An Enneagrammatic perspective
From a spiritual perspective, the Enneagram points, or types, can be described as nine ways of forgetting God; nine ways of losing contact with the Divine; or nine ways that the ego manages to distort true Essence. They are not simply nine different types of people. They are nine flavors of the human condition that we all embody and experience to some extent.
One of these nine points (Enneagram Five) can help us understand the mechanism behind the so-called “conspiracy theorist.”
The Essence gift that Five brings to the world is the gift of wisdom, clarity, insight, illumination. It is the embodied gift of knowing, or higher intelligence. By higher intelligence, I don’t mean higher IQ, I am talking about an intelligence that is beyond intellect. It’s a sort of cosmic intelligence that people sometimes refer to as a “divine download” — a kind of knowing that it is impersonal and spontaneous. The download is not one that comes from the ego mind; rather, it comes to the true mind. This true mind or higher mind is an empty, spacious, clear mind, one that is free from pre-conceived notions and fixated beliefs.
This true mind or higher mind is an empty, spacious, clear mind, one that is free from pre-conceived notions and fixated beliefs.
As with all Enneagram types, the area of our greatest gift is also where we are the most sensitive to lack. It’s the thing that pains us the most when we feel that it’s missing. In other words, losing contact with higher intelligence is an unavoidable part of the human condition, and the Five in us suffers most from this. This sense of lack gets the ego engine revved up. The personality gets busy trying to make higher intelligence happen. We try to manufacture the Essence quality we’re missing, with our egoic efforts.
We miss higher intelligence, so we settle for information. We miss essence knowing, so we substitute knowledge. We miss divine clarity, so we fill ourselves up with data.
We miss higher intelligence, so we settle for information.
All nine Enneagram types have a core desire and core fear. These two drives are the basic fuel that keep the ego engine running. For point Five, the core fear is being helpless, useless, incapable, or overwhelmed. On the flip side, the Five’s core desire is to be capable and competent, to have mastery.
The ego activity of the Enneagram Five usually shows up in the pursuit of knowledge, expertise, or mastery over some domain. Those with a lot of Five energy are often perpetual students — spending a lot of time acquiring information and developing skills to feel more confident and prepared. In particular, the Five can become fascinated with the unusual, occult, secret, overlooked, or bizarre.
The Five in all of us finds satisfaction in discovering or understanding things outside the norm — things that are not just common knowledge.
The Five in all of us finds satisfaction in discovering or understanding things outside the norm — things that are not just common knowledge. There is a self-concept around “I see things that others don’t see.” Those strong in healthy Five energy can lead as innovators, inventors, and thought leaders; they are renegades and pioneers.
When we’re under stress, we all get more contracted and gripped by our primary ego pattern… and our Essence gift gets twisted. With Enneagram Five energy, this is where the conspiracy theorist character shows up. We get caught up in an identity of being the one who “sees things that others don’t see” and we take on the role of not just illuminating truth, but indeed, convincing others to believe what we believe.
But this ego strategy is doomed to fail at illuminating or convincing anyone of anything — and in fact, this failure is necessary for the ego to succeed at reinforcing the self-concept of being “the one who is the illuminator or convincer.” The Enneagram Five’s ego mechanism is driven by a sense of safety that comes from knowing better than others.
On the surface, it may look like we’re trying to help others see some deeper truth, but unconsciously, what we are actually invested in is others not being convinced…
On the surface, it may look like we’re trying to help others see some deeper truth, but unconsciously, what we are actually invested in is others not being convinced… because when others are not convinced we can feel secure in knowing better than them. Assuming moral and intellectual superiority over the “ignorant masses” is what the ego needs to feel safe. If everyone else would start to see things the way that we see them, then we would lose our special role as the clever, insightful one. If our minority truth was actually accepted as the norm, then we’d need to find something even more “out there” to believe in, to re-establish that role.
When we take on the role of convincing others, we put ourselves above them, labeling them as intellectually inferior. Even if there is some truth in what we are sharing, it is lost when we assume that we “see more” or “know better” than everyone else. Our reality will generally conform to our expectations, and no one will listen, much less be convinced.