Enneagram Type 5: The Investigator

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April 18, 2011 by huionn


Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.

Your greatest strengths are your clear objectivity, your instinct and your penetrating insight that is unfettered by emotions. You have an innate ability to gather information and create systems to assess and categorize data in a clear and concise manner. Mentally astute, you are able to observe, study and track even the smallest details, often developing expertise in many areas. Underneath your shyness and reserve, you are a kindhearted and giving person. You are also very loyal to and supportive of those you trust.

Your vice is avarice.  This can manifest as a greedy hording of yourself, your time, your energy or your things. Be careful of your tendency to observe the world through a peephole. It can keep you isolated and out of touch with human concerns.  Be aware of your tendency to withdraw into your ivory tower of ideas. Others may start to see you as arrogant and unfeeling. Being dispassionate and ‘cool as a cucumber’ is good in an emergency but hard on relationships.

Fives want to find out why things are the way they are. They want to understand how the world works, whether it is the cosmos, the microscopic world, the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms—or the inner world of their imaginations. They are always searching, asking questions, and delving into things in depth. They do not accept received opinions and doctrines, feeling a strong need to test the truth of most assumptions for themselves.

Knowledge, understanding, and insight are thus highly valued by Fives, because their identity is built around “having ideas” and being someone who has something unusual and insightful to say. For this reason, Fives are not interested in exploring what is already familiar and well-established; rather, their attention is drawn to the unusual, the overlooked, the secret, the occult, the bizarre, the fantastic, the “unthinkable.” Investigating “unknown territory”—knowing something that others do not know, or creating something that no one has ever experienced—allows Fives to have a niche for themselves that no one else occupies. They believe that developing this niche is the best way that they can attain independence and confidence.

Thus, for their own security and self-esteem, Fives need to have at least one area in which they have a degree of expertise that will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world. Fives think, “I am going to find something that I can do really well, and then I will be able to meet the challenges of life. But I can’t have other things distracting me or getting in the way.”


Fives’ (…) potential problem results from the fact that they emphasize thinking over doing, becoming intensely involved with their thoughts… they are more at home in their minds, viewing the world from a detached vantage point, than they are in the world of action.

The source of many of their problems is their need to find out how their perceptions of the world square with reality so that they can act in it—and do things with confidence.

…, average Fives tend to have problems with insecurity because they fear that the environment is unpredictable and potentially threatening. Further, they feel powerless to defend themselves against the world’s many dangers: they believe they are not capable of functioning as well as others and so make it their number one priority to acquire the skills and knowledge they feel is necessary for them to be able to operate adequately in life.

Their problem with anxiety, one of the issues common to the personality types of the Thinking Center, is related to their difficulty with perceiving reality objectively.

… They are the type of people who get a great deal of intellectual mileage out of very little experience because they always find something of significance where others see little or nothing. This may lead to great discoveries. However, when they stop observing the world and focus their attention on their interpretations of it, Fives begin to lose touch with reality. Instead of keeping an open mind while they observe the world, they become too involved with their own thoughts and dreams. This leads them further away from the world of constructive action—the very arena in which their self-confidence needs to develop.


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