Enneagram Type 5 Personality – The Scholar

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Jesse Williams

Type 5s are the most erudite and well-informed of the Enneagram types. Their obsession with knowledge, however, makes them one of the most socially awkward and withdrawn types, too.

Here’s what you need to know about this interesting Enneagram type.

5 Enneagram Description

Also known as “The Scholar” (which is pretty self-explanatory), Enneagram type 5 personalities are obsessed with learning and understanding the mysterious ways of the world and every part of it. On a constant quest for enlightenment, this type needs concrete truths and will not be satisfied with assumptions.

However, this quest often has an underlying element of insecurity (that they’re not as able as others), which pushes 5s to retreat into their minds with the belief that their minds will eventually figure it out, instead of taking active steps to change this.

They’re excellent observers and feel validated when their knowledge is met with appreciation and, more importantly, verification—after all, their basic desire is to be competent and capable.

They often pursue previously unpursued academic paths with the need to stand out and create a niche for themselves where they’re often alone (and they like it that way).

Unfortunately, though, no amount of knowledge gathering can solve the basic insecurities that 5s carry.

Take 34-year-old Nina, for example. An accomplished musician from whose piano Mozart and Bach’s notes flow like unrestricted rivers, Nina may know almost everything there is to know about music, but will still feel insecure due to her inability to juggle domestic and professional life.

Physical activities can also scare 5s. Most children who are 5s will stay away from sports and gym as much as possible, scared by it to the extent that even smells associated with sports can make them uncomfortable well into their adult lives, as is the case with 46-year-old mathematician Grace.

A straight-A student throughout her academic life, who was reading far more and far better than her peers by the ripe old age of three, Grace’s activities didn’t extend to her physical life as much as they did to her mental life. She found more confidence in being intellectual than physical.

However, this neglect could lead to health issues.

Additionally, 5s need to understand that it is possible to nurture relationships along with a pursuit for knowledge, the balance of which will lead to a healthy life.

Here is an in depth video about the enneagram type 5 from Fr. Richard Rohr:

Enneagram 5 Fear

Once, an enneagram type 5 was asked the question of what they would do if they had 100 friends. The reply was quite prompt—“I would switch off my phone!”

5s are among the most socially isolated Enneagram types of the 9. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known a 5 for 77 years—you’re a friend only if you’re allowed to be one and deemed to be one in return.

Therefore, this type’s deepest/core fear involves having others’ needs thrust upon them, as well as being overwhelmed by their own. Since they’re such smart high achievers, they also fear being incapable, helpless, or useless.

Their solution to this? Shun relationships and the world in general and seek an escape in the intellectual realm.

Enneagram 5 in Stress

Enneagram 5s get stressed when they need to meet other people’s needs, are faced with emotional situations or expressions, find themselves amid large hordes or unfamiliar people, and have a lack of peace, such as when a childhood wound is triggered.

In such situations, 5s embody the negative traits of type 7—they become irresponsible, impulsive, and irrationally pleasure seeking. A stressed 5 will drop all carefully formulated, analyzed plans and responsibilities and turn to mindless, unhealthy habits, mainly triggered by fear (since 5 sits in the Fear Triad).

When they feel that their resources are being threatened, 5s will get gluttonous and start hoarding.

Enneagram 5 Wings

Since Enneagram types 6 and 4 lie on either side of the type 5 personality, a combination of 5 and 6 and 5 and 4 become the wings of the 5—therefore, we have the type 5 wing 6 (5w6) and the type 5 wing 4 (5w4).

  • 5w6: This wing is majorly influenced by the type 6 personality type, so we have a wing that’s organized, helpful, and practical. You’ll find that this wing displays better loyalty and cooperative skills than other 5s, all while still retaining its fierce independence.

    5w6s haven’t yet met a problem they can’t solve (yes, they’re the ones who aced math in school who we all resented)—these are excellent problem solvers who make excellent law enforcement authorities, engineers, computer scientists, accountants, and of course, mathematicians.
  • 5w4: This type borrows heavily from the type 4 personality and is that rare 5 that isn’t afraid to be in touch with its emotional side and indulge in self-expression (even if it’s only 1.275 times more often than a normal 5 would). Therefore, you’ll find 5w4s to be surprisingly sensitive, reflective, and creative.

    This wing excels in professions such as engineering, writing, inventing, composing, and teaching.

Enneagram 5 Subtypes

Wait—as if wings weren’t enough, we have subtypes too?

Yep. An Enneagram type has both wings and subtypes, and while it may seem that they’re synonymous, they’re completely different things.

Each Enneagram has three subtypes associated with it—the one-to-one, self-preservation, and social subtypes. These are formed when passion and instinctual drives come together and manifest.

So, considering 3 subtypes under each of the 9 main personality types, we have a total of 27 possible subtype manifestations.

Self-preservation, social, and one-to-one instincts manifest in type 5s in the following ways.

Self-Preservation 5s

In the name of self-preservation, 5s will pour their hearts and souls into drawing up physical walls—“Game of Thrones” has nothing on these folks.

They build self-sufficient houses or rooms (which may also be mental), stocked with everything they may need (slight “10 Cloverfield Vibes”) so that their need to go out from this refuge and socialize is minimized. These walls also keep out anything that could potentially drain them.

This doesn’t make this subtype villainous (stereotypes much?). They’re actually warm people but have a very short-lived social battery. This warmth, combined with their logic, can sometimes make them come across as 6s. Sometimes, though, being social might just be an act of camouflage.

Self-preservation 5s are not very communicative; they’re more observers, but when they need to talk, they’ll happily express what they’re feeling.

Social 5s

Social 5s, oxymoronic as it may seem, prioritize gaining knowledge on various subjects and then sharing (read showing off) this with people. All that information is just a way to keep the emotions aside, but also a genuine attempt to understand the grand scheme of things—the literal theory of everything.

Social and chatty (yes, we’re still talking about 5s), this intellectual subtype may be mistaken for a 3 or 7 because of how contrary its social skills are to a normal 5!

One-to-One 5s

This sexual subtype yearns for the ideal partner and the perfect relationship. Of course, that doesn’t mean settling for just about anyone—it means waiting for an Emerson or a Rochester or a Ms. Bennet, though even these dreamboats (if such perfection exists and can be found—sigh!) will have to pass tests set by the one-to-one 5.

However, their natural closed-off nature makes it hard for these 5s to build relationships, even with an ideal partner, though they may be all kinds of intense and romantic throughout. Highly emotional, they prefer to express themselves artistically, often turning to art, poetry, and music.

Unhealthy 5 Enneagram

Enneagrams can be healthy, average, and unhealthy. Healthy 5s are socially integral pioneers while average 5s are withdrawn and selectively interested.

Unhealthy 5s cut off all social ties and develop radical views, reinforced by tunnel vision. They are bitter and lack foresight and emotional awareness, losing the few true friends they have, in the process.

Through all this, they may even lose their grip on reality, clinging to unlikely theories and remaining convinced of their intellectual superiority despite this.

Enneagram 5 Relationships

Romantic Relationships

The perfect summation of a bio on a 5’s dating profile? “Looking for someone to share my life with who will leave me alone most of the time.”

Though 5s are romantic, no amount of romance will make them give up their precious independence and space, even in a marriage with someone they love hopelessly.

With the right partner, 5s are helpful, calm, and supportive. They can logically work through problems with their partners, remaining calm and respecting their partner’s independence the whole time.

However, dating another introvert may spell disaster as 5s can get too obsessed with their space if not reminded to set aside time for other things, including their partner. They may also find emotional opening up, appreciation, verbal affirmation, and engaging in tough conversations quite challenging.

If you’re romantically involved with a 5, make sure that you give them the space they crave and never expect the same amount of socialization from them that you’re comfortable with (7s, we’re looking at you).

Your partner will express their feelings through small gestures and thoughtful acts, so accepting their version of loving you might make more sense than expecting things the type won’t do, such as being the life of the party. Work with them slowly over time to make them comfortable enough to share their emotions.

Professional Relationships

In professional relationships, 5s can be helpful and communicative, especially when working with another 5 or with people who give them autonomy, are logical, and value their input.

Instances where they feel the need to distance themselves because they’re overwhelmed, where their logical decisions have a negative impact, or where they struggle to empathize may cause significant obstructions.

Enneagram 5 Careers

Enneagram 5s flourish in work environments that run on logic and practicality. They despise expressing emotions of any sort and require plenty of time and personal space to think and refuel, even in a professional environment. They enjoy professions that allow constant on-the-job learning and growth and encourage the use of their talents.

Some of the jobs that 5s ace:

  • Author
  • Scientist
  • Scholar
  • Mathematician
  • Computer programmer
  • Technician
  • Engineer

When working with an enneagram type 5, remember that 5s never say more than they need to while communicating, whether it’s by email or in person.

Pleasantries are frowned upon; start an email (or a conversation) to a 5 asking about their day, their families, the weather, or anything other than the direct point, and you’ll see them disappear faster than you can finish saying “type 5”. They will be treating every nicety as a privacy breach.

However, though they will run in the opposite direction when you approach them for small talk, there are few things they like better than being asked for their opinions, observations, and insight in work meetings (which need to be productive and worth their time).

Unlike some types that can’t handle criticism, 5s do quite well when given feedback. As natural information gatherers, they view feedback as information or data that can be used to improve and optimize their performance and productivity. A 5 will always appreciate honest and constructive criticism.

When it comes to resolving professional conflicts, approach the situation logically and view it from both sides. A 5 will return the favor and work with you to find a result that works for everybody.

Considering this, a 5 will wilt in a work environment where their suggestions are ignored (especially by superiors), they lack personal space and privacy, and their colleagues try to be friends instead of remaining strictly professional!

They also dislike having subordinates who require lots of explanation and direction—5s are smart, creative, and fast thinkers who may lose patience when explaining things slowly and in detail to other people (and no, losing patience is never their fault).

Enneagram 5 Celebrities

Some of the world’s most famous authors, scientists, investigators, and tech wizards are all type 5s (we’d feel pretty chuffed in such august company if we were type 5s)! Here’s a list of some of the best 5s throughout history:

  • Bill Gates
  • Jane Austen
  • Albert Einstein
  • Jane Goodall
  • Stephen King
  • Agatha Christie
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Tim Burton
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Diane Sawyer
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Werner Herzog
  • David Fincher
  • David Lynch
  • Edvard Munch
  • Salvador Dali
  • John Cage
  • Annie Liebovitz
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
  • James Joyce
  • Stanley Kubrick

Some pretty popular fictional geniuses are also type 5s—the annoying but brilliant Dr. Gregory House from House, the dreamy and smart Belle from Beauty and the Beast, the mysterious and sharp Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, A Beautiful Mind mathematical star John Nash, and Baker Street’s most popular, opium-loving resident, Sherlock Holmes.

Enneagram 5 Memes

Enneagram type 5 memes troll 5s for their low social batteries, their hatred for socializing, and how they would just say “I don’t care” and walk away from a conversation if it was socially acceptable to do so.

Their best move at a party (on the rare, mind-blowing occasion that they find themselves in one)? Pretending to be drunk so they can leave—masters of leaving the party early much?

Oprah as a type 5

The Final Word

If you have a type 5 in your life or are one yourself, congratulations—you’re blessed with extraordinary mental capabilities. However, don’t let this stop you from forming crucial and loving relationships—humans are social animals, after all. Don’t retreat completely into the mental realm.

Take breathers often, prioritize, and stay away from activities that will harm your self-esteem. The answer to conflicts is not avoiding people, and therefore, conflicts, but sorting them out. Don’t let your fear of conflict create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even one or two confidants will greatly improve the quality and health of your life.

Be sure to get your own Enneagram Results

Check out out best free enneagram tests to find out which one you should take!

Hint: For most people, the best test is from Truity.

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Written By Jesse Williams

Jesse has taken a deep dive into how personality effects our daily lives. After taking all the tests under the sun, she enjoys comparing her results with total strangers. It's fun for her.

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