Are 5-Observers in the Enneagram Always Objective?

Photo by E. Wagele

Objectivity means being unbiased, even-handed, open-minded and impartial. It’s impossible to be objective if emotions or strong opinions get in the way of the facts.

Some 5s (often INTPs or INTJs) live mostly in their heads and pick the most proven and factual reasons for making choices. Since facts are of prime importance, the feeling side of life is often unfamiliar and thus scary to them.

I’m a 5-Observer with a 4-Romantic wing (an INFP in the MBTI system), however, and have high regard for both the head and the heart. I appreciate the relatively subjective worlds of art, music, literature, and psychology – the feeling side of life. To me, great artists express the highest form of human potential. I also appreciate logic, and thoughtfulness, so I especially love Beethoven and Bach, whose works express both feeling and intelligence.

When I have a decision to make, I do best when I consult my values, intuition, reason, and objectivity to try to sort things out.

Perhaps the following study in contrasts will help describe objectivity: Once a friend and I arranged to meet for lunch at an old, formerly men’s only, restaurant in the financial district of downtown San Francisco. This old, well-known restaurant is proud of its traditions.

My friend is an 8-Asserter in the Enneagram. She is intelligent, informed, and interesting, but sometimes her anger gets the best of her and can become highly emotional when things don’t go her way. When the waiter introduced himself, she called him by an endearing name, “Darlin’”. When he came back to take our order he briefly touched her on the shoulder in what seemed to me a friendly way. This didn’t surprise me, given her flirtatious comment, but she took offense. “Nobody is allowed to touch me without first being invited,” she growled and demanded a different waiter. Her request was ignored.

She became offended again when she tasted a substitute orange liqueur instead of Cointreau in her drink. “Take it back,” she ordered our waiter. ”Sidecars require Cointreau.” “We never change a drink order. We make them the way we make them,” he said. But she kept protesting and raising her voice. The busy bartender actually turned up at our table and agreed to give her another drink, a proper one this time. But that wasn’t enough.

Now she was on a mission to rid this restaurant of its chauvinistic pigs once and for all. I don’t know how she planned to accomplish this, but she demanded the change must happen right now.

I watched the spectacle with curiosity and took notes on what was going on. To me, the restaurant was fine—it was what it was. I kept thinking, why is she so upset about this one restaurant in the world? Didn’t she realize there was no way she was going to change it, especially the way she was going about it? Why did she feel so urgent about controlling this place and this moment?

I could have used many other examples of objectivity and its opposite, for example, if someone believes in non-violence yet is overcome with a desire for revenge. Long ago, my emotions hijacked my objectivity when my child was attacked, kicked, and suffered cuts and broken bones. I wanted to push the perpetrators’ eyes back into their brains—if only I had known who they were. In a few days my reason returned, however, and I remembered I didn’t believe in revenge.




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