Helping the Type Five in Recovery–from The Alchemy of the Enneagram in Transforming Addiction.

Type Five— The Kind Wizard

“If we truly use the Enneagram to see through our beliefs about ourselves we begin to feel more grounded and confident, more kind and compassionate, and more clear and discerning. Our centers are coming online, and we are more able to live the truths we have come to understand.”


The Type Five, known as the investigator, the observer, the gentle wizard, is endowed with razor-sharp objectivity, the x-ray vision to see beyond the surface of things, an incisive and laser-like passion to find the truth in reality while turning over every stone. On good days, he possesses a quirky, counterintuitive, and hilarious sense of humor (enter The Far Side author Gary Larson or Tim Burton, creator of The Nightmare Before Christmas). Able to stare at the reality of impermanence eyeball to eyeball, to hold hands with death and horror (Stephen King, the horror master extraordinaire), while finding unexpected redemptive capacity in learning to quiet his electrified mind (see Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle), he creates new niches for fellow Fives to inhabit (welcome the radical explosion of nanotechnology, computers, cyberspace, the wireless world).

At his best, the Five is deeply kind and compassionate. When addiction takes over, all these capacities turn to the opposite, and he becoming a remote alien on the planet, a nihilistic pessimist, a doomsayer and force of destruction to himself and others. His mind becomes a hallucination of horror.


 When the Five is in addiction, his internal playing field becomes unbalanced, driving down into his unhealthy patterns.

The following is a brief overview of the Five’s internal playing field.

Deep wound/relapse pattern: The deep wound of the Type Five is that of feeling stupid and lost in the ignorance of the world, of having no map to navigate reality, and no niche or place in the world. He feels rejected by the world, as though he has arrived on the wrong planet. He is on his own.

Key commandment: The Five’s key commandment is that he must be an expert in some area of intelligence or else he is not lovable, protected, or wanted. He must not need anything except time and room to study. He trusts nothing but his own intelligence.

Deep wish: The Five’s deep wish is to feel useful and capable, to find a niche. He wishes to utilize his wisdom in service of humanity, and to inspire curiosity and intelligence in others.

How he sees himself: The Five sees himself as innovative, perceptive, observant, curious, objective, whimsical, objective, and more intelligent and quirkier than others.

At level 4 and below: When the Five is at the lower levels, he falls prey to the emotional habit of avarice, in which he avoids emotional contact with people because it drains him and scares him. Overwhelmed by his intense sensitivity, he vacates his heart and his body. Add to this his mental habit of retention, in which he tries to feel strong by accumulating, studying, and memorizing what he studies, which drives him to disengage from reality, to go into his head to live. He hides out in his analyzing mind, habitually going over what he has studied and remembered to feel strong.

Inner critic: The Five’s inner critic tells him he is safe and worthwhile only when he is brilliant and can master something. As a result, he impulsively studies and accumulates more and more knowledge. He can never learn enough, however, because knowledge is not the source of his real strength.

At his best: The Five is at his best when he is generous with his knowledge and inspired to understand reality, and what is real and true about it. He seeks the truth, loves the truth, and can inspire others to do the same. He merges his capacity to love with his wisdom. He engages people and brings his gifts to the world.


The healthy Five is known for his capacity to see through the vast maze and complexity of the moment, be it looking into the open expanse of the universe, the remarkable complexity of the cell, or navigating the dark and unseen territory of the human psyche and providing clarity and understanding. He shines a brilliant light of illumination that serves to both guide the navigation of these spaces and make sense of the vast intelligence that is reliably interfused in each speck of life. As his best the Five is quirky and funny, realizing the absurdities individuals focus on in the face of the real majesty of life. He is engaging, connected with others, heart gentle and open, mind expansive with invention and curiosity. He is a light of courage, inspiration, and hope, shining a huge light of gratitude from the center of his being. He joyfully gives away his wisdom and has a tender, self-effacing capacity when he talks about what he calls his weirdness and difficulty in relating to “the human beings.” Aware that he fits no particular conventional role, he is at peace with this when healthy, and a welcome mat for others to be different. Here, his tenderness and kindness show through.

Case Study: Terry

Terry, a Type Five investigator extraordinaire, walks through the back door of the 8 a.m. Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a gangly softness to his movements. With a well-navigated precision to each awkward step, he quietly moves through the ragtag Oregon crowd—a blend of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, from street drunk to scientist to lawyer—thrown together on this precious sobriety life raft. He inhabits his body ever so lightly, as if it is made of soft, transparent paper and he a puppet master guiding it along, helping it walk.

Terry doesn’t have the testosterone hardwiring of Big Fred, the boisterous, hearty Eight who moves and speaks with bravado and punch and brassiness, never mincing his words (Fred’s short version of the Serenity Prayer: fuck it!). Terry is not a florid emotional Four like Frank, who often shares tender and heartrending depth, real-life emotions oozing from his soul. No, Terry’s energy is hard to describe—neither strongly male nor female, but somewhere between water and wind and hidden lightning.

As he approaches his seat, his gaze emits an elfin-like sense of humor and joy. He appreciates the weirdness and incongruent beauty of this gathering of serendipitously linked basement dwellers. Mixed with his offbeat joy is the curious aura of I’m not really here, I’m posing as a quiet observer of reality, which surrounds him like he is standing behind a thinly veiled curtain, watching the whole show. Truth is, he is examining each moment with an intense, passionate awareness. Others might catch it in his eyes, which are softly tucked back in the contours of his bony, gentle face, his piercing curiosity looking for what he calls the “illumination” behind what he observes—the prana—the life force invigorating all manifestations. In Type Five fashion he declares, with a smile as curious as a cat, that his higher power is, of course, “the Periodic Table.” This, he says, is the god of his understanding.

Because he is keenly aware of the incredible miracle of his existence, Terry does not call attention to himself, does not name himself as a respected scientist, but is humbly right-sized. He quietly absorbs the pleasure of connecting with “his” people, appreciating their quirks and idiosyncrasies, cheerily sensing the invisible life force that infuses the room. All of it is taken in. Nothing is missed. Comfortable as a gnome on a barstool hanging out in the oceanic matrix of his mind, he drinks in his perceptions like the sweetest wine, quietly contemplating the unfolding possibilities.

Terry’s passion is examining the process of life and death in plants and fungi at micro levels; articulating the nuances of gamma rays or black holes; “seeing” the magical network of intelligence that links earth, plant, air, water, wind, insect, animal into a living thread of life. He meditates on ever-growing storehouses of illuminated wisdom, watching stunning film clips of complex perceptions that flow across his mind screen. It’s like he has an IMAX movie continually turned on inside him; it is the lens out of which he observes and engages reality, and yet he is present enough to include others in the movie. Wordlessly, he invites them into his meditation of awe, to feel the intelligent lightness and precision with which he touches the moment, and the deepening wisdom he cultivates with his perceptive acumen. His quirkiness is so sweet, people just want to hug him. And many do.

When Terry was mired in his addiction, no one hugged him. He merged with his computer screen and his electrifying imagination, and became a skilled producer of any hallucinogen that could be purchased. He is now twenty-five years sober, and when he speaks of his sobriety at an AA meeting he becomes like the wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, arising with his staff, striking the ground in front of the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, and proclaiming, “You shall not pass!” Tangibly, the strength and power of his commitment to sobriety penetrate the room. And then, seconds later, he has become crazy, down-home hilarious, poking fun at his absurdities. “I’m very odd, you know. Well, you can ask my wife, she will tell you!” He grins, blue eyes glimmering with joy. “I could hole up in my office for days; in fact, I love isolation. I’ve got to remember to come out of hiding because I could stay there forever, hypothesizing and testing my theories, studying the cosmos in microscopic detail. And before sobriety, concocting ever more powerful addictive substances! Anyhow, there’s no end to how I can entertain myself with speculating and theorizing. Sometimes I get afraid to come out. You know, if a car cuts me off in traffic, I’m not sure whether I should call suicide prevention or shoot myself. As I said, I’m not that well yet.”

Laughter peals through the room, and Terry’s eyes widen as he continues. “Frankly, I’d much prefer to stay at home and read a book than to come to this meeting. But there’s this thing called alcoholism that I must attend to. Okay, enough about me and my idiosyncrasies. Let’s hear from the rest of you!” Welcome to the precious soul of the Five.

Terry is a living example of a healthy Five. He appreciates the astounding mystery and complexity of life while holding the torch of humility and compassion. Tender, whimsical, sending the steady message of you can do this, fighting off the urge to isolate himself (even in the meeting), and courageously letting himself be touched by the folks in the room. From time to time, tears fill his eyes as he expresses the love he feels for everyone. “I love you all,” he humbly says. His heart is not dry, not lost or hidden in the internal complexities of his mind.

Now let’s take a look at the journey of the Type Five.


When the addicted Five is at level 6 or 7, he is stuck on one dark note: there is danger everywhere, and nothing can be trusted. (Welcome to the horrorscapes of Type Five author Stephen King. At any moment, anything can turn alien and kill you.) The Five in addiction feels incapable of dealing with anything; it all seems so pointless. His brilliant perceptiveness is lost in the vast, negative universe of cynicism and withdrawal. The Five falls prey to his worst fears of being helpless, useless, and incapable, submerged in a terrifying inner world. He thinks, Why try? What’s the point, anyway? I’m surrounded by idiots hell-bent on destroying the earth, so why get sober? He enters addiction recovery entranced in these dark thoughts. (Is it any wonder that he is withdrawn?)

The Five arrives in addiction recovery disconnected from his inherent gifts. He has also lost contact with his ability to savor the amazing complexity of life, his innate gift of joyous curiosity now leveled to wasteful imagination and off-the-wall, fearful speculations. His niche as a true journeyer into vast and unknown territories has been stripped to his digging alone, out of sync with humanity, and lost in the sea of his secretive mind. He imagines dark conspiracies everywhere.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Disconnected from reality, from his heart and his body, he has disappeared into the far crevices of his mental world, his heart and soul like dry leaves, shriveled and juiceless. His capacities have reversed themselves—his awake, clear-minded optimism turned to nihilism; his penetrating insights turned to contentious doomsaying or insane theorizing; his innate objectivity turned to intellectual arrogance, rigidity, and eccentricity. At his worst, his visionary capacity has morphed into antagonistic pessimism and self-indulgent hatred of all living things. His life feels utterly meaningless. As one Five said, “At these levels, people become concepts, not living beings.”

The Five in addiction is trapped in the ever-narrowing box of fear-filled imagination hell. He uses substances to both escape his emotional suffering and indulge and exacerbate his fear-driven, intensity-fueled mind with dark images of death and doom. Weirdly, he can become addicted to the intensity of fearful, horrific speculations. Once able to make heartfelt contact with other human beings, he has now become an alien repelled by human contact and contact with himself. Bombarded by frenzied, bizarre ideas, conspiracy theories start to take root in his soul. Everything is filled with sinister motivation.

Case Study: Terry

Terry put it this way: “I spent the five years prior to coming into recovery holed up in one room, drugging and drinking. I never went out. Hey, give me another drug-inspired psychotic state, give me more of that! I rarely ate. I was locked in, crazed, captured in my inner world. If my body wasn’t on the verge of dying, I’d still be there, taking hallucinogens, drinking, and spasmodically hypothesizing on my psychotic imagery. It is pure luck that I made it out alive.

“When I came to my first AA meeting, I didn’t think I had a drinking or drug problem. I just saw that you all were sober, so I kept it simple and followed the program. Thank God. I had no idea how lost in the machinations of my drug-fueled imagination I was, or that indulging in fantastical, bizarre imagery had become my pleasure-seeking escape from reality. I completely dissolved into the back chambers of my mind, where no one could touch me.

“Only when I got very sick did I notice my body dying. It was like I was watching a specimen of myself on a lab slide and thinking, look at him, he’s dying. For fifteen years there were the voices in my head constantly instructing me to do this or that. That’s how disconnected I was. If friends hadn’t intervened when they did, they would have found me on the floor, a dried-up twig, frozen in place by my last hallucination.”


When the beloved Five arrives in residential treatment he immediately is confronted with his aversion to making contact with his fellow human beings. If he could receive treatment by staying isolated in his room doing group therapy via Skype, Zoom, or Facetime, or getting sober by tracking through the magnificent complexity of a Halo 4, he would see it as a hopeful beginning. But instead, he is thrown into a men’s treatment center, forced to sit side by side with others to talk about his feelings—the last thing he wants to be doing. The Five, certain of being rejected, is safe and fortified in the spaceship of his mind, watching for intruders while trying to scare them away with aggressive silence or retreat.

He is not one to easily share his emotions and inner truths with others, especially strangers. If he shares too much, he fears he may vanish and disappear into the vortex of stupidity that surrounds him. Giving away trade secrets that make him vulnerable to the meanness and ignorance of others means any fool can enter his life and harm him. Unbeknownst to many, he is deeply sensitive, acutely aware, and easily hurt. His need for emotional support is only faintly registered on his radar screen.

The Five, certain of being rejected, is safe and fortified in the spaceship of his mind, watching for intruders while trying to scare them away with aggressive silence or retreat. Already self-rejecting, the Five expects rejection from others. But be certain of this: he is not as cynical and remote and anti-human as he appears, not by a long shot. If you could see him when he is feeling safe and cared for, you would see a humorous, sensitive, caring, intelligent, curious individual like Terry, who is comfortable in his own skin and more than glad to share his wisdom to improve your life.

As unavailable or intellectually superior the Five may appear, it is only a reflection of just how insubstantial and terrified he feels. He doesn’t need the others in the group to confront him, scold him, judge him, coerce him, convince him, or attempt to pry him open. What he needs is an invitation to simply be so that he can settle and realize no one is going to do a full-scale assault on his soul, which would send him out the door. (I have seen many Fives hightail it after an overzealous counselor delivered poorly attuned tough love.)

Case Study: Walter

Walter is a sweet, withdrawn, lanky Five who came into treatment, a street survivor for years in Portland, Oregon. He was like a small animal tucked tightly between two rocks, scrunched down as small as he was able, his eyes peering from the darkness. Finding words was achingly painful for him, his compulsion to retreat quickly so instinctive to his survival. And yet, when he spoke, he revealed a vastly intelligent, shockingly funny, kind, and deeply perceptive human being who was certain beyond all belief that if he came out of hiding, he would be killed. Better to risk this on the street, sleeping in back alleyways. This fear jettisoned him out of rehab and into the streets over and over again, a hobo wandering, traveling light as a feather, a paperback tucked into his back pocket.

He says, “When I arrived in treatment I was people-phobic, so to attempt to speak to anyone took great effort. No one felt safe to me. I was filled with cynicism. I thought everyone was like happy sheep conforming to the latest politically correct notion. Never mind that I had been a sheep following every delusion that passed through me. I surely didn’t want or need any contact with them, and I was sure they didn’t want anything to do with me. But there I was, in a treatment center because I could not take care of myself.

“The delusions I fed on, which I mistook for superior intelligence and razor-sharp analytical skills, were unable to reverse my fall into addiction and utter despair. This was my first wake-up call: my analyzing mind didn’t have all the answers, especially the important ones. I would relearn this lesson a thousand times. I was killing myself, and I needed help. Stuck in hopelessness, I felt that nothing mattered; everything was all bullshit. Never mind the paranoid voice in my head talking to me loudly, reinforcing this inner mess. I had no hope and was raging at the stupidity around me. My cynicism protected my vulnerability. If I didn’t need you, you couldn’t hurt me. My nihilism numbed out my deeper disappointment: that I didn’t know how to participate in life, didn’t know where I belonged, couldn’t feel love, and felt like an outcast.”


The Five is an iconoclastic, intelligent, perceptive, sensitive soul (I’m reminded of sweet-hearted, quirky-funny, vastly intelligent Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and Toward a New Earth). Easily addicted to his intense thinking and conceptualizing capacity, he is driven to deep inquiry, seeking knowledge, clarity, and understanding. (See the Werner Herzog documentary Encounters at the End of the World, which beautifully demonstrates the brilliance, humor, intelligence, and elfin wisdom of a group of Type Fives living at the South Pole. trying to save humanity, and calmly realizing it’s too late.) The Five thinks about the experiences he is having instead of inhabiting and feeling them.

When the Five arrives in recovery his mental circuits are heated up and in overdrive. As one Five said, “I learned to avoid my feelings by escaping into my intense thoughts. I began to feel that who I was, was my intense thoughts. This became my identity, what felt like me. My heart and body seemed like they were located on a distant planet. And my thinking center was so well furnished and tantalizing, why would I want to enter drab human reality?”

The Five thinks about the experiences he is having instead of inhabiting and feeling them. He becomes a distant observer of reality and builds himself an inner tree fort, where he hangs out, studies his information library, and analyzes life from a distance. Having hightailed it into his analyzing mind, everything below the neck becomes alien territory. (This is called the “schizoid split.”) As one Five says, “I often feel like my body is a taxicab for my head, something to transport me to my next information source. My task is to remember to feed it and give it water or else it won’t work so well.”

The Five’s tool of protection is his probing, razor-sharp mind, which he can use to fend off others (or confuse them into stark silence) to assure that they will not reach in and touch the live wire of his helplessness, incapability, or self-rejection. He’s smarter than you, more observant than you (even though he misses almost everything positive in early recovery and is emotion-blind) and feels he doesn’t need you. Don’t even try to sneak up on him. He sees you coming miles away. And underneath all of this, he is scared and shivering.

The Five sits at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as though he is wearing an invisible sign that says, “Don’t talk to me. Stay away. No one is home. You are not welcome. Idiots need not apply. Contact with you could kill me. Don’t try to get close to me because I know you’ll reject me, drain me, and banish me to the outskirts of the cosmos. I will go there on my own, thank you. I don’t need you. Needing you puts me in your crosshairs. No thank you!”

Ever aware of how small and unprotected he feels, the Five compensates for this by disengaging from his feelings and body, and heads due north into his mind, his inner library. He thinks to himself, It feels so strange and scary to be here among these crazy people; best to simply vacate my body and my feelings so I don’t feel how dreadful and afraid I really feel. He has learned to shut off his need for people as a form of protection from suffering. He is comforted by not needing anyone or anything. Needing spells sure catastrophe. This is what he must unlearn. He is saying, “Help me, but don’t let me know you’re helping me because if I spot it, it will trigger my feelings of uselessness and incompetence, and I’ll want to run. I’ll push your help away.”

You get the picture. He is suffering and in need of genuine understanding and compassion. And yet, receiving compassion intrudes on his script that he must be masterful and capable (or so says his inner critic: I must be the independent and self-sufficient expert or else I am nothing) before he is okay to come out and be supported. It’s a delusionary trance that drives him into isolation. He is supposed to have the answers ahead of time, and yet his answers have failed him. AA members directly confront this when they say to him, “Your best thinking got you here. Better let us help you. We may sound like baboons from time to time, but we possess a rock-solid truth that can get you sober. In time you can eventually put your mind to good use, but for now, let us do a little thinking for you.” Not easy words for the Five to listen to.

All this said, if the Five becomes aware of these particular tendencies, a time will come when he must choose to risk and step out, to trust another human being with his vulnerability. Give him space and time, and he will make the journey home, where, patiently waiting for him, are his deepest gifts: his perceptiveness, intelligence, curiosity, and his kind heart.


Throughout his recovery from addiction, the Five will confront one overriding pattern: his habit of retreating into his analytical mind when emotions begin to touch him, when he begins to experience intimacy with another, when he begins to allow himself to have a felt sense of his body, when he dares to allow you to look inside him. Even fifteen years into recovery, as he has grown and made progress with these issues, he will be triggered to go deeper. That’s the trick of your inner critic, to wipe away awareness of your growth. He’s a trickster, for certain.

His inner critic trance will arise like an evil sorceress each time, joyful to still be a part of his journey. Suddenly life, himself, and others will look like chaos, stupidity, and madness as the inner critic licks his lips and says, Told you so. This will never end well for you. If the Five is surrounded by wise men and women who know the complexity of the inner journey home, they will say, “Don’t sweat it, dude. Chill. When your inner critic acts up, it just means you are on to something good. This too will pass as you learn more skills for navigating your patterns. No need to relapse, even though at these difficult junctures you will feel as though you’ve made no progress. That’s the trick of your inner critic, to wipe away awareness of your growth. He’s a trickster, for certain.”


With long-term recovery, the Five will learn to intimately sense his retreat patterns: in his body as it numbs; in his heart, which goes dry in response to fear; in his mind, which starts to hyper-analyze his experience instead of being in it. He will notice his aversion to connect with people, and his tendency to withdraw. People will suddenly become objects on his observational screen, insects to examine and study and stay away from, and he himself, a disembodied investigator.

With skillful awareness, he will ask for help. He will move toward healthy people, inch by inch, instead of retreating. He won’t get hooked on the stream of cynicism, hopelessness, and fear that temporarily occupies his intense stream of thoughts and impressions. He won’t get taken by his addiction while retreating into his head center. He will rest in his heart and body. If not, his addiction will wrap its arms around him one more time—at five, ten, twenty years sober—masquerading as a comforting lover. Until he is *gulp* eaten by the vampire and re-engages his addictive patterns, eating compulsively, spending compulsively, drinking compulsively, reading compulsively, and isolating compulsively.

Armed with spiritual rationalizations that would make the angels squirm, the Five may not see that he has been captured again in smart-sounding justifications. The good news is that the longer he works a program of recovery, the greater resources he will have at his disposal to dismantle these patterns and to come back to the simplicity of the moment, where his capacity to connect with others and share his gifts exist—exactly what he got sober for.


The Five in early recovery is often distant and secretive. He does not feel welcome and is deeply suspicious of the world he inhabits. Is he safe? Can he trust anyone? Will he be overwhelmed? His strategy is to analyze everything that he encounters and to distance himself from contact with you. Don’t take it personally. Underneath the intense gaze of the Five is a sensitive soul who feels that, at any moment, too much contact with you could drain him and put him completely at your mercy. He has great doubt that you want anything to do with him. Approach him with curiosity, kindness and calmness. In his time, when he sees that it’s safe, he will come out and share his many gifts. Don’t think for a second that he isn’t paying attention; he is.

The Five needs time and space to involve himself in recovery at his own pace.

In early recovery, the Five needs a paradigm that works for him. You can let him know how the twelve steps worked for you (or whatever system of recovery he is working with). Educate him about the dynamics of addiction, its biology, and psychology; remember, he loves knowledge. Remind him that he has the freedom to follow these sacred recovery dictates: Take what you need and leave the rest. You have freedom to choose what works for you. This isn’t a dogma machine that produces recovery robots, it’s a place to discover real freedom through working your program of recovery. Find out what works for you.

The Five doesn’t need you to catalog and point out his alcohol or drug-addicted behaviors and deficiencies because he is one of the few types who, as he descends into deeper levels of crazy behaviors, can still see his actions all too vividly. Where other types shut down this perceptive ability, the Five can’t (much like his cousin, the Four). Welcome him just as he is, with his cynicism and nihilism and whatever distortion works as his protective suit of armor.

The Five needs time and space to involve himself in recovery at his own pace. Pressure him and he will dig his heels in. Try to convince or coerce him and he will come up with skillful counter-arguments that will shake the roots of your faith. Give him room to challenge every assumption and belief about the twelve steps (or any system of transformation) and invite him to see if this will work for him. Invitation is the key.

Notice and appreciate his intelligent perception, and let him know you respect and have no war with his brilliance (even if it is slightly out of kilter at this point, or even completely off the rails). He will begin to investigate his opportunity to get sober without intellectual resistance, fueled by fear, whirring at full tilt. If your support creates room for the Five to discover for himself what truly is the antidote to his addiction, you will open the door for a real solution to arise.

Keep his options open: recovery is not a one-way street to Alcoholics Anonymous. Many get sober on Smart Recovery, Zen Recovery, a religious path, a church denomination, yoga, fitness, harm reduction, or therapy, to name a few. Everyone is different.

Drop any position you are inclined to take that suggests you know what is good for him (you don’t), even though your training as an addiction therapist or recovering person might have fed you the illusion that you know what is right for others. As the twelve steps wisely suggest, be a force of attraction, not promotion. Your humble recognition that he, with the higher power of his understanding (perhaps it’s the god of the Periodic Table of Elements), is the true source for discovering his path home, and will allow him to feel safe, welcomed, and respected. Your job is to point him toward his true gifts. Don’t be put off by his quirks, his tendency to disappear into the folds of his mind or go into deep silence when he is afraid.


 It will be incumbent upon you to provide supportive, helpful guidance to the Five as he navigates his way to health. Share the following suggestions, perhaps just one a week so as not to scatter his attention and efforts.

Notice when you have fallen into the role of the expert.

As the expert, the Five teaches, conducts, shares knowledge, stays emotionally distant, and others listen. It is so easy to make this the face that he shows to the world, the one who knows stuff, who holds court, the information source. His intellectual wizardry can easily become his go-to card, his default setting for self-protection when confronted with a life situation he doesn’t know how to navigate. Being brilliant and wise is not the problem; the problem is when he feels he must have intellectual mastery to feel he deserves kindness. He must learn to notice his fear of rejection, to lean into the discomfort, to breathe and sense his body.

Try these suggestions to help him recognize when he falls into the role of the expert:

• When he discovers himself hidden behind his expertise, encourage the Five to bring his attention back to his heart. You will need to alert him to this habit as he likely will not notice when he falls into expert/teacher/ lecturer mode. Gently stop him and say, “I invite you to notice for a moment that you appear to be captured in an information fog and that you are downloading info so quickly that you don’t notice my eyes have glazed over. Just notice and take this moment in. Take a breath to notice the momentum of your ideas and how they have taken you away from being present. Sense into your heart. Return to this moment. Breathe. Notice what you were feeling?”

Notice when you retreat into your mind and study humans as though they are objects under a microscope. Faster than the Five can blink, he retreats into his head. When he begins to sense his feelings (sadness, fear, grief, anger, love), he immediately vacates his body and heart and flies to the castle of his mind, where his storehouse of knowledge brings him temporary security. He objectifies others, not sensing their feelings or behaviors with compassion. He must learn to notice his inner critic, which arises and whispers, If you allow yourself to sense your feelings, you will be turned into dust.

Try these suggestions to help him recognize when he retreats into his mind and to help him feel his heart instead:

• Instruct him to keep track for one week of when his fear, hurt, shame, or anger feelings get triggered. Each time the chosen feeling gets triggered, instruct him to take a moment to sense it in his body and then log it in a small journal. Review it at the end of the day. Specifically, ask him the inner critic messages he heard or felt when he began to experience his feelings. Invite him to just notice these patterns without trying to change anything, understanding that the observation of one’s patterns is what destroys their hypnotic power to entrance.

• Instruct him to share what he discovers with you, his counselor, or his coach.

Notice the ways in which you resist support. The last thing the Five wants to experience is the feeling that he doesn’t have expertise or answers, that he is incapable and judged as stupid or helpless. His personality is wired to avoid these feelings, so naturally, when he needs support and help from others, everything inside him rebels: I should call my sponsor, but no, I think I can figure this out on my own. What he lacks is emotional intelligence.

The Five rationalizes this resistance with thoughts of, They can’t help me. I feel stupid for needing help, so I won’t ask. I am smart enough to figure this out. If I let them see my vulnerability and need, they will surely reject me. Besides, they don’t really like or care about me. And most likely, I’m smarter than they are!

Try these suggestions to help him receive your support:

• Keep bringing him back to his body and heart when he talks about emotion-filled moments in his life. Invite him to be aware of how quickly he vacates his feelings and begins to analyze them instead.

• Notice a moment when his feelings are probably being activated; for instance, his dad just died of alcoholism and he is reporting this to you as if it were a distant event. Instruct him to take a second to breathe into his body and sense his heart. Then say, “I can imagine the sorrow you must be feeling at the loss of your dad. Tell me, what are you feeling about him? I invite you to sense your heart as you speak about him, and to sense your feet on the floor. Talk a little slower and tell me about your life with your dad and the moments that touched you. See if you can stick with the vulnerable emotions that arise in you. Give them room to just be there.”

• Demonstrate to him what healthy support looks like through your empathy and kindness.

Notice your rationalizations for staying separate from others.

The Five can entertain himself endlessly with his fascination of facts and knowledge. He is never bored in his mind. His compulsion is to isolate himself to acquire knowledge. Under the constant fear of feeling depleted, stupid, or powerless, and feeling unskilled at managing emotional connections with others, he builds upon what he does have: knowledge.

Try these suggestions to help him overcome these rationalizations and to begin to find his way out of this habit:

• Encourage him to take one small step toward interaction with people, to be awkward in spite of what his inner critic screams at him. This is stupid. You should be home learning new information. There’s nothing to gain by bearing with your discomfort around humans. As he makes positive contact with people and discovers he is quite likable, he will begin to feel an internal sense of strength.

• Encourage him, for example, to approach someone at the end of an AA meeting who shared and thank them for their offering. Or he can become a greeter at a meeting, saying hello to each person as they arrive.

• Suggest that he check in with whatever group he uses for recovery and attempt to share his feelings and perceptions on a regular basis. Practice works.

• Encourage him to listen to Eckhart Tolle, a Type Five teacher who is a profound guide to developing embodied presence. (See Resources for book suggestions.)

Learn to express and feel your feelings.

When the Five shuts down his feelings long enough, when he shuts down his vulnerability to hurt, despair, and loneliness, it will soon make perfect sense to use addictive substances. When his heart shuts down, he does not experience the full joy of his curiosity, the beauty of his sensitive and loving heart, the awe and appreciation of this magnificent world and his capacity to understand it. Instead, he is mired in familiar, arid despair and scorn. His elfin humor, his great sense of childlike curiosity that delights him, that ponders the great mystery of existence, will dry and wither. Everything will lose meaning.

Try these suggestions to help him begin to express his feelings:

• Instruct him as follows: “When someone around you is expressing feelings (at a recovery meeting or counseling group), attempt to find the feeling in your body. Check in with your heart.”

• Or this: “When someone is expressing sorrow or shame, try to imagine what it would be like to go through what they are describing. Imagine what it must be like inside them.”

• And this: “When you notice you are feeling something, practice saying it out loud, in the moment: I’m feeling scared right now, I’m feeling unprotected right now, I’m feeling useless right now.”

Notice your intellectual aggression.

A Five will often report that when he is caught in fear, he uses intellectual aggression as a protective tool. When he is scared or feels rejected, he can eviscerate people with his intelligence, delivering the message that they are so stupid and inept that they might as well give up and shoot themselves. Caught in his patterns of fear or rejection, he can bully others with his intelligence.

Try these suggestions to help him interrupt this aggression:

• Encourage him to sense his heart when he notices himself cynically attacking others in his mind (or out loud). Ask him, What’s behind the cynical attack? Fear of rejection, of not being liked?

• Encourage him to make regular efforts to find out how his communications are touching others. Do they feel stupid? Attacked? Inferior? Challenge him to invite trusted others to give him feedback when they feel attacked, inferior, incompetent, or stupid due to his unconscious communications.

• Help him explore the idea that when he feels rejected and not wanted, or is filled with the despair that he will never have a place in the world, he draws his intellectual guns to protect himself instead of expressing his vulnerability. Encourage him to begin to sincerely see and feel this pattern, to bring compassion to himself, and to eventually learn to resist the pattern.


Share this message with the Five in recovery:

You, dear Five, can learn to stay sober and clean. It means first admitting that you don’t understand the process of recovery, have a difficult time comprehending emotional intelligence, and that support from others will not only help you but will make you feel really good in the long run. You will discover that there are many trustable human beings who are kind, considerate, and smart. When that urge to bolt and leave the playing field of recovery arises— because it will—leave only for a short while, and come back as soon as you can. Gently step into your discomfort with talking about feelings, into your insecurity with being with the crazy humans, and hang in there long enough to let the miracle land inside you. We need you, we need your gift of intelligence and creativity, and we need your kind and wise heart.

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