Funky MBTI

Teaching MBTI & Enneagram Through Fictional Characters

5: The Need to Perceive

“I’m not too good when exposed to people.”

Bernadette, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The title character in the novel and film Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is an eccentric shut-in architect, who bought an old religious school to live in and renovate, though she hasn’t quite gotten around to it. Known for her avoidance of the other moms in the neighborhood, her disdain for being recognized in public (thus she wears sunglasses and large scarves, and is visibly uncomfortable when recognized for her architectural achievements), Bernadette would rather dictate her needs and wishes to an invisible assistant on the phone than go to the actual store or call anyone. To her misfortune, her virtual assistant turns out to be an identity thief.

Rather than face the consequences of her family’s disapproval, Bernadette decides to go on the trip to the arctic they planned as a reward for her daughter’s high school grades. She had been so wracked with fear at the thought she intended to bow out of it altogether—but this time she embarks on a trip that not only introduces her to the world, but asks her to take part in it. She soon discovers it’s much more rewarding to act, than just stand on the sidelines of life. In her detachment, her avoidance of people, her tendency to procrastinate, and her disengagement from the outer world, Bernadette is a beautiful example of Enneagram 5.

Read on to learn more about the Enneagram 5.

The Need to Perceive

5s are receptive to new facts and impressions. They are discoverers of new ideas, researchers, and inventors, objective, questioning, and interested in exploring things in detail. They have original minds full of surprising, unorthodox ideas, and make good listeners because they pay close attention. They often help others perceive the truth more objectively. 5s possess a strong gift for contemplation. Healthy 5s link their knowledge to a search for wisdom and strive to form a sympathetic heart. They are quiet, emotional, gentle, loving, hospitable and polite.

The 5’s primary sense is one of inner emptiness and a longing for fulfillment. This lack of inner security and loneliness can cause them to creep into themselves and disappear. They gather what they can from life to fill the inner void. 5s are obsessed with taking. They collect things—thoughts, ideas, knowledge, space, silence. They can also horde strange items (stamps, books, old newspapers, fabric scraps, milk cartons, bottle caps, etc). They long for a fortress where the world cannot touch them, a closed off life. By nature, they are hermits. Their entire focus is on taking everything in—seeing everything, hearing everything, and holding onto it. They may adore looking through glass at something (microscopes or telescopes), anything to magnify an object’s details while remaining separated from it. They may take photos rather than participate in the role of an eternal observer.

They resist being pulled into an emotional state and strive for total objectivity. They want above all to control their emotions and remain calm. No one must ever know their feelings by their face. They detest any kind of “demonstrative” behavior and struggle to show their feelings even when they want to. From the outside, they may appear cold and unfeeling. Most have an intense emotional life inside themselves, but can shut off their feelings if anything happens in the outer world. The 5 registers the event though the senses, then their head, compartmentalizes their feelings, and only later comes to analyze and fully understand how they are responding on an emotional level. In this way, they do not “feel” so much as “think” about their emotions and strive to bring them into submission.

5s may harbor longing for absent friends, or feel more connected to them than the people they are sitting at the table with. Since they seldom express affection, others can wrongly assume the 5has no great attachment or affinity for them. Their partner may feel that the 5 always takes but never gives them anything in return, especially an emotional response or affirmation. Their friends must know the 5 will not initiate a get-together, want any kind of continual physical proximity (no, it wouldn’t be great to share a cubical), or ever surrender totally to the relationship. 5s are afraid if they give you an inch, you will take a mile. But those friends who give them space and ask little will find the 5 a loyal companion, silent and patient in their ability to listen, and objective and fair counselors in offering solicited advice.

The intellectual nature of the 5 may draw them to philosophy or religious mysticism. The latter holds a particular appeal because of the emphasis on detachment from the physical body in favor of intellectual pursuits and spiritual knowing. They find it much easier to access the “inner eye” than other types, and easier to meditate for hours on end. They are avoiding reality, which is their utmost goal in life. 5s are lifelong students who never feel ready to “do” anything. They need to feel sure they have the complete picture before they can start, but that never happens, and they never feel ready. They avoid any kind of behavior that might draw attention to themselves, and may adopt rehearsed behaviors so no one will notice them, approach them, or single them out. They are good at deflecting conversation about themselves and will clam up if anyone asks too many “intrusive” questions (and the 5 considers most questions “intrusive”). They hate to share their views when it is being forced through group participation, and if forced into that role, will share as little as possible. But despite their silence, nothing escapes their attention.

They struggle in parental roles because of the constant noise, mess, and demands of their children. They may even avoid marriage or children altogether to escape being needed. They hate intrusions of any kind and fiercely guard their privacy. They often retreat to be alone and find too many people, demands, or closeness exhausting. Many 5s can imagine nothing more wonderful than doing nothing but thinking for hours on end. It means they need to give nothing to anyone. Unhealthy 5s can seem autistic or nihilistic in their desire to be nothing but a brain, an intellect.

For 5s, knowledge is power. They think they can secure their life by being informed about everything useful in as much detail as possible. They feel their information is never sufficient—to start writing, to open a business, to teach rather than study. They always need “just one more” class, book, retreat, or seminar. Because they devote so much time to information gathering, they may assume they understand the world far better than they do, better than everyone else—without even ever having “lived” any of it!

Their systematic love of putting things into mental slots may mean they take an interest in psychoanalysis models, MBTI, the Enneagram, evolution, the big bang theory, the laws of heredity, etc. They love to study foreign cultures and may even travel there, but never without over-engagement or attracting much attention. If they choose to be spontaneous on a trip and engage in something risky or exciting, their delayed emotions may mean they do not truly “experience” it at the moment, but will do so months later when handling their memento of the occasion or looking at the pictures. They may collect souvenirs or totems to represent all the most important periods in their life.

5s often withdraw to avoid life, problems, conflict, or risk. Immature 5s avoid feelings, relationships, sex, or anything that creates a dependency or bond between themselves and another person. They may choose celibacy, to avoid commitment. They focus so much on abstract forms of knowledge they neglect to improve themselves in other ways. They can become so detached from humanity, they refuse to consider the ethical implications of their discoveries. They can be arrogant snobs, unable to understand or reach into their emotions, prone to premature mental conclusions or solutions, and overly detached from others’ needs.

5s may subdivide their life and never let two areas of interest mix, causing them to keep everyone in that chosen hobby or interest separate from knowing anything about them, outside of that hobby, interest, class, etc. Their fear of exhaustion makes them demand to know how long anything will last or how long it will take (“when is grandma arriving and when is she leaving?). They parcel out their energy because they lack much of it. They hate for time to “run over,” and also detest any kind of surprise visit, because they had no time to mentally prepare to see anyone. Their energy tank runs at half-full, compared to the other types.

They find any emotional expectations from others tiresome. They will give you things when you do not ask for them or expect it. If thrown into a conflict, the 5 will either retreat into silence or answer with intellectual arguments. They horde their time, energy, resources, and possessions. They are not givers, but takers. They can fall into emotional stinginess out of their fear that in sharing anything, they will lose themselves. Rather than enjoy life, they “horde” for later. Their fear is that they will run out of something, and since they value their autonomy, they want to make sure they have enough money and resources to live just the way they want to in the future, with no extra demands on their time. They have modest and undemanding lives and waste nothing.

5s fear their inner scarcity means they hold no value and have nothing to offer. They fill the emptiness with mental clutter. But their objectivity is a gift to others. Their ability to listen and remain detached makes them excellent counselors. They won’t allow personal feelings or bias to enter their evaluation or taint their advice. Detachment is both their gift and their curse. 5s can mature by realizing wisdom requires authentic life experience, not just book learning. Since they think before they act (or do not act at all), forcing themselves to become involved in things on a physical level is good practice for them. They can learn to allow mysteries to just exist, without feeling the need to dissect them. Falling in love can be a life-transforming experience for them that break down the barriers they keep up between their heart and other people. They must learn to experience the outer world and act against their natural compulsion to do nothing. They should remind themselves that mistakes are not life-shattering, but part of the learning process of being “a real boy/girl.” They must remain on their guard against their own arrogance and conceit, and remember that the school of “hard knocks” known as life has value too. They should open up to others a little, then a little more, as they become comfortable with the idea. It’s also important for them to express their emotions instead of keeping them locked in the “silent chamber of the soul.” The 5 needs to feel safe, wanted, and of value… and they will find these things once they stop hiding.

Avaraice and Pathological Detachment

The ‘avarice’ of the 5 is about ‘holding back’ and ‘holding in.’ It is a fearful grasping, in the belief that letting go would cause catastrophe. The 5 ‘hoards’ emotions, energy, resources, and self, out of a fear and experience of impending impoverishment. The 5 ‘gives up too easily,’ living a life of resignation and avoidance. Because of this, a 5 clutches at oneself—jealously and possessively guarding their inner life, effort, and resources. They hold back and fall into self-control by clinging at the present without embracing the future.

The 5 is the thinking type that avoids action. It seeks to minimize its own needs and claims. They identify with an overwhelmed, guilt-ridden super ego. Their inner polarity is between pathological detachment and holding on. The 5 hides their neediness behind a stoic veil of indifference, resignation, and renunciation. They are detached, withdrawn, and obsessive. They have an increased capacity for experiencing all kinds of things without being able to speak of them. They retain them inwardly and are prone to self-blame. The 5 is aloof, and can be unsociable, quiet, reserved, humorless, timid, shy with fine feelings, sensitive, nervous, excitable, fond of nature and books, pliable, kindly, honest, indifferent, or silent.

The 5 possesses a strange polarity between hypersensitivity and insensitivity. It may be one or the other in the individual 5, or shift from the former into the latter, from extreme sensitivity into apathy. To protect their fine and vulnerable feelings, the 5 adopts a protective self-distancing to conceal their vulnerable, nervous sensitivity. The 5 may close the shutters of their life to exist in a dream-life, fantastic, poor in deeds, but rich in thought. They seek loneliness to ‘spin themselves into the silk of their own souls.’ They have an immediate response to outside (over) stimulation.

Some traits of the 5 include: overly fast reactions, love of privacy, mental over-intensity, hyper-focus, apprehensiveness, secrecy of feelings, emotional restraint, inhibited social manners, resistance to habit and routines, hatred of noise / restrained speech, resistance to alcohol and other depressant drugs, need of solitude when troubled.

The 5 is ‘introverted’ in that it directly goes inside itself to avoid the outer world. They feel different from others, more detached and ‘at a distance.’ The 5 gets stuck and block their life process by moving away from people and conflicts into “detachment.” They withdraw from the inner battlefield of emotion and declare themselves uninterested. The 5 musters an attitude of ‘don’t care’ that allows him to feel less bothered by his inner conflicts and achieve inner peace. The 5 does this through resignation, or settling for an absence of conflict.

The 5 relegates themselves to being an ‘onlooker’ to their own life and that of others; to an eternal ‘watcher’ standing on the sidelines but never ready or interested in engagement. The 5 is astute because of this, but touched by none of their own experiences. They do not actively take part in life and unconsciously refuse to do so.

In analysis, the 5 maintains the same attitude—he may be immensely interested and invested in something for a long time, but change nothing because of it. Resignation and nonparticipation means the absence of any serious striving for achievement and aversion of effort; all the 5’s beautiful music, paintings, and books may dwell only in their imagination. Thus, the 5 does away with both effort and aspiration. They may have good ideas or original thoughts, but find the thought of the arduous work involved in thinking them through and composing them not worth the effort. The 5 is a terrific procrastinator, and good at finding reasons not to do things. They may involve themselves in inner arguments against putting effort into their ideas (there is no use, the world has too much of this, anyway; would not to concentrate on one thing curtail my other interests?).

If this aversion to effort extends to all activities, the 5 lives a life of complete inertia who procrastinates even over simple things. When forced to do them, the 5 will do them against inner resistance—slowly, listlessly, ineffectively. The 5 may feel tired just thinking about doing things. A 5 believes analysis and learning should rid them of all their problems—such as disturbing symptoms, awkwardness with strangers, or fainting in the street. The 5 just wants a life absent of all troubles, irritations, and upsets; what they want should come easily, without pain or strain.

When something requires too much effort, the 5 may ‘give it up’ altogether, including relationships. The 5 is anxious not to get attached to anything or anyone to the extent of really needing it. Nothing should be so important the 5 cannot live without it. One must never become dependent. Once aware that a person, place, or thing means so much to the 5 that its loss would feel painful, the 5 retracts their feelings. No one else should feel ‘necessary’ to them; if the 5 suspects them as becoming ‘dependent’ on the 5, the 5 withdraws.

The 5 seeks recognition through intellectual or creative excellence. They are most attuned to their internal experiences; their avarice is interdependent with a sense of spiritual impoverishment. They detach as a defense against the invasions of the external world, and a fear of being ‘lost’ to oneself by being engulfed by others’ dependencies.

The 5 is often unwilling to invest in relationships and avoids giving.

Traits shared with schizoid personality disorder: emotional coldness and aloofness, the absence of warm and tender feelings for others; indifference to praise or criticisms and the feelings of others; close friendships with only one or two persons, including family members.

The 5 is passive aggressive. They can be frequently irritable, moody, easily frustrated, angry, discontented in their self-image, disgruntled, and disillusioned with life. They may waffle between giving in and asserting themselves. Above all, the 5 has an intense, deeply rooted ambivalence about themselves and others, which makes them waffle in indecisiveness, fluctuating attitudes, and oppositional behaviors and emotions. They cannot decide whether to give into others’ desires to gain comfort and security or turn to themselves for those gains; whether to be obedient or rebellious; to take the initiative in mastering the world or sit idly by.

The 5 can be a poor teacher, preoccupied with information itself and not the audience or his presentation. Because they restrain any expression of feeling, the other individual involved may feel undervalued. The 5 values calmness, passivity, and rational self-control. To a 5, the world exists primarily to be understood. They want to work alone and quietly, and detest interruptions. They prefer to know how long they will be somewhere ahead of time, and what to expect, so they can map out the internal energy required for it. And it had better last no longer!

They have the lowest energy level of all the types. All manifestations of love are a drain on their energy reserves and a threat to their need for privacy and independence. They do love, but find that love difficult to express. They rarely want to go out, because of the physical and emotional effort sociability demands. Their dominant feeling is indifference, the desire to retreat and go unbothered. The 5 seeks to escape close emotional ties and obligations.

Though the 5 can be spirited, creative, and attractive, they may lack ‘warm sympathy’ and be unabashedly negative. The 5 may be pleasant, avoid arguments, and seem mild-mannered, but do whatever it deems best, regardless of the opposing arguments. Can be rigid and selective in choosing friends. The 5 may avoid marriage or intimate relationships out of being too exacting or protective of personal time and space. The 5 may spend so much energy coping with the physical environment they find little left over for enjoyable living. The 5 can be faint-hearted, lack courage, and refuse to shoulder responsibility. They may fiercely guard their territory, while concealing their timidity.

Identifiable Traits:

Retentiveness: a lack of generosity in money, energy, and time, and insensitive to the needs of others. Holds onto what is in their mind at the expense of the outer world and external stimulation. They “get stuck” in thought. Pessimism toward the idea of receiving care and protection from others or having the power to demand or take what they need.

Not Giving: avoidance of commitment, the need to be completely free, unbound, unobstructed, in possession of the fullness of themselves. They horde now, to protect the future and “going without.’

Pathological Detachment: a characteristic aloofness. They are loners accustomed to solitude who does not feel lonely, and has trouble making friends, because of their lack of motivation to ‘relate’ to people. Prone to ‘giving up on’ relationships, both formed and unformed. The 5 minimizes and inhibits their anger by stepping outside it.

Fear of Engulfment: the 5 fears dependency, so avoids facing the needs and demands of others. May become docile to avoid conflict, which might arise unpleasant emotions that drain the 5’s inner resources. The 5 feels a relationship entails alienation from one’s own preferences and authentic expression, so feels stressed by it and needs to recover from it and find oneself again through aloneness.

Autonomy: the 5 develops ‘distance machinery’ to give up on people and on relationships. If one cannot get others to satisfy their desires, the 5 needs to build up their resources, stocking them up in an ivory tower. The 5 is miserly as a result and sometimes non-self-indulgent, not even allowing oneself to use what one has, in case it runs out.

Lack of Feeling: the 5 represses needs and suppresses anger. They lose awareness of their own and others’ feelings; be indifferent, cold, non-empathetic, and apathetic. The 5 struggles to enjoy pleasure, since they have a diminished capacity to experience it. Nor does it rank high on their list; they would rather keep a safe distance from others.

Postponement of Action: acting is to invest oneself, and put one’s energies into use, which the 5 resists. Action requires interaction, so when the drive to relate is so low, it lessens their interest in action. Action requires enthusiasm for something, and a presence of powerful feelings—which is absent in an apathetic individual. Action is revealing oneself to the world, which goes against the 5’s need for privacy. The 5 wants to keep their intentions hidden, so develops excessive restraint. They hover between negativity and the avoidance of action.

Cognitive Orientation: the 5 is introspective and intellectual. They may substitute living for reading and indulge in ‘endless preparation’ for life. But the 5 never feels ‘ready enough’ to move into action. They would rather organize and classify their knowledge than use it in the public sphere. They prefer to dwell in abstraction rather than concreteness, intellectualization rather than direct experience. The 5 only offers the results of their thoughts to the world, not its raw material. If not careful, the 5 becomes a mere witness to life, a non-attached yet keen observer of it who seeks to replace life with understanding.

Sense of Emptiness: the suppression of feelings and avoidance of life impoverishes their experiences. They experience an inner vacuum and may ‘feel faintly.’ They choose to be a critical outsider rather than an active participant.

Guilt: the 5 is guilt prone, despite its ‘buffering’ from a general distancing from emotion. This guilt manifests as a vague sense of inferiority, a vulnerability to intimidation, awkwardness, self-consciousness, and their own hidden nature. The 5 withdraws love as a response to the loveless outer world. In embracing an attitude of loveless disregard, he feels guilt at his own detachment.

High Super-Ego: the response to guilt is to feel driven and demand much out of himself and others. The 5 is an inward perfectionist and identifies with its inner “underdog.”

Negativism: the 5 wishes to subvert the perceived demands of others and of oneself, to avoid feeling bound to them. They “wish” not to do what they feel they should, not to give what is expected, even when the source of the request is internal rather than social. The 5 risks turning something they truly want to do into a “should” that provokes their own internal resentment or rebellion.

Hypersensitivity: in a low pain tolerance and fear of rejection. The 5 adopts emotional dullness to guard against hypersensitivity. The 5 feels a sense of weakness, vulnerability, and sensitivity in dealing with the world and its inhabitants. The 5 can appear gentle, soft, and harmless. They do not want to disturb how things are and would prefer to do no harm. This comes from the 5’s unacknowledged guilt, loneliness, and emptiness. One who feels ‘full’ can stand more pain than one who feels ‘empty.’ Lack of pleasure and feeling insignificant can factor into the 5’s decision to avoid the pain of frustrating relationships through the choice of isolation or autonomy.

Defense Mechanisms:

Isolation by interrupting one’s relationship with oneself or others in one’s inner world. The 5 perceives what has occurred and isolates itself from the intense emotion experienced at the time; to others, they ‘coolly recollect painful events as if they happened to somebody else and does not matter to them.’ The 5 loses the true and deep meaning of the disappointment, frustration, or trauma by a form of mental amnesia / distancing. The 5 places a mental vacuum over the emotional wound by redirecting their thoughts.

The 5 has more inner contradictions than any other type; they have contradictory thoughts, roles, and attitudes, which is clearest in their waffling between inferiority and grandiosity, and the simultaneous negative and positive perception of others. The 5 will avoid any situation that might arise normal feelings, thus interrupting them from ever happening, in pursuit of their ‘feeling avoidance.’

The 5 adopts aloofness to dull their emotional life, but it exists at times beside intense feelings, which the 5 associates with aesthetics and the abstract rather than with the interpersonal world. The 5 over-controls, has diminished vitality, and does not invest itself in any set course of action, out of fear of intensity and its potential destructiveness. The 5 wants to protect itself against primitive and impulsive responses to the environment. The 5’s ability to separate oneself conceptually and to consider the aspects of a situation allows him to devalue their own personal needs. They have chosen “to move away” as a solution to the problems of life.

What forged them: children 5s feels an inner emptiness and does not know what is missing. Somewhere along the way, they decided it is better to go alone in life, that people are not loving or it is undesirable to rely on others, for what love they offer is manipulative and demands too much in return. The 5 escaped inwardly to avoid the problems and overbearing ‘needs’ placed on them by of the outer world. They gave up on finding love, but still yearns for one that involves a willingness to leave them alone, without demands, deceptions, or manipulation. The 5 invalidates others’ positive feelings toward them as manipulative.

The 5 needs to experience a sense of being truly ‘alive,’ of existing, that comes only from a willingness to engage in life and form strong relationships. It is not receiving love which the 5 needs and places his hope in (since the 5 cannot trust other people’s feelings) but to become able to love and relate. In an obsessive desire to ‘search for being’ the 5 cannot look outward to the relationships they might create. The 5 must become willing to experience pain, love, happiness, and other emotions that feel threatening to become most alive and break their inner stinginess and avoidance.

Enneagram 5 Wings

5s present in two different ways based on the influence of their preferred wing. While it’s possible to have balanced wings, or no wing at all, most people can relate to the traits, fears and defense mechanisms of one wing in particular.

5w4: The Objective Elitist

The 5w4 is double-withdrawn, which means there’s nothing in them that motivates them to move toward other people or make the first move. They want to connect but expect others to come to them and appreciate them for their expertise or genius. 5w4s lurk and learn, observe and absorb what others bring to them, without returning the favor or immediately making their presence known. They never assume others want to hear from them or that anyone is paying attention to them.

The 5w4 may long for a connection, but spend a long time thinking about how to form one without doing anything about it. It needs to be the right kind of connection with someone worthy of their interest, to satisfy their longing for a certain type of relationship (one that isn’t shallow and won’t demand too much from them; ideally, one in which they can connect whenever they feel like it and that is still waiting for them if they don’t), and for the other person to see at once how distinctive and intriguing they are.

They might delay connecting to someone for a long time, because they are living out a fantasy in their mind about the relationship and how it will go. In this way, they avoid human emotions and problems—the person in their head demands nothing from them and does not burden them with their emotional needs. It also avoids the messiness of their enduring dissatisfaction with real life; 5w4s know how life ought to be according to their exacting standards and feel disgust when it does not measure up to their ideal. Nothing is ever quite good, refined, deep, or authentic enough for their taste. Real people intrude on them or wrongly interpret their meaning. By living out an ideal in their mind, they avoid that while longing for what does not exist.

They think about people they like or love, but may not want to spend too much time with them, or reach out to them regularly. It blindsides the 5w4 if they neglect a friendship for months, return, and find the other person salty about it. It doesn’t occur to them to be emotional about the connection in that way, and besides, the 5w4 was enjoying thoughts of them! If others leave them because of this, and the separation was not their choice, the 5w4 will feel frustrated that no one seems able to accommodate their need for self-reliance and deep, meaningful connections. They can turn into “a voice crying out in the wilderness,” lamenting how no one cares to hear their wisdom and feeling rejected by a world that drains them. Others seem needy or clingy, or unable to handle the truth. Forming a new connection is exhausting, so they are highly selective in whom they choose to associate with and have scornful opinions of those who do not measure up. They see how others could be deeper, but have no desire to shape them into it.

They are not afraid of the darkness of life—of its demons, cruelties, negativity, or of unhappy endings, because they welcome the chance to analyze or experience any emotion. They are voyeuristic; the intellect is a place to play out their darkest fears and imaginings, so their art and literature can be morbid or grotesque. 5w4s absorb many things in their search for knowledge, but must make them their own; they have to reshape and refine them and connect them to their identity. The idea of copying fills them with disgust; they hate to run across ideas similar to theirs, because it means they aren’t as original as they thought. They want to be mysterious and edgy, so put much effort into over-refining and over-editing their work to present a certain image to its potential audience (and to satisfy themselves).

It’s easier to reject everything than to refine it all, so they prematurely say no to things to preserve their limited energy. Criticism is meaningless to them unless they consider the one giving it qualified—which means intelligent, an expert in their field, or respected for their knowledge. 5w4s don’t care what laypeople think of them, and external comments don’t change their mind. It’s a validation they are doing it right if someone else doesn’t understand or appreciate it. Nor do other people’s experiences mean anything to them; they feel disconnected from their own pain.

They never feel fully ready or like the world can appreciate what they have to share without misinterpreting it or making it shallow; to have their genius changed into something “mainstream” is death to them. This is why they don’t take all the opportunities that knock on their door; there’s a chance by sharing it or turning over creative control that other people will ruin what they created. If they do take an opportunity, it’s easy for them to become frustrated or dissatisfied with the process and the result and complain that it’s not being done right or their vision isn’t being respected.

5w4s do not want to be “distorted” by others, to have their meaning changed, or worse, to have a superficial interpretation put on it when they crafted it so carefully to reflect their inner state or beliefs. 5w4s are dreamers rather than doers, and find it hard to get motivated into action, because they must put a personal spin on whatever they turn out (it can’t be like anyone else’s ideas, concepts, style, or theory; it has to reflect their inner self and not be too accessible).

No emotion scares them—they detach from it, analyze it, and understand it from the sidelines rather than get swallowed up by it. They strive for objectivity while experiencing amplified emotions; they keep this hidden from others, except to cultivate a persona of being an outsider. Knowing they differ from others is a source of frustration and pride. They are special and feel entitled to getting what they want or sharing their opinions. They can be scathing in their criticisms, because they are at home with whatever they feel—anger, despair, wrath, joy, or hatred. That artist is unrefined and shallow compared to this piece of music, which is deep and full of meaning.

They do not care about rules or feel they apply to them. 5w4s trust themselves to make sense of life through their mind, to reach rational conclusions, to do their own research, think through things without soliciting opinions, and possess the most knowledge in the room, but also struggle with feelings of shame and inadequacy. They don’t feel capable of meeting the world on its terms or think they have the energy it requires. They try to carve out a niche where others give them space but also respect or admire their good taste.

It frustrates them if they cannot express themselves well and articulate what is meaningful to them, because they see that as evidence of a painful “lacking” in themselves, and a reason for others to reject them. Fear of rejection, of being shamed, of not having all the answers, etc., causes them to not risk putting themselves out there except from behind a keyboard or a column, where they use their elite tastes as a shield. They can mercilessly tear something down for being commonplace without caring how it’s received. Or adopt an elitist, self-assured tone, fully convinced they are the most intelligent person in the room and anyone who doesn’t appreciate them is basic. If their strong opinions and expressions of bluntness or the unvarnished truth offends, they assume others are not ready to hear “the truth.”

5w4s feel like aliens born in the wrong place or time, outsiders watching humans without relating to them. Instead of moving toward them or emulating them, the 5w4 constructs an idea that their own differences are beautiful and the “right people” will respond to and appreciate them. They work hard to craft whatever they share into something unique, and hate it if they meet someone they can “relate to,” because they don’t want others to share their experiences or their pain. They want to become an expert in their chosen field, the “only one” in the world if possible, like Sherlock Holmes proudly proclaiming himself as the world’s only Consulting Detective (and much superior to Scotland Yard)!

5w4s have narrow interests and can toil on a particular project for a long time, paying attention to every detail and learning everything there is to know about it, without feeling a desire to complete it, because at the end of completion lies a need to share, and their genius may get rewritten or misinterpreted. If that happens, it validates their belief it’s not for most people. And that’s what they want. 5w4s create only for themselves; if others stumble on their work and appreciate it, that’s fine, but it isn’t necessary for them to have an audience. Too much success or praise will make them uncomfortable. The 5w4 doesn’t care what others think about them or their work. Their common themes include characters who are alienated from society, hated for being different, and who don’t want to be normal. This reflects their inner state; what others think about them matters than their sense of Self.

It may be easier for them to connect to animals than people, or to know how to relate to people. They are socially awkward and self-conscious about it. 5w4s feel shame if they do not live up to their own expectations or honor their taste or feelings by being honest about their criticisms. They are despondent without a project, but also pride themselves on having unique ideas. Their desire for neutrality butts up against a tendency to be emotionally reactive under stress, but unlike a 4, the 5w4 can shut off their feelings. If they get upset, they draw attention to all the bad things in their life and do not think about other people and their feelings in the situation.

5w4s reject the idea that they need anyone or could benefit from love and emotional support the same way most people do. Immature 5w4s develop a condescending attitude toward people who “need” support or seek others’ opinions, think anything outside their limited interests is shallow, and look down on people for being too easily pleased or too “commercial.” In secret, the 5w4 feels hatred or envy for those who easily put themselves out into the world—those people become trite, mundane, or “sell-outs” in their mind, because they suffer from intense feelings of envy in their chosen field.

5w4s are not interested in participating with others and compromising with them to reach a consensus; they can be self-absorbed and elitist, and insist they are right and others are wrong or less important than they are. They refuse to change for anyone, and must put their “mark” on whatever they create, so no one can mistake it for anything other than theirs.

Character Example: The Twelfth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who shows us the journey of a 5 learning to find his humanity. He is at first too cold, objective, and severe, remarking that it isn’t worth trying to save someone since he’s been digested already. A gatherer of information and facts, a seeker of knowledge, eccentric and refined in his tastes, and arrogant in his moral superiority, the Doctor alienates people everywhere he goes and even appoints his companion Clara to “care about people… so I don’t have to.” But after some soul searching, the Doctor opens up his heart, warms up to Clara and other people (up to a point, he will never be gushy), and is willing to live and die a thousand times over to save her from death. It’s a beautiful transformation from total detachment into passionate caring and forgiveness. His objectivity even allows him to forgive her for a planned, ultimate betrayal—“as if mere betrayal would ever stop me from caring about you,” he says.

5w6: The Withdrawn Expert

The 5w6 has more of a tendency to move toward others than the 5w4, because while they trust themselves to be self-sufficient and rational, they also feel a desire to cooperate with others to avoid being disliked. They need their concepts and ideas to be original, but care more about being “accurate” than “authentic,” so they will listen to criticisms. 5w6s are unafraid to consult others when they reach the end of their resources (they have read all the books on the subject, or reached the end of the internet, and still want the answer to a particular question). They see others in their fields as experts who may have the answers, or who may want to exchange ideas and thoughts. In this way, it’s easier for them to integrate into society or a group than the 5w4s, and they feel more at ease being connected than separate, provided it still leaves them time and space to do their own thing.

Fear is a present theme in their life. If they feel a lack of inner security, they seek outside resources, beliefs, and information with which to supplement it. They do not blindly accept information, but study, think about, and test it first to avoid reaching the wrong conclusions. 5w6s are slow to present their findings to the world, out of a fear of being exposed for not having read an obscure reference to it. To avoid being seen as incompetent or lacking knowledge, they do excessive amounts of research to ensure no one can prove them wrong. If, after all of this work, valid critiques come their way from a colleague who knows more than they do, the 5w6 experiences self-doubt. It makes them want to pull away from the spotlight and dig back into research—maybe they didn’t know enough or read as many books as they should have, or should have spent another six months on this thesis. If they hesitate on the cusp of success, it’s out of a desire to avoid the spotlight in case there’s something they missed, or they fear they lack sufficient energy for all that fame requires. Their ideal role is to become an expert whom others seek for their knowledge, and they are happy to respond.

They can spend years working on a single project or fleshing out a theory and want to make sure it’s perfect before sharing it. Part of this delay involves them thinking about potential arguments or criticisms and doing research or building a case against them, so what they present is airtight. They combat their fear of being wrong or lacking in specific knowledge by doing as much research as they can on the topic. A need not to be proven wrong makes them endlessly test, question, re-question, re-evaluate, and consider. This stalls their output, since they never feel ready to use their expertise or write that book or publish that paper. There’s always one more book to read, one more lead to chase, or information no one else has found; they could use one more degree (or several of them). They bury themselves in their intellect and become lifelong students.

Anxiety is a constant underlining theme in their life, and will contribute to how they see the world as a dangerous place that they must handle with care. They are skeptical of established rules, procedures, authorities, and belief systems, and seek like-minded people out of a desire to have something to fall back on if their world implodes. They look for allies of common interests, since part of them feels safer being connected to others who also seem aware of potential threats.

5w6s want relationships and tolerate a great deal in order to have them; they are aware of needing to compromise in things that do not matter to keep others contented and go along with things to keep their interactions smooth between them. They do not want to make others come after them, but also believe they are right. If stuck with a partner or friend who is emotional, the 5w6 will struggle to know how to relate to them without wanting to solve their problems for them.

While it’s important for them to remain calm and handle situations without emotional upheaval, they are reactive in drawing attention to what’s negative or threatening in their life. It makes them feel better to be prepared for anything bad that might happen, so the 5w6 loads up on knowledge as a strategy against “if the worst happens.” They do not just worry about things like 6w5; instead, they supplement themselves with knowledge to build a vast library of other people’s experiences to draw upon in a time of crisis. A fear of snakes? They read about varieties of snakes, how to identify dangerous ones on sight, how to kill them, about antidotes, and find out how long a person can live after being bitten and how to slow the poison’s spread. Once the 5w6 has all this information, they no longer need to worry about it, since they know exactly what to do if that situation ever arises.

They don’t feel quite human, so they compensate for being awkward with knowledge—they study “how to” out of a desire to be more normal or non-threatening (which allows them to go about their business unbothered and un-harassed). Their knowledge-seeking is to sate their fears, not out of a desire to know everything. It’s intentional research—how to handle it if your car skids on black ice, or how to identify threats in your neighborhood. The 5w6 assumes they will be the one trusted to deal with it, and calling the police is a last resort.

When the time comes to take action, a 5w6 may second guess the information in front of them or their own qualifications. They feel anxiety about conflicting sources if they lack sufficient time to figure it out for themselves. They are always thinking and planning to ease their concerns about not knowing what to do or say and thus seeming incompetent—which they hate above all things. It’s an insult to their pride for anyone to assume they are asking for help or that they “need” help. 5w6s reject the idea of needing anyone and may not admit it to themselves that at times they depend on others to ease their fears. Life becomes less stressful for them if they learn to be okay with accepting support from others.

Being reactive-wing types, 5w6s can complain about their problems or frustrations with situations and people in their life, but recoil and feel offended if others accuse them of being “whiny” (that goes against their desire to be impartial and unemotional) or “seeking advice.” They are not, they just want to air their frustration. 5w6s have less of a connection to their feelings than 5w4s. They will rationalize away their feelings by thinking about having emotions rather than having them. In unequal relationships, 5w6s may try to “solve” their partner’s issues or try to understand them rather than abandon them, since they feel a sense of loyalty and responsibility to them. They may not want to deal with certain people, but feel an obligation to, because of family attachments or a sense that they “should” be more involved.

Their super-ego wing works against their withdrawn center by telling them they “should” connect, be more approachable, and do the right thing. There is more self-censorship in terms of which feelings are and aren’t acceptable, and a desire to avoid punishment or shame. 5w6s care more about what others think of them than they admit and use humor or playfulness to appeal to others. They want to do their work alone at their desk or in their garage, but do not mind participating with others or being called on for their expertise.

They look for contradictions and misinformation and expect the worst. 5w6s are on guard for what might go wrong and prepare for it. They take their fears into their headspace to think about them and explore them from a detached viewpoint, sometimes turning them into stories. Their literary output is often full of dangerous situations or untrustworthy individuals; it may not have a happy ending, but there will be themes of “family” or connection. They may be voyeuristic for the audience, or turn them into Peeping Toms. They feature people thrust into dangerous situations beyond their control—the negative fantasies of a 5w6 who distrusts the authorities. People get framed for crimes they do not commit, chased by demons, sent on the run, must escape corrupt law enforcement officers, or get murdered in lonely places where someone nice turns out to be a psycho. By living out their fantasies in the art they create, the 5w6 gets to experience things from behind a lens without actively taking part in them, being touched by them, or taking any personal risks.

They can be quarrelsome and resistant to authority, pushing against others who seem to want to control them, questioning the intentions and integrity of those in power, and developing their own conspiracy theories. Their concerns escalate into drawing attention to problems, inaccuracies, unaddressed risks, and bad information. They are equally internal (about their own theories, fantasies, and thoughts) and external (able to see what’s happening around them and how they connect to others). The 5w6 feels torn between detachment and attachment; the need to remain at a distance, but modulate their behavior to be acceptable to others. 5w6s prioritize their own needs, interests, and hobbies first, but then feel an obligation to others. They are objective about everything, but also feel they should stand up for the things they care about if they come under criticism. 5w6s think of themselves as different from others, but don’t want to stray too far from others in terms of who they are; it doesn’t bother them to relate to others or to strive for a greater sense of normality. They are aware of what society expects from them, even if they choose to ignore it.

They reject the idea that they need anything from society or others, but will look after other people once their own needs get met. They focus on building a secure environment for all, out of a desire to do what they want in a safe environment. 5w6s are more self-doubting than 5w4s, because of their need to double-check everything.

Character Example:  Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is an eccentric genius inventor who gets sent to a creepy northern town to investigate suspicious deaths the locals insist are the work of a Headless Horseman. A super logical man, Ichabod initially resists belief in anything supernatural until he witnesses this spectral creature with his own eyes, then he becomes anxious, paranoid, and concerned. He gathers allies around him in the form of Masbeth (the son of one of the victims) and Katrina, in a collective effort to solve the crimes, send the Headless Horseman back to the grave, and protect Sleepy Hollow. Though somewhat arrogant at the start, and condescending toward those who believe in things without proof of their existence, Ichabod can also be warm and approachable when he wants to be, showing the 6 wing’s ability to blend into an environment to seek allies for the 5w6’s survival.

Social Variants:

Social variants determine how we respond to the world around us and where our major priorities in life lie. Attentiveness to bonding, social responsibilities, and how we ‘appear’ to others is in the realm of social (soc). Survival, fulfilling all of one’s needs, and a focus on ensuring one always has enough resources for a comfortable life is self-preservation (sp). Sexual displays, competing for attention, being like a moth to a flame in your pursuit of another person, or competing for a mate falls under the realm of sexual (sx). Read through each to determine which resonates the most with you.

The Self-Preservation 5

Self-Preservation Fives are seeking the Essential Quality of Insight through their lifestyle and interests. They have a deep capacity for concentration and are typically insightful, quirky, and intensely specialized in certain areas of expertise. Self-Preservation Fives are looking to leverage their skills—intellectual, creative, or otherwise—into earning a sustainable living that allows them to pursue their passions and interests without being controlled or too at the behest of other people’s demands and agendas. Many Self-Preservation Fives do this quite literally by living in their studio, or making their living space into an office, laboratory, or library, for example.

Alone, unstructured time is a major priority for this type, as they are easily drained by the demands of others and wish to have uninterrupted focus. They often have careers or jobs that require minimal ongoing interaction with others or have otherwise arranged their life so as to have plenty of time to themselves. Whereas most people seek to keep their work within a boundary, limiting time and energy In order to have freedom in their personal lives, Self-Preservation Fives keep their “personal life” quite narrow so they can be free to focus most of their energy on their interests. Self-Preservation Fives’ interest is their life’s central focus, while they can compartmentalize other demands of living or treat them as secondary.

This type constantly struggles to have the energy and attention for tackling life’s necessities. They can become overwhelmed by the demand of having to attend to their own needs, and as such, retreat into living “around” those needs instead of addressing them, like inadequate care of hygiene or letting their home fall into disrepair. They may also leave the cultivation of interpersonal relationships up to imagination. This can also create unprocessed anxiety, further making self-regulation challenging.

Fear of depletion can turn into a literal fear that outside forces are taking something from them, often leading to obsessive fixations on paranoid ideas. Despite the withdrawn and often disconnected character of the Five, they can be quite aggressive, demanding, and controlling when they feel threatened while simultaneously unwilling to fully take responsibility for their aggression.

Character Example: While Bernadette fits this version of the 5 in her withdrawn nature, and hording of her resources, even her hatred of engaging with other people (she will hide in her house, not answer the doorbell, spy on them through her windows, and gleefully announces that on their boat to the arctic, the tables only sit for, so “we can place all our coats on the extra chair and nobody can sit with us!”), there is another, highly memorable character who is also the perfect embodiment of a self-preservation 5: Ebeneezer Scrooge, in Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol. The story follows the antics of a “grasping, clenching, covetous old sinner” named Scrooge, whose miserly deeds cause him to scrimp on coal, foreclose on people even at Christmas, and deny his employee Bob Cratchit even the minor pleasures of the holidays. Through the brutal mechanisms of three Christmas ghosts, Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas, and becomes a ‘redeemed’ 5. He faces his past unwillingness to love, and opens his heart and his home to his fellow humanity. It’s the unthawing of a frozen heart and the joy of a 5 discovering their path to integration toward 7—greeting each day with joy, anticipation of its goodness, and the sharing of himself, his resources, and all he has learned.

The Social 5

Social Fives are looking to experience the Essential quality of Insight in and through their relationships, their interests, and their contributions. They have a kind of Promethean calling, whereby the want to offer wisdom, insight, creativity, and understanding to loved ones and the world at large—to peer “behind the veil” in order to bring illumination. At the same time, they can be fearful of being overwhelmed by the interpersonal burdens that come from participation with others.

Social Fives are drawn to fields, groups, and institutions that hold the promise of engaging with fascinating people who are at the top of their game intellectually, creatively, or otherwise. Contrary to the stereotype that Fives only value knowledge, Social Fives enjoy being stimulated and impacted by all kinds of people, and they respect mastery above all. Through their capacity for insight and new understandings, the Social Five hopes to claim their place or niche and solidify their interpersonal and social value. They’re excited by the feeling of being a part of a tradition or specialized class, but these special groups can also be a way Social Fives seek to sequester themselves away from the messy or practical elements of life they feel unprepared to face.

Avarice can be expressed as a tension of wanting both to deeply belong as well as to separate themselves, usually through social distinction, such as being the expert or even presenting themselves as uniquely gifted or insightful. This sense of superiority is a double-edged sword, as they believe being the key expert will assure them of the social value and belonging they desire while also creating separation and a lack of interpersonal connection. This tension can lead to a great deal of alienation: belonging is not sensed directly, but rather abstracted and conceptualized, leading to loneliness and a sense of isolation as the Social Five doubts their value and the niche they’ve carved out.

Social Five can express Avarice as wanting to contribute their gifts and creativity meaningfully, but not feeling equipped to handle the responsibilities that may come from being in leadership. As Social Fives become more unbalanced, they feel their contributions are underappreciated and their genius under-recognized. They may become both angry and frightened of the masses who can’t appreciate them, making public displays of their superiority that almost always backfire. Deeply imbalanced Social Fives may entertain delusions of their social specialness and significance and may imagine others conspiring against them.

Character Example: The television icon of little girls who love science everywhere, Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1 is an expert in all things related to science and mathematics, able to apply her knowledge to endless discoveries and problem-solve on the fly. But while a warm and welcoming woman, Sam would much rather spend her holidays shut up in a lab researching some new organism they found on an alien planet than socializing or leaving the compound. Her sense of camaraderie for her teammates and her willingness to risk her own life to rescue them turns her into a hero time after time, where something she has studied or discovered gets them out of a mess. A mature 5, Sam isn’t afraid to open her heart to others and even forms a special bond with a little girl. But she is, above all, a brainy lass far more interested in theoretical possibilities than the outside world.

The Sexual 5

Sexual Fives look to experience Essential Insight in their romantic relationships, chemistry, and interests. When Sexual Fives encounter someone they share chemistry with, they have enormous energy for hashing out ideas and probing uncharted conceptual vistas together, as if the energy of the fascination element of attraction will itself give birth to something totally new. While all Fives enjoy diving deeply into subjects that interest them, the Sexual Five uses their interests and knowledge to elicit attraction by advertising what a rich, interesting, and even transgressive inner life they have.

As much as Sexual Fives may crave attraction, chemistry, and sexual relationships, Avarice means that they also have fear that they’re unable to provide enough emotional connection, physical adequacy, and practical support for their partner or desired beloved. Sexual Fives often believe it requires more “juice” than they have to keep the intensity of the chemistry going, so they can withdraw or try to create limits on their partners’ expectations of them. Sexual Fives anticipate the demands of a relationship before such demands are made, and thus, they’re often wrong about what the requirements will be but exhaust themselves by the mere anticipation of them.

In craving intense chemistry, they are also prone to put certain conditions or blinders on the relationship so they can continue to have the chemistry they seek without the burden or distraction of the facets of a relationship that are normal for most people. This is consistent with Five’s contradictory feelings with regard to instinctual resources, both wanting them and trying to minimize or manage the conditions within which these needs are met. This can lead to their partner feeling resentment over being so much of the dynamic having to be on the Sexual Five’s terms.

Avarice lends all Fives to mentally abstract themselves from their experience, and in the case of this type, Sexual Fives can approach the erotic conceptually. Therefore their fascinations are often organized around the symbolic and veiled, and typically, the pursuit of their interests is tied in with a sense of self-revision. Sex itself is a major need for Sexual Five, but it can come with highly specific conditions, rituals, or unconventional expressions of sexuality. These can be both to psychologically prepare them to get out of their heads as well as symbolize a kind of merging of their conceptual world and the practical world, Sexual Fives can be consumed with bizarre ideas not founded in reality, and they may develop erotically-charged obsessions with certain people and concepts.

Character Example: Alfred Hitchcock faced disappointment when audiences failed to understand and rejected his film Vertigo, but the critics now consider it one of his underrated masterpieces. While all of his films carry the director’s own 5ish perspective (that of an outsider ‘watching’ events happen that are outside his control, or through a distance, as it gives the viewer a sense of being an observer rather than a direct participant), Vertigo has a sexualized 5 twist. Its hero, Scotty, becomes enamored of a woman who commits suicide… or so he thinks. When he finds another woman who resembles her, Scotty becomes absorbed by the idea that they are the same person and that he can transform her into his ‘ideal.’ An eerie and unsettling film, it follows a man who has relied on his detachment to navigate life, avoiding any emotional entanglements, until his sexual desires get involved, then he borders on the brink of madness. It’s a fascinating depiction of obsession and the altering of someone else… from a place of semi-detached distance.

Spiritual Growth Suggestions

As 5s work on themselves and become more self-aware, they learn to escape the trap of walling themselves off from the sustenance of emotional connections with others, thereby intensifying their inner sense of scarcity, by creating a stronger connection to their own emotions, learning to believe in their own abundance, and opening up to receiving more love and support from others.

Notice when you are…

Hoarding and withholding inner resources out of a perception of scarcity and fear of depletion. Observe your tendency to operate from the assumption that your time, energy, and other resources are scarce. What ideas are causing this? Notice any worry you feel or thoughts that arise about not having enough energy to do things or interact with people. Note what kinds of experiences make you fixate on your energy level. Observe how you hoard time, materials, or private space. Notice if you withhold yourself or your input from others, how you do this, and what you are thinking about and feeling when you do this.

Detaching from emotions and emotional life. Observe the ways you detach from your emotions (if you can see how this happens). Notice situations where you might feel something but don’t. Catch yourself in the act of detaching or distancing yourself from someone or something that might arouse your emotions. Observe your inner self. Are there some emotions you feel more than others? Avoid more than others? Notice when you delay feeling things until you are alone. Are there specific emotions you feel more or less comfortable having in front of others? Notice the ways you rationalize not feeling anything and avoiding an acceptance and experience of others’ feelings.

Distancing yourself from others through excessive boundaries, the need for control, and a fear of external demands. Observe the different ways you make boundaries with people. Notice this happening and mark any feelings that motivated this decision. Notice how you try to control situations and what your thinking behind this is. Mark when you distance yourself from others and how you do it. Are there some people you want more distance from than others? Why? What fears arise when you think about interacting with this person?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How and why did these patterns develop?
  • What emotions are these patterns designed to protect me from?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • How are these patterns operating in me?
  • What are my blind spots, because of these patterns?
  • What do they keep me from seeing?
  • What are the consequences of continuing to be this way?
  • How do my coping mechanisms trap me?


To counter-act hoarding and withholding inner resources out of a perception of scarcity and fear of depletion.

  • Challenge false beliefs about scarcity. Recognize it only seems like you don’t have enough time, energy, and space. You have as many abundant resources as anyone else. Connecting more with others increases your resources because it expands your sources of support. Reminding yourself to find faith in “abundance” initiates your access to more of what you falsely think you don’t have enough of.
  • Remind yourself that scarcity breeds scarcity. What you believe shapes your reality. When you see the world through a lens of your own limited resources, you magnify your experience of scarcity. This keeps you trapped in a model that forces you to get by on very little.
  • Find direct ways to fill yourself up on the outside. Turn up the volume on any desire you have to experience more of life and take the risk to go out and experience it. Allow yourself to increase the pleasurable ways in which you participate in the outside world.

To counter-act detaching from emotions and emotional life.

  • Become more aware of your decision to detach from your feelings. Notice when you do this. Recognize when you are thinking about your feelings rather than feeling them. Notice if you detect an absence of feeling when a situation should provoke a reaction. Shift your attention to your body to pick up on its subtle signs of emotion. Engage in physical exercise, to get “out of your head.”
  • Make efforts to feel feelings more often. Since you long to connect more fully with others, practice engaging with and expressing your feelings more regularly. This will make you more accessible to others. Let real needs and emotions arise and open yourself up to them. Try to feel your emotions when you are alone, then expand to feeling them when you are around others. Try to talk more about your feelings with trusted friends.
  • Make it a point to see the upside of emotions and emotional connections. Remind yourself of all the good aspects of connecting to them, even if you don’t believe there are any at first. If you have had a positive moment of emotional connection to someone, keep this in mind and use it to self-motivate yourself to open up. Look for and celebrate small moments of emotional connection.

To counter-act distancing yourself from others through excessive boundaries, the need for control, and a fear of external demands.

  • Recognize your sense that there’s nothing wrong as part of your fixation. That there is ‘nothing to fix’ is a lie. Seeing the comfort and control that comes from their protective barrier is the first step to seeing what’s wrong with this situation.
  • Get in touch with the fear that motivates distancing and wall-building. You avoid situations in which you might feel fear. If you allow yourself to hide less, and get more in touch with the fear motivating your avoidance, you can reduce the rigidity of the defenses you use to avoid acknowledging your fear. It exists. Learn to recognize it.
  • Move forward in life instead of withdrawing inside yourself. Move into life more, find a deeper energy source inside, and reconnect with your feelings, instead of hiding. Start to notice how and when you withdraw and practice staying put instead. Consider moving toward people and more into the flow around you, rather than away. Remind yourself that learning to risk and trust the outside world is a huge, wonderful step for you.

Using your integration and disintegration numbers for self-growth:

Move to 7 by using levity, innovative thinking, and creative options to interact more directly with the outside world. Intentionally use humor, playfulness, and intellectual curiosity to manage your anxiety about moving into a social sphere. Develop creative thinking and an interest in people in support of your desire to connect more deeply with them. Finding connections and enthusiastically participating in the exchange of the idea will help you expand your comfort zone, and let you share more of your unique ideas with the outside world.

Move to 8 to engage more actively, more fearlessly, and more powerfully in the world. Reestablish a healthy balance between withdrawing and moving out into the world. Reengage with your power and authority, find more strength in dealing with fear, engage with yourself, and interact with others. Learn to express anger in productive ways, make big things happen, and assert yourself to positively impact people. Instead of surveying what’s happening from a safe distance, act more decisively. It’s okay to own your authority, express yourself, use strength to make boundaries and open up yourself to sharing yourself with others.

Sources: Richard Rohr, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Claudio Naranjo: Character and Neurosis, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Beatrice Chestnut, The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge; The Instinctual Drives and the Enneagram by John Luckovich. Sections quoted or paraphrased. Please purchase the original books for more information.

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