Thinking Type 5: “The Observer”
Subordinate: own Acting
Short circuits in storm state:
Feeling – Thinking
Acting – Acting
FT TF AA
With thinking type 5, we now leave the emotionally oriented types and visit the “thinkers”. In storm state, those are the cerebral narcissists. Their childhood distress was lacking security: The development of their identity was threatened. Thinking type 5 is the one who solved this problem by enforcing his thinking (FT). In order to deal with the chaos in his environment, to figure out what’s important an what not and avoiding losing himself in the mess, he withdrew into his head, thought about it and sorted his experiences and feelings. His two other short circuits supported this withdrawal: distancing from feeling (TF) and controlling actions and needs (AA).As soon as this pattern exceeds its function of childhood self-protection and a person gets triggered back into it as an adult, there is storm warning. And if a person is permanently trapped in it, it is considered a personality disorder. In the following, the character Humbert in “Lolita” (1997), played by Jeremy Irons serves as an example of a thinking type 5 with storm warning.
Thinking type 5 in storm state retreats into his head. He amplifies his thinking, takes a very distanced position and looks at the events “from the outside”. From there, he gathers information which he processes instantly if possible or later if necessary. Although he may seem “there”, although you seem to get some emotional and reactionary feedback from him, this has nothing to do with him as a person. While his soul is sitting silently in his head, actions and emotions are running on autopilot. With his Feeling – Thinking short circuit, he enforces his detachment. He enforces his ability to recognize logical coherence and drawing conclusions in order to tidy up the chaos – this ability was of great help to survive his childhood.
Thus a thinking type 5 with storm warning constantly lives in mental cutback and his only perspective seems to be the retrospective. His conduct of life is lacking his conduct. He allows others to make his decisions and opportunistically takes what he can get along the way without playing a role in the process of life.
This distanced way of life is illustrated by the following scenes. Humbert gets informed by his landlady: she wants to marry him and if he stays, he agrees. Because Humbert is secretly interested in her daughter, he stays and marries. His true thoughts and feelings about his new wife are written down and locked away inside his desk. As she finds the key, his interpersonal double-life is exposed. This flight into a secretive detached mental world is typical for a thinking type 5 with storm warning.
To support the main short circuit – to remain undisturbed while drawing his conclusions – Humbert distances himself from feeling. This doesn’t necessarily mean he seems robotic. But in storm state, his feelings have nothing to do with him as a person or his values. He hides behind a characterless in-tune mask. Thus, he turn himself into a emotional marionette who doesn’t get it if someone is playing with him on this level. Here, he is totally suggestible and emotionally “survives” from what he can get coincidentally. This short circuit is observable as a fawning dependence which can develop into obsession.
Humbert controls actions and needs. And because, as a type 5, this short circuit serves a detached way of life, it is expressed mainly in passive forms and is directed inward: he adjusts his own wants according to what fits the environment and aims at getting his hidden needs met somehow in the long run. He “lies with his gut” and acts as if the wants of others were also his own. This is expressed big and small flatteries and sometimes in more dramatic ways in which he is able to instantly adapt his will and anger to changing circumstances.
This is how a thinking type 5 with storm warning functions.
Why is this dangerous to families?
Because children depend on parents who are there for them. A person who functions like this may have lots of theoretical ideas of “a good upbringing”. But it’s impossible to them to emotionally care for their children and foster their autonomy. Instead, they are emotionally dependent on their kids and expect them to supply the security they missed in their own family. Like this they reverse the familial chain of providence and thus damage their children’s psyche.
Why is this unsatisfactory in relationships?
For the same reasons. Although as an adult, one is not as dependent on the partner as a child is but the mutual happiness relies on the functionality of both. How can one relate to someone who lives in a secretive mental refuge? To someone who detaches emotionally and makes themselves dependent? Someone whose wants are not their own but adapt to the surroundings like a chameleon-like war tactic? It is possible. But it’s unsatisfactory.
For Families: Family-Systems Therapy
For Couples: Couples Therapy
This description with the aid of the enneagram is not meant to serve diagnostically. This should by done by professionals alone. And there is also no key with which the types of the enneagram can be translated to the DSM definitions. At best, some hints can be made in which directions to seek: Dependent Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Codependency.
All clips shown in this post are quotations from the movie “Lolita” (1997) and are used for the purpose of illustration only. The copyrights for this movie and its film poster belong to: Pathé, The Samuel Goldwyn Company