Type 4s and 5s sit right next to one another on the Enneagram symbol, and if you visualize their placement on the circle, they are at the bottom of it with an empty space between them. One reason for this placement is that these two type numbers look almost as if they could fall from the symbol, except that they are held together by the circle itself. There are no other lines between them. One way of understanding this is these two types are the most familiar with a sense of feeling isolated from others. It is sometimes said about them that 4s represent “wet abandonment;” 5s represent “dry abandonment.” In other words, 4s feel abandoned, know this, and feel sad in response. 5s, by contrast, sense this abandonment but are more stoic about it; hence, no tears from the 5s who detach from feelings automatically.
Here are some differentiating questions that you might find useful. Two caveats for the questions to work effectively: (1) the question only works if the person has narrowed down the possible types to these two only and (2) once the question is asked and the answer is offered, it really matters that the guider/teacher/coach understands the meaning of what is being said.
Question approach | emotions
Are you aware (in real time) – when you are feeling emotional and do you also experience these emotions in your body, or do you rarely feel emotional in real time, but may realize and process what you are feeling later?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s are the most emotional of the nine Enneagram types and they typically feel a myriad of emotions on a regular basis. They often go off later and experience them more or to analyze them, but they are not emotionally disconnected in real time.
Type 5 | 5s automatically and habitually disconnect from their emotions in real time, then go off later – which might be minutes, hours, days or months – and re-experience some of what they felt in a previous time. 5s also get confused about what is a feeling and what is a thought. Part of this is because to disconnect emotionally, they also disconnect somatically. And because feelings also have a physical or somatic sensation, 5s do not have the somatic anchor by which to recognize and differentiate their emotional states.
Question approach | response to other people
Are you tuned into and care a lot about how other people are reacting to you, or do you not pay much attention to the responses of others and if you perceive someone is upset with you, are you able to let it go fairly easily?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s are highly tuned into how others are responding to them, hoping for connection and affirming responses and wanting to avoid a sense of being rejected by others. Because of this, 4s care a great deal about the reactions of others and have a hard time letting go of what the 4 perceives as a negative response from someone else.
Type 5 | 5s often don’t notice the reactions of others or if they do, they don’t get distressed by a non-positive reaction. 5s normally just go about their day, without ruminating. If someone is upset with them, 5s generally only really care if they are especially close to that person – and not many people fit into this category – or if that person appears to want to talk about this with the 5. At this point, 5s care, but they care because they prefer to move away from that person and the impending conversation, which is likely to drain them.
Question approach | trust
What do you trust more, your feeling or your mind?
Listen for this
Type 4 | 4s trust their hearts, feelings and emotional states far more than they trust their minds (or their bodies, for that matter). In fact, many 4s trust their feelings to such a degree that they say and believe, I am what I feel.
Type 5 | 5s are the opposite when it comes to feelings versus thoughts. 5s trust their thoughts and don’t trust feelings much at all. Most 5s believe that feelings are subjective and, therefore, not to be trusted. On the other hand, 5s also believe that thoughts are logical and therefore, objective and worthy of trust. 5s often say this: I am what I think.
On my website, TheEnneagramInBusiness.com, there is a special section titled “Enneagram Style Differentiators,“ where you can click on types 4 and 5 to read about how they are similar and different. This section may stimulate additional differentiating questions you can ask. Click here to be directed to this section.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of six best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org