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Discussion Starter #1
How common is it for Enneagram 5's to change their area of expertise? And is it best for 5s to just have one main area that they focus on, and would wanting to master maybe just one or two other things be, in a way, a disintegration to 7?

For those that don't know apparently 5s have to have at least one area of expertise where they are confident in for their own levels of health. Even in the 9 levels of health of the enneagram, it basically makes it seem like 5s at the three healthy levels become specialized and experts in whatever area they study.
 

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For those that don't know apparently 5s have to have at least one area of expertise where they are confident in for their own levels of health. Even in the 9 levels of health of the enneagram, it basically makes it seem like 5s at the three healthy levels become specialized and experts in whatever area they study.
I'm not sure that's true. I don't consider myself to have an area of expertise, and I've never come across this idea before. Maybe my understanding hinges on what you mean by "expertise": one can feel confident in one's knowledge without being an expert.
 

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I'm not sure that's true. I don't consider myself to have an area of expertise, and I've never come across this idea before. Maybe my understanding hinges on what you mean by "expertise": one can feel confident in one's knowledge without being an expert.
You are right. I don't think it necessarily has to be something that you are an 'expert' in, so much as it seems that it should be an area where they have confident mastery. I read it from this website's 5 description, https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5/.

This is the actual paragraph that I got it from,

"Thus, for their own security and self-esteem, Fives need to have at least one area in which they have a degree of expertise that will allow them to feel capable and connected with the world. Fives think, “I am going to find something that I can do really well, and then I will be able to meet the challenges of life. But I can’t have other things distracting me or getting in the way.” They therefore develop an intense focus on whatever they can master and feel secure about. It may be the world of mathematics, or the world of rock and roll, or classical music, or car mechanics, or horror and science fiction, or a world entirely created in their imagination. Not all Fives are scholars or Ph.Ds. But, depending on their intelligence and the resources available to them, they focus intensely on mastering something that has captured their interest."

So, I was just kind of wondering since there isn't really that much specific information about whether or not you have to have just one area of focus.
 

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This is extremely true for me. I seem to cycle through different fields of interest over time (while I'm still young anyway). It started with astronomy as a child then it morphed into economics & psychology as a young teen. With these two new subjects I intended to 'master' them from the outset and put them to practical use. It's very clear to me that I am attempting to learn/apply these subjects well to "meet the challenges of life" as described above. I also frequently feel I do not want distractions.

I'm still in the process of mastering these two subjects (will drop them once mastered with the caveat that I'll 'keep up' with economics as a hobby). My eye is already on a third subject: I've decided my career/life's work will be a particular branch of medical technology. This is what I hope to become 'the world expert' in over decades. I can see reaching the top e5 health level coinciding with being on top of my career. Being 'the' expert (or one of) will feel really good to me.

I don't see me learning two subjects concurrently as anything more than interest & practicality. I do not see it as disintegrating to an e7 although it would be far more comfortable to only do one subject at a time for me (I manage by prioritizing economics, doing psychology as time allows). I can also see me picking up minor hobbies over the course of my lifetime, although I believe there will remain only the two I'm studying now that I'll 'master' and only my career one I'll reach 'expert' level in.

It's forming an interesting progression when I think about it & lay it out:
Child: read what others wrote about astronomy to a high degree (passive + no real benefit other than satisfying curiosity)
Teen: learn two highly practical subjects to a 'master' level and apply/*do* them (benefits me)
Adult: eventually get to the point where I could 'write the book' in my chosen field and own/run the company who *does* the work (benefits more than me)

I wonder if my enneagram instinct affects this. SX descriptions talk about the possibility of 'merging' with a career/study (even though it's more typically with a person). Presumably it would be easier for a SX e5 to attach to one subject, and only seek to do one, for this reason (it becomes part of their identity). Perhaps the same could be said for e5s with MBTI types which are comfortable going deep and focusing in on one thing.

I had an e7 friend (ENFP) and one of the big differences between us was the depth to which we tried to understand things. For her a TED Talk on nutrition is 'deep' (and actionable), for me that's the equivalent of a random ad. I need to go way deeper to act on the information (understand the chemistry involved, read studies myself etc over the course of months). No wonder I have so few hobbies... It's hard *not* to go deep/'investigate' when you're an e5 ("The Investigator"). I expect that this depth -- getting to a true understanding -- is what makes doing many subjects simultaneously so unlikely for an e5.

I had decided that my career would need to be very difficult/challenging to keep me interested for a long time and I factored that into my subject choice. I also wanted it to be on the edge of things we know and things we don't and that way, theoretically, the work can never run out bc it's an evolving advancement. Hopefully it will be a healthy obsession, something for the back of my brain/Ni to mull over. I like having a toy to play with inside my head :) Only doing one subject makes all this easier. I have no idea how typical it is for an e5 to think/choose like that though.
 

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I read it from this website's 5 description, https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5/.
I see. I wonder how much the relevance of this "area of focus" idea is contingent on this:

Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable
I don't relate to this. I typed myself with the understanding that "fear of engulfment" is the type 5 basic fear. I have certainly wanted to master subjects, but I don't see that as relevant to my basic fear (and therefore not terribly relevant to type 5 issues in general).

The compulsive knowledge-hoarding that was related to fear of engulfment seemed different than "confident mastery"—the primary goal was to avoid being overwhelmed, not to know a certain amount of stuff about one topic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This is extremely true for me. I seem to cycle through different fields of interest over time (while I'm still young anyway). It started with astronomy as a child then it morphed into economics & psychology as a young teen. With these two new subjects I intended to 'master' them from the outset and put them to practical use. It's very clear to me that I am attempting to learn/apply these subjects well to "meet the challenges of life" as described above. I also frequently feel I do not want distractions.

I'm still in the process of mastering these two subjects (will drop them once mastered with the caveat that I'll 'keep up' with economics as a hobby). My eye is already on a third subject: I've decided my career/life's work will be a particular branch of medical technology. This is what I hope to become 'the world expert' in over decades. I can see reaching the top e5 health level coinciding with being on top of my career. Being 'the' expert (or one of) will feel really good to me.

I don't see me learning two subjects concurrently as anything more than interest & practicality. I do not see it as disintegrating to an e7 although it would be far more comfortable to only do one subject at a time for me (I manage by prioritizing economics, doing psychology as time allows). I can also see me picking up minor hobbies over the course of my lifetime, although I believe there will remain only the two I'm studying now that I'll 'master' and only my career one I'll reach 'expert' level in.

It's forming an interesting progression when I think about it & lay it out:
Child: read what others wrote about astronomy to a high degree (passive + no real benefit other than satisfying curiosity)
Teen: learn two highly practical subjects to a 'master' level and apply/*do* them (benefits me)
Adult: eventually get to the point where I could 'write the book' in my chosen field and own/run the company who *does* the work (benefits more than me)

I wonder if my enneagram instinct affects this. SX descriptions talk about the possibility of 'merging' with a career/study (even though it's more typically with a person). Presumably it would be easier for a SX e5 to attach to one subject, and only seek to do one, for this reason (it becomes part of their identity). Perhaps the same could be said for e5s with MBTI types which are comfortable going deep and focusing in on one thing.

I had an e7 friend (ENFP) and one of the big differences between us was the depth to which we tried to understand things. For her a TED Talk on nutrition is 'deep' (and actionable), for me that's the equivalent of a random ad. I need to go way deeper to act on the information (understand the chemistry involved, read studies myself etc over the course of months). No wonder I have so few hobbies... It's hard *not* to go deep/'investigate' when you're an e5 ("The Investigator"). I expect that this depth -- getting to a true understanding -- is what makes doing many subjects simultaneously so unlikely for an e5.

I had decided that my career would need to be very difficult/challenging to keep me interested for a long time and I factored that into my subject choice. I also wanted it to be on the edge of things we know and things we don't and that way, theoretically, the work can never run out bc it's an evolving advancement. Hopefully it will be a healthy obsession, something for the back of my brain/Ni to mull over. I like having a toy to play with inside my head :) Only doing one subject makes all this easier. I have no idea how typical it is for an e5 to think/choose like that though.
This is a very interesting reply. I resonate with most of the things you said for myself as well. I remember having a whole little search for identity thing back when I was trying to find out which field I wanted to focus on, and it took me forever to decide on one thing. Although I do have one main focus area now, I still do plan on studying other things, but not necessarily master them. Perhaps more as a casual interest, depending on how interesting the subject matte is to me. However, I have been working on practical ways to apply the main area that I am interested in, and that is why it is my main focus.

What you say about being an SX might be true as well. I do think I wanted to find just one main passion, essentially 'merging' with my area as a part of my identity. It's like my obsession with finding my passion back then was, at the same time, a search for identity. I will add this though, SX/SOs might particularly be more interested than SX/SPs in merging with an intellectual interest since SO 5s are really considered the 'intellectual' fives. And maybe having a cognitive function that likes to dig deeper into things like Ni could have an effect on this, as you stated earlier. Either way, I think you are right. The whole disintegration into seven thing seems to usually be more tied to levels of stress, and this does not seem to be the case for me. I am not losing sight of what my main focus is; I'm just kind of doing some Ni future pacing for potential routes I could take once I hopefully succeed in my current goals. I just kind of wanted some feedback to see what anyone else thought about trying to learn other things aside from the 5's focus area.
 

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I believe one of my greatest stressors is not having an area of expertise. I have a need to feel competent in whatever I am doing, but my interests range and fluctuate, so I never get to a mastery level in any one of them - that really frustrates me. The reason I "roam" while trying to develop a skill or interest is a fear of missing out on the other subjects.

At one time, I thought I could assimilate many at once to solve this problem, but that proved difficult to accomplish while also attending to life or obtaining resources (sp focus). I gave up on higher education, for example, despite being heavily encouraged to pursue graduate studies. I found myself obligated to other's goals, desires and structures to get into a position where I could pursue interests the way I wanted, but then that depleted the energy I had to devote to my interests.

Even more unsatisfying is to have an expertise that isn't an interest. I still find myself devoting most of my time to someone else's dream, but the opportunity to find some success in an endeavor over my whims and fantasies is becoming increasingly important as I become older.

It is deeply unsatisfying, in a way, but compulsive, to make something work within my means.
@Dare I've missed you over in the INTJ forum!
 
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