Enneagram Type Five: The Thinker
To feel capable, competent, and be able to detach emotionally.
The world demands too much from people and gives them too little, resulting in a scarcity of resources. I must conserve.
Enneagram Type Fives thrive on “me time.” They need private time to process, think and focus on what’s important to them. They are intelligent, knowledgeable, observational, perceptive and self-sufficient. They have a rich inner dialogue; their most important relationship is with their thoughts and ideas. They feel safest in their head.
Fives keep their lives simple without a lot of obligations. They like to be independent and would rather observe a situation than be in the middle of it. They detach from their emotions and compartmentalize them so they can process them privately later.
Enneagram Type Five Key Characteristics
- Capacity for listening
Enneagram Type Five Focus: Ideas. They analyze how the world works.
Enneagram Type Fives operate with a scarcity mindset. They believe resources—both their own and others’—are limited and must therefore be conserved. As children, they may have had an experience in which a caregiver was unable to provide what they needed. This led them to retreat inward, internalizing the idea that they had only themselves to depend on and that they must therefore hold onto the resources they have.
This inward focus allows the Type Five ample time to focus on ideas and acquiring knowledge, but it also builds a wall between them and others. As they pull back from external connections, they also become detached from their emotional self.
Enneagram Type Five Vice: Avarice
Each Enneagram Type is associated with a vice, or passion. The vice indicates the primary emotional-motivational issue for a person of that Type.
Enneagram Type Five’s vice is avarice. This doesn’t refer to what people are often greedy for (money, food, etc.) but focuses more on internal resources. The Five, perhaps due to the childhood experience of not getting much from others, feels compelled to hoard their time and energy. They worry that if they share too much of themselves, they won’t have enough left. Fives operate with a scarcity mindset and avoid being bogged down with too many commitments.
Centers, subtypes and wings help provide additional insight into how a person operates within their type.
Enneagram Type Five Center
A core tenet of the Enneagram is that people are “three-brained,” meaning that we exist with three centers of intelligence: the body center, the heart center and the head center.
Type Five is part of the head center, which regulates cognitive activities. These Types filter the world through their thoughts. Fives are more comfortable discussing feelings from an intellectual perspective than actually experiencing them fully, and they may withdraw from people who force them to confront their emotions.
The issues of each center revolve around a mostly unconscious emotional response to losing contact with the core self. Type Fives, as well as Sixes and Sevens which are also in the head center, struggle with feelings of fear as the dominant emotion. Fives are fearful of others intruding on their comfort and concerned that they will not be left with enough of themselves if they engage too frequently or deeply with others.
The Enneagram system allows for 3 subtypes in each type. They are Self-Preservation, Social Interaction and One-to-One Bonding.
- Self-Preservation emphasizes behavior related to safety and security.
- Social Interaction focuses on belonging, recognition and relationships in social groups.
- One-to-One Bonding concentrates on individual relationships and interpersonal attraction.
Self-Preservation Type Fives: Castle
All Fives struggle to connect emotionally with others, but none quite so much as the SP Five. This subtype wants to protect themselves from the world. Boundaries are critically important to the SP Five and they desire to be prepared for or avoid any situation that might deplete them. Just as they feel their own internal resources are limited, they are also likely to live a detached, minimalistic lifestyle so as not to rely too heavily on any person or thing.
Social Interaction Type Fives: Totem
The Social Five is the most outgoing and engaging of the Type Five subtypes. They are idealists, focused on finding experts and connecting with those who are open to sharing ideas and having intellectual discussions. Their avarice is less about conserving their energy than the SP Five and more about avidly seeking out the ideals that will connect them to something they believe is more meaningful than a normal, everyday life.
One-to-One Bonding Type Fives: Confidence
The One-to-One Bonding Type Five is different from the other two subtypes in that they do strive to form deeper, emotion-based connections with other people. On a One-to-One basis they are seeking deep intimacy. They are searching for an ideal version of love and trust and have exacting standards as the look for it. The One-to-One Bonding Five wants this connection but with just one person; they will still withdraw from others.
Enneagram Type Five Wings
Each Enneagram type has two wings, which are the numbers on either side of the Type. One wing is usually stronger than the other and its qualities are more likely to bleed over into the main Type.
A 5 with a 4 wing (5w4) is a bit more creative and individualistic. They are very comfortable on their own, creating mental worlds that meet their needs.
A 5 with a 6 wing (5w6) is very focused on systems. They may be more detached and less people oriented.
Enneagram Type Fives at Work
Enneagram Type Fives tend to manage by remote control. People look to them to analyze and solve problems. Team members may see them as being stingy with information.
Ideal careers for Fives are in analytical fields such as physics, mathematics and psychiatry.
The Type Five Leader is a problem-solving strategist who creates tools and systems that empower workers to solve individual and organizational problems. They are observant, knowledgeable, systematic, logical, analytical, private, steady, objective and thorough. They want things planned out in advance.
Intrusion is a trigger for the Type Five leader. When confronted by anything they deem to be an intrusion, they can become emotionally detached, hermit-like, stubborn, passive, critical and withdrawn.
Making decisions is not necessarily difficult for Type Fives—once they have all the right information. They are likely to consider all options carefully, weighing pros and cons and searching for all the available information they need to make what they feel is an educated call. They are also unlikely to consider much input from others, as they want to make the decision as objectively as possible.
Conflicts and Resolution
Enneagram Type Fives, in order to keep conflicts in a healthy place, should stay connected and engaged while communicating their thoughts, feelings and ideas. This will help resolve the conflict quickly. They must allow for feelings to be experienced, rather than detaching and retreating.
In an unhealthy conflict, the Five will disengage physically, mentally and emotionally, becoming withdrawn and isolated. To resolve this, they must be aware that the more information they give, the less intrusion they’ll experience from others.
For a person giving feedback to a Type Five, communicate facts more so than feelings. Ask about their thoughts and respect the Five’s need for privacy so they do not withdraw. Make requests, not demands, and do so using clear, concise, objective data.
When a Type Five gives feedback to others, they must stay engaged, open and expressive. Share thoughts, feelings and ideas to forge stronger connections and encourage collaboration. Be willing to share personal information to foster great connections and be expressive about the observations that have been made by using more words, not less.
Continued Growth and Development for Enneagram Type Fives
Type Five personalities are emotionally disconnected from others, preferring to intellectualize their interactions to keep people at arms-length. It’s important they work to become more comfortable with these interactions so they can feel the love and acceptance others have to offer.
Beatrice Chestnut, PhD, suggests in her book The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge that each type can benefit from self-observation, self-inquiry, self-reflection and self-development.
For Type Fives, this means:
- Observing the various ways they stockpile their own energy and resources and put up boundaries
- Paying attention to how these patterns keep them disconnected from deeper relationships with others
- Acting on what they’ve noticed; Type Fives must make pointed efforts to connect to their emotions and face their fears of intimacy
Fives can evolve by moving ahead to their Type Seven “Growth-Stress” point and back to their Type Eight “Child-Heart” point. Moving to Seven means the Type Five can use the Seven-like enthusiasm and creativity to connect more with the outside world. When consciously in Type Eight, the Five is able to act fearlessly, as they may have early in childhood. They can develop a balance between the assertive Eight qualities and the reserved Five personality.
In an effort to connect more with the body, Fives could consider activities that rejoin them to their physical self. Whether this is through team athletics or more personal expressions like dance or yoga, this can pull Fives out of their heads a bit more and allow them to focus on something beyond the exchange of knowledge and ideas.
Enneagram Type Fives must work hard to push through their fear that they themselves are a scarce resource. In doing so, they can more fully share their lives with others and experience a more satisfying connection with their emotional self.
Corporate Consciousness uses the Enneagram to help leaders and teams improve their emotional intelligence. Whether you’re interested in one-on-one coaching, building a high-performing team, or continuing your path of growth among others, Corporate Consciousness can help.