Enneagram Type Five ~ Polarities
Enneagram Type 5 has the Primary Polarity of “Trying not to lack understanding.”
The Polarity of the Type shows a movement towards a set of qualities and a movement away from its opposites. Like a pendulum in an old clock, the Type is sustaining this duality. Once the Type grows to its highest expression, the polarities collapse into natural wholeness.
This means that Type 5 is avoiding anything that has the power to make them feel that they don’t understand. For a Five, understanding means having knowledge, depth of insight, clarity, objective information and competency.
Lacking understanding means feeling insecure and anxious in ignorance and incompetency.
A few Secondary Polarities for Fives at their lower expression:
- It’s often easier to silently observe rather than verbally engage.
- Fives prefer the security of solitude and isolation to relating and connecting.
- They prefer to think rather than feel.
- They can hide in the ivory tower of the mind instead of being in the body.
- At lower to medium expressions, they find it easier to think about ideas than apply knowledge in the real world.
A few Secondary Polarities for Fives at their highest expression:
- Fives step out of silently observing to verbally engage.
- Fives leave solitude and isolation to relate and connect.
- They merge thinking with feeling.
- They no longer hide in the ivory tower of the mind and become more comfortable with the enjoyment of being in the body.
- At higher to medium expressions, they take their well thought out ideas and apply their knowledge in the real world.
Enneagram Type Nine ~ Personality Pearl
Type 5 has the InnerLifeSkills Blue Pearl of Mind + Separation + Seeking Security + Fear Continuum.
This means that Type 5 is operating from a combination of mind, an unconscious running from fear (thinking about the sensation of seeking relief from anxiety through isolation), plus seeking ways to feel secure by separating and distancing from the world and people.
Add this to the Polarities and you understand the REASON for the behaviors of Type 5.
Examples of reasons for behavior:
- Fives use their laser minds to separate and divide knowledge as a way to understand.
- Fives can separate from people and life to ease their fear and to gain understanding through observation.
- Fives seek security through knowledge and understanding.
If you understand the Personality Pearl + Polarities, you understand how the Type arises. This forms a part of the InnerLifeSkills 8 Step Coaching Typing Test Method, where we teach you to use a narrative style to coach your clients to understand all 9 Types, and using trademarked worksheets of the Pearls, Polarities and Types, you help a client to discover their type.
Infographic for Type 5 Enneagram
If you look at our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram infographic, you’ll see the body posture of sitting to observe and watch life.
You’ll see the eyes wide open, enjoying taking in all the information – wondering if “I know enough to engage and participate?”
The exclamation symbol on the chest is a reminder of the Primary Polarity seeking understanding, and loving aha moments.
Here are some voices for Type Five (from our InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coaches)
- “I don’t want to be ignorant, so I focus on learning all the time.”
- “I look for ways to test if people have the intelligence to understand what I understand, if not I keep quiet.“
- “I don’t easily speak and share.”
- “It’s hard to understand emotions and physicality, I feel like a mind dragging a body around.”
- “I’m so in my mind that I forget to eat.”
- “It doesn’t bother me if people think I’m cold, I’m actually not but they don’t bother to get to know me.”
- “I love thinking and often disappear into my inner world which feels far safer than the real world.”
- “I thought I was a 9 for a long time, but then I realized I don’t tune out, I’m always tuned in, it’s hard to relax, my mind wants to keep busy all the time.”
Enneagram Type 5 Map for Growth
At the lowest expression Fives have created a false sense of understanding by polarizing away from real world application and living.
“It’s only at my highest expression that I discover what real understanding is. That real understanding needs me to jump in, take action and participate in life, it needs my courage, then I develop real competencies and wisdom, beyond surface knowledge.”
Fives Lowest Expression
When our Enneagram Type is at its lowest expression, it tends to have a CLOSED door to its opposite polarized Type, denying the balancing qualities of that type, to restore wholeness. And it tends to have only one OPEN door to the other type, which because of the lack of balance, adds lower functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 5’s lowest expression, the energetic door to Type 8 which is their polarity opposite is closed. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 8 like confidence, assertion, speaking one’s mind, gut instincts, physical desires and full engagement are difficult to access.
- Leaving the only energetic door open to Type 7 at its worst. This lets in more mind type anxiety, living in the fantasy of tomorrow, busy thinking, boredom and chasing the next shiny idea.
“At my lowest expression, I tend to access the worst characteristics of Type 7, which means I live in my happy mind thinking space, become even more anxious to the point of preferring the world of ideas to the world out there.”
“As a Type 5, when I go to 7, it’s an inner world activity of anxiety that feels like chaotic over stimulated thinking.”
“It’s all thinking, and thinking, and analyzing, mind as home, and feeling bored and anxious if my mind hasn’t got something to do.”
“New ideas and learning is happiness for me, but I struggle to share my ideas and apply them in action.”
Fives Highest Expression
When our Enneagram Type 5 is at its highest expression, it tends to have a OPEN door to its opposite polarized Type, allowing the balancing qualities of that type to restore wholeness. And it tends to then also have an OPEN door to the other type, which because of the balance, adds higher functioning qualities to the primary type.
- At Enneagram Type 5’s highest expression, the energetic door to Type 8, which is their polarity opposite is open. This means all the healthy functional qualities of Type 8 like applied knowledge as action, confidence, assertion, directness, gut instincts and physical presence are available to Fives.
- The other energetic door being open to Type 7 now adds its best. This lets in humor, lightness of being, gratitude, playfulness and adventure.
“At my highest expression as an Enneagram Type 5, I become physically active, enjoying my body and not neglecting it or punishing it.”
“As a Type 5, when I access 8 I feel confident.”
“I become direct and even too blunt.”
“I still enjoy thinking and ideas but this feels balanced with learning through doing and engaging with life.”
Enneagram Type 5 Key Words & Voices
As a Type 5 I separate myself from people and I keep myself at a distance.
It is natural for me to prefer to observe rather than engage, so people might think of me as a hermit.
People think I am cold and aloof, but I’m not.
What’s happening is that I watch first from a distance in order to understand, and when I finally do understand then I’ll feel safe enough to jump in and engage.
People might experience me as cold. It’s not true, but I’m checking to see whether I can trust you and whether you have a mind that I can connect to. And whether you really listen and hear me.
When I ask questions I ask them with intensity.
I have a natural detachment in life. I am watching, I am observing. This is my way of studying and understanding. I’m processing much of my life experience through my mind in this way.
I enjoy investigating something completely, analyzing.
I do tend to live in a bit of an ivory tower, sometimes choosing fantasy or thinking as a safe place that I prefer instead of the real world, down here it feels frightening.
I am highly perceptive, with a laser mind.
Enneagram Type 5 Common Mistyping Misidentifications
Because Enneagram tests are limited, they are often unreliable, with a 50-60% accuracy. This is why we prefer a narrative, coaching approach to helping people to discover their types. Types share common behaviors, but differ in their Personality Pearl “grain of sand” hidden reason for behavior.
Here are a few common Type 5 mistypings showing what is in common and what ultimately separates the types. We train our Enneagram Coaches to use this type of thinking as a framework to ask clients enlightening questions, so that clients can weigh in on the coaching session to find their type (with the expert guidance of their InnerLifeSkills Enneagram Coach).
- TYPE 1 vs. 5: Both care about the details and understanding, 1 in favor of doing the ‘right’ thing and 5 in favor of a hunger for knowledge. 1 does things carefully, 5 is anxious about being competent. 1 is more engaged with people, 5 prefers space and isolation. 1 is an anger type who is learning to relax and let go, 5 is a fear type who is learning confidence.
- TYPE 2 vs. 5: Both can enjoy connecting, 2 for the emotional need to be liked and loved and 5 to share interesting ideas and intense thinking. 2 needs to be needed, 5 needs space to observe and understand. 2 can be warm and show physical affection to people, 5 can appear aloof and is selective about physical affection. 2 is a self-worth type who is learning self-love, 5 is a fear type who is learning to be engaged and confident.
- TYPE 3 vs. 5: Both strive for competency, 3 to feel successful and 5 to prove their knowledge. 3 can wing it – pretend to know, 5 feels anxious about never knowing enough. 3 wants the quickest path, 5 holds themselves back by over thinking. 3 is a self-worth type learning humility and service, 5 is a fear type who is learning to be engaged and confident.
- TYPE 4 vs. 5: Both have intensity, 4 has intense emotions and 5 has intense thinking. 4 needs to be special and unique, 5 needs to understand and observe life. 4 can be dramatic and stuck in pain, 5 can live in their mind. 4 is a self-worth type learning to be functional and ordinary, 5 is a fear type who is learning to be engaged and confident.
- TYPE 6 vs. 5: Both seek knowledge, 5 wants deep intense understanding, 6 wants enough information to feel secure. 5 needs independence of mind, 6 needs support and feedback. 5 can be aloof and distant, 6 can vacillate between warm and cold. 5 is a fear type learning to be engaged and confident, 6 is a fear type who is learning faith in self.
- TYPE 7 vs. 5: Both enjoy interesting things to think about, 5 in order to deeply understand and 7 out of enjoyment and wonder. 5 needs to be isolated, 7 needs freedom. 5 can be aloof and distant, 7 can be warm, happy and engaging. 5 is a fear type learning to be engaged and confident, 7 is a fear type who is learning focus and content stillness.
- TYPE 8 vs. 5: Both are intense, 5 asks questions with laser intensity, seeking understanding and 8 has intense presence, an aura of power. 5 needs space and isolation, 8 needs power. 5 can be aloof and distant, 8 enjoys physical engagement. 5 is a fear type learning to be engaged and confident, 8 is an anger type who is learning compassion
- TYPE 9 vs. 5: Both can be withdrawn, 5 out of anxiety, wanting to observe and 9 to avoid impact and to tune out. 5 needs to understand, 9 needs to feel peaceful. 5 can have strong opinions, 9 can swallow their opinions to keep the peace. 5 is a fear type learning to be engaged and confident, 9 is an anger type learning to be assertive and present.