Discover the Enneagram Type 5w6

Enneagram Type 5w6

Photo credit: “Steve Spangler Science Kit of the Month science fair ideas-6” by GoodNCrazy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What is an Enneagram Type 5?

Before we jump into the Enneagram Type 5 wing 6, let’s look at a quick reminder of Type 5 in general. Riso & Hudson call this type The Investigator. Fives are found in the Head Center of Intelligence, so they perceive the world through the mind and its logical processes. A Withdrawn type, Fives typically prefer to be alone and require only minimal social interaction. Fives value competency and have a gift for focus, so they are able to study one topic intensely, often coming up with innovative solutions or ways of doing things. Riso & Hudson describe them as “The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive and Isolated.”

What is an Enneagram Wing?

And, as a refresher for those who know about wings or as a quick introduction for those who don’t, a wing is the number on either side of any Enneagram personality type, according to where they are on the Enneagram symbol:

So, the numbers on either side of Type 5 are 4 and 6. That means a type 5 can’t have a 3 wing or a 1 wing or any other wing except a 4 or a 6. One of them usually dominates in terms of its influence on the primary personality type, lending a particular “flavor” to that type that’s different and distinguishable from the other wing’s flavor. 

Enneagram Type 5 Wing 6

So then, what is an Enneagram Type 5 wing 6 (5w6) like? Well, that’s an interesting question, since there isn’t a ton of information about them or about the Wings in general. But the information that does exist is helpful, because it lets people understand the different ways a Five can be in the world. It can help people determine their own type or that of a loved one, especially if some of the general descriptions for Five don’t quite fit. 

Riso & Hudson name this variety of Five The Problem-Solver and describe a 5w6 at an Average Level of Development this way:

Perhaps the most purely intellectual of all of the subtypes, these people are interested in theories, technology and acquiring facts and details. Analysts and catalogers of the environment, they enjoy dissecting the components of a problem to discover how it works. Extremely restrained and private about their feelings, their attention is more directed at things than at people, although Fives with a Six-wing identify strongly with key people in their lives…They tend to be aggressive and actively antagonize people who disagree with them.

Beth McCord makes an interesting observation in Becoming Us:

That the 5w6 has a struggle going on internally because the Five finds security in withdrawing from people, whereas the Six finds security by working collaboratively with others. This makes life harder for a 5w6 than for a 5w4, since both Five and Four are Withdrawn types who move inward.

In Head Versus Heart and Our Gut Reactions, Michael Hampson speaks of the Five with a Six wing as being able to “find encouragement to engage with the world – sharing accumulated wisdom rather than withdrawing from the world…in the steady, loyal group faithfulness of Six.” That’s a lovely way of looking at how each Type can draw on the strengths of its wing.

For more information on Enneagram Type 5 wing 6, I recommend Riso & Hudson’s The Wisdom of the Enneagram. This short video also contains helpful information on what it’s like to be a Five with a Six wing. And if you’d like to take a look at all of the wings in general, check out my blog post on the topic.

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