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Enneagram Type 5: Comprehension through Mental Observation

The core focus of Enneagram type 5

Enneagram type 5
A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
- Albert Einstein

Early in life we develop an initial belief about ourselves and a compensation for that self-belief.

  • Type 5 Initial Self-Belief: “I am uninformed as I am.”

    Type 5 Compensation: "I must objectively observe the world as it is in order to clearly make sense of and navigate it."

Over time this gets generalized beyond the self into a core focus that also shapes how we perceive and interact with the world at large.

  • Type 5 Core Focus: Comprehension comes from objectively observing the world and logically distilling the facts. This often requires that I detach from experiences as they happen in order to see things clearly and not feel overwhelmed. I need time and space to later process those facts and experiences.

    Personality characteristics that might arise from the type 5 core focus include:

    • Narrows area of interest to specialized niche
    • Minimizes needs to avoid dependency on others
    • Guards against intrusions upon privacy
    • Lives life from the sidelines instead of fully participating
    • Withdraws when feeling overwhelmed by people
    • Postpones action in favor of more research and analysis
    • Detaches from emotions by going into the head
    • Delays experiencing life in the moment, rehashing it when alone
    • Requires time to think and reflect before responding

Enneagram author descriptions of type 5

Enneagram type 5 names

Below are Enneagram type 5 description samplings from some popular or well-known Enneagram authors. Click on the sources after the descriptions to further explore these interpretations.

  • The Investigator, The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated1

    Basic Fear: Of being helpless, useless, incapable (overwhelmed)1

    Basic Desire: To be capable and competent1

  • How Fives Pay Attention: A Five’s isolation does not depend solely on withdrawal into privacy, or even on putting up emotional walls. The psychic isolation of the type can be seen as the habit of disengaging from feelings in order to observe.2

    Basic Proposition: You can assure survival and gain protection from intrusion and insufficient resources through privacy, self-sufficiency, limiting desires and acquiring knowledge.2

    Strengths: Scholarly, perceptive, thoughtful, self-reliant, dependable, respectful, calm in crisis2

    Challenges: Detached, isolated, overly intellectual, withholding, hoarding2

  • Energy goes into: Retracting in order to observe. Learning all there is to know about a subject. Thinking and analyzing in advance. Dampening and reducing feelings. Remaining self-contained to conserve energy. Maintaining sufficient privacy, boundaries, and limits.3

  • The Investigator: Analytical, detached and private, they are motivated by a need to gain knowledge, conserve energy and avoid relying on others.4

  • Observers have a need for knowledge and are introverted, curious, analytical, and insightful.5

  • Focus of Attention: Fives believe knowledge is power, so they like to observe what’s going on around them without getting too involved, especially emotionally. They focus on accumulating information about subjects that interest them and managing their time and energy, which they perceive as scarce, by avoiding entanglements with others.6

Type 5 Ego: Ego-Stinge


The roots of the Enneagram types come from Oscar Ichazo's ego types. The ego types identified how a person was fixated in ego and the remedy for finding freedom from that.

Below are descriptions of Oscar Ichazo's ego type 5 fixation, trap, holy idea, passion, and virtue reinterpreted for today's Enneagram personality types.

  • Type 5 Fixation and Trap

    Fixation: Stinginess comes from holding on to resources in a world that seems to take more than it gives back.

    Trap: An observer stands back from the world in order to better understand it before participating in it.

    The fixation of stinginess points to the mental preoccupation of the type 5 ego. The trap of observer keeps an individual stuck in the fixation.

  • Type 5 Holy Idea

    Holy Idea: Holy Omniscience requires participating in life to gain a more complete understanding than can be had by simply observing it.

    The fixation of stinginess and trap of observer keep an individual stuck in the type 5 fixation. The way out of that fixation is through holy omniscience.

  • Type 5 Passion

    Passion: Avarice is a hoarding of resources and minimizing of needs in order to avoid intrusions. "I can avoid entanglements by managing my resources."

    The passion of avarice is the emotional energy that serves the fixation of stinginess and trap of observer.

  • Type 5 Virtue

    Virtue: Detachment (Non-Attachment) appears when you allow yourself to more freely participate in the world instead of observing it from the sidelines.

    The virtue of detachment (non-attachment) is what appears when the passion of avarice subsides.

Personality traits of Enneagram type 5

Enneatype V

A psychiatrist named Claudio Naranjo evolved Oscar Ichazo's ego-types into the Enneagram personality types as we use them today. Naranjo largely based the types on Ichazo's passions.

Naranjo outlined the following trait structure for type 5 (Ennea-type V) in his books Ennea-type Structures and Character and Neurosis.

  • Seeking Wholeness through Isolation - Avarice and Pathological Detachment

    • Retentiveness
    • Not Giving
    • Pathological Detachment
    • Fear of Engulfment
    • Autonomy
    • Feelinglessness
    • Postponement of Action
    • Cognitive Orientation
    • Sense of Emptiness
    • Guilt
    • High Superego
    • Negativism
    • Hypersensitivity

Enneagram type 5 examples

While reading about the Enneagram types can be useful in understanding them, you eventually have to bring the types to life by seeing the many different ways they get expressed in life.

While the ideal is to be able to interact directly with people of each type, an alternative is to observe them from a distance. There are a number of ways to do this using videos. Many of these videos can be found on the Internet if you know what to look for (YouTube in particular).

  • Type 5 Interviews and Self-Revelations

    One method used to bring the types to life when teaching the Enneagram types involves interviewing people of a given type about how that type plays out in their life. This may be done through panels and one-on-one interviews.

    Self-revelatory videos can also be useful where a person simply describes their type to a camera without the prompting of an interviewer.

    Note that sometimes a person in a video may have been mistyped and may not offer an accurate representation of type when that happens.

  • Type 5 Celebrities or Famous People

    Once their Enneagram type is known, celebrities or famous people can also offer interesting examples of and insights into Enneagram type as revealed through interviews, lectures, writings, and the person's work.

    However, it's not like the Enneagram panels, interviews, and self-revelations where people are specifically describing how they experience Enneagram type in their lives. It's more a matter of looking for glimpses into how Enneagram type is operating in the person.

    It can be difficult to type someone at a distance. Look for a consensus of opinion on a person's type from multiple sources and hold it loosely. Celebrities and famous people are often typed differently by different Enneagram authors, teachers, and enthusiasts.

  • Type 5 Fictional Characters

    It needs to be made clear that fictional characters are not real people, even when they are based on real people. There can be a temptation to assign Enneagram type to every character in a story, but many characters don't have that kind of consistency or depth.

    Not only might there be a number of different people, usually of different types, influencing the creation or portrayal of a character but often the character is nothing more than a vehicle for telling the story and moving it along.

    While once in a while a character appears that you can attribute an Enneagram type to, generally it's more accurate to look at specific scenes as examples of a type rather than the character as a whole.

    Tom Condon wrote a book called The Enneagram Movie & Video Guide that you may find useful for seeing type in fictional characters.

  • Type 5 Songs and Lyrics

    Although they do exist, there are few song lyrics that can be attributed to one particular Enneagram type. Most songs have both lyrical and musical elements that can be attributed to a number of different Enneagram types.

    Songs are extremely subjective. There are many songs that listeners, and even performers, interpret in a very different way than the song writer intended. A number of songs also emphasize the sounds of words rather than their meaning.

    As such, different people hearing the same song often will experience it as representing different Enneagram types.

Enneagram type 5 variations

There are a number of variations or flavors of type 5 that help explain why two people of the same type seem different. Click below for more info about variations of type 5.

Type 5 mistypes

Some people correctly identify their Enneagram type on their first try. For most other people determining type can take some time.

If you feel that you may have wrongly typed yourself as type 5 and have one or more alternative candidate types in mind then click on a link below to take a quick Enneagram test comparing type 5 to another type that may instead be your type.

Enneagram Tests to Help Determine Type

Enneagram types

The Enneagram personality types consist of nine basic types. One of the types will be more dominant than the others. This dominant type is said to be "your Enneagram type".

Although there are nine basic Enneagram types, there are also many variations within each type as defined by such concepts as wings, centers, and instincts.

You can explore these variations using the type preference test below or one of the many other tests available on this website.

Click here for the Complete Guide to the Enneagram.

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  • the nine Enneagram personality types
  • the many type variations within type
  • where the types came from (origins and history)
  • how the types use the Enneagram symbol

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