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Enneagram Type 5 Personality: Knowledge and Objectivity

Enneagram type 5

Enneagram type 5 is given a variety of names by those who teach and write about the Enneagram types such as The Observer, The Investigator, and The Wise Person. While these names allude to some common characteristics that often appear in the type 5 personality, they only provide a hint of what's going on underneath the surface. What's going on can be found in the core focus.

Enneagram type 5 has a focus on gaining knowledge and comprehending the world in order know how to navigate and feel competent in it. This produces a habit of attention that pulls back from the world to objectively observe it instead of fully participating in it.

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

Compensation: "I must gather as much information about the world as I can and then reduce it down to what's essential."

Habit of Attention: Type 5 attention observes the world from a distance. This starts with gathering information about the world in order to better know how to navigate it but there always seems more to learn. This can create a detachment that postpones full participation in the world.

The Enneagram types evolved from Oscar Ichazo's ego-types into Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes. The goal with the ego-types was to identify an individual's fixation in order to work on transcending it. The enneatypes fleshed out the ego-types in terms of modern psychology and personality traits.

Type 5 Ego: Ego-Stinge

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

The fixation points to the mental preoccupation of the ego and the trap seems like the way out but keeps the 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 holy idea is the actual way out of the ego fixation.

Type 5 Passion

Passion: Avarice is a hoarding of resources and minimizing of needs in order to avoid intrusions. I'm more comfortable observing the world from a distance.

The passion is the emotional energy that serves the fixation and trap.

Type 5 Virtue

Virtue: Detachment appears when you allow yourself to more freely participate in the world instead of observing it from a place of separation and hiddenness.

The virtue is what appears when the passion subsides.

Type 5 Personality Traits: Enneatype V

Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes expanded upon Oscar Ichazo's fixations and passions by referring to modern psychology and other sources.

What follows is the trait structure for type 5 as outlined in Naranjo's book "Ennea-type Structures."

Enneatype V
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
The relationships and movements between types can be explored by way of the triads, arrows, and lines as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These elements of the Enneagram are often described as the centers, the stances, stress/security points, and directions of integration/disintegration.

    Type 5 Center

    Head/Head-Based Center

    Type 5 is located in the 567 triad which is often described as the head center. Type 5 needs time to think about the information and facts at hand in order to fit it all into a logical structure that can make sense of it. The result can not only be used to feel prepared and competent as one navigates into the future but also to have a role to play as a resource for such knowledge.

    Types 5, 6, and 7 may also be referred to as fear-based types. Type 5 fear is of being overwhelmed by the intrusions and demands of the world. Avoiding this requires having enough of what you need so that you don't need to depend on the world for it. This can result in hoarding or holding onto what you have or minimizing what you need.

    The core focus approach labels the 567 triad as the Mental Center and differentiates how each type uses that center.

    • Type 5: Mental Objectivity - observes the world by pulling back from it and watching.
    • Type 6: Mental Questioning - probes to alleviate doubts and find what can be trusted.
    • Type 7: Mental Anticipation - avoids limitations while exploring interesting possibilities.

    You can take a test comparing the three head types here.

    Type 5 Stance or Hornevian Group

    Withdrawn Stance

    Type 5 is in the withdrawn triad along with type 4 and type 9. Type 5 can be withdrawn from fully participating in the world with others. While they can enjoy being around people, they can also feel overwhelmed by people as well. Because there's a part of them observing the world that requires later processing, it can be difficult at times to respond to what's going on in the moment.

    Type 5 Stress and Growth

    Enneagram type 5 arrows

    Movement against the arrow from type 5 to type 8

    Movement against the arrow is sometimes described as movement toward a type's security point or direction of integration or growth. Type 5 is said to take on characteristics of type 8 when feeling relaxed or secure or moving toward health and growth.

    Movement with the arrow from type 5 to type 7

    Movement with the arrow is sometimes described as a movement toward a type's stress point or direction of disintegration or stress. When feeling stressed and pressured or not in control, type 5 is said to take on characteristics of type 7.

    Connecting points from type 5 to type 8 and type 7

    Some teachers ignore the arrows and simply describe the lines as connecting points. In this case, someone identified as type 5 is said to sometimes take on characteristics of type 8 and type 7. Or to put it another way, type 5 may move to type 8 and type 7 at times when the type 5 concerns are not dominant.

    Although you have a basic or primary Enneagram type there are many subtle variations within type. These variations are defined by such concepts as wings, instincts, tritype, and levels. They're often used to explain why people of the same Enneagram type can look different.

    Type 5 Wings - 5w4 and 5w6

    Type 5 Wings

    The wings are represented by the numbers on either side of a given type as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These types are said to have an additional influence upon the type being looked at. The wing types for type 5 are type 4 and type 6.

    Although type 5 is influenced by both wings, an individual will generally be influenced more by one of the wings than the other. The wing with more influence is said to be the preferred wing.

    Type 5 wing 4 (5w4) - preferred 4 wing
    Common Name: The Iconoclast

    • more imaginative than analytic
    • deals more with symbolic representation
    • more peaceful and going along

    Type 5 wing 6 (5w6) - preferred 6 wing
    Common Name: The Problem-Solver

    • more technically oriented
    • deals more with factual details
    • more contrary and argumentative

    Click here if you'd like help finding your preferred wing.

    Type 5 Subtypes

    Type 5 Instinctual Subtypes

    The instincts of the Enneagram types are self-preservation (sp), sexual (sx), and social (so). They are traditionally used to define three instinctual subtypes or variations of a basic type (e.g., SP 5, SX 5, and SO 5). One of these three subtypes is called the counter-type because it can look different from the basic type. Below are brief descriptions of the three type 5 instinctual subtypes.

    SP 5 - Castle, Castle Defender: hides within “castle walls” to protect against intrusion and maintain privacy; hoards resources and minimizes needs to avoid dependency on others; observes life from a distance instead of participating in it.

    SX 5 - Confidence, Confidant (counter-type): searches for someone they can trust to share their secrets with; emotionally sensitive with romantic streak; may connect to inner emotional world through artistic expression.

    SO 5 - Totems, Symbols: relates to people through ideas, values, and ideals; searches for ultimate knowledge, truth, and meaning to avoid experiencing life as meaningless; obsession with ideas and the extraordinary which disconnects them from everyday issues and concerns.

    While an individual may be identified with type 5 in general, that same individual may be more specifically identified with one of the three instinctual subtypes as well. 

    A more recent approach to using the instincts is instinctual variant stacking which can be used independent of Enneagram type.

    If you'd like to find your instinctual subtype or instinctual variant stacking then click here.

    Type 5 Tritypes

    Enneagram type 5 tritypes


    With tritype you are not simply one type but three, one type from each center. There is also an order of preference for the three types (which type is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).

    The type 5 tritypes have type 5 as their first type and head type. The second and third types come from the gut (8, 9, or 1) and heart (2, 3, or 4) centers.

    Tritype® Archetype goes a step further by also looking at tritype in terms of the three types alone (independent of order of preference). Below are the Tritype® Archetype names if Enneagram type 5 is your primary type.

    The Mentor - 512 or 521
    The Technical Expert - 513 or 531
    The Researcher - 514 or 541
    The Strategist - 528 or 582
    The Problem Solver - 529 or 592
    The Solution Master - 538 or 583
    The Thinker - 539 or 593
    The Scholar - 548 or 584
    The Contemplative - 549 or 594

    For a description of any Tritype® Archetype above click the name. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the Tritype® Archetype you're interested in.

    If you'd like to find your tritype, tritype with wings, dominant type in a given center, or order of preference then click here.

    Type 5 - Enneagram Levels of Development

    Enneagram Levels

    The Levels of Development create a vertical dimension within each Enneagram type.

    There are nine levels ranging from healthy (levels 1-3) to average (levels 4-6) to unhealthy (levels 7-9). A person will operate within a range of levels (e.g., levels 2-4, levels 6-8, etc.). This range will vary throughout a lifetime. Two people of the same type will look different when they're operating from different levels.

    Below are two words associated with each level for type 5 as described in the book "The Wisdom of the Enneagram" by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

    Healthy Levels

    Level 1 - Participating, Visionary

    Level 2 - Observant, Perceptive

    Level 3 - Focused, Innovative

    Average Levels

    Level 4 - Conceptualizing, Preparing

    Level 5 - Detached, Preoccupied

    Level 6 - Extreme, Provocative

    Unhealthy Levels

    Level 7 - Nihilistic, Eccentric

    Level 8 - Horrified, Delirious

    Level 9 - Seeking Oblivion, Self-Annihilating

    Click here for descriptions of all nine type 5 levels. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the section on Levels of Development.

    Even though Enneagram tests are not 100% accurate they can provide a starting point for finding your Enneagram type and variations of type by narrowing down and validating your choices. The tests below can be useful if you think you might be a type 5 or you know you are a type 5 and want to explore the type 5 variations.

    Enneagram Mistypes - Type 5 Comparison Tests

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

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

    To find some alternatives to type 5 you can take the type preference test below. Afterward you can compare these alternatives using the links above or the type comparison test.

    Enneagram Variations - Tests to help find Type 5 Wing, Subtype, and Tritype

    Find your type 5 wing preference by comparing the two wings of type 5.

    Find your type 5 subtype by comparing the three instictual subtypes of type 5.

    Find your missing tritype heart or gut type by comparing the three types in a center.

    Find your tritype order by comparing your 2nd and 3rd tritype types.

    Quick Guide to the Enneagram

    This page is part of the Quick Guide to the Enneagram available on this website. For more information about any particular Enneagram type or the many concepts and history of the Enneagram types visit the Quick Guide main page.

    The Nine Enneagram Types x
    The Nine Enneagram Types