Fives and Seeing Patterns

Type Fives are the intellectuals of the Enneagram, or as some call them, the Observers: "They are constantly on the lookout for something that they have not noticed before, or a way of connecting disparate ideas or activities they have been exploring."  Quote from Don Riso and Russ Hudson's Personality Types.  Image from www.bigthink.com

Type Fives are the intellectuals of the Enneagram, or as some call them, the Observers: "They are constantly on the lookout for something that they have not noticed before, or a way of connecting disparate ideas or activities they have been exploring."  Quote from Don Riso and Russ Hudson's Personality Types.  Image from www.bigthink.com

I think teaching the positive traits of each Enneagram type is the hardest to do, probably because it means if you can, you see the divinity in each type, and let's face it, that's often a difficult task.

But this morning, I was looking at Don Riso and Russ Hudson's brilliant piece about the Type 5 from Personality Types.  I love this idea that Healthy Fives allow reality to inform their perception of patterns, whereas average and unhealthy Fives impose their own idea of patterns on reality. 

"The connection between genius and madness has long been debated.  These two states are really poles apart, the opposite ends of the personality spectrum. The genius is someone who fuses knowledge with insight into the nature of reality, someone who has the ability to see things with utter clarity and with awe-inspiring comprehension.  What separates the genius from the madman is that the genius, in addition to extraordinary insights, has the ability to see them correctly, within their context.  The genius perceives patterns which are actually present, whereas the madman imposes patterns, projecting erroneous perceptions onto every circumstance.  The genius may sometimes seem to be out of touch with reality, but only because he or she operates at a more profound level.  The madman, however, is truly out of touch with reality, having nothing but delusions to substitute for it. 

This makes me think of white people who don't understand what the big deal is about racism anymore, or men who don't grasp how sexism could still exist.  Of course, not all white people and men are Fives, and other types certainly have their own ways of denying reality, but a search for patterns, and an imposing of those patterns onto reality is a truly unique quality for the Fives.  A Five lower down on the ladder of emotional intelligence will say, "I don't see patterns of discrimination; therefore your suffering isn't real."  But here, again, is the healthy Five per Riso and Hudson:

At their healthiest, Fives have the paradoxical abilty to penetrate reality profoundly while comprehending it broadly.  They are able to take things in whole, perceiving patterns where others see nothing but confusion.  They are able to synthesize existing knowledge making connections between phenomena which no one previously knew were related, such as time and space, the structures of the DNA molecule, or the relationship between brain chemistry and behavior.

... The healthiest Fives do not cling to their own ideas about how the world works.  Instead, they encompass reality so profoundly that they are able to discover unanticipated truths they could not have arrived at by mere theorizing.  They make discoveries precisely because they are willing not to know the answers, keeping an open mind while they observe reality.

Just reading these words opens my heart up to Fives.  I guess that's the exercise in learning to see the divinity in others.