“Observers” as Children (Type 5)


Drawing by E. Wagele from “The Career Within You,” by Elizabeth Wagele and Ingrid Stabb, HarperCollins.

The Glasswing Butterfly is a symbol for the sensitivity of the Observer personality. Observers aren’t all super-sensitive or delicate, but many don’t like loud noises, glaring lights, or rough clothes against their skin. Most prefer to stand back and watch what’s going on from a safe distance and most avoid conflict. Observers tend to live in their heads. They can be rich containers and synthesizers of information for the rest of us. If we’re highly extraverted, particularly, we may not notice them because they tend to be quiet. Some of them are forthcoming about their opinions, even argumentative, and bring attention to themselves. Others are shy.

In “The Enneagram of Parenting” http://www.wagele.com/EnneagramParent.html I wrote, “Observer children don’t usually care about social conventions and don’t always interact easily. They may feel awkward or different from other children. Never push them but gently invite them to join in… They’ll do almost anything to avoid unpleasantness. Some wish they could speak without thinking about it so much first. One-to-one contact is often more comfortable than being in groups.” One of my cartoons in this book is of an alien child who has just embarked from a spaceship and is looking at a bill board advertising toothpaste that says, “Use ‘SMILE!’ Impress everyone! Be noticed!” She is saying to herself, “I’m not sure I belong here.” As an Observer child myself, I didn’t relate much to “image.”

Observer children are usually good at finding things they like to do. Reading is often one of them. Some are attracted to investigating things on computers or the workings of computers. Some become scientists. Some become writers. Some are good at classifying material or mechanical things. Observer children often have an independent streak and easily feel intruded upon. Sometimes, because they don’t mind solitude, a parent worries about their social life and becomes pushy in that regard. Observers are often content with one or two good friends.

Cartoon from “The Enneagram of Parenting.”

This week (April 1, 2010) my blog on Psychology Press will be on Observers as adults, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-career-within-you/

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