Enneagram Type 6 wing 5

Enneagram Type 6 wing 5

What is an Enneagram Type 6?

Before we jump into the Enneagram Type 6 wing 5, let’s have a quick reminder overview of Type 6 in general. Riso & Hudson call this type The Loyalist. Sixes are found in the Head Center of Intelligence, so they perceive the world through the mind and its logical processes. A Dutiful type, Sixes have a strong Inner Critic that they feel obligated to obey. Sixes value Emotional Realness and are very wary of anyone whom they think is not responding properly to their testing and questions. They can spot a hidden agenda a mile away! When they are upset, they like others to match or mirror the emotions they’re feeling. And since they are Head types, that means they are fear types; Sixes deal with a lot of underlying, generalized anxiety. Riso & Hudson describe them as “The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious and Suspicious.”

What is an Enneagram Type 5?

Since we’re reviewing, let’s also take a quick look at Enneagram Type Five so that this personality type’s influence on the Six wing Five makes more sense (skip this section if you don’t need it). The Riso-Hudson name for Type Five is The Investigator. Fives are investigating the world, using their Head Center to understand it in a logical, systematic fashion. They prefer facts and data over emotions. Fives, it is said, observe their emotions, for the most part, rather than actually experiencing them.The Wisdom of the Enneagram names the Basic Fear for Enneagram Type 5 as the fear of being useless, helpless or overwhelmed. To avoid that fear, a Basic Desire arises. For the Five, it’s to be capable and competent. This causes Type 5 to study the world closely and with deep attention, often focusing on an obscure problem or field of inquiry that they can contribute to. This makes for a rather solitary life, typically, which most Fives like just fine.

What is an Enneagram Wing?

In case you’re new to the concept of wings or need a refresher on this, too, here goes: a wing is a 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 6 are 5 and 7. That means a type 6 can’t have a 2 wing or an 8 wing or any other wing except a 5 or a 7. One of them is usually more dominant in terms of its influence on the home-base personality type, giving it a particular “flavor” that’s different and distinguishable from the other wing’s flavor. But as Hillary McCaskey points out, the wings describe behaviors only; the home base of Six will still supply the core motivations.

Enneagram Type 6 wing 5

Now, for the main event. Riso & Hudson call the Six with a Five wing “The Defender” because their special gift is that they are a champion for the underdog and will defend those whom they feel need it. They are more withdrawn than 6w7 because of the Five influence, as the Five is a Withdrawn type. They are more serious than 6w7, called “The Buddy” by Riso & Hudson. Just comparing these names – The Defender versus the Buddy – gives you a quick sense of the difference in how these two versions of Six show up in the world, right?

Beth McCord points out in Becoming Us that The Defender is organized, perceptive, self-controlled, serious about ethical and political beliefs and responsible. She also notes that an Enneagram Six wing Five can be outspoken and intense, which can make them seem like Eights sometimes. They’re attracted to systems of knowledge because there are rules that are clearly delineated. Being a Dutiful type, Sixes will adhere strictly to the rules, which can make them appear like Ones. This is another reminder that you can’t necessarily discern what type a person is just by observing their actions. Behavior and motivation are two different things. Two types may behave alike, but their motives will be quite different. So, a One is a good rule-follower because they are motivated by being good and right at all times. A Six, on the other hands, is a good rule-follower because it helps the Six feel less anxious when they know exactly what the rules are and what to expect.

The 6w5 Conundrum

The classic Enneagram book Personality Types points out that Types Five and Six are in conflict, which makes being a 6w5 tricky. The Six wants to band together with others for support and security, while the Five wants to pull away and isolate. Sixes move toward affiliation with others, but Fives move detachment from people. Sixes want support and guidance; Fives don’t want to be influenced by anyone. Both types want safety, but Sixes seek it via alliances and commitment to systems of thought while Fives seek it through retreat from others and sometimes the dismantling of systems of thought.

It’s a push me-pull you sort of situation! For this reason, Sixes with a Five wing tend to seek support from political affiliations and more structured, rule-based environments. They are often found in arenas like law, the sciences and mathematics, where the “rules” or laws are clear. Due to the Five influence, 6w5s are often respected for their knowledge and are experts in their field. They make good teachers, analysts and problem-solvers.

Though Sixes are often thought of as seeking external reassurance, sometimes from multiple sources for the same problem, the Enneagram Six wing Five keeps their own counsel a bit more. In fact, they can be loners. When they are not doing well emotionally, they can become world-class conspiracy theorists. Which doesn’t mean that those conspiracies aren’t true… More aggressive that 6w7, The Defender tends to have fewer people skills and doesn’t mind blaming or scapegoating suspected threats to their security as much as a 6w7 would. The 6w5 has a love-hate relationship with authority, whereby they perceive themselves as anti-authoritarian while continually feeling the pull of authoritarian-led systems. Again, it’s that Six push me-pull you struggle. Under stress, they can become very suspicious and withdraw even more.

6w5 and the Levels of Development

If you’ve read previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’m a fan of the Levels of Development. Personality Types shows what the 6w5 looks like at each of the three main levels: Healthy, Average and Unhealthy.

Healthy 6w5s unite the Six’s organizational ability and personal engagement with the Five’s curiosity and perceptivity. If the Five wing is strong, this version of Six will be very intellectual – yet practical. They like the idea of mastering a system of knowledge and have that Five gift of focus and concentration. However, like the Five, the 6w5 may be too narrowly focused in their intellectual pursuits. They are shrewd observers (that’s one of the names for Type Five) and highly value the ability to predict people’s reactions.

In the Average Level of Development, the Six core anxiety manifests in the 6w5 as intensity and greater independence than the 6w7. They tend to deal with their problems on their own. Not surprising, since the Five wing lends a propensity for secretiveness. Their hardworking loyalty leads to such strong feelings of affiliation and connection that the Six wing Five can take strong partisan, “us against them” positions. They are more pessimistic than the Six influenced by the joyful, pleasure-seeking Seven. The more anxious they become, the more dangerous the world appears. As the fear escalates, they worry that people are conspiring against them. In typical Six fashion, they turn the tables and respond by conspiring against those they suspect. At the Unhealthy Level of Development, the 6w5 becomes paranoid and obsessed about remaining secure. They become extremely needy, a flip from their usual distant reserve, and substance abuse may factor in as a way to deal with their high anxiety level. However, that road leads to greater feelings of inferiority. The Five wing lends a cynical, nihilistic flavor to the Six here, which fans the flames of isolation, desperation and even sociopathic behavior. At the lowest Level, a Six wing Five is likely to display fits of rage, destructive and self-destructive behavior – even murder and/or suicide. But it’s likely that no one will be there to see it.

Are You an Enneagram Six Wing Five?

The Wisdom of the Enneagram provides these examples of people who seem to embody The Defender’s qualities: Billy Graham, Malcolm X, Tom Clancy, Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Candice Bergen, Mel Gibson, Janet Reno and Richard Nixon. Well, there’s an overview of what an Enneagram Type 6 wing 5 looks like. Each 6w5 is an individual, but these are the general outlines of this type of Six. Perhaps you have found yourself within the descriptions of this blog post. Perhaps you’ve found a loved one – or someone you find it hard to love. Whatever the case, I hope this post leads you to greater compassion for yourself and others as you get a peek into the reality that we are all “fighting a hard battle.”

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