The domain of the Social Interaction, at point 5 , is where we first meet the stranger, the one not from our own family, the unfamiliar. Here, we first realize that we are part of something bigger. This domain is about engaging the other. We will never reach our full potential unless we engage with others, particularly those who are not like us, yet our first reaction is to withdraw. As we move from 4 to 5 , the tendency is to hang back and assess whether it is safe to move forward to meet someone new. There is an inner knowledge of confusion within the world, here we observe how adaptation is broken. The 5 space represents how we relate to each other, how we interact, how we form groups and identity. What are the ideas and meanings representing our personality? The 5 fixation starts with avoidance and difficulty in creating bonds with new people. We get used to our friends and our home (and we maybe don’t even estabilish a specific home to live properly). We keep ourselves in security and safety, within our privacy and ability to maintain our identity. There may be a need to avoid vulnerability, unconsciously. Alienation and lack of space, lack of purpose and worldly ambitions. We don’t feel like living for the people and for love or praises. We fear losing what we may have in the immediate moment, we don’t want things to change and we get insecure, anxious, about the future. So we cling to the past and the present, we guard our possessions and things so we do not feel disoriented. Emotions and sentimentality are discarded, isolated, forgotten, they make us insecure and we do not like to deal with them. In the process of having no personal passions or issues, we may feel a subconscious depressive existence. We get introspective and we extract knowledge from external reality. The tendency here is to avoid making full contact with people and observe them, get to know them, but without proper socialization and formulation of human bonds. In our own solitude, we actively think and idealize what we may do if X thing would happen. There is a private world for us. Self- realization is involved with how we relate magically with the world. We won’t get into attachment and we won’t associate our essence with our sentimentality here. The main action is conscience and observation, understanding. We encounter a barrier when we move from the personal or private side of the Enneagram to the impersonal or public, which involves crossing through the “abyss”. In the domains of 1 through 4 , we work with the personal. They are all about my reactions to the sense world ( 1 ), my need to care and be cared for ( 2 ), creatively living the truth of my being ( 3 ), and my opinions ( 4 ).
As we come around the Enneagram, 5 is the first of the public spaces. This is where we come to terms with public versus private. At 5 , we need to learn to be with others. The impersonal, or communal, work that we do is further developed and embodied in the remaining spaces from 6 to 8. At 9 , we transcend to union with something different than ourselves or our communities. Between 4 and 5 is the place where we may feel like quitting because the journey has seemed too hard. In this domain, we can think of public in the sense of “all of us” or the “common good”, from the Latin publicus, “of the people.” Private is that which is not public, one’s own, not shared, from the Latin privatus, “set apart, personal”. These two words imply quite different world views. The underlying question is, “Do we take care of one another or do I take care of myself?”. Resources are shared in the public extremity, and resources are kept secret in the private extremity. The conflict comes when we choose one over the other, rather than valuing both. This choice usually derives from a distrust of the pole we have not chosen – not trusting government (the people) to provide societal benefit or not trusting the compassion of those individuals who are able to care for themselves. Within 5, there is an interest about everything, usually. To be enchanted, to be confused because of the unknown, to love the not yet understood is to be spellbound. It implies an intense curiosity about and delight in the other, the diferent, the abnormal. This leads us to magical thinking and mental connections. We develop an urge to know and understand, we want to keep to ourselves all the secrets and “inexistent” objects the world chose to hide from us. We socialize with people and then we feel happyness, we get to relate to new and distinct people, and this may cause us satisfaction or hatred. We distance ourselves from people and then all emotions are eliminated: we get back to the inexistent sentimentality. The world hits on our ego and we unconsciously do not react. There is a problem around expression. of one’s sentiments. We also do not care about our image or what people might think about ourselves, so we don’t try to lie, but we also don’t talk. All what rests is silence. Society has rules and protocols for these interactions. When we do not know someone well or in situations that do not call for displays of intimacy, we may act according to normal behaviours, which allows us to talk to each other, but not too much. We reserve an embrace for someone with whom we have more of a relationship. Society depends on these protocols and so do the dignity and integrity of the individuals involved. Engagement must be by the choice of all concerned; when it is not, it becomes a boundary violation and an abuse.
This enchantment is not only between two people. Groups who normally have very different goals, but have respect for one another, can work together and create something bigger than either side can alone. Progressives might say, “Love thy neighbour,” by which they mean, “We must share what we have for the common good.” Conservatives might say, “Count the cost,” which also says, “Let’s make sure we have enough to go around.” Together both can inform how a project or program can serve people, but also how it can be done affordably and responsibly. The personality “ 5 ” will come with distortions of this domain and the processes behind it. The structure of the personality is rooted on the hatred, misanthropia, anxiety and fear of people. When we refuse to engage with others, be it a person or a group, we begin to hate them, which is just a cover for our fear. This is the us/them division that is so prevalent in modern political discourse. We divide into bubbles or echo chambers and hate anyone who is not like us. In the end, we keep ourselves within our own identity and sense of normal. This sense of normal dictates who we might talk to and who we can relate to. Sometimes people who are very adamant that another group is causing all sorts of harm and grief don’t even know anyone from that group, so they revert to stereotypical descriptors. This is not particular to either side of the political spectrum. People on the right accuse progressives of over-policing language and thought (political correctness) and having no clue about how people actually live. People on the left accuse conservatives of being heartless and bigoted and not thinking about anyone but themselves and their own group. When you hear people being dismissed as “deplorables” or “snowflakes”, you know that there is no true engagement and maybe no actual contact between these two social groups.
Everyone talks about you or talks to you with stereotype-isms, symbols and new meanings to prejudice you perhaps, they end up alienating you and then you create hatred towards them. You don’t properly understand them, so you hate them. We hate the unknown and the “other”, as a means of protection of our own being. This type of division is not only political. We also divide along many other lines, such as nationality, regionality, gender, race, class, educational attainment, religion, and various sub-groups within these categories. For example, in the sphere of religion, we might divide between different religions (Christian/Muslim) or sub-groups within the same religion (Catholic/Protestant or even evangelical/mainline Protestant). If there are two people in a room, they have the choice to polarize or to engage. We need the other, particularly the different other, to grow. When we meet, we must understand the other as complex, not as a stereotype. It is not necessary to become like others to engage them. We meet, receive, and are received. When we withdraw and listen to our own hearts, we might hear anger and sadness, joy and connection, maybe all at once. This back and forth movement, held in good faith by both parties and repeated over many times can draw us in to a new appreciation of each other. 5 is a very challenging place. At 5 , we are looking for nothing less than the re-enchantment of society, where everyone can truly belong and participate. This is much larger than the compulsive desire at 5 to withdraw and be left alone. Since 5 is about welcoming the stranger, hospitality is a symbol of the 5 space. Hospitals, hospices, and hostels also hold this idea. Society and government are also symbols of the 5 space. Ideally, government promotes the common good. It cannot function without some secrecy and some openness. Other symbols include the media (no privacy; everything must be known) and science (knowledge must be shared for the benefit of all).