Naranjo, C. (1994). Character and neurosis: An integrative view. Gateways/IDHHB.
Naranjo, C. (1990). Ennea-type structures: Self-analysis for the seeker. Gateways/IDHHB Incorporated.
Palmer, H. (1988). The enneagram: Understanding yourself and the others in your life. Harper & Row.
Riso, D. R., & Hudson, R. (1999). The wisdom of the Enneagram: The complete guide to psychological and spiritual growth for the nine personality types. Bantam.
May your mind be peaceful and calm,
may your body be relaxed and comfortable,
and may your heart be filled with love.
Thank you for reading.
Blessings and gratitude,