Monday, November 3, 2014

Exploring Personality: Part Seven -- "I'm watching you."

"I'm watching you, Wazowski. Always watching." -- Monsters, Inc.
Enneagram types 5, 6, and 7 make up the intellectual triad of the Enneagram. These types are data based. They are information gatherers. They tend to react to situations from a more rational viewpoint, especially when compared to the emotional triad (types 2, 3, and 4). Where other types, when asked why they did something, may say, "I don't know," the intellectuals can almost always tell you exactly why they made the decision they made and hand you the numbers to back it up. Their emotional center is fear; gathering information and making informed decisions is a way of combating that fear. The intellectuals are also attracted to ideas and ideals; relationships are less important and can sometimes be a means of achieving other objectives.

The Observer
Perhaps a better name for the Five would be "the Outsider," though the more politically correct term has come to be "the Investigator." However, of all the types, the Five is the one most likely to be hanging out on the fringes looking in. Or, perhaps, not even looking in, just involved in his own world. The Five, then, is almost the definition of "introvert," inferiority complex and all. It's the person we think of when we hear the word, even if that's not precisely correct.

Fives are ill-equipped emotionally to deal with the world. Easily overwhelmed, they learn fairly early on to retreat into their minds to avoid dealing with emotional conflict or, even, just strong emotions, their own as well as others'. Their inability to cope with social situations leads them to believe that they're not as good as other people, not as talented, not as worthwhile, often giving rise to great inferiority complexes. In an effort to combat these feelings, Fives look for something that they can become experts in, something sufficiently esoteric that they do not feel as if they are sharing a field of interest with others in what passes for their social circle.

The information that Fives gather, the data, becomes a buffer between them and the rest of the world. It is their means of relating to people. For, although they will isolate themselves for great lengths of time while they pursue their intellectual endeavors, they can become quite lonely. It's not that they're anti-social, they just don't have the means of being social. The pursuit of knowledge is their attempt to become needed. The problem, then, is that their desire for their area of interest to be unique can make it so that they are never needed for the knowledge they acquire. Or it can be something so outside of normal that they become a figure of derision. [Think every show dealing with supernatural occurrences here, where you have the expert on the subject (possibly some guy in the police or FBI) hidden away in some cluttered office in the basement whom everyone makes fun of.]

Fives also have a tendency toward collecting but not just for the sake of collecting; it needs to pertain to their area of expertise. Actually, the gathering of knowledge is a form of collecting for them, too, but it can also extend into physical items, though it still needs to be sufficiently obscure. For instance, it wouldn't be enough for a Five just to collect comic books or, even, to specialize in a particular character like, say, Nightcrawler (from the X-Men). He might do those things, but his area of expertise, of special collecting, would be something that most people within even the comic book community wouldn't have heard of, something like Korac, Son of Tarzan.
There's a danger here, too, though. Let's say some production company bought the rights to Korak and turned it into a hit movie creating huge amounts of interest in the character and the old comic books series. You might think this would be an ideal circumstance for a Five, but, no, it would actually be a tragedy. There might be some amount of vindication and celebration right at first but, as the pool of knowledge was spread to more and more people, the Five would become distressed. Eventually, he would abandon his interest in Korak and have to find some other area of expertise. However, the stress of such a process can cause the Five to become scattered and unable to make decisions. Situations like this, or situations in which the Five encounters someone else who is more knowledgeable in his area, reinforce the Five's belief that he is in fact inferior to other people.

However, when a Five's special knowledge becomes needed in a way where only he can meet the need, the Five can become commanding and take charge of any situation which requires his expertise. As such, Five's have no problem getting up in front of people and talking about their areas of interest. [This is where the myth of introverts being scared of public speaking falls apart. Fives have absolutely no problem when they are in their arena. Fear of public speaking is not an "introvert thing."] These are the situations that let the Five know that he is valuable and allow him to, at least temporarily, forget about his feelings of inferiority. But, if the Five actually becomes one of the leading people in his area, he may actually rise above those feelings for good and finally become involved with his community rather than just observing it.


  1. I think a lot of geeks are Fives, which would explain a lot about, say, why internal support for Star Trek fell apart in the '90s. The advent of the Internet was kind of their worst nightmare, but they're also some of the most likely lurkers.

  2. Tony: That's probably true. It's the same with comic books. In the 70s and 80s, it was enough just to collect comics, but the explosion of comic book popularity in the late 80s/early 90s made it so that you had specialize in obscure titles or characters or give them up. I suppose the same has been true of RPGs and all sorts of things.

  3. I totally have a brother like that. He was a programming guru by the age of 13 (when computers were still dinosaurs). We totally need our genius 5's!

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  4. Crystal: A lot of major discoveries and advances have been because of Fives.