Type 5 is a Mind type, Type 4 is Heart type. Mind types predominately deal with Fear, while Heart types predominately deal with Sadness and Shame.
… primarily deals with the fear of not being sufficiently able to attain security by physically and emotionally engaging with the outside world, therefore they compensate by over-intellectualization. Instead of “showing up” to the world emotionally and physically, the 5 creates a mental construct of reality, of which they are “all-knowing”. Type 5 is typically the most withdrawn type in the Enneagram (especially when they are Sp/Sx, not as much when they are Social first). They often withdraw as a way to cope with their fear. They accumulate knowledge and typically acquire an expert position, often in niche subjects, because they believe that will help them with encountering and handling the outside world and attaining felt security. However, this coping behavior commonly isolates them, because there can be no end to the logical introspection of making sense of the world, and the knowledge accumulation or comprehension they do, before they feel “ready” to face the world. If their coping mechanism seems to be failing, for instance their construct of reality falls apart in their inner eye, they will become increasingly anxious and draw further within, trying to find the security within their own thoughts somehow. But this might not be possible, so then they might disappear from the spotlight completely, and re-emerge once they have sorted out their logical landscape and understanding of the world.
… primarily deals with their sadness over “what is missing”, all the flaws in life and relationships, and/or being unloveable for what they deem to be an intrinsic flaw of character (that they usually cannot put a finger on – because it is not actually “real”, but due to their personality structure they believe so; negative experiences amplify this impression). These perceived flaws and broken ideals, which are often put into comparison with others, makes them feel ashamed or dissatisfied (Social 4s feel the most of that self-shame, Social last 4s the least). Type 4s see their flaws or lacking as being shameful, but also the thing that makes them unique. As a coping mechanism, average 4s will typically exaggerate their unique traits and viewpoints that set them apart from others, as a way to cover up their flaw(s) and be seen as a person worthy of love. Or in other words, average Type 4s equate having a uniquely distinct identity with being lovable – or having a unique lifestyle and unique contributions as more valuable. The uniqueness will commonly revolve around whatever their society or social group rejects or finds emotionally uncomfortable, in terms of appearance and/or focus. In the extreme, an unhealthy 4 will deliberately become the ultimate “misfit” and create a fantastical mirage of an identity, often something “inhuman”, in order to raise their self-importance. At the same time, they will feel threatened by whoever resembles their own identity (construct), because that is where the unhealthy Type 4 determines their own worth and lovability.
Another way to look at 5 vs 4, is by recognizing the fact that Heart types are also Image types. All Types 4 are concerned with their image: their outward appearance and/or image and how other people receive it, and/or their own sense of personal identity. In a way, they believe that one’s image or sense of self can determine whether one is being loved or not.
Type 5s generally don’t see how their image or sense of self/identity makes people either love or hate them. Type 5 focuses mainly on their intellectual capacities, that is where their pride but also (unconscious) fears lie.
As the Type 4 believes their image (usually of being a unique individual) brings them love and admiration, the Type 5 believes it is their intellectual know-how and brain power that will bring them a sense of security.
When it comes to their emotional/psychological state, Type 4s typically suffer from mood swings and/or a melancholic attitude at average to unhealthy levels, while Type 5s are typically in a state of detachment or ambivalence from many to most outside events, being a mere observer of life at average to unhealthy levels.
Generally speaking, which of the two main issues, fears and compensatory mechanisms is more dominant and/or troubling in you is likely the type you are.
To put it in perspective, the wing type is an add-on to your personality, but the main type’s issues are always more complex and difficult for oneself.
Ironically, many people are more aware and accepting of their wing type’s issues at first (and therefore type their wing as their core type), because they feel less threatening to your being. Whereas your main type’s issues are so deeply ingrained in your sense of self that they can be somewhat unconscious and ultimately most hurtful to oneself.
As a side note, your MBTI type gives you a hint at which of the two types you are, most likely.
However, make sure you are correctly typed (see below).
I offer a typing questionnaire in a one-on-one live video session, click the link above for more. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂