02 August 2021

Investigating the Investigator: the Enneagram 5

What's an Enneagram 5, and what does it mean to be an Investigator? Read all about the personality type shared by visionaries like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and Vincent Van Gogh.

All About the Enneagram 5 Type

Enneagram Type 5s are the intense, cerebral type. They're perceptive, insightful, curious, and innovative but can also tend to be isolated, secretive, and withdraw from social situations.

While they put most of their mental energy into developing complex ideas and skills, they can also become preoccupied with their own ideas, thoughts, and imaginary concepts. At times, they can become high-strung and intense. The Five's go-to vice is avarice, a.k.a. greed, not for wealth, but for time, space, and knowledge. At their best, they're intellectual and visionary pioneers who can see the world in a new and unique way.

The Five's basic desire is to be competent, while their basic fear is to be useless, helpless, and incapable.

Enneagram Type 5 with a 4-Wing: "The Iconoclast:" This is someone who is more in touch with their emotional side, similar to a Type 4.

Enneagram Type 5 with a 6-Wing: "The Problem Solver:" Much more in touch with their intellectual side, much like a Type 6. However, they're also more fear-driven.

What Motivates an Enneagram 5?

Enneagram Fives' basic desire is to gain and possess knowledge, understand the world around them and have everything "figured out" so they can defend themselves from their environment and protect themselves from feeling inadequate or inept.

When under stress, a detached Five suddenly becomes hyperactive and scattered like a Type Seven. However, ambitious, detached Fives become more self-confident and decisive when moving toward growth, like a healthy Type 8.

What Are the Strengths of an Enneagram 5?

Enneagram 5s have many positive qualities, many of which make them some of the world's top scholars and visionaries.

  • Intelligent, scholarly, and knowledgeable
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Appreciative of simplicity
  • Calm and clear-headed in a crisis
  • Respectful
  • Keeper of confidences
  • Dependable

Healthy Fives confidently engage in life and are often knowledgeable, insightful, and empathetic. They are observant of the world around them and like to connect with lots of different kinds of people. They love bringing their ideas to the world and making it a better place.

What Are the Weaknesses of an Enneagram 5?

Knowing one's own weaknesses is the key to healthy and sustainable growth. Be conscious of these weaknesses, and you'll be able to overcome them.

  • Can be separated from their own emotions and experiences, especially in the here and now
  • Detachment from life and possible withdrawal
  • Loneliness with a longing for connection
  • Feeling of inadequacy
  • Hesitancy and failures to act can lead to missed opportunities
  • Confusing detachment with non-attachment
  • Seeing requests as demands
  • Can be stubborn

Unhealthy Fives can be eccentric, isolated, and out of touch with reality. They may look for security by eliminating connections to people and the world and retreating into their own minds. They may obsessively gather knowledge to escape feelings of insecurity and incompetence.

Photo courtesy of @enneagramtoexpand

Who Are Famous Enneagram 5s?

The Fives are some of the world's top scholars, investigators, artists, and visionaries. While this is always fun to imagine famous people with whom we share similarities, take these examples with a grain of salt. These are suggestions based on public perception of them and their works-- not their actual Enneagram analysis.

  • Siddartha Gautama (Buddha)
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Salvador Dali
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Agatha Christie
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Stephen King
  • Mark Zuckerburg
  • Jane Goodall
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Tim Burton
  • Jodie Foster
  • X Files’ “Fox Mulder”
  • Dr. Gregory “House”

The Enneagram 5 as MBTI

INTP and INTJ are the most common Myers-Briggs types among Enneagram Fives. Because so many Five traits lend themselves to introversion, thinking, and to some extent, Intuition (N), an INTP or INTJ would identify with many of the Five's traits.  In many respects, Enneagram 5 can be somewhat of a hybrid between INTJ and INTP. Like these two types, Fives use their introversion and intuition to look beyond or beneath appearances to uncover deeper insights or truths.

You Might Be an Enneagram Type Five if ...

  • You like to compartmentalize everything mentally—work, school, friends, ideas, everything about your inner and outer world.
  • You've got to find theories and explanations about virtually everything.
  • You feel safe when feeling and expressing emotions at home, rarely or never in public. Only those who are closest to you, whom you fully trust, get to see your emotions.
  • You'd rather skip the small talk. If you're at a party full of small talk, you're physically and mentally drained. You're often wondering when you can go home and re-charge. But you also want everyone there to accept and like you. Oh, the agony.
  • You like crosswords, sudoku, and any mental game that challenges your intellect.
  • You have to sit out the first round of the game everyone's playing so you can adequately observe how to play. Or maybe you're reading the instructions.
  • You've skipped last night's BBQ because you need to watch Youtube videos to figure out how to adjust your new watch.
  • You have the ability to shut down or compartmentalize your emotions. While it can be useful, it can also get you into trouble.
  • You're the person everyone says they'd call in an emergency because you're cool, calm, and collected under pressure.
  • You've got a book collection that's getting a bit out of control--and really cramping your minimalist aesthetic/style. You also bring a couple of different book options on any trip because you never know.
  • You ask, "Why would I get it repaired if I can learn how to fix it myself?"
  • You've thought about the minimalist lifestyle: out in the woods, in a van, free from mortgages and multi-layered credit card debt.

How to Work on Yourself and Become a Healthy Enneagram 5

The healthiest thing you can do is release the need to hoard time, space, and energy and move forward. Allow feelings and sensations, countering your instincts to conceal or suppress them. Move your feelings into actions. Learn and practice the difference between detachment and non-attachment, and notice how you compartmentalize your feelings and emotions.

Try to share or give more of yourself, and find support from others. People love you and care for you. If you don't have anyone you can confide in safely, join a support group that involves self-disclosure. Avoid withdrawing and withholding. It's important that you stay present and engaged with others, living in the "here and now." And don't f0rget to practice self-care and treat yourself every once in a while. Buy that one thing you've been eyeing for a long time.

Photo courtesy of: @enneagrammegan

Ready to Become the Healthiest Version of Yourself?

Knowing yourself (or someone you love who's an Enneagram 5) can help move towards growth and personal achievement. It can also help you navigate inter-personal relationships and become a stronger spouse, parent, employee, and friend. So, do you think you're an Enneagram 5? Take an Enneagram Test and find out!


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