Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Energies of the Enneagram Head Triad

Enneagram types Five, Six, and Seven make up the head center triad. The emotion that fuels their drives is fear. Their energies or force fields reflect the internalized, externalized, and forgotten aspects of this emotion.

Type Five
Triad: Head
Emotion: Fear - Internalized
Drive: Avarice
Energy: “Invisible” Detachment

Five represents the internalized version of fear. The mental center creates a haven where Fives can retreat. The realm of ideas and knowledge will keep one safe. The drive for the Five is avarice, greed for knowledge and privacy. Fives fear being overwhelmed by outside stimuli, emotions, or events (surprises) they can’t prepare for. Five’s strategic defense of withdrawal includes the withdrawal of life force to an internal safe place, like a castle with the drawbridge pulled up.

Those of us who inhabit the rest of the Enneagram Points experience this absence of vital being. The energy is simply “not there”. The body is present and seems to occupy space, but the force field is gone. As a result, the Five can avoid being “seen” and their presence at a meeting or event may not be remembered. Worse, it may bring about the feared intrusion as we try to “find” the Five, energetically. If the Five has not withdrawn, we can experience running into a very strong boundary when we “intrude.” We seem to bounce off a very strong force field - a seeming “get back” vibe.

When dealing with a Five’s energy, take special care to pull your own force field back close to your body. Be careful not to overwhelm the Five with your energy. Respect the Five’s strong boundaries.

Type Six
Triad: Head
Emotion: Fear - Externalized
Drive: Fear/Doubt
Energy: Fight Six - Jabbing Confrontation
Flight Six - “Poised For Flight” Scanning

Six is the externalized version of Fear. The mental centers capacity for imagination is highly developed in the Six, who continually “imagines” the worst case scenario, and then plans to keep himself safe. Doubt is the drive that manifests as a natural outgrowth of Fear - and Sixes doubt nearly everything.

Six’s two manifestations of Flight and Fight, have very different ways of expressing Fear, hence they have very different energetics. The Fight Six jumps right in with both feet, when up against a scary, dangerous world. Action is the antidote to fear. They may even purposely engage in daredevil pursuits to exert control over or conquer their fear. Hidden motives can be brought to light if you confront others - provoke them until the truth comes out.

Not surprisingly, the energy of the Fight Six can feel jabbing to the rest of us. There is a push, then a withdraw of the force field. Another push, withdraw. It is the energetic equivalent of the Cowardly Lion confronting the Scarecrow and Tin Man. The Fight Six checks us out like a prizefighter circling his opponent, waiting for the worst.

Phobic or Flight Six asks for confirmation. S/he scans the environment for dangers. Charm and warmth are used to disarm potential enemies. A childlike sweetness can evoke protector impulses in the rest of us. Energy is high up around the head and out from the body in 360 degrees - swirling and scanning the environment like radar. Like a fearful rabbit, energy comes forward and scurries back in a repeating pattern as trust develops.

Keep your answers, promises, and energy rock-solid when dealing with a Six. Stay focused and in your body. Don’t react to the Fight Six by pushing your force field at him - like the Cowardly Lion when slapped by Dorothy - he’ll crumple.

Type Seven
Triad: Head
Emotion: Fear - Forgotten
Drive: Gluttony
Energy: Airy Excitement

Sevens are driven by Fear, but “forgot” they were afraid. The mental center is used as a diversion from what invokes fear, by imagining pleasant future options and possibilities. Even memory can be affected, and only pleasant memories are easily recalled, or a positive interpretation is placed on remembered, painful events.

The drive for Seven is Gluttony - for life experience, adventure, and possibility. So the Seven races from course to course, frenetically sampling life’s banquet in an effort to stay high and optimistic.

The energy of Sevens feels airy and effervescent. Their excitement can be contagious, but also exhausting. Like a ping pong ball giddily bouncing in a chaotic pattern, the Seven is the energetic equivalent of Peter Pan, grabbing ideas like fairy dust from the air, then sprinkling and leaving them as quickly when something else has grabbed his attention. If you try to focus or limit a Seven, swooooosh - their energy is out the door to Never Never Land, even if their body remains in the room.

It is easy to get caught up in a Seven’s enthusiastic energy and lose focus. When dealing with a Seven, stay focused and centered. Keep your own energy or force field lower in your body, closer to the ground. This will help prevent your getting caught up in the Seven’s tornado of visions and ideas, losing sight of your own priorities.


Jonathan Erdman said...

Hi Lynette,

I have a question for you. I am a Five, and I relate to everything you have said about how the energy of the Five works.

You said: "When dealing with a Five’s energy, take special care to pull your own force field back close to your body. Be careful not to overwhelm the Five with your energy. Respect the Five’s strong boundaries."

Now, here's a scenario for you. Let's say that I am putting up strong boundaries, but these boundaries are not necessarily healthy boundaries. Let's say that I am relying on illusions and defense mechanisms by setting up boundaries so that I do not have to engage the world and I can recluse to the safety of books or to my own mind or some form of isolation.

But let's take this (rather real time, but still very general) scenario into the context of a relationship. I put up strong boundaries, but my partner (a Four) feels my boundaries in a very personal way. To her it may feel at times like I am abandoning her or that there is something wrong with the relationship (or something wrong with her).

So, all in all, let's say that my strong boundaries are not a good thing.

What I have been thinking through is this: what is the best way for a couple to deal with the "strong boundaries" of a five when these boundaries are not healthy? Maybe there is no easy answer, but I think the idea of "respecting a five's strong boundaries" might not be quite the healthiest response.

How do you think a partner might awaken a five to the importance of getting outside of his/her personality in these situations? To engage life when the five is grasping (greed) for security/safety/comfort/etc. by setting up unhealthy boundaries and simply withdrawing from life?

There are certainly healthy ways of spending time in silence and developing a healthy sense of nonattachment for a five, but I am referring to how to deal with unhealthy withdrawals within the context of a relationship.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Lynette Sheppard said...

Hi Jonathan,
You bring up an excellent point! It surely is not always good for a Five to be so boundaries.

When I said to pull the force field back, I'm mostly thinking of encountering Fives who are new to the Enneagram or may not even know their type. So I'm so glad you brought up the Five as he/she is evolving into an expanded awareness, if you will.

And yes, Fives tell me that they find that they have to purposefully engage, to go forward when they feel like pulling back and that in a strange paradox they actually find that they have more energy, not less.

I think that partners who know their Enneagram types and that of each other have an advantage in that they can open a more honest, revealing dialogue with one another. As mates, we can certainly honor one another, but we can also help one another grow.

So you can indeed relax your boundaries at times (most Fives tell me this is easier at first if there is a time limit, if it isn't completely open ended.) I have a simple questionnaire that I use in my couples classes that might help you both in your inquiry into helping one another break free of some of the constraints of type. email me at and I'll send it to you.

My spouse and I work together to break free of type by not only observing ourselves without judgment but each other and supporting one another in growing while having compassion when growing is difficult. In other words, your mate may respect your boundaries when you are overwhelmed and push you a little when you want to break free. It's a dance of awareness and relationship, I feel can be a great opening to freedom from type.

Thanks for bringing up such an important issue and I'll try to address more in a future blog issue how we can help ourselves and our mates using relationship as inquiry and an awareness tool.