Enneagram 5, Level 5

When I read the levels of development for the Enneagram Type 5, I realised how much the fifth level described me. Certain parts were almost as though I were reading my prophecy. I thought I would have been further down the scale, but the lower levels seem to be consumed by anger and aggression. I am neither filled with rage nor animosity. I may come across to others as hostile, but that isn’t my intention. Those who perceive or notice an endearing side of me are typically confused by my seemingly erratic nature of communication (a trait of 5w6’s). Someone once described me as being hot and cold. Even though I may not show it, I am equally puzzled by the interactions I have with others, if not more.

At level five, a healthy (or unhealthy) 5 moves to being an average 5 as the fear and insecurity of not having sufficient knowledge to function in the world set in. They function, instead, as disembodied minds and perceive their physical bodies to be mere vehicles for their minds. They withdraw into and live very much in their minds, preferring to stay within the confines of their cerebral preoccupations. Being able to deal with the world intellectually provides average 5s a blanket of security. They seek to achieve mastery in areas of their interests that become increasingly narrow.

Average 5s view themselves as possessing insufficient inner resources to deal with the external world. Thus, they defend against (potential) impingements on their valuable time, space, and energy. Social interactions and other (perceived) intrusions are seen as distractions from their quest for mastery. Contradictorily, average 5s distract themselves instead with unconstructive activities as a way to gain a temporary sense of competence.

5s at this level fail to communicate clearly as their thought processes are highly convoluted. They engage in monologues that make it difficult for others to follow. Their anxieties about themselves and the world grow in intensity as they retreat from the world. Avenues for verifying their thoughts and perceptions diminish, so their realities get progressively darker, more fearful, and more ominous. Instead of observing and investigating the world objectively, they focus their attention inwardly and become absorbed with their thoughts and interpretations of the world and their experiences. They begin to engage in mere speculation and imagination so as to keep their minds active.

Average 5s have a fascination with power. For them, knowledge is power as it provides them with a sense of security and protection from dangers. However, they are also ambivalent about power. They avoid others having power over them for fear of being rendered vulnerable and helpless. As such, they become more secretive as a way to control the amount of access others have to them. They limit the amount of information they release about themselves and are often terse, cryptic, or uncommunicative. They also compartmentalise their relationships and aspects of their lives so no single individual will form the complete picture. Therefore, they make efforts to prevent their acquaintances from meeting one another and exchanging information. Average 5s can’t comprehend why anyone would take a personal interest in them so they think that there has to be a catch. “Emotional involvements arouse strong feelings which average 5s find difficult to control”, so although they are fascinated by people and relationships, they still are wary and become reclusive.

At this level, 5s start reducing their needs, which includes (but not limited to) basic amenities, comforts, bodily functions/needs, activities, and relationships. These are viewed as insignificant hindrances to their quest for mastery. Often, average 5s will work in positions far beneath their capabilities so as to minimise the demands placed on them. “Ironically, they are avoiding living their lives so they can devote time to preparing to live their lives.”

Isolation fuels their helplessness, anxieties, and fears. “The horror and uncertainty of the world is so apparent to 5s” that their view of reality become ever more bleak and doubtful.


(Reference and quotes from Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson)


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