On the left side of the Enneagram are the head types: 5, 6 and 7. Alternatively, you will find this triad called the thinking triad or the mental triad. The other two triads are body and heart.
Anxiety and mental activity are central to their experience. Fear is the main driver, although it presents in different ways, and is not the emotion they would necessarily identify as an issue in their lives. Their life strategy is all about preventing fear from being a conscious issue (other than Sixes. Most Sixes recognize that their default is more anxious than other types.).
Fives find the outside world to be anxiety producing, so they retreat into the safe space in their minds. There, they feel confident in their knowledge, which they tend to amass.
Sixes get anxiety from both sides. The outer world is full of threats, yet they struggle in feeling confident about what they do know. Fear is omnipresent, and there doesn’t seem to be any true source of support, so Sixes keep questioning.
Sevens fear being trapped or in pain, so they ignore their inner world in favor of the excitement and pleasure of the outer world.
The Thinking Triad has lost touch with the aspect of our true nature that in some spiritual traditions is called the quiet mind. The quiet mind is the source of inner guidance that gives us the ability to perceive reality exactly as it is. It allows us to be receptive to an inner knowing that can guide our actions.The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Don Richard Russo and Russ Hudson
How to spot a Head Type
No, they don’t have swollen heads with excess brain tissue oozing out their ears, and they aren’t necessarily wiry little ectomorphs. The head types all focus their attention on the future: how to figure it out (5), how to prepare for disasters, miniature or otherwise (6) and how to enjoy it to the max (7).
Of course, we all make plans for our futures to some degree. It is just that the head types spend more time, well, in their heads, puzzling out what to do or how to handle some future event. They don’t believe life will support them, so they set their brains to the never-ending task of figuring it all out.
Fixations of the Head Triad
5: Hoarding knowledge and feeling competent and intelligent – a type of avarice or greed.
6: Getting caught up in What If? Questioning can lead to procrastination and indecision. Cowardice.
7: Planning, dreaming, and scheming in order to feel excited and enthusiastic about possibilities. Gluttonous consumption.
… and how to fix those fixations with their corresponding virtues:
5: Not being attached to their accumulated knowledge, and developing a willingness to share themselves with the world.
6: Courage. It takes a heroic level of courage to take action when you’ve truly faced all the possibilities for how it could go terribly wrong. Sixes have that heroic capability.
7: Sobriety, staying present in the present moment and turning inwards to feel their feelings instead of running towards a “better” future.
The mind is a wonderful tool but a terrible master, said pretty much every wise tradition, ever. Once the head types of the Enneagram get the space and awareness they need (meditate much? or run a few thousand miles?) they can use their minds and all their amazing analytical powers as needed – then turn it off and enjoy life with their whole being.
Names for Head Types of The Enneagram
The first two names in bold are the most commonly used titles. The next three are Riso & Hudson’s names for each Head Type at their most healthy, average, and least healthy state. (The rest can be found on the Enneagram Institute website if you’re willing to do some deep reading.)
5 The Investigator or Observer: Pioneering Visionary, Studious Expert, Imploding Schizoid*
6 The Loyalist or Skeptic: Valiant Hero, Dutiful Loyalist, Self-Defeating Masochist
7 The Enthusiast or Generalist: Ecstatic Appreciator, Experienced Sophisticate, Panic-Stricken “Hysteric”*
I hope sharing these names for the Enneagram types at different levels of health is useful as you try to identify your type. As you go deeper in your understanding, I think you’ll find there is a lot of nuance and intention behind these names.
*The authors posit a link between this personality type and schizophrenia. Also, language is messy and imperfect. What was common even 20-30 years ago is possibly not so accepted now, which probably explains their use of quotes around “hysteric.” Look past the words (which are themselves more symbols). Language matters in the Enneagram – but meaning matters more.