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  • Leanette Pokuwaah

The Enneagram Archetype In-Depth

bell hooks is an African American author of more than 30 books, a professor, feminist and social justice activist. She is known for her extensive writing on the intersections of race, gender, and class.

So why is she an example of a quintessential 5? (from what I can gather but can never be sure because the Enneagram is all about looking into one’s inner motivations and drive that is behind a person’s behavior)

When you sift through bell hooks' life one of the first fascinating facts you discover is that she did not want to put her real name (Gloria Watkins) on her books or other writings because she did not want people to focus on her as an individual but on her writings only. She goes on to do her PhD diving very deep and specifically into the study of literature then she went on to teach English and Ethnic Studies and even establishes her own school!

If there is anything you need to understand about the Enneagram 5 archetype, it is that there is this mentality of scarcity. This mentality emerged in infancy, latent in childhood and reinforced through various events in their lives. They grew up believing that they were not given enough resources to be able to navigate the outside world. The world seems like a breeding ground for energy sucking and taking. Therefore, they gather as much information as possible. Studying up as much as they can to help reassure themselves they are competent, have enough energy and are of use to the world. That they have meaning. When unhealthy or under stress, they become very territorial about what information and energy they will share thinking they have only little and never giving too much away. This is why they seem reclusive, overly private and very withholding to us. Underlying these behaviors is their deep sense of a hollowness within them so they attempt to fill themselves as much as they can and hold on what little they perceive they have.

They also place barriers between them and the world to protect themselves from others that may try to grab the little that they perceive they have. Barriers are placed especially when it comes to emotions for the same reasons. Emotions seem overwhelming, chaotic and energy draining. They do not want to lose control or be left without any defenses. So they detach even if it means losing a deep connection with someone. This sort of self-sabotage, self-fulfilling prophecy or self-damaging cyclical cycle--fixation and distorted view of reality is what keeps us perpetually bound and away from living life wholly and free.

We see that even in bell hooks' story-- a metaphor for how 5s place barriers like writings (as in hooks' case) between them and the people that surrounds us. We see that in her deep dive into the knowledge and study of literature.


We can find a similar need to withhold resources and knowledge in the case of the people of Wakanda in the Black Panther Movie. For years, the nation of Wakanda feared sharing their precious Vibranium, riches, and wisdom. Wakanda and its rich resources were unknown to the rest of the world and they wanted it that way for many valid reasons.

Drawing from bell hooks and the nation of Wakanda, the way that folks of color, and in my experience as a black woman, we have a long history of being exploited, having resources stolen from us, our space colonized and our bodies policed. We have justifiable reasons for coping in the way that we do. And for black folks who are Enneagram 5s, you show up in nuanced ways because of this history. In that, detaching from emotions comes from a lot of our history of needing to survive in the midst of deep oppressive systems. Withholding what little we have because who knows if there will be enough for tomorrow.

There are so many intricate ways Enneagram 5s of color live in the world (I cannot wait to share more of that with you in the coming posts!) but if there is one healing narrative I can leave 5s with to begin the path toward growth and healing it would be to take in the truth that there is enough and that you have more than enough to offer us. You have a deep well of wisdom that radically transforms communities. Also learn to gradually receive the emotional connection you truly long for is one the significant ways you can begin to heal.

Wanna know more about the 5? Or about the Enneagram in connection to the Black Panther Movie or bell hooks? Be on the lookout for future posts on 5s!

Have an Enneagram topic you would like me to write about? Comment on this blog or message me!

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