The Healthy Five
Terry, a Type Five Investigator extraordinaire, walks through the back door of the 8 AM, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a gangly softness to his movements. A well-navigated precision to each step, he quietly moves through the rag-tag Oregon crowd, a blend of all-ages, genders and backgrounds—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. You see, he doesn’t have the testosterone hard-wiring 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!) He’s not a florid emotional Type Four, like Frank, often sharing tender and heart-rending depth, real life emotions oozing from his soul. No, Terry’s energy is hard to describe—neither strongly male or female—and somewhere between water and wind and hidden lightening.
As he approaches his seat, his gaze emits an elfin-like sense of humor and joy, he appreciating the weirdness and incongruent beauty of this gathering of serendipitously linked basement-dwellers. Mixed with his off-beat joy is the curious aura of I’m-not-really-here-I’m-posing-as-a-quiet-observer-of-reality that surrounds him, like he’s standing behind a thinly-veiled curtain watching the whole show. Truth is, he’s examining each moment with an intense, passionate awareness. You catch it in his eyes tucked softly back in the contours of his bony, gentle face, the piercing laser-lights burning with curiosity, looking for what he calls the ‘illumination’ behind what he observes—the Prana—the life force invigorating all manifestations.
Because he’s keenly aware of the incredible miracle of his existence, he does not call attention to himself, does not name himself as a respected scientist, but is humbly right-sized. Quietly he 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 bar-stool hanging out in the oceanic matrix of his mind, he drinks in his perceptions like the sweetest wine, quietly contemplating the unfolding moment.
If you get curious about his passion—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…ahhhh!…music to his soul and mind—you get a dose of his infectious inquisitiveness. And Shazam!—this sweet guy rubs off on you, injects you, shocks you—and suddenly your perceptions begin to take on a multi-dimensional quality. You’re not just looking at a mud puddle, but now you sense the microscopic dynamism that makes the puddle ‘exist’ and its interrelationship with sky above, and earth below, and all measure of invisible intelligently linked forces at work. Perceptual blinders temporarily dissolve and Type Five illumination touches you: everything is living; nothing is stagnant; reality breathes. There are kingdoms within kingdoms strung together by amazing chunks of intelligence, most of it absolutely invisible, interacting seamlessly! (Except if you are Terry, a Five, you ‘see’ the invisible strands. It’s your nature.)
In time you realize that Terry is meditating on ever-growing storehouses of illuminated wisdom, watching stunning film clips of complexifying perceptions which flow across his mind screen—from the natural history of the earth to particle theory to the microscopic kingdom he recently examined in the scum pool he knelt at, at the Grand Canyon—as he takes you in. It’s like an IMAX movie is continually turned on inside him—it’s the lens out of which he observes and engages reality—and yet he is present enough to include you in the movie. Wordlessly he invites you into his meditation of awe, to feel the intelligent lightness and precision in which he touches the moment, and the deepening wisdom he is cultivating with his perceptive acumen. Truth is, you just want to hug him. And many do!
This is for certain: when he was mired in his addiction, no one hugged him. He merged with his computer screen, and his electrified imagination. But now he is twenty-five years sober and when he speaks of his sobriety at an AA meeting he becomes the wizard, Gandalf, arising with his staff, striking the ground in front of the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, proclaiming “You shall not pass!” Tangibly the strength and power of his soul penetrates 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. There’s no end to how I can entertain myself with speculating and theorizing. But don’t get me wrong, it’s on real things! 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. Like I said, I’m not that well yet”
Laughter peels through the room, his eyes tender with appreciation. “Frankly, I’d much prefer staying at home and reading a book than to come to this meeting. Hey, it’s an honest program, right? 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! He is a living example of a Healthy Five—engaging, connected-with-others, heart gentle and open, mind wide with invention and curiosity, he appreciating the astounding mystery and complexity of life while holding the torch of humility and compassion. He is a light of courage, inspiration and hope for everyone at the AA meeting, shining a huge light of gratitude from the center of his being.
So let’s take a look at the journey he took to arrive here.
The Five in Addiction Recovery—Life at Level 6 and 7
The Type Five arrives in addiction recovery disconnected from his inherent gifts. Terry puts 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, and if my body wasn’t on the verge of completely 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, but golly, what did I know? I just saw that you all were sober, so I keep 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 how 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 really sick did I notice my body…dying. It was like I was watching a specimen of myself on a lab slide, and myself thinking, “Look at him, He’s dying.” That’s how disconnected I was. If friends hadn’t intervened you would have found me on the floor, a dried up twig, frozen in place by my last hallucination.”
In addiction the Five has 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 digging alone, out of sync with humanity, and lost in the sea of his secretive mind. 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 doom-saying 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. Bottom line: life feels utterly meaningless.
Instead of seeing and perceiving life outside the box of the culture, he is trapped in the ever-narrowing box of fear-filled, imagination hell. He uses substances to both escape his emotional suffering, and conversely to indulge and exacerbate his fear-driven, intensity-fueled mind with dark images of death and doom. In fact, he can become addicted to the intensity of fearful speculations. Once able to make heartfelt contact with other human beings, he has become an alien repelled by human contact, and by contact with himself. Once creative, he is now bombarded with frenzied, bizarre ideas.
What Helps the Five
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 it 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 very 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!
In contrast to the healthy Five’s capacity to see the amazing and spectacular intelligence that runs through every fiber of life, the addicted Five at L6 and L7 is stuck on one dark note: there is no goodness anywhere; nothing that makes sense or can to trusted (Welcome to the horror-scapes of Stephen King! At any moment, ‘anything’ can turn alien and kill you!). He feels incapable of facing life or dealing with it—it all seems so pointless. His brilliant perceptiveness is lost in the vast, negative universe of cynicism and withdrawal. This is the Five down the levels of health, constricted by suffering and loss, failing prey to their worst fears of being helpless, useless, and incapable, and submerged in an inner world that is terrifying, and without meaning. Why try? What’s the point, anyway? They enter addiction recovery entranced in these dark thoughts. Wonder why they might be a little withdrawn?
First 12 Weeks in Residential Treatment
When the beloved Five arrives in residential he immediately is confronted with his aversion to making with his fellow human beings. If he could receive treatment by staying isolated in his room doing group therapy via Skype, or get sober by tracking through the magnificent complexity of a Halo 4, this would be a hopeful beginning. But instead he is thrown into a men’s treatment center, forced to sit side by side with them to talk about his feelings—the last thing he wants to be doing. He is not one to easily share his emotions and inner truths with others, most especially strangers. If he shares too much he fears he may vanish and disappear like dust in the wind since he’s given away trade secrets that make him vulnerable to the meanness and ignorance of others. If you know his inner world, you can enter it and do harm to him Unbeknownst to many, he is deeply sensitive, acutely aware, and easily hurt. His need for your emotional support is only faintly registered on his radar screen. Walter explains it this way:
“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 were like happy sheep conforming to the latest politically incorrect notion. Never mind that I’d 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. I had no hope, no need to feel 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 live in life, didn’t know where I belonged, couldn’t feel love, and felt like an utter outcast. Added to this volatile mix was the fact that I was utterly unapproachable and terrified of you.”
The Five, certain of being rejected, is safe and fortified in the space-ship of his mind, watching for intruders while trying to scare them away with aggressive silence or retreat. Already self-rejecting, they expect it from you. However, be certain of this: they are not as cynical and remote and anti-human as they appear, not by a long shot. If you saw them when they were feeling safe and cared for, you’d 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.
What you are seeing now in early recovery is a Five soul who has been forced to shut down their gifts and survive on their self-protective defenses. I recall Walter, a sweet, withdrawn, lanky Five who came into treatment, he a street survivor in Portland, Oregon for years. 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, he compulsion to retreat quickly so instinctive to his survival. And yet, when he spoke, I would discover a vastly intelligent, shockingly funny, kind and 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 alley-ways. This fear jettisoned him out of rehab into the streets over and over again, a hobo wandering, traveling light as a feather, a paperback tucked into his back pocket.
As unavailable or intellectually superior the Five may appear, it is only a reflection of just how ‘not substantial’ and terrified they feel within. They don’t need you to confront them, scold them, judge them, coerce them, convince them, or attempt to pry them open. What they need is an invitation to simply be, so they can settle and realize no one is going to do a full scale assault on their soul (This will send them out the door, and I’ve seen many Type Five high-tail it after an overzealous counselor has delivered wrongly-attuned tough love!). Only a rare few actually thrive when they are confronted, and the Five isn’t one of them.
In early recovery, the Five needs a paradigm that works for them. Let them know how the 12 Steps worked for you. Educate them about the dynamics of addiction, its biology and psychology—they love knowledge! Remind them that they have 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 catalogue and point out his alcohol or drug addicted behaviors and deficiencies because the Five is one of the few types, who as they descend into deeper levels of crazy behaviors, can still see their actions. Where other types shut down this perceptive ability, the Five can’t (much like his cousin, the Type Four). Welcome him just as he is, with his cynicism and nihilism and whatever distortion has filled in 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 digs 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 12 Steps and you truly invite him to see if this will work for him. 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 sometimes completely off-the-rails!), and he will begin to investigate his opportunity to get sober without his intellectual resistance, fueled by fear, whirring at full tilt. If your support goes in the direction of creating 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.
Invite him in kindly. Drop any position you are inclined to take that suggests that you know what is good for him—you don’t—even though your training as an addiction’s therapist or recovering person might have insisted on this. Be a force of ‘attraction,’ not promotion, as the 12 Steps rightly suggests. Your humble recognition that he, with the Higher Power of his understanding, are the true sources for discovering his path home will allow him to feel safe, welcomed and respected.
And remember, the Five arrives in addiction treatment imprisoned in the defensive structure of their type (as do all the types). Be mindful that his innate gifts are manifesting in their opposite expression (that’s the nature of Level 6 & 7). Your job is to point him towards his true gifts. Don’t be put off by his quirks, his tendency to disappear into the folds of his mind, to go into deep silence when he is afraid.
Protective Mechanism of the Five: You Will Not Enter My Tree House
The Type Five is an iconoclastic, intelligent, perceptive , sensitive soul (I’m reminded of sweet-hearted, quirky-funny, vastly intelligent Eckhart Tolle), and fierce in his search for truth (like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory on a good day!). Easily addicted to his intense thinking and conceptualizing capacity, he can be an intense fire-storm of inquiry, seeking knowledge, information, clarity and understanding (See “Encounters at the End of the World” to witness the brilliance, humor, intelligence, and elfin wisdom of Type Fives living at the South Pole trying to save humanity, and calmly realizing it’s too late.).
When the Type Five arrives in recovery his mental chatter, and his sizzling, curious, let’s-explore-and-dissect-every-interesting-idea-we-encounter-brain, is heated up and in over-drive. As one Five said, “I realize that 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. Caught in this identity, my heart and body seemed like they were located on a distant planet.”
This is the key aversion pattern the Five will confront throughout his recovery at more subtle and deeper levels: vacating his body and heart and disconnecting from people, that is, losing a felt sense of connection with himself. He thinks about the experiences he is having, rather than inhabiting and feeling them. He becomes a distant observer of reality and builds himself an inner tree-fort, where he hangs out and studies his information library, and analyzes life from a distance. Having high-tailed in 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 taxi-cab 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 it doesn’t work so well.”
His tool of protection: his probing, razor-sharp mind which he can use to fend you off so as to assure that you 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 everything that is positive) 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’s scared and shivering.
So, sitting at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting it’s as if he is wearing an invisible sign that says, “Don’t talk to me. Stay away. The moats up. 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. I don’t ‘need.’ Needing you puts me in your cross-hairs. No thank you!” Over the years of his recovery, this defensive structure will get thinner and thinner as he challenges his vulnerability.
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. It’s as if he thinks to himself, “It feels so strange and scary to be here amongst these crazy people, best to simply dis-inhabit my body and my feelings so I don’t feel how dreadful and afraid I actually feel.” He has learned to shut off his need for people as a form of protection from suffering. This is what he must ‘unlearn.’ It’s as if he says, “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’s suffering and in need of genuine understanding and compassion, and yet receiving compassion intrudes on his script that he must be masterful and capable—so says his Inner Critic: You must be the expert who is independent and self-sufficient or you are nothing—before he is okay to come out and be supported. It’s a delusionary trance that drives him into isolation. He’s supposed to have the answers and yet his answers have failed him. AA members directly confront this when they say, “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 choice will come when he must risk and step out, trusting 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 wizened heart.
Deep Wound/Relapse Pattern of the Type Five—of being stupid and lost in the stupidity and ignorance of the world, of having no map to navigate reality, and no niche or place in the world.
Key Commandment: You must be an expert in some area of intelligence, or you are not lovable, protected or wanted. You must not need anything except time and room to study.
Deep Wish—to feel useful, capable, and to find a niche.
Sees himself—as innovative, perceptive, observant, curious, objective, whimsical, objective, and compassionate, and more intelligent than others.
At Level 4 and below he falls prey to the Emotional Habit of Avarice in which he avoids emotional contact with people because it drains him and scares him. He turns his heart off to avoid feeling his intense sensitivity.
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 with reality, to go ‘into his head’ to live. He hides out in his analyzing mind, habitually going over what he’s studied and remembered to feel strong.
His Inner Critic tells him he only safe and worthwhile when he’s brilliant. So he impulsively studies and accumulates more knowledge.
Core Suffering and Relapse Pattern of the Five through out Recovery
There is a recurring song that the Inner Critic of the Type Five plays, attempting to awaken the core fear that lays at the foundation of the Type Five personality structure. It works like a mean-spirited sorceress, weaving a spell over the Five whenever they are approaching growth, transformation, or expansion in their spiritual journey. Fiendishly she murmurs these incantations…
“You have no niche, no place here. You are a stranger in a stranger land. No one really wants you around. You are powerless and have no capability, no internal strength. You are a weirdo living in this uninhabitable, dangerous world. Retreat, hide out, and store up as much knowledge in your head to survive. If you expose your heart you will obliterated—blown away like a dry leaf in a windstorm. Your best bet is to pay no attention your sensitivity. Your only life is found in your intense thinking. Stay hidden. Reject any needs you have. Needs, what are needs? Needs are for idiots. Become an intellectually superior expert. Feed your disdain of others. Leave your body and heart behind, climb into your head, stay there, let no one intrude. Good luck to you. Remember, if you want or need anything, you will expose yourself and be eaten like an insect by this meaningless world! Life is scary. No point in entering it. Go it alone. Hide out! There, don’t you feel better already?”
Not such a cheery trance (but where Five humor comes from, as in, on my birthday, my Five friend sends me a card that says, “Happy Birthday. The Grim Reaper awaits!”) When the Five’s fear is triggered, up comes the trance of the Inner Critic, generating this terrifying, hex-like, inner-movie. In response to this, emergency flares exploding around him—death is near, death is near—he detaches himself from himself. His consciousness disappears into the back crevices of his mind. He becomes a detached speculator, an outside observer of life. This feels like ‘him.’ This feels ‘comfortable.’ “Can’t feel my body, heart, needs, or discomfort…ahhhhh! Excited by my ideas—yummy, just right!” (As one Five put it, I know myself as the intensity of my thinking.) He strategizes, “I will just study you from over here, from behind this wall, house, computer screen. And when it’s safe, I might come out (but not likely). From the looks of it, why bother, really?! If I withdraw into my isolation room, the world cannot attack me or harm me.”
When Gene, a type Five, was asked if he had need for emotional support, he replied, “I really don’t understand what you’re asking. Need? Emotional support? Doesn’t compute.” Okay, I reply, what does your heart need? Shaking his head, he answers, “Heart? What does that mean? My existence is lived from the neck up. I don’t understand the ‘feel’ part? My heart, my body, my feelings, all mysterious stuff. So, I don’t get the question.”
Throughout his recovery from addiction the Five will confront one over-riding 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. Fifteen years into recovery, as he’s grown and made progress with these issues, he will be triggered to go deeper. Once again his core suffering (at an ever deeper level) will arise: that he will never ‘really’ be welcome on earth, will never have a place to participate from, will never have real connections with people, will never get comfortable with feelings and sharing them, will never really understand the point of existence.
His Inner Critic Trance will arise like an evil sorceress and suddenly life, himself, people, all will look like chaos, stupidity and madness. His recovery will take him directly into repeated encounters with his core pattern of suffering until he digests and heals it. He will learn at more subtle levels how he still disconnects from human beings and retreats into his head to study them, rather than make heartfelt connection. This will be his core relapse trigger and his growth edge. Just when he thinks he’s got it figured out, this core pattern will morph into a more subtle and invisible version, and he will be challenged to deepen his awareness. (Hey, this is what makes recovery meaningful and fun, this hero’s journey into your own personal Mines of Morea, until you are completely redeemed and healed, until the ‘ring’ of your addiction/personality patterns are burned in the flames of awareness. It’s your hero’s journey, you can be glad about that! Never mind if it’s both the best and most difficult game in town.)
With long term recovery, he will learn to intimately sense his retreat patterns: in his body as it numbs, in his heart that goes dry in response to fear, in his mind that starts hyper-analyzing his experience rather than being in it. He will notice his aversion to contact with people, to disconnect and withdraw. People will suddenly become objects on his observational screen, insects to examine and study and stay away from, and he himself, an object that he observes, disembodied from himself. And with skillful awareness he will ask for help. He will move towards healthy recovery people, rather than retreat. He won’t get hooked on the stream of cynicism, hopelessness, and fear that temporarily occupies his mental circuitry. He won’t get juiced on his addiction to conceptualizing. 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.
The good news: the longer he works a program of recovery, the greater resources he will have at his disposal to dismantle these patterns and to awaken to a deeper experience of his inherent brilliancy, wisdom, and a compassionate heart. Exactly what he got sober for!
This will be his ongoing recovery practice: to sense into his vulnerability, and to patiently sit with his feelings of being unwanted, that he has no place in the world. In spite of his tremendous desire to climb up into his thinking, buzzing mind, he will learn to stick with the painful feelings, will allow them to touch him rather than escape, noticing that as he radically and kindly accepts what arises in him, that compassion touches and heals him. Patiently being with his suffering, not dodging it or manipulating it…dissolves it. As he trusts himself, he will deepen his ability to trust others, to be supported and fed by others, and slowly but surely he will inhabit himself. In this manner, the sweet heart of the Five will continue to reveal itself more deeply, and the real satisfaction of living in the world will begin to be navigated. And his greater wish—to deliver something masterful to the world that helps the planet and contributes to the clear “seeing” of reality—will slowly begin to unfold. This is what he has gotten sober for, and what he is meant for, and precisely where he is headed.
Suggestions to the Type Five
1. Notice when you’ve fallen into the role of the Expert. As you stay sober, you will begin to observe how quickly you drop into the role of The Expert to feel safe. As the Expert, you teach, you conduct, you share knowledge, you stay emotionally distant…they listen. It is so easy to make this the ‘you’ that you show to the world, the one who knows stuff. The information source. Very different from letting them see your humanness, your need for kindness, your sensitivity, your desire to feel connected. Your intellectual wizardry can easily become your go-to card, your default setting when confronted with a social setting or life situation you don’t know how to navigate. If this Type Five, Social Role, runs the show, you will stop experiencing a felt connection with those you are teaching. You become a role—the teacher machine—rather than being with others, and making real and ‘felt’ contact with them. Your inner world becomes dry. Then, for all intents and purposes, you are not home, not in the very experience you are having, caught in the schizoid split of the Five.
Instead of humbly owning your awkwardness and stepping fearlessly into it (scary stuff, truly), instead of admitting that you do want contact with people and feel inept (I don’t have mastery here, help me!), much easier to submit to your personality habit of playing the expert (or leaving the playing field altogether). Truth is, instantly shutting down your discomfort and vacating yourself, and heading due north into your head ‘is what happens.’ It’s the lightening- quick, automatic setting of your personality. Start with noticing this fast-moving habit with kindness. Say out loud to yourself, “I just jumped into my head and am searching my information files, looking for data to be The Expert, looking for info so I show up as smart and capable…instead of staying with my uncomfortable feelings.” Take a breath. Bring your attention back to your heart. Lean into the discomfort. Breathe. Sense your body. Give yourself compassion and kindness for the difficulty and uneasiness you are experiencing. Let go of the need to be masterful. Just be in this moment.
It is seamlessly easy to fall into the expert role to alleviate your anxiety and fear, and to feel like you have a niche with people. Detaching from this role simply means being a human being, not an intelligence machine, and trusting that you can handle whatever feelings arise spontaneously. With time you will see that you can handle life and whatever arises within you. You will get comfortable in your own skin. And when you teach, you will have the pleasure of feeling connected with others while delightfully sharing your wisdom.
2. Notice when you retreat into your mind and study humans as though they are objects under a microscope. This too, can happen faster than you can blink, such that when you begin to sense your feelings (sadness, fear, grief, anger, love) you immediately vacate your heart and go into analysis mode. “I will study this experience rather than be in it.” My friend Margaret, an Enneagram teacher, said,
“This was a huge shock for me. I realized that whenever I met someone, rather than experiencing being with them, I went straight into my head. I begin analyzing what type they were, what their wing was, what Level of Health they were living at, whether they were exhibiting behaviors from their stress or security point. With each statement they made I fit my perceptions into an information grid. I studied them like insects. I couldn’t feel my heart or my body. And I couldn’t get close to people. But man, I could study them!”
Fear drives the Five up into the buzzing intensity of their mind. Here’s where the Type Five, Inner Critic, arises and slip-streams into your thinking like a marauding ghost, whispering, “If you allow yourself to make contact with your felt sense of reality, if you allow yourself to sense your heart, you will be turned into dust.” The good news: So far as I know, no one has been turned to dust (perhaps an insect on two or three occasions). In fact, when you allow yourself to be impacted and touched by others, you’ll discover that a deeper, heart-inspired intelligence awakens inside you. You begin to sense your intuitive intelligence, which is connected deeply with your heart. Head and Heart come together and the best of the Five arises in you—you have valuable gifts to deliver that are a fusion of your love and wisdom. Your felt sense of connection with others and to self comes online. You land here and now. You feel your niche. Sounds pretty great, and it is! You have been endowed with an exquisitely sensitive heart that when open, becomes the wise heart…and the angels cheer. 3. A doorway to what you love is through your body. Dude, you’ve got to find your way into your body. It is not just a taxi cab for your head, the transport for your intelligence storage unit (your mind!), but a conduit for deeper awareness. Yes, you’re body is a center of intelligence. Begin to notice that when caught in your analyzing mind and avaricious heart (the heart that is avoiding emotional contact with others), that your body disappears from your awareness—as one Five said, “Sometimes it takes me fifteen minutes to actually sense my feet!). Your body becomes a ‘thing’ that you don’t feel, that you don’t properly feed or exercise, a kind of appendage that you must attend to from time to time. However, it is a powerful doorway to all you love—a spacious mind, a sensitive heart, and being here and now fulfilling the niche you are meant to inhabit. Find exercise that brings you into mindful contact with your body: Tai Chi, massage, yoga, Aikido, walking, running, dancing, biking, weight lifting, and swimming are all great body-oriented activities. Sense your body. Feel its aliveness. Get support to show up for your body. You will love it! 4. Notice the ways in which you resist support. The last thing you want to experience is the feeling that you don’t know have expertise, the answers, that you are incapable and judged as stupid or helpless. Your personality is wired to avoid these feelings, so naturally, when you need support and help from others, everything inside you rebels. As in, “I should call my sponsor, but no, I think I can figure this out on my own.” (Wrong! You lack emotional intelligence!) Notice some of the rationalizations that fly into your awareness: “They can’t really help me. I feel stupid for needing help so I won’t ask…instead I will try to figure it out myself. If I let them see my vulnerability and need, they will overwhelm me and crush me with their needs, or use it against me. If I let them see my suffering, they will reject me further.” When your B.S. detector hears these messages, take note! These are the storied obstacles that you must navigate to arrive at allowing others to help you. Without this, at year one, five, ten, fifteen, etc., lost in the habits of your personality, and facing more deeply into your core wound, you will relapse. This is a fact. 5. Learn to Develop Quiet Mind—the 11th Step in Recovery. Not easy to do, especially with a mind that likes intellectual intensity, each thought feeling like a universe to you. The sizzle of intense thinking is home base for you. This means learning to meditate and to disidentify from your intense thoughts, learning to break the trance of addictive analyzing. Sitting in a chair, eyes closed, be like a cat at the mouse hole of your intense mind, noticing the next thought that arises and then letting it go…then waiting for the next thought to arise at the mouse hole…not trying to stop thoughts but noticing them…and not hopping on the train of any thought. See it, let it go. Observing and letting go. Take time in meditation every day. Include doing a body scan to sense the energy and aliveness (the electric tingle) in your body.
6. Notice Your Rationalizations for Staying Alone and Separate from others. Such as: Relationships take too much time—any kind of relationship. And never mind that non-stop analyzing, thinking and acquiring/memorizing information is so interesting and captivating that you hardly notice human beings and their importance to you. (You, above all types, can self-entertain yourself endlessly with your fascinating curiosity.) You unwittingly think that the way home is through the head, not the heart—if you could just collect enough knowledge you could enter life. This is your addictive prison: Your compulsion to hoard time to acquire knowledge because it makes you feel substantial. Under the constant fear of feeling depleted and small, of having no substantial emotional resources to manage connections with others, you hang on and build upon what you do have—knowledge. Unconsciously you believe, “If I can just acquire enough knowledge, I might feel safe and strong. People and their needs will take me away from this. Letting people in will distract me from what I care about.” Your task: notice when you avoid people under the hypnotic sway of these thoughts…and challenge yourself to make contact. Just do it!
7. Begin to mistrust your Analyzing Mind as your Guidance System in Recovery. You know this is true—you thought you could figure out your addiction via your intelligence and brilliancy (which is formidable in other arenas), but the results speak for themselves. It does not work! You surely possess intelligence (more than your share!) but up against your addiction you lose every time. Your addiction is faster, smarter, and quicker than your brilliant mind and will morph right into the stream of your very intelligent thinking brain and lead you right out the back door and into the addiction hell that you once lived in. Your Inner Critic will tell you that this familiar hell is actually better than coming to these AA meetings, or going to counseling, or reaching out to people in any way, shape or fashion.
So, know this to be true. You have what we might call a “highly intelligent” addictive self—your own Darth Vader—that resides in you and uses your vast intelligence against you. So when that ‘character’ starts chanting rationalizations for leaving recovery, you have permission to say out loud, “This is complete and utter baloney. I need the help of others. I lack ‘emotional intelligence’ and need others to teach me. It’s okay to have and receive the help of others, and even though I feel small and incapable, this is no reason to not ask for help. I don’t possess the emotional understanding it takes to stay clean and sober on my own. But I can learn. I am here to learn ‘recovery intelligence,’ which means beginning to feel my heart and my body, and letting others who know this territory, be my teachers. In this situation, humility is vital for me. I can be a student. It’s not a sign of failure, but of true bravery.” And when your Inner Vader starts running film clips of those small moments in which using drugs was great, trying to hypnotize you with euphoric recall, call your sponsor asap.
8. Begin to express your vulnerability because your Inner Addict thrives on your disconnection from your heart. Shut down your feelings long enough, shut down your vulnerability to hurt, despair, and loneliness, tell no one about them, and in short time it will make perfect sense to use addictive substances. Face it: with your heart shut down you will not experience the full joy of your curiosity, the beauty of your sensitive and loving heart, the awe and appreciation of this magnificent world and your capacity to understand it. Not of that will be available. Instead you will be mired in a familiar, arid despair and scorn. That elfin humor of yours, that great sense of child-like curiosity that delights you, will dry and wither. Consider this radical suggestion: if you reveal your vulnerability, that which you love will be accessed, including a sense of personal strength, capacity and ever-expanding intelligence.
9. Engage life with your gifts—notice your addiction to preparation. This means operating counter-intuitively. Notice how you keep yourself locked in your analyzing mind such that you prepare and prepare but don’t take action on your ideas. You’re in “preparation” mode, fine-tuning everything, keeping yourself safely locked and protected in your analytical, intense, thinking mind. Living in your head, not your life! You’ll need help with this which means you’ll need a coach, or therapist, who will give you the warning signals (Hey, you’re not taking action but hiding out in the cave of your speculations!), the inspiration (You have much to offer the world!), and the shove off the cliff of your fear (Do it now! Let’s step through this bullshit!), to go and engage life with your ideas. Because left to your own devices (your personality habits) you will keep yourself secreted away in isolation, preparing and preparing. The time will never be right to come out. And face it—the world needs your contribution. 10. Stay away from video games or other imagination devices that don’t serve a real purpose in your life. Want to create a universe where you are safe, no one can hurt you, and you are the master? Where you can merge with your information source and live completely and utterly in your head? Where you only have to make sure your body is hydrated and fed enough so you don’t die? Where relationships with others do not matter? Welcome to video-game heaven, inhabited by a fair amount of Type Fives, with Type Four’s and Nine’s running a close second.
What happens when addicted to video games? I carry an imaginary world in my head that I’m always referring to. I’m excited, upset, or fantasizing about things that aren’t real, but feeling them like they are real. I enter a fake world with fake sensations and fake reality, but which seem true. I open up a weird, alter-reality in my mind that I mistake for real. I become an imagined character that I mistake for myself. That’s the definition for delusion, illusion, and heart-deadening reality. The thing about video-games, they numb your heart while filling you with a pseudo, strange intoxication (it’s a psychological drug high). You feel weirdly good as you disconnect from your body and heart. That’s addiction, baby, in spades, and the welcome mat for your drug relapse. Talk about a formula for getting confused and weird around living human beings. But for the Five, this can feel like home. No humans around interfering with my space, imagination on fire, give me more of that.
Bottom line: this can be an alluring addiction to rest in, lounge in, get excited by, believe in, have pseudo experiences in, and totally delude yourself with! If you are sitting at a video game more than several hours a week, and you hope to develop a rich and satisfying sobriety and not die of an overdose, and not grow dead and become metallic like the system you are using to fascinate yourself with, mayday! Tell your sponsor about it ASAP. Announce it at AA/NA meetings. Come clean! And drop the activity if you can. As in don’t touch it. Truth is, video addiction is a fast growing and powerful addiction, and there are many reaching out for help in this arena. Get the help you need.
11. Notice your intellectual aggression. You must begin to notice your intellectual aggression and how it shows up as cynicism, criticism of others, contempt and hatred for others, putting others down and bullying them with your intelligence, and ego-inflating yourself with your mental capacities. (Gulp! Who want to see that?) Not easy to notice, believe me, because it is a protective habit learned when you were just a little guy. How to become aware of it, you ask? You must let other men you trust become your eyes and ears, so that when you drop into this habit, they kindly point it out. Of course, you enlist them in advance, you ask for their help, i.e., “Tell me when you notice this habit? With kindness, please.” So, in the midst of an episode of intellectual aggression, your friend Ted, the Eight, says, “Man, you are smashing me to smithereens with your contempt. Do you notice this?” Of course, being so human, you reply, “Bullshit. I don’t do that!” And then you soften and say, “Ted, tell me more. I want to know what you mean.” Do this enough times, humility in your heart, and you will actually begin to hear your voice when it arises in contempt, feel your heart harden, taste the flavor of this habit. And in time, you will stop it in its tracks!
Part of your task is to notice the rationalizations you use to give you permission to treat others with intellectual arrogance and ridicule. And the 5th step, yes that awful but freeing step… making amends to those you’ve attacked with the message, verbal or non-verbal—that they are useless and incapable, an idiot. Why? Making amends brings awareness. It’s the fast track to disengaging a negative habit. Humility heals. Each time you apologize you will become more awake to the mechanisms of your personality which stop you from accessing what you love most: your intuitive mind, and generously giving your gifts to the world.
Practice this: when you notice yourself cynically attacking others in your mind, and begin to sense your heart. What drives your cynicism? A heart that feels rejected and not wanted, that is filled with despair that you never have a place in the world? Begin to sincerely feel this, bring compassion to it, and healing will arise.
The Good News
You, dear Five, like all the types, can learn to stay sober and clean. It first means admitting that you don’t understand the process of recovery, have a difficult time comprehending emotional intelligence, or that support from others will not only help you, but will make you feel really good in the long run. When that urge to bolt and leave the playing field of recovery arises, only leave for a short while, and come back as soon as you can. Lean into your discomfort with talking about feelings, lean into your discomfort around being with people, gently stick around and let the miracle land inside you. We need you, we need your gift of intelligence and creativity, and we need your precious heart.
Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC is an Authorized Enneagram Teacher and Faculty Member of the Enneagram Institute. He is the director of the Enneagram Institute of Maine/Enneagram Center For Transformation and Change. He teaches The Relationships and the Enneagram Workshop, The Enneagram and Recovery Workshop, The Wisdom of the Enneagram Workshop, The Enneagram and the Three Instincts Workshop, and The Journey of Growth–Working with the Dynamism and Levels of Growth, in the USA and Canada. He facilities the seven-day Part One Training in the USA & Canada. In addition, he is trained as a CTI Co-Active Coach and coaches individuals on Enneagram and life transformation issues. He worked 16 years at The Serenity House–an Addiction’s treatment facility for men in Portland, Maine–as a Clinical Supervisor and therapist. He also facilitates Men’s Spiritual Transformation and Intimacy groups at the Health, Education and Training Institute in Portland, Maine. He has found the Enneagram to be priceless in his relationship with his beloved wife, Donna, his three children, in his clinical and spiritual practice, and his work as a Teacher, Consultant and Coach.