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Understanding the "passion" of Type 5 on the Enneagram

Updated on March 13, 2013

Enneagram Type 5 passion called "greed"

Understanding the “passion” of Type 5 on the Enneagram

The Enneagram is personality typology system. The Enneagram is a system of knowledge regarding the inner workings of human beings. Understanding the Enneagram can open up a door to self awareness There are nine primary types of personalities depicted by the Enneagram. It is a vast body of knowledge that takes many years to learn. This HUB focuses on the “passion” element of the Personality Type of the “Five”. The Five is called “The Observer”. The term “passion” refers to an inner process that grips each person’s inner self, often in reaction to external factors that may feel threatening. The Five’s passion is called “avarice”, or “greed”. This isn’t greed for wealth, but rather a need to seek out their own private space and time. It can be seen as a response to a world that is intrusive and overwhelming. The Five isn’t necessarily greedy as a person. In fact, they are often very generous people who enjoy helping others and sharing their thoughts. The reason the “passion” of the Five is called greed is because the person of the Five operates as if they were greedy by not sharing emotion, feeling, or expressing feelings. The Five has a difficulty in being feeling oriented. He gets afraid of emotion in a room. People have emotion, and so if people are in the room and happen to express a feeling, the Five starts to feel like retreating into private spaces, or retreating into his or her mind, as opposed to engaging a feeling oriented conversation. This isn’t because the Five is greedy or full of avarice and doesn’t want to share his feelings; it is because he has a built in “passion” that literally controls him. That built in aspect is what we call a “passion” on the Enneagram.

The passion for the Five can also be called “retreat.” This means that the Five “retreats” from his heart space and into his mind. It also covers the aspect of the Five who retreats from others, people, into a private space. Literally, physically, the Five will move away from people to be more alone. In this space of solitude, the Five retreats to analyze his feelings and so he doesn’t feel threatened by the emotion expressed by other people nearby. So, when emotion picks up, the Five retreats away from the emotion, into his mind or into physically isolated spaces.

It seems like a shame. Seems sad that Fives have a hard time engaging feelings and that they have to retreat. But every Type on the Enneagram has some kind of “passion” that controls them. The Five passion is something that the Five, even without knowing the Enneagram, may have some familiarity with as an issue they have. Of course if you aren’t a student of the Enneagram, you won’t know your own retreating self as a “passion”, but the Five can recognize it as a part of his personality. Fives feel more when alone. They need to retreat in order to review their own feelings and then come back into the world, having previewed what they want to say or do, with others. Thus the passion of the Five helps them deal with their own fear of emotion and feeling.

Keep in mind that the Five is not a greedy person on the Enneagram. The terms used to describe the passion are from the perspective of heart. This means that it is as if the Five is greedy with his heart. If you can see how that is the case, you will begin to understand that the Enneagram is a system of heart, in addition to being a fun personality system to understand. It is as if the Five refuses to share feelings. But it is very difficult for him to do so. Many people who don’t know the Enneagram and have a loved one who is a Five often have trouble interacting or relating to Fives because people generally express feelings when they want, and the Five remains reticent, only to ‘come out’ expressing feelings after a period of isolation where he has previewed what he wants to say and made sure it is ‘safe’ to do so.

I encourage you to read my other HUBs about the passion for each of the Enneagram Types. I have been a student of the Palmer-Daniels Enneagram workshop, and a fan of the Enneagram as a system for 11 years. I wrote about the passion because there is very little information out there about the passion. I hope this HUB helps you to understand this feature of Type Five’s inner workings. And, I did not find Sandra Maitri’s book on Passions and Virtues helpful; it was overly technical, too complicated, and not clear enough.

The Enneagram is a very powerful tool for self awareness. Coming into awareness that you have a passion is helpful because it leads to a greater level of self acceptance, self awareness, and enables you to not feel badly about your passion. In the case of the Five, knowing that you have to retreat into private spaces is fine. Knowing that it is because you and others who are also Five’s have a built in need to retreat leads you to a different conclusion that you and others share the same sort of built-in insecurity. I encourage you to check out any number of Enneagram websites if you’re interested in the material. Typing yourself can be a fun process. Try


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