Skip to main content

Type 5 Instinctual Variants

Copyrighted work from Ocean Moonshine. Used with permission. 

The self-preservational instinct is accentuated by the type Five fixation. The other two instincts are in opposition to the main type. When dominant, the social and sexual instincts therefore set up some degree of conflict with the dominant type Five fixation.

Self-pres/Social 5 (sp/so 5)

In the average health range, this instinctual stacking is warm, friendly, and loyal. They need their down time and have no problem spending time alone. They actually value it very much. They feel an energy drain from people’s demands on them. This instinctual stacking is what is described in most Enneagram books. The most notable and potentially frustrating thing about people of this type is the difficulty involved in getting really close to them. While they can usually handle themselves socially, they always hold back when it comes to intensity or intimacy in a relationship which can frustrate a sexual variant type. Others are aware that there is more going on beneath the surface, but it can’t really be accessed. These Fives are masters at minimizing their needs. Even though they shy away from intense personal relationships they often have a lot of intuition about others. Their detached level of personal involvement somehow brings objectivity to their insights. They can be the most practical of the instinctual stackings.

Their issues usually revolve around demands made on their time. This can become problematic in personal relationships. This subtype has an ideal vision of what a close or romantic relationship should be, but given their concerns for protecting their space and time and lacking the instinctual drive of a strong sexual instinct, energy just doesn’t flow in that direction. Because this subtype is good at minimizing their needs they can get along fine with few relationships or without a romantic partner. With the social instinct second in the stacking, they generally do find friends or colleagues and they may even be married, but the need to maintain their own time to pursue their interests is always a point of contention.

Self-pres/Sexual 5 (sp/sx 5)

This subtype, like the self-pres/social, is more typical of the depictions of type Five. The self-preservational instinct accentuates the self-contained, withdrawing tendencies of the Five. Fives of this subtype love their time alone with a passion, and pursue it more actively even than the other subtype of self-pres Five, although with the sexual instinct second, they often want to find time for intimates as well. On the down side, they have more disdain for people and little use for the social aspects of life. They want to be left alone or they want to share their inner world with their intimates. The intensity of the sexual instinct is reserved for their intimates and even there it is sporadic. The self-pres energy gives this subtype a solid foundation and some degree of practicality.

These Fives are conflicted when it comes to experiencing and expressing emotions. They usually default to emotional repression and to detached intellectual analysis. This is a dynamic common to all Fives, but with the self-pres/sexual instinctual stacking, the balance of these forces is pretty precarious and it seems as though the scales are being constantly adjusted one way or another. As the social instinct is the least developed, the social arena gets the drier more intellectual approach almost by default.

Social/Self-pres 5 (so/sp 5)

One might think that the energy of this subtype would be warmer and friendlier than that of the self-pres/social, but it doesn’t usually present that way. Because the social instinct is dominant, these Fives are much more aware of their role in the group. They are therefore more careful of their involvements with others. The social arena is more important and is invested with more energy, so these Fives will pull up faster and harder into self-pres mode if they should feel at all threatened. This will sometimes give others the impression of coldness. This subtype will center a lot of their intellectual interest around the workings of society, humanity or spirituality. This serves as their connection with people. By means of these abstract mental constructs, Fives of this subtype feel a sense of belonging socially, without having to be personally involved and invested. The healthier people of this subtype are, the more they are able to integrate their mental constructs with their actual experiences. They can really be content to adopt the role of “people watcher,” but they do it from a closer and closer perspective. Their blind spot revolves around the fact that they tend to convince themselves they can get along just fine in the observer role. It does feel safer to them. If they do have a few people relatively close to them, they can really strike a good balance between their need to withdraw and their need to connect to the larger social world.

This subtype could be seen as the most intellectual of type Five. The combination of the basic desire for knowing with the social instinct’s need to “fit in,” makes people of this subtype want to find a niche as the expert. Their interest in structure, especially social structure, accentuates their natural inclination for acquiring knowledge. With the sexual instinct least developed, this subtype is in the position of having a strong pull towards understanding the workings of the world around them, without the emotional intensity of the sexual instinct setting up any distraction. These Fives fit the role of the scientist or professor quite well in this respect.

Social/Sexual 5 (so/sx 5)

When reasonably healthy, people of this subtype can be very engaging (for a Five). They smile a lot and are often friendly. Their energy is quite different from the social/self-pres subtype because both the social and sexual energies push outwards, and so partly balance out some of the withdrawing tendencies of the Five. This doesn’t mean that people of this subtype are necessarily any healthier however. The outgoing energy is not the result of true integration to Eight but is the result of the compulsive pull of the instincts. People of this subtype are usually warm and when feeling secure are likely to let people in and even to initiate contact. When they feel insecure however, they can actually go to the other extreme and be very shy. For this reason, people of this subtype could easily be mistyped; those Fives who withdraw from social contact because of feelings of insecurity, might not seem like social subtypes at all. It might not be obvious that they actually very much desire contact. For people of this subtype, the social instinct actually works as a release value for the sexual component. When relaxed and comfortable with others, the sexual instinct can easily be seen.

People of this subtype are very aware of how they “fit in,” and also experience the sexual drive of wanting to connect with intimates. Like other social/sexual subtypes, they have the tendency to cultivate many relationships. They want to be liked by everyone, but being Fives they also tend to hold a part of themselves back for fear of rejection or of being overwhelmed by the demands of the relationship. This subtype of Five is more likely to fear rejection than the other subtypes of Five. Because both of the dominant instincts are focused on people, any failure in the realm of interpersonal relationships triggers a fear that there is no safety in the world. Personality systems like the Enneagram function as tool to help this subtype of Five to feel safe in the world. People of this subtype tend to think that the more they understand people, the less chance they have of being rejected. This tends to be a blind spot for people of this subtype as they don’t see that what will actually help them to become healthier is gaining more life experience. This will help them to see that their world will not come to an end with a little rejection.

Sexual/Self-pres 5 (sx/sp 5)

This subtype has a lot in common the self-pres/sexual instinctual stacking. They experience many of the same internal conflicts surrounding relationships, the need for independence and emotional expression. The sexual/self-pres subtype differs however in being more intense, more counterphobic. They entertain more dark nihilistic ideas, ideas that most others don’t want to consider.

With this subtype, a lot of energy revolves around the issue of boundaries. Sexual/self-pres Fives tend to forge strong connections quickly and deeply, but if they feel betrayed, begin to feel overwhelmed, or if they feel that the connection doesn’t serve their true needs, can seem to cut the connection precipitously and “go cold.” They have high standards for significant others. They must feel that they can share their emotions with a significant other without being judged. This is their private world that they share. Relationships can be difficult, because individuals of this subtype will still want their own space and alone time, while at other times will want intense connection. Because the social instinct is least developed, this subtype is not very concerned with how others perceive them (except their intimates). This subtype is deceptive in that they may not seem to be especially intense – until they are engaged in a conversation they find interesting. Then the intensity and emotion become apparent. The internal struggle for this subtype is similar to that of the self-pres/sexual, but more energized and volatile, and getting to know this subtype means getting to know that.

When unhealthy, the energy of the sexual instinct can combine with the dominant type Five fixation to create a very impulsive Eight-like anger. The strength of their convictions can then come out quite forcefully.

Sexual/social 5 (sx/so 5)

This subtype is the most dramatic of the instinctual stackings of type Five. They are less concerned than the social/sexual subtype with social rejection, but take rejection from intimates very much to heart. They have a strong desire to express themselves, and can be the most Four-like of all the instinctual subtypes of type Five.

Not only do they have a strong desire to merge with a significant other, they also want to make their mark in the larger social sphere. The intensity, aggression, counterphobic stance and desire to connect deeply, all combine with the social instinct to produce a highly charged personality. This subtype can become quite accomplished if they are able to form an intimate connection with someone who will help ground them and provide them with a feeling of security. When Fives of this subtype feel a sense of safety due to healthy intimate relationships, they will want to share whatever knowledge, talent or insight they may have.

When unhealthy, this subtype can be very dark, pessimistic and the most confrontational of all the subtypes of Five. They can also become very arrogant.

Written and maintained by PDB users for PDB users.