Fives From the Inside

Drawing by E. Wagele

(This was originally  submitted to an IEA project on “Enneagram types from the inside out” and published in the “9 Points Magazine” October/December 2010 issue.)

There are two main ways people misunderstand us Fives (Observer types). The first way often involves projections, which may be anything from “oh you poor dear, you’re so socially inept you need help…” to “you’re so quiet because you think you’re superior to us…” to “you-re so smart I’m scared of you!”

1.     I don’t think I fit into the socially inept category. I’m far from a social genius, but I’ve heard a couple of people say I’m “poised,” maybe because I’ve developed the art of the poker face, which some people may take for poise.

2.     In the past I was quieter than I am now. If I want to be heard I’ll usually speak up. I’ve learned it’s a good idea to let people know who I am before they start inventing things about me. I also feel pretty non-judgmental as I think most of us Fives are. We are different from most other people—not better—which isn’t easy, so that helps us be compassionate.

3.     A lot of Fives seem smart because they love to collect information. I’ve never had a good memory for some kinds of information but I do have a good memory for music.

Another way people misunderstand us is from Enneagram stereotyping. For example, I’m a “Feeling type” in the MBTITM system, an INFP; I have a strong Four wing. (Most Fives are “Thinking types.”) My feelings happen to me immediately; they don’t delay until I’m home or alone. The knowledge I crave is often emotional. I prefer movies, for example, that are personal, with artistic photography and music—not grand smashing epics. Some Fives avoid drama because it’s too much for them. I like it if it’s good art that holds together well. People and art need integrity; I don’t like glitzy stuff or phoniness. I don’t think I’m cold, a machine, or a bundle of fear as some of the stereotyping goes.

Something related to being misunderstood is that I sometimes have a hard time translating the thoughts and feelings in my mind into words. They will be in the form of a kind of structure or picture. This isn’t a problem if I’m writing and have plenty of time, but in conversation you have to quickly make what’s in your mind verbal in order to keep up.

Some Fives may feel they don’t exist. I’ve been asked what “not existing” means. For me it’s a combination of not being noticed, not feeling involved in what’s going on, and feeling as though I live in a different world. Most Fives are introverts. We often aren’t stimulating to extroverts (until they get to know us) so they don’t see us.

One advantage of being a Five or an introvert is my ability to entertain myself. I gave my book, “The Happy Introvert,” its title because I was often running into people who thought introverts were morose or unfortunate. I wanted to dispel those attitudes right on the cover. Anyway, if I’m in a doctor’s office, for example, with nothing to do, I can look at the bare wall and find something interesting in its imperfections. Our curiosity is a big advantage. Many of us are especially happy alone. We’re good friends to ourselves. I never have enough time to engage in all my interests.


I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us Fives say that our social skills could be improved. For example, I can’t imagine being an enthusiastic catalyst to a group of people. How can I call myself an Observer when observing hasn’t taught me how to negotiate social scenes with ease? I must have a gene missing that would have helped me pick those skills up. I’m just not going to break into a conversation people are having at a cocktail party, for example. But I don’t even like cocktail parties. They’re too noisy and—have you ever noticed—people seem to laugh at nothing just because it’s time to laugh?

When I was in grade school, I’d often feel like a disappointment to the adults at recesses and lunch because I didn’t know how to join a group at play and I’d never just barge in. This must come from my own dislike of being barged in upon. So I’d go off to a part of the school ground that was overgrown and enjoy the meadow, trees, and birds. Other than that, I’d watch the other children. I’d feel bored in school a lot.

It’s easiest to be with people who chatter enough for me to feel I’m off the hook as far as starting conversations goes. Maybe it’s a form of social anxiety that my mind goes blank, for there’s plenty in there I could talk about. I don’t understand how some people can talk on and on about what seems like nothing.

When I was in my early forties, I made a project out of making as many friends as I could in order to get over feeling Awkward around people. I have learned how to feel comfortable being me and no longer feel as much like an alien thanks to that decision. My friends help me feel I belong.


Music was my big interest from my earliest memory. I taught myself how to play the piano at first, and then I talked my parents into getting me a teacher. I liked making up stories with dolls, including making villages for them out of twigs at the base of large trees.

My father was also a Five. He was a scientist and I admired his knowledge, his dignity, his sense of humor, and his character. One of his sisters, a Seven, was another hero of mine. We’d sit in a restaurant and she’d make up stories about the other customers. It was as though she was giving them Enneagram numbers but it was way before our current Enneagram of personality days. Her stories were full of intrigue, adventure, and humor. I found out decades later that the bridge parties she claimed to be attending were really trips to gambling casinos.

More on Me (no, I didn’t say Moron Me)

I was asked what my best and worst qualities are. I’m punctual, competent, I try to be objective, I like to be kind to people, and my friends seem to appreciate my warped sense of humor, which is also an asset when it comes to making cartoons. I’m not always as diplomatic as I’d like to be. My worst quality from deep inside of myself is my self-criticism. It never stops. I try to love myself more and quit beating myself up but I haven’t yet reached my goal.

My family is mostly my husband, my four children and my eight grand children. I completely devoted myself to raising my children and I loved it. I got to stay home with them, teaching piano lessons after my husband returned from teaching high school. I quit teaching when I became involved in writing books.

These days I write a blog every week, one on WordPress and one on Psychology Today Both are called “The Career Within You.” I’m also working on a book on how people face dying and think about death according to their Enneagram type. In addition, I work on promoting “The Career Within You,” my CD, “The Beethoven Enneagram,” and my other books I also work in my garden and play the piano at parties. I’m learning some Beethoven violin/piano sonatas, too – the piano part.


I used to think of myself as a self-preservation subtype. I don’t follow the stereotype—for example, I don’t horde things—in fact, I try to keep my possessions to a minimum. I do have the introverted personality that seems consistent with self-preservation, however (not that all s.p.’s are introverts). I spend little time in groups and I don’t have the attention-getting mannerisms you see in many one-to-one subtypes. I can see why Mario Sikora thinks I am a social subtype, however, because of my motivation for writing my books: I wanted to spread the Enneagram starting with “The Enneagram Made Easy.” I wanted the Enneagram community to read them, but the bottom line was always “can someone who doesn’t know the Enneagram understand this?” I wanted to keep our wonderful system alive and growing so I reached outside the system to people in relationships, parents, children, music lovers, and people wanting help with their careers. I’m always hoping to draw in people who’ve never heard of the Enneagram. That’s why in “The Career Within You” Ingrid Stabb and I took the big step of hardly mentioning the word that scares some people off: “Enneagram.”


If I could leave a legacy I would set an example for everyone to think clearly and rationally, to be kind and inclusive, and to take the unconscious part of their psyche seriously. Building upon C. G. Jung’s legacy, another hero of mine, I record and draw my dreams and attend dream classes to help me work with them. Our inner worlds are not only fascinating and informative, in ways they are more real than the outer world. I would like my legacy to include a message against perpetuating hatred, racism, and imperialism and for the principles of humanity, compassion, and reason. The Enneagram can help bring people together. I would like to leave a trail of acceptance, thoughtfulness, empathy, non-violence, respect for nature, and appreciation for the arts in my wake.

– Elizabeth Wagele (to see original article Click Here)


Some Music and an Enneagram Intro

Here is a beautiful Song for you to listen to, “Star of Wonder”:

And here is a blog I posted on Psychology Today a few months ago.  It’s an introduction to the Enneagram.

I’m too busy to create an original blog this week.

– Elizabeth

How to Keep Bedbugs Away

When I read my Snopes newsletter this week I noticed an article about bedbugs, fact and fiction. I checked it out a couple of other places and this is what I found out: The U.S. is experiencing an explosion in its bedbug population, with all 50 states reporting epidemic levels. The 71 percent increase since 2001 is due mainly to international travel. Bedbugs start in infested hotel rooms, hitch rides on luggage where they spread to homes, back to hotels by the same suitcases, and the cycle continues. Bedbugs will hop onto backpacks, too.

Bedbugs can’t stand being in clothes dryers. The temperature necessary to kill them is disputed – anywhere from a minimum of 113F to 120F degrees. The estimated time needed to kill them varies from 5 to 45 minutes. Most authorities say it take from 20 to 25 minutes.

They’re extremely hardy. They can survive more than a year without eating and they can survive freezing temperatures. They like cracks and crevices of mattresses and box springs as well as furniture, baseboards, electrical outlets, or other small spaces or fabric surfaces near humans.

The best thing to do is keep them out of your house in the first place by placing your bag on a suitcase stand when you travel instead of the floor or  bed because they can’t easily climb metal. Keep the rack away from walls or wooden furniture. If the hotel doesn’t have a metal rack, leave your suitcase in the bathtub. Don’t unpack everything. Consider keeping your bag in a thick plastic bag.

At home, store your luggage in a shed so they won’t get in your house. Wash all your clothes immediately after a trip in case they have bedbugs on them instead of putting them in the laundry basket. Don’t acquire used furniture, especially beds and sofas, unless you’re sure they don’t have bedbugs. Run used or second hand clothing through the laundry immediately after you acquire it. (This was condensed from Barbara Mikkelson’s article from, October 3 2010:

The above information should keep the bedbugs away. It’s a good thing, too, because they can bite you 500 times in one night according to the National Geographic, They’re nocturnal, they sense where you are by the carbon dioxide you exhale, thousands of them can infest a single bedroom, they administer an anesthetic so you don’t wake up, and they can drink three times their own weight in a single meal. I decided to tell you about them as a way of finding out about them myself. I don’t like them.

Listen to some Beethoven piano music, see some cartoons, and find out about my books on YouTube:

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Can True Bird-Lovers Eat Turkeys?

A bird refuge in the inland valley of California has a fund-raiser once a year – a barbeque where they grill turkeys.

They invite the townspeople to buy tickets to this event, slaughter the birds, help consume them, clean up their bones, then spend the rest of the year nursing birds with broken wings and other infirmities back to health.

I spent two days trying to stop laughing as I envisioned the bird-lovers gnawing on drum sticks. Were they aware of the irony of what they were doing and were they laughing too? I guess we all do things like this all the time in different ways: “Stop the violence!” as we munch on a cow’s bone not so different from our neighbor’s arm.

My friends Mary Beth and Wayne recently visited the Sand Hill Cranes in the Sacramento Valley in California where lots of birds go to get away from Alaska’s coldest months. Tundra Swans will come later. You can see these huge beautiful creatures in the marshlands taking off and landing in flocks. I first saw them when I was a teenager tagging along with my parents on bird watching trips with the Audubon Society. Experienced bird watchers can impressively identify dozens of birds, including different kinds of hawks, fly-catchers, song birds, and many varieties of shore birds.

When I was a kid, I used to gather up little baby birds fallen out of nests and try to feed them until they could live on their own. They never made it. Living in an apartment house, we wanted a pet, so my parents let us buy parakeets. We nailed a large tree branch to a piece of wood where they spent most of their time. When mine were new, I’d take them in the dark closet to tame them and teach them to land on my finger and rotate around my finger on command. I didn’t think at that time whether this was good or bad for the birds. I just wanted a pet.

When we were first married we bought a parakeet and named him Eldon. Once he flew into Gus’ wet oil painting, which had deadly white lead in it. We cleaned him off with paint thinner and he almost died from that. We were always listening to radio station KPFA in those days and he’d repeat “KPFA-KPFB Berkeley” throughout the day and night. Our cat Miggles was more interesting, to be replaced by four phenomenally more interesting children.

Now Gus feeds the birds in our garden out of two bird feeders: one for small goldfinches and linnets and the other for a bigger variety of birds, including titmice, nuthatches, and chickadees. He feeds them seeds, I feel compelled to tell you. You may be surprised, but I’m not going to try to attribute Enneagram types to the birds. I don’t think liking to bird-watch has much to do with personality type.

You can expect some of these behaviors from specific Enneagram types, however:

1 Perfectionists might save their habitat and protest against using insecticides.

2 Helpers might save baby birds fallen out of the nest.

3 Achievers might build bird houses.

4 Romantics might admire their beauty and use them in poetic symbolism. Some might write poetry with a quill.

5 Observers might learn scientific facts about them. Feeding them is a hobby lots of introverts especially like.

6 Questioners might fear the raptors, admire the most beautiful ones.

7 Adventurers might wish they had their freedom to fly and dream about being a bird themselves.

8 Asserters might protect them.

9 Peace Seekers might appreciate birds for being universal. But all birds aren’t as peaceful as we might like. I gave up on a hummingbird feeder I had outside my window once because they were too territorial about it.

I’ve been eating less and less meat. I’m open to becoming a vegetarian but it doesn’t seem to happen. Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Find Your Perfect Love Match

The Enneagram will help you choose a partner wisely or revive a relationship.

After writing “The Enneagram Made Easy,” Renee Baron and I were asked so many questions by people looking for a partner that we decided to write a book about the Enneagram and relationships. For “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” (HarperCollins) we interviewed hundreds of people about their past and present relationships. We wanted to know which Enneagram combinations worked and didn’t work and why. We organized our book according to how each of the nine types gets along with the other eight types: why they like them and why they have trouble with them. We also have charts in each chapter that show which type each type chooses to pair up with most and least often .

We found that female Perfectionists, for example, pair up with male Peace Seekers most often and male Adventurers pair up with female Helpers and Romantics the most. Sometimes types choose each other because they’re so different but after a year or so, the differences that attracted them becomes a problem. Someone who seemed stimulating at first may in time seems to lack depth or appears depressed. Someone who’s attractive because he’s mellow at first may in time become objectionable because of not having enough ambition. So much depends on the combination.

“Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” helps readers become aware of their own past experiences that can shed light on their present or future involvements.

This book teaches some helpful Enneagram theory and information (subtypes, the three centers, how the Enneagram meshes with the MBTI TM system, how to tell lookalike types apart, famous pairs, and “wings and arrows”) and includes tests to identify the reader’s type. Also, people have pointed out to me (and I agree) that some of my best cartoons are in this book. Relationships make good material for cartooning.

From Business Executive to Dream Job – Guest Blog

Read more about Ginger on pages 72 and 283

My type is “Achiever” and I am an Assistant Professor at the University of California – Berkeley. Being an Achiever has certainly helped my career, mostly in the sense that it helped me change careers. I used to be a business executive, a job that was challenging and rewarding in many ways, including financially, but not satisfying to me personally. I had always thought I would be a great university professor but it seemed so crazy to leave such a great job, and one that I enjoyed, in order to chase after a dream job that would definitely be very hard to get. Becoming a university professor in my field meant going to graduate school for five or six years to earn my Ph.D., and then competing with literally *hundreds* of other Ph.D.s for a scant handful of tenure-track faculty positions. I knew that the odds were against me – they were against my getting into a top Ph.D. program (which are extremely competitive), and even if I managed to get into a great graduate school and do well, the odds were very much against my getting to be an Assistant Professor at a top research university. Hardly *anyone* in my field gets a faculty job of any kind, let alone a tenure-track professorship at an R1 institution.

But being an Achiever, I decided something. I decided that even if only five people ever got the kind of job I wanted in the field I wanted, *I* could be one of those five people. In other words, my fundamental assumption changed from “I can never get one of those jobs!” to “I can definitely be one of the very few people that can get one of those jobs.” After all, I had a strong track record of achieving goals that many people had thought impossible (getting into the college of my choice, winning prizes there that were only awarded to a select few students, turning a low-paying job into a high-paying one, getting all of the promotions and opportunities that I wanted in my career). So why couldn’t I achieve what I felt was my greatest dream for my working life, which was to get into a fabulous doctoral program and then get a terrific job at a top college?

My mindset helped me do what I needed to make my career dreams come true.  I look around me and see so many people discouraged from even trying to get the kinds of jobs they really want, and know they can be really great at. I feel like the biggest difference between the people who don’t try to get their ideal jobs and me (as an example of someone who went after my career dream and who succeeded) was my fundamental knowledge that I can achieve what I want to achieve. That certainty is just a part of me – a part of my personality. I think that’s what the enneagram is about – it gives people a way of articulating basic, elemental aspects of their personality that other kinds of articulations (like horoscope signs or something like that) don’t really get at. In my case, being an Achiever, I know that I can go after what I want and, as long as I work hard at it and keep my focus, I can get it. Nothing else explains that part of me as well as the enneagram. Being an Achiever just seems to be written into the fabric of my being.

– By Ginger

Famous People’s Types

Oprah, An Achiever

Week after week the most popular page on is the Famous Types page. I list about 140 famous people, living and dead, and a few movie, TV, and literature characters along with what I have guessed to be their Enneagram and/or MBTI(TM) types.

In “The Career Within You” Ingrid Stabb and I suggest six to eight famous people for each type to help newcomers to the Enneagram get a clearer idea of each personality. Renee Baron and I included a list of famous couples for each Enneagram type in “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” We didn’t list any in “The Enneagram Made Easy.” There are several famous introverts in my “Happy Introvert,” including a chapter on the movie character, Napoleon Dynamite.

A person’s type is best determined by the person himself/herself. But with famous people, we don’t get the chance to ask them their type. As a newcomer to both systems, the game of trying to guess acquaintances’ and famous people’s types was part of my learning experience, however, and I assume others do this too. It’s important to keep guesses of people you know to yourself, not only because you might be wrong, but also because searching for our own type is an important part of the experience.

The lookalikes that stir up the most controversy on my Famous Types page and among Enneagram teachers are the 8-Asserters vs. the Counterphobic 6-Questioners. 3-Achievers are also sometimes mixed up with 8-Asserters. I’ve received aggressive letters about these kinds of things. It’s not worth being rude about, though—the Enneagram is about getting to know ourselves and to be able to accept others. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong about someone who isn’t there to defend his decision. Another interesting thing about the Enneagram is when someone thinks she is a certain type and other people disagree. Possibly she knows herself better than they do or she isn’t ready to accept that she’s the type she really is. We 5-Observers often learn (by studying the Enneagram) that we’re pretty obsessed to want to know everything. When we “get” this, we can often let go about whether we’re right or not. We realize, hopefully, we don’t want to be invasive because we don’t like being invaded ourselves. We still love information, but we’re training ourselves not to think and say “I know!” all the time.

If you disagree with my guesses on my Famous Types page, let me know by sending me a message in a “comment” to this blog or on Facebook. I’ll take your opinion and any additions you suggest seriously.