Type 5 Enneagram – The Wise and Private One


Nine Ways of Relating in Life – Type Five

Are you drawn into understanding why the world works as it does, curious to figure out why things are as they are – whether it be the cosmos, the animal, plant or mineral kingdom or the inner world of your imagination? Are you always searching, asking questions and delving into things in depth? If these questions resonate with you, then follow along to learn more about the drive of the Enneagram Type Five and how that can play out in our lives.

Remember that we all have a bit of every type in us so it is valuable to explore how each type fits into our own way of being.

Type Five can be called the Investigator, The Thinker, The Innovator, The Observer, The Specialist or The Expert.  Knowledge, understanding and insight are highly valued by Fives and they are constantly on a journey of learning.  “A day without learning is like a day without sunshine.”  They prefer to learn through reading and observing rather than participating right away. A type Five’s attention is drawn to the unusual, the overlooked, secretive, the occult, the bizarre or otherwise unknown territory where they can carve out a niche of expertise! To have a degree of expertise will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world which they otherwise feel deep insecurities about their ability to function successfully in. They dislike things that distract their focus and enjoy private time regularly to just be with their thoughts and ideas. Our Fives are minimalists and don’t have a lot of stuff – but what they do have is valued highly so “Don’t touch my stuff!” All this talk about thinking – where’s the feeling? Well, Five’s definitely have feelings as we all do, they just keep them compartmentalized because feelings can’t be trusted…only the mind can! One of my type five friends once shared her favourite children’s rhyme at a workshop and I am sure you’ll get the connection.

A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why aren’t we all like that wise ole bird?

Fives at their best in a relationship are kind, perceptive, open-minded, self-sufficient and trustworthy.  Fives at their worst in a relationship are contentious, suspicious, withdrawn and negative.  They are on their guard against being engulfed.

Practical suggestions for Type Five:

  • Get in touch with your body by taking up a sport or creative activity.
  • Go for a walk with your family or friends instead of going alone.
  • Buy a watch that beeps the hours and so bring your mind into the present each time it does so. Value being in the present.
  • Notice when you are trying to impress people with your knowledge.
  • When the urge to withdraw occurs when someone is emoting, stand your ground and drop your breathing to your belly.
  • Go for counseling or body work to learn to express your feelings.
  • Let others know when they are important to you.
  • When you feel the tendency to give to others, go ahead and do it.
  • Ask for what you want, including the setting of limits.

Tim Burton, Charles Darwin, David Lynch, Sinead O’Connor, Bill Gates, Stephen King, Glenn Gould, Vincent Van Gogh, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, The Buddha, Alfred Hitchcock, Warren Buffet, Vladimir Lenin, Mark Zuckerburg

Do you relate to a Type 5? I love getting feedback! Here on my blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a plug-in that allows you to leave a link back to your own blog when you leave feedback. But, you don’t have to be a blogger to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from everyone.

Until next time,



18 replies
  1. Anna says:

    I’m both a type 5 and an ISTJ. When it comes to relationships, I have trouble being around talkative people. I am easily overwhelmed and I feel drained after spending time with these people because they speak too much and I can’t find a rational explanation for their behavior. Why would someone have this need of being constantly around people and verbally express everything that goes on their mind? I try to be understanding but sometimes, it’s too much: with the years going by, my threshold for extroverted people gets lower and lower. I don’t mind having futile conversations but not every time: I need to feel like I have learnt something I didn’t know, at the end of the question. That’s how I’m wired; if you only enjoy mundane discussions, don’t come near me because you will bore and annoy the heck out of me. So I guess I’ve just illustrated some parts of what you’ve described about types 5.

    • Karen says:

      What a beautifully clear explanation of what is true for you Anna! I would hesitate to generalize with “all extroverted people” as some extroverts are quite balanced in the give/take portion of communication, that would be explained by Riso/Hudson’s level’s of development. It is good to know what works for us and to be with people who match our level of communication so no need to put any energy towards those in the world you do not connect to. That’s the beauty of the world, every type and every development level is represented so you will always find someone to relate with. Thanks for posting your comments and I hope you stay connected to the posts. Let me know if you have specific questions, Karen

  2. Amy says:

    I relate to the type 5 traits, most of them. I still spend enormous amount of time pondering on the information. I am not an expert in psychology and learning on your own could be quite difficult.
    For long period of time I always thought I am so far back from my peers pace, that I’m slow and incompetent. So my motivation was always, “I have to do this, I have to act like this. I have to know about this. I have to be efficient, attain skills and expertise.”
    I practice a lot of skills, coping techniques, I made my own theory to survive along with pursuing what I’m interested with, I hoard information that oriented in today’s trends and what’s going on, and consistently observing so I will not be left out by vital information. I don’t want to sound foolish when talking with people. I prepare my self before revealing any further to the real world.
    Nowadays I taught my self to be realistic, and less eccentric. Even though I still prefer solitary activities with no bounds and schedules, it become evident to me the need of punctuation and participation, along with proper amount of normal socializing.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for your personal reflections…you sound very clear here on where you have spent your energy. Remember we are a bit of all types, and this blend creates our uniqueness. Understanding our enneagram type assists us in freeing ourselves from the limiting unconscious habits we have adopted. Once we see them for what they have been providing for us, we can make new choices. To me all discovery is about loving ourselves free!! I appreciate you taking time to read and comment on this post, I am curious to know what line of work you are in. Keep expanding!! Karen

  3. Michal says:

    Greetings. I might have an interesting question for you:

    How often do you encounter people who are not sure if they are a 5, or a 9?
    Recently, I remembered the enneagram, after some years, and decided to do a deeper research. (When I first found out about it, I filled some test, it said: 5w4 – “…well, seems close enough, I accept it” I thought.) It was probably because of my increasing doubt in my supposed “4’ish” nature. All those “exaggerated”, changing emotions, also the fact that 4s might “like” being sad didn’t seem like me. (I don’t, no matter from what angle I try to look at it) At the same time – well, I am a computer programmer, I just LOVE doing my little researches (which includes this whole enneagram thing, right now 🙂 ) and I’m great at anything technical. So I tried to see if I am a 5w6, maybe. I filled quite a few tests (online), and read tons of articles, texts. And yes – IF I am a 5 – I am definitely a 5w6. But, here it started: always, in every test there was a very slight influence of 9 and 1. Always there, like a shadow – except for one test, which returned the result: 9. It didn’t inlude wings, it just said: 9. But, IF I am a 9, I’d say I must be a 9w1. That made me wonder… and I re-read everything, just now I read also everything about 9. The main ideas that support the 9 theory are: I like peace of mind, sometimes I sacrifice something to avoid a conflict, even if I hate that sacrifice, and the fact I’m not sure (“If you don’t know who you are, you’re a 9.”) – everything else says I’m a 5. What’s weird for me – I realised that I FEAR being a 9, like “Oh, no!” …I didn’t know why, I don’t disrespect 9s (or anyone) in any way. I kept thinking about it and now I believe it’s about my subconscious saying… “It turns out you’re not as smart as you thought, little boy!”, making me think “If I’m not a 5’ish intellectualist, then what was I proud of my whole life?” …more or less.

    Right now, I think I must say that I completely excluded any other options than 5w6 and 9w1, but these two are pretty close to a “50-50”.
    Am I a 5 who overanalysed things, or a 9 who thought he was a 5, and finally discovered the truth? Or maybe, is there a third option? What do you think?

    I’d like to thank you, in advance, for any reply. And this is not so personal: “Oh, please, solve my problem.” I encourage anyone who reads this to join the DISCUSSION 🙂

    Last thing, I’m sorry if somewhere, you couldn’t understand me – english is a foreign language to me. I’ll gladly explain if that’s needed.

    • Karen says:

      First – I understand your message perfectly so – well done! Here are some things to consider for your dilemna. Were either of your parents a Type 5 or a Type 9 as this can bring a strong influence into your learned patterns of thinking and acting. I also like to ask what thoughts/behaviours/feelings you can not turn off. For example, I am a 2 with a 3 wing so I can look very much like a 3 in my activity level, my striving to do well, to be appropriate, however, it is all driven from the 2 perspective to belong and to be liked. It has taken great noticing to not go into rescue mode for family or friends when I see a need that I could fill.
      Do you like comfort (9) or are you aware of body comfort at all? 5’s can forget about basic things like eating and relieving themselves when they are engrossed in something that they are mentally involved in. Type 5 and 6 are in the head centre and type 9 and 1 are in the body centre – where do you hang out? Ask others who know you well to read descriptions of each type and give you their feedback – we usually show up more clearly to others. Lastly look at the path of growth and see what makes more sense for you. Good luck – it’s never too late to figure it out, even when you decide what type is home base, you still get to keep learning. That’s the fun part. Karen

      • Raz Mason says:

        Very helpful reply, Karen. I had not heard the advice before about considering parental types. I’m a 4 with a 1 mother, 7 father. So, while that 1 experience with her has made it difficult to come to peace with my own 1 tendencies, in particular, it’s provocative to imagine how my dynamic might be related to theirs. Worth much good pondering. Thank you!

        • Karen Armstrong says:

          Hi Raz,
          I am glad that my comments provided a further exploration for you. That’s what it’s all about, staying open, noticing and being focused on what we want to create in our lives. I wish you continued aha moments as you move forward. Stay in touch,

  4. Ana says:

    How do I realate to a 5 who has been in a relationship with a woman who dug deep into his privacy.. going through his phone records, calling people behind his back, she invaded his privacy horribly. Now he is always suspicious of me with no reason. What can I say to help him understand it’s ok and he can trust me? Any advise is welcome because I really love this guy and want to understand him.

    • Karen says:

      This is a great question and very relevant for many of us. We can use reassuring words for our loved ones however in my experience it is consistency of action that speaks much louder than any words can. This will take time, patience, consistency and great love to rebuild the trust that was broken. Remind him to stay in the present and that you are you and this is a new relationship. Good luck!

  5. Josh says:

    I am a 5w6 also INTJ. I am an M.D. but have always had an interest in psychology and after beating cancer (so far) have begun to read a lot of philosophy. Love DATA!
    I really like the enneagram material. I find the growth/stress patterns towards other numbers particularly useful (5 to 7/8) in assessing behavior. For example: “I could have acted better. I should strive more to be like the best attributes of NUMBER X”. Or, “I’ve been having troubles. I am taking on negative traits of NUMBER Y. Am I stressed? YES, I have that emotion and I just recognized it is active!”
    There is some good relationship material out there as well. I am married to a 2w3, described as double opposites. Of course, no site would, nor should, tell anyone to give up hope. Understanding the self and then the partner and his/her thought patterns and potentially radically different points of view have really helped my relationship.
    I have tried to introduce this material to others in the form of fun type descriptions and even the brief web tests that are available. Funny, some individuals are much more apathetic or even resistant to enneagram assessment and material. Could it be that his or her type are not as introspective or receptive to criticism of any kind? I think so. To this #5 it’s truly wonderful information!

    • Karen Armstrong says:

      HI Josh – I would be curious to know what you thought of the Feb.11th blog, https://in-side-out.com/2014/02/11/enneagram-type-5-the-emotional-connection/ . The Enneagram has been invaluable in my life for myself, my family and of course my work. The way that it can support all individuals without boxing them in is brilliant. We are always changing and it provides a framework to support that. I think there will always be people ready to look at themselves honestly and others who are not ready. It takes courage to do so – even though the rewards are more than worth the challenges that we can run into. Self esteem plays a huge part in our response to development. Nathaniel Braden has written many excellent books on the subject of self esteem which may bring insight to your question around what makes some apathetic or resistant to the Enneagram material. May you continue to flourish with good health and happiness and keep on sharing the wisdom of this incredible system! Thanks for responding. Karen

  6. Laurence says:

    I’m a 5 and I feel a 5 can show the positive/negatives of certain attributes. For example, I can see obvious problems and attempt to bring them to the attention of other people who are completely oblivious to them, it’s almost as if we are speaking different languages. But this other person is usually much better at small talk and just shooting the shit at a party which is very hard for me to do, I can’t talk about nonsense it feels very forced, fake and often I just have nothing to say. I rack my brain to try and come up with worthless small talk, but there is nothing there most times!!

    I also have a very hard time talking to people about problems that they don’t want to fix, I find it very frustrating.

    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hi Laurence – this is the beauty of personality types, that we are different and have different strengths and gifts. The world would be very boring if we were all alike even though we often find ourselves saying “if only more people were like me….!” We always have choice, so if you are not a small talk person, which as you realize, most Type 5’s are not, then you can choose not to have those interactions. Sometimes – life will put you into the situation that seems to call for it, however that is just an illusion too – try being honest and letting the other person know you are not very versed in typical small talk and ask a deeper question to see if there is any common ground. You may be surprised. Also – I am not sure that many people truly like talking to people about problems they don’t want to fix and it doesn’t serve them to do so anyway – let that one go with no guilt! Enjoy your depth and look for those who can engage with you. Karen

  7. Ehtan says:

    I am a type 5 and dominantly INTJ.
    The description and suggestions are really interesting and suiting.
    My sense of insecurity evades my life and the most difficult task for me is to make a decision, no matter in what area of life, small or big, it is always a challenge and consuming, including relating to people.
    even at the age of 40, and after lots of experiences, usually successful, I can’t just decide what to stick to. It makes me recall the song “Robbie Willaims – Feel”

  8. Felicity Annora says:

    I absolutely love this! As a writer that’s trying to create a 5 type personality with depth, this post is a gold mine. I can relate to the rabbit-trail and the “wild mind spaces” type of thinking that a 5 has (and their pursuit of knowledge). Even though creativity is my strong suit, my love of learning had led me to make some interesting friendships that are the complete opposite of me.

    (I’m a 2w3, ENFP)

  9. Felicity Annora says:

    I absolutely love this! As a writer that’s trying to create a 5 type personality with depth, this post is a gold mine. I can relate to the rabbit-trail and the “wild mind spaces” type of thinking that a 5 has (and their pursuit of knowledge). Even though creativity is my strong suit, my love of learning had led me to make some interesting friendships that are the complete opposite of me.


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