Enneagram 5 Observer core desire to have knowledge competence and prevent overwhelm, stack of books


General Archetypal Names: Observer, Investigator, Analyst

Core Motivational Theme: Knowledge/Competence , Energy/Resources

Core Fear: being overwhelmed, drained, lacking sufficient resources to cope with life; being useless, helpless, incompetent, incapable; lacking knowledge or skill

Core Desire: being competent, capable, knowledgeable, wise, intellectually prepared; having the right theory and understanding of life; having the tools, skills, and resources to deal/cope with life 

Center of Intelligence: head/thinking

Connecting Points: 7 (head), 8 (gut/intrinsic)

Archetypal Journey (Levels of Consciousness)

From least to most conscious, these archetypes represent the varying ways that a human may respond to the core motivation arising out of point 5 on the Enneagram.

Withholding Detached Recluse woman indifferent to suffering of man hanging from cliff. Enneagram 5 tarot archetype

“We live, we die. Logically, nothing in between matters. Why does the world not recognize my brilliance?!…not that I need anything from the shallow, deluded people of the world anyway.”

Philosophical, lonely Ivory Tower Professor with book in hand looking down on couple in love. Enneagram 5 tarot archetype.

“Knowledge is power. I want to engage in the world, but I fear being overtaken by it. I’m not ready yet, my knowledge is incomplete, I need to study more.”

Zen, Buddha monk with beginner’s mind burning books of useless knowledge. Enneagram 5 enlightened tarot archetype, Wise Sage

“I discard knowledge and intellectual arrogance for the sake of knowing. I have mastered my mind by realizing its limitations; I am restrained in its usagegrounded and compassionate.”

Integration and Disintegration / Connecting Points

5 integration 8: knowledge, theory, stinginess, detachment to wisdom, practicality, resourcefulness. Intellectual arrogance
5 disintegration 7: incompetence, “lack” knowledge to procrastination, pseudo-work  scatteredness. Holistic synthesis

Examples/Helpful Resources/Suggestions

1. Learn How to Learn

Before trying to master a skill or domain I think it’s important to spend some time learning about how to learn.  I see optimal learning as a two-fold process of minimizing the unhelpful judgements, expectations, and frustrations of the personality (subjective sense of self); as well as creating the right conditions so that your your synapses, dendrites, and neurons can work more effectively.  The former is well addressed by Enneagram, meditation, and spirituality; the later by the following book recommendations. 

While learning can be a rather dry subject, all of these books skillfully weave anecdotes, science, and practical tips that can make the journey to mastery and knowledge less arduous, more automatic, and dare I say fun!

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

2. Feel and Share Your Feelings (Detachment vs Non-Attachment)

Feelings often have a bad reputation in five world. They may be seen as irrational—part of the “unsophisticated” mammalian brain. But primary to your thoughts, concepts, or ideas about feelings; feelings exist.  Rather than thinking about your feelings, learn to feel you feelings. Feelings may seem illogical to your mind, but they do actually arise for a reason. Dismissing feelings robs you of the wisdom in regards to what that reason is. Your feelings might not be absolute Truth, but they are REAL; they are arising and being perceived. Dismissing feelings as illogical, trivial, bothersome, and unuseful is detachment. Detachment requires mental engagement and energy. It requires a “you” to intellectualize feelings away. All this does it trap “you” deeper in your head and trap feelings in other parts of your body; it doesn’t process, resolve, or release feelings.  By contrast, non-attachment starts with recognizing and feeling your feelings as they arise. They are arising, they are real, and like them or not, they are your truth. Non-attachment is the willingness to share this truth of yours no matter what the outcome.  You observe what arises and then share your findings without taking your feelings through lengthy mental gymnastics and rationalizations.  From the point of view of non-attachment, whatever your truth brings is preferable in the long run to whatever falsehood, repression, and dismissal brings. (Although, obviously it can be a good thing to process the raw truth that arises with a little tact, empathy, and general social skills when sharing. See the Nonviolent Communication recommendation at points 2 and 9 for more)