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Enneagram Stereotype - Type 5's don't have feelings

Don't confuse emotional expression and feelings. Lack of emotional expression on the surface can belie a richness of feelings within. Just because someone doesn't want you to see their feelings, don't assume they have none or that they're not very aware of them. Sometimes the most emotionally expressive people are those least in touch with their feelings.

Proof in the pudding - many type 5 individuals mistype themselves as type 4. If type 5 is the least feeling and type 4 is the most feeling then how could that happen? One word, stereotypes.

Type 5 is often described as having difficulty with boundaries in the sense that they have to guard against being invaded or overwhelmed. We can think of this in terms of introversion where introversion is hyper-sensitivity to stimulation. If you're already stimulated from within then you can easily overload when the external stimulation becomes too great. The natural reaction to this is to retreat from that overstimulation. If an individual looking at this from the outside doesn't really understand what's going on then it's easy to misinterpret this retreat as being shy, unsociable, fearful, snobbish or any number of invalid assumptions.

Instead of reacting to the overstimulation, type 5 may simply avoid over-stimulation. There are many ways to do this.

  • Finding a private retreat where they can be alone
  • Avoiding contact by NOT establishing rapport
  • Showing little or no emotional expression (i.e., hiding in plain sight)
  • Pulling back into the crowd and going into observer mode
  • Pursuing solitary activities

The problem with these reactions and avoidances is that they don't allow an individual opportunity to practice and develop social skills that seem to come easier to extraverts. So, when type 5 does decide to seek out company, it can sometimes be very awkward. It's not only about the social skills they may not have developed, but also their solitary activities may lead to solitary interests which may not be of interest to others. This push-pull between wanting to connect with people but not wanting to be overwhelmed in the process can become not only frustrating but emotionally painful.

I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference.
- Greta Garbo

Next time you think a type 5 has no feelings, try providing a safe environment for them to come out into. Slow your pace down, it may take a while for them to consider their thoughts or feelings. Respect their energy level by not overwhelming them with yours. You may find an extremely insightful and sensitive person hidden behind that poker face.

Though be forewarned that once a type 5 finds someone to share their unique interest with, you may have a difficult time getting them off that subject.