Avarice and detachment


From Naranjo’s ‘Character and Neurosis’
Ennea-type V
Avarice and pathological detachment

If the gesture of anger is to run over, that of avarice is one of holding back and holding in. While anger expresses greed in an assertive way, greed in avarice manifests only through retentiveness. This is a fearful grasping, implying a fantasy that letting go would result in catastrophic depletion.

Behind the hoarding impulse there is, we may say, an experience of impending impoverishment.
Yet, holding on is only half of ennea-type V psychology; the other half is giving up too easily. Because of an excessive resignation in regard to love and people, precisely, there is a compensatory clutching at oneself—which may or not manifest in a grasping onto possessions, but involves a much more generalized hold over one’s inner life as well as an economy ofnresources.

Just as it can be said of the wrathful that they are mostly unconscious of their anger and that anger is their main taboo — it may be said of the avaricious that their avarice is mostly unconscious. Ennea-type V seeks to minimize his own needs and claims, and is prone to be pushed around in virtue of a compulsive obedience.

Neediness in ennea-type V is deeply hidden in the psyche, behind the veil of indifference, resignation, stoic renunciation. And just as perfectionism nurtures the anger that sustains it, we may also say here that the prohibition of needs (not simply from their satisfaction but even from their recognition within the psyche) must contribute to the impoverishment of life that underlies the urge to hold on.

Ichazo’s word for the fixation corresponding to ennea-type V is “stinginess,” which stands, I think, too close to “avarice”—the ruling passion or emotion.

“Meanness” with its connotation of an unknowing failure to give would come closer to capturing the dominant aspect of the ennea-type V strategy in face of the world: self-distancing and the giving up of relationships – being detached, withdrawn, autistic, and schizoid:

1. Restraint in Posture and Movement, Tightness
2. Physiological Over-Response
3. Overly Fast Reactions
4. Love of Privacy
5. Mental Over-intensity, Hyper-attentionality, Apprehensiveness
6. Secretiveness of Feeling, Emotional Restraint
7. Self-conscious Motility of the Eyes and Face
8. Sociophobia
9. Inhibited Social Address
10. Resistance to Habit and Poor Routinizing
11. Agoraphobia
12. Unpredictability of Attitude
13. Vocal Restraint and General Restraint of Noise
14. Hypersensitivity to Pain
15. Poor Sleep Habits, Chronic Fatigue
16. Youthful Intentness of Manner and Appearance
17. Vertical Mental Cleavage, Introversion
18. Resistance to Alcohol and to other Depressant Drugs
19. Need of Solitude when Troubled
20. Orientation Toward the Later Periods of Life.

Let me end by remarking that without mentioning the word avarice, Fairbairn’s understanding of the schizoid clearly involves the recognition that it involves an unwillingness of the person to invest himself in relationships and an avoidance of giving.


As usual, it is possible to find in this character a cluster of descriptors corresponding to the dominant passion. In it, along with avarice, belong such characteristics as lack of generosity in matters of money, energy and time, and also meanness—with its implication of an insensitivity to the needs of others.

Among the characteristics of retentiveness it is important to take note of a holding on to the ongoing content of the mind, as if wanting to elaborate or extract the last drop of significance — a characteristic that results in a typical jerkiness of mental function, a subtle form of rigidity that militates against the individual’s openness to environmental stimulation and to what is emerging, the transition of the present mental state to the next. This is the characteristic which von Gebsattel has pointed out in “ananchastics” as a “getting stuck.”

We may say that the implicit interpersonal strategy of holding on implies a preference for self-sufficiency in regard to resources instead of approaching others. This, in turn, involves a pessimistic outlook in regard to the prospect of either receiving care and protection or having the power to demand or take what is needed.

Not Giving

Also the avoidance of commitment can be considered as an expression of not giving since it amounts to an avoidance of giving in the future. In this avoidance of commitment, however, there is also another aspect: the need of type V individuals to be completely free, unbound, unobstructed, in possession of the fullness of themselves—a trait representing a composite of avarice and an over-sensitivity to engulfment.

It may be pointed out that hoarding implies not just avarice, but a projection of avarice into the future – a protection against being left without. Here, again, the trait represents a derivation not only from avarice, but also from the intense need of autonomy of the character.

Pathological Detachment

Given the reciprocity of giving and taking in human relationships, a compulsion to not give (surely the echo of perceiving in early life that it goes against survival to give more than receive) can hardly be sustained except at the expense of relationship itself—as if the individual considered: “If the only way to hold on to the little I have is to distance myself from others and their needs or wants, that is what I will do.”

An aspect of pathological detachment is the characteristic aloofness of ennea-type V; another, the quality of being a “loner,” i.e., one accustomed to being solitary and who, out of resignation in regard to relating, does not feel particularly lonely.

Though it is easy to see how detachment can arise as a complication of retentiveness, the giving up of relationship is interdependent with the inhibition of needs—for it could hardly be compatible to give up relationships and to be needy, and thus giving up relationship already implies a relinquishment or minimization of needs.

Postponement of Action

We may say that to act is to invest oneself, to put one’s energies into use, which goes
against the grain of retentive orientation of type V. Yet, more generally, action can not be
considered as separate from interaction, so when the drive to relate is low the drive to do is
concomitantly lessened. On the other hand, action requires an enthusiasm for something, a
presence of feelings—which is not the case in the apathetic individual. To do is also something like showing one’s self to the world, for one’s actions manifest one’s intentions.

One who wants to keep his intentions hidden (as the avaricious does) will also inhibit his activity on these grounds and develop, instead of a spontaneous movement and initiative, an excessive restraint.

The characteristic trait of procrastination may be regarded as a hybrid between negativism and the avoidance of action.

Guilt and Negativism

Ennea-type V is characterized by guilt proneness. Guilt manifests in a vague sense of inferiority, however, in a vulnerability to intimidation, in a sense of awkwardness and self-consciousness, and, most typically, in the very characteristic hiddenness of the person.

A source trait related to the perception of the needs of others as binding, and also a form
of rebellion against one’s own demands, is that which involves, beyond an avoidance of interference or influence, a wish to subvert the perceived demands of others and of oneself. Here we can see again a factor underlying the characteristic postponement of action, for sometimes this involves a wish not to do that which is perceived as a should, a wish not to “give” something requested or expected.