Life and Lemons

I am The Thinker. Who are you?

Enneagram The Thinker

Author’s note: I resurrected this Note from January 23 2011. I think in times like now when I feel a bit directionless, it is best to reexamine myself to get back on track. Also, because I miss school and LEADER class under Prof Mars Balgos was one of my favorites.


We were talking about the Enneagram of Personality in class, or simply the Enneagram. As Wiki so kindly summarizes, the Enneagram originates “from the Greek words εννέα [ennea, meaning nine] and γραμμα [gramma, meaning something written)”, and “is a model of human personality which is principally used as a typology of nine interconnected personality types or enneatypes. These types are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which also indicates some of the connections between the types.

It sounds more complicated than it should be, but basically there is a quiz you take to determine your personality type, which then attempts to explain who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you deal with the other types and life in general.

So when Prof got to discussing the Type Five – The Thinker/Observer/Investigator, it was as if he talking straight to me, like he saw right through my deadpan face as I slunk deeper into my seat to hide. His thought bubble might have read: ‘HA! I know what you are!’

And it got stressful when some of my classmates apparently do not understand a Five type person, saying ‘why would a five type choose a book over a party? Or a puzzle over a night out with friends?’ Prof (who was a Five too, but with healthier self-esteem) began to explain that it was a matter of preferences.

He goes, “A Five would sit quietly in class and not talk, just observe, not because she has nothing to say, but mostly because she prefers not to talk,” and I was gritting my teeth and in my head I was thinking, “I want to raise my hand and explain myself to them, only I don’t feel like talking.” Practically living out what the prof just said.

My confused classmate goes, “Is there something wrong with them? What do you do when you meet a Five?” And I wanted to tell her, “run to the other direction, screaming,” only the classroom is not a place for my sarcasm.

Anyway, sharing my Enneagram type, the Thinker (the name I like best). Copied the stuff I liked most.

  • Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
  • Basic Desire: To be capable and competent
  • Style: Controls from a distance. Often paired w/ more aggressive types. Models comprehensive analysis.
  • Conflicts: Lack of accessibility. Fives can frustrate types who need emotional reinforcement
  • Appearance: An emotional black screen. Silently watching from the edge.
  • Facial expression: Hard post look.
  • Speech: Summarizes.
  • Gift: Wise, intelligent, makes meaning out of experiences, makes the misunderstood understandable.
  • Works best in jobs where there’s time to think: R&D, libraries, night shift at the lab.
  • Problems with jobs that require open competition or confrontation: trading floor; highly interpersonal jobs: customer service, day care provider, FA.
  • Fives spend a lot of time observing and contemplating—listening to the sounds of wind or of a synthesizer, or taking notes on the activities in an anthill in their back yard. As they immerse themselves in their observations, they begin to internalize their knowledge and gain a feeling of self-confidence. They can then go out and play a piece on the synthesizer or tell people what they know about ants.
  • When they get verification of their observations and hypotheses, or see that others understand their work, it is a confirmation of their competency, and this fulfills their Basic Desire.
  • Thus, for their own security and self-esteem, Fives need to have at least one area in which they have a degree of expertise that will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world.
  • The irony is that no matter what degree of mastery they develop in their area of expertise, this cannot solve their more basic insecurities about functioning in the world.
  • They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation.

P.S. Prof says the quiz is not accurate, but not everybody had the pleasure of sitting in his lecture. So attaching the link here too if you would fancy to take the quiz yourself. I know you want to.

P.P.S. Yes, this is one of those lectures in a long time that I enjoyed. Totally made up for making me do that reflection paper 😀


Photo, link credits to owner.

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