Some people see the world as dangerous, and some see it as safe. Some see it as just or unjust. Nevertheless, we all live in the same world. Elements of our personality color our views, and human perception is little more than an inkblot test. One purpose of the Enneagram of Personality is to describe the various lenses that distort our perception of the world. If you believe that the world is ultimately imperfect, that you must be competent, and that the objective of life is to improve yourself and the world around you, then you might be:
TYPE ONE: THE REFORMER
(Also known as “The Perfectionist”)
I. Introduction to the Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a personality classification system comprised of nine types. Each one of these nine types represents a distinct set of motivations, fears, desires and virtues. This article (and the other articles in this series) are designed to present each of the nine types in an understandable and comprehensive way. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, as it is the most popular personality instrument discussed on PersonalityCafe. The Enneagram is a fantastic compliment to the MBTI test because the Enneagram deals with core motivations, while MBTI deals with information processing. When taken together, MBTI and Enneagram can provide an accurate description of an individual's personality.
These articles are intended to describe each Enneagram type from the ground up, starting with the most fundamental motivations of that type and moving up to how those motivations are expressed in the real world.
II. Quick Facts about Type One
These facts will be described throughout the article.
Holy Idea: Perfection
Virtue: Right Action
Enneagram Triad: Body (Associated Emotion: Anger)
Harmonic Triad: Competency
Basic Drive: To be incorruptible
Basic Fear: Corruption
Basic Desire: Integrity
Freudian Association: Superego
III. Type One Description
You can imagine each Enneagram type like a tree. You have the leaves at the end of the branches, which represent the outward characteristics of an Enneagram type. These represent observable behaviors. But observable characteristics can be deceiving, so what's more important than the branches are the roots, the parts of the personality that go beneath the surface. This article (and the rest of the articles in this series) are designed to cover both the roots and the leaves of each personality type.
The root of Type One begins with the Holy Idea of Perfection. Each Enneagram type has a “Holy Idea”, which represents a particular characteristic of reality that they are particularly sensitive to. Each Enneagram type perceives one element of the universe above all others, and all type traits follow from this origin point. As stated before, Type Ones are fixated on the concept of Perfection, which represents the metaphysical state where “what is” and “what should be” are aligned.
It's obvious though, that things are not perfect. As Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice: “That light we see is burning in my hall. How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” In many ways, Type Ones are like those candles and righteousness are the beams, and both are drenched with the darkness of an imperfect world. This inspires the Type One to be active in the pursuit of righteousness.
This is why Type One is considered a body type, along with Types Eight and Nine. Body types are naturally oriented toward the interaction between themselves and the outside world and other people. Combine an action-oriented personality with a drive toward perfection, and you have a passionate advocate for justice and righteousness; basically, you have Enneagram Type One.
The emotion normally associated with the body types is Anger. Anger is defined by the dictionary as “strong displeasure; outrage.” When we think of outrage, we can imagine a host of behaviors. But this anger is more than just an outward expression, it runs to the core of the Type One personality. Type One has the role of “The Reformer” because this deep-seated displeasure toward the current state of the world drives them to fight for what's right.
This foundation produces the outward characteristics of the Type One. Type Ones are self-disciplined and restrained because they fear corruption. They implicitly realize that so much around them is corrupt, and they too may fall victim to that corruption if they do not guard against it.
Type Ones can also be perfectionists, but not necessarily in everything. Perfectionism is an extension of their revulsion toward corruptness. They will be perfectionists in areas that matter; for example, if a Type One is particularly sensitive toward human rights, they will be a perfectionist while advocating for that but that perfectionist drive might shut off when they come home. Keep in mind that all One qualities trace back to that basic foundation, and only make sense in light of that foundation.
This means that Ones are diligent fighters and activists, full of integrity and focused on maintaining that integrity. They have a clear sense of right and wrong and are not afraid of making that known. Of course, some can be quite passive while others are very aggressive. This aggression leads some Ones to believe that they are Eights, although many of the crusaders for human rights in the past have been aggressive and bold Ones.
But even fighting for what's right has a dark side. As Nietzsche said, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Unhealthy Ones can be judgmental, over-critical, and stubborn as they desperately try to fight back against corruption. The fear of losing their integrity can make them become isolationist and a bit anti-social. At that point, they cease to be advocates, as they are trying to hold back the barbarians at their own gate.
IV. Developmental Progression of Type One
Early in life, the Type One is sensitive to the concept of Perfection (the idea that “what should be” and “what is” are aligned.)
The material world (life) is inherently imperfect, which puts the Type One in a frustrating situation.
To cope with this situation, the Type One can succumb to the vice of anger, which subsequently breeds resentment. This can be tempting – anger makes it seem like the One is making headway in advancing what is right, but in actuality, it only causes resentment. Resentment brings the One's internal world further from perfection. This is an example of how a tempting path can lead to an outcome that is completely unintentional and counter-productive.
The One’s virtue, Right Action leads them to their growth point of Seven. The virtue is the opposite of the vice; while the vice is a misleading temptation that brings the One further away from their goal, the virtue actually brings them closer to their objective.
Enneagram theorists quickly discovered that each Enneagram type can have traits of the types around it. This is called “wing theory”, and while some theorists dispute the finer points of it, it's generally agreed that each type has a connection to the types around it and one of these connections will be dominant. For example, Type Two is surrounded by Types One and Three. Someone could therefore be a Two with a One Wing (Two as their main type with some Type One traits), or a Two with a Three Wing (Two as their main type with some Type Three traits.) The notation for this is 2w1 and 2w3, respectively. It is generally held that one wing is more dominant than the other; while you may have traits of both wings, one is more pronounced. Some believe that you can have balanced (equal) wings, but this Enneagram type description operates under the “dominant wing” theory, which is the most prevalent in the Enneagram community.
Type One shares wings with Type Nine and Type Two.
Type One with a Nine Wing:
Type One is associated with a focus on “right action”, while Type Nine is a withdrawn type that tends to be more interested in the outer world instead of their inner world. That Type Nine detachment is present in the One with a Nine Wing (1w9), as 1w9s apply their virtue of right action to the exterior world. They make excellent theorists and philosophers.
1w9s tend to focus intensely on the morality of the outside world, and may spend their time philosophizing about what is right and wrong. They are less action-oriented than their 1w2 cousins, but they are also more contemplative.
Type One with a Two Wing:
Type Two is marked by a desire to help others, and that characteristic is present in the One with a Two wing also. The 1w2 is far more active than 1w9 in helping others directly, which is why 1w2 is often called “The Advocate.” To a 1w2, the best moral theory is useless unless it can be used to help others.
1w2s are more practical than 1w9s, and are less likely to get bogged down in moral theorizing. They want to do what's right, right now. They cannot abide injustice and are more likely to seek a confrontational situation than a 1w9. They are also likely to believe that inaction in the face of injustice is just as bad as actually committing that injustice, as they can easily empathize with others.
VI. Growth and Stress Arrows
One theme in the study of the Enneagram is interconnectivity. Each type is distinct, but it does not stand alone. We discussed Wings earlier, which shows how a type can have traits of the types next to it. Another example of interconnectivity are stress and growth arrows. When an individual is in a state of stress or growth, they can take on traits of other types. There is some disagreement within the Enneagram community as to what precipitates a stress or growth condition, but I believe that the most logical interpretation of this is that a type becomes stressed when they succumb to their vice, while a type grows when they are following their virtue. Following a vice is a natural response, as it is the easy way out. Virtues are risky because they cause a person to confront their “dark sides” or fears and may result in a radical reassessment of one's thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, the Enneagram is a system of personal growth and the stress/growth arrow dynamic reflects that, as it embodies the concept that transcendence is hard work, and it's always darkest before the dawn.
This is also in line with the overarching theme that the Nine types are basically just different means of perceiving reality, and no type is more correct than any other.
Growth Arrow to Type Seven:
Type One individuals are remarkably self-critical and disciplined. Type Ones are so aware of the threat of corruption that they may develop a sense of “uptightness” in order to ward off corruption. Ones may have a hard time relaxing. However, when Ones are following their virtue of Right Action, they can become more secure in their goodness. At that point, they begin to relax and become spontaneous and fun-loving like a Type Seven.
The virtue of Right Action is essentially the key to freedom for the One. T.S. Eliot, in his poem The Dry Salvages, probably described it best:
“Right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realized;
Who are only undefeated,
Because we have gone on trying.”
Part of the One growth arrow to Seven is accepting that there is no permanent solution to corruptness, but that through constant Right Action, a One can free themselves from the vice of resentment. They can finally stop being so uptight and enjoy their lives if they realize that they do, indeed, have the power to meet any challenges that face them!
Stress Arrow to Type Four:
Unhealthy Type Four individuals can be emotional, melancholy, and irrational. Type Ones can take on these characteristics if they build up a great deal of resentment toward others. They may feel that they're not being appreciated, and may withdraw because of it.
This is the opposite of Right Action. Right Action is doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing, not to be appreciated. But if a One falls into that trap, they can easily resent others for not appreciating them enough and therefore withdraw their protection.
VII. Type One Variants
Self-Preservation Ones tend to have moral structures that emphasize physical security and extensions of that (such as property rights.) They may find offenses like stealing or destruction of property as being more morally reprehensible than lying or cheating.
Social Ones are more concerned about what is right and wrong within the social sphere. Community-level morality is often a focus of the social One.
Sexual Ones focus on morality at the individual level. Contrast this with Social ones, who tend to see it more on the community level.
VIII. Comparison within Triads
Within the Head/Body/Image Triads:
Head: These types are primarily concerned with their own thoughts.
Image: These types take action when it comes to their image, which they equate with reality.
Body: These types focus on the border between themselves and the world around them.
Within the body triad…
(Compared to Eight) Ones have very developed moral codes, while Eights have integrity. The difference is that Eights generally consider themselves good people, but they don't feel the same need to adhere to a set of rules as a One. On the other hand, if Ones deviate from their set of rules, they can immediately bad about it. Eights are also usually less perfectionist than Ones and have no shame in taking more than they need.
(Compared to Nine) Nines are laidback and somewhat passive, as they dislike conflict and will attempt to avoid it. Ones, on the other hand, believe that backing down means that they are compromising their values. Ones are therefore more strict than Nines.
Within the image triad…
(Compared to Two) Ones have a stricter moral code than a Two. Twos are also more in touch with their emotional side than a One is.
(Compared to Three) Type Threes are driven toward personal success, which can often run contrary to the goals of a One. Ones may see that behavior as selfish or immoral.
(Compared to Four) Fours are focused on uniqueness whiles Ones are not. If a One has a moral code that is far from unique, that's no big deal, because the One still sees it as right. On the other hand, the Four may not see that as being authentic.
Within the head triad…
(Compared to Five) When interacting with the world, Ones do not hesitate. They do not possess the withdrawn nature of a Five.
(Compared to Six) Sixes tend to doubt their own thoughts, while Ones are headstrong about what they believe in.
(Compared to Seven) Sevens are scattered and hedonistic and can be the polar opposite of Type One.
Within the Hornevian triads:
The Hornevian triads describe how each type copes with a situation. They were originally developed by psychologist Karen Horney.
In this context, “aggressive” means “action-oriented.” It doesn't mean belligerence.
Type Three – Takes action to gain success.
Type Seven – Takes action to keep engaged in interesting activities.
Type Eight - Takes action to secure more resources and to continue to consume.
Type Four – Withdraws to protect themselves from being absorbed into the crowd; to maintain their uniqueness.
Type Five – Withdraws to defend themselves and to get a better/clearer view of the situation.
Type Nine – Withdraws to maintain peace.
In this context, these types are compliant to their superegos. It doesn't mean that they are pushovers.
Type One – Complies with the superego because they will feel corrupt if they don't.
Type Two – Complies with the superego because they will feel useless if they don't.
Type Six – Complies with the superego because they will feel insecure if they don't.
Within the Harmonic triads:
The Harmonic triads describe the primary problem-solving skill employed by each type.
Type Two – Twos focus on their own goodness and virtue.
Type Seven – Sevens adopt an “it doesn't affect me” mentality.
Type Nine – Nines focus on the “silver lining” in a situation instead of negative aspects.
Type One – Ones must be competent to maintain their set of ethics.
Type Three – Threes must be competent to avoid challenges to their success.
Type Five – Fives must be competent to survive in the “outer world.”
Type Four – Fours may take things very personally, which makes them very emotionally intense.
Type Six – Sixes are observant of their world and react accordingly.
Type Eight – Eights are quick to react to challenges and to assert their boundaries.
IX. Enneagram and MBTI Interaction
The Enneagram describes motivations, while the MBTI describes modes of information processing. It would stand to reason that MBTI is subordinate to Enneagram, as the Enneagram deals with more basic motivations. Imagine that two people want to tell the same story, but one is a writer and one is a musician. One will write a book while the other will write a song but both have the same origin point.
So let’s look at each type and how that form of information processing would appear when directed by the righteous motivation of Type One.
Extroverted Sensation Types (ESTP and ESFP)
Extroverted Sensation is associated with a strong connection to the “present moment” and places an emphasis on practicality in life. ESxP Ones are, therefore, very hands-on and active people in pursuit of their ideals. ESxP Ones are the most likely to just jump right in and start advancing their cause.
Extroverted Intuition Types (ENTP and ENFP)
Extroverted Intuition is essentially the opposite of Extroverted Sensing: instead of focusing on present information, Extroverted Intuition brainstorms a myriad number of possibilities that may or may not be true.
ENxP Ones are the more flexible, abstract cousin of the ESxP Ones. Not as decisive as ESxP Ones, the ENxPs focus more on figuring out the right path through the consideration of multiple possibilities. ENTP Ones are more likely to do that through attention to specific detail (as Ti is their second function), and ENFP Ones are more likely to do that by looking at the essence of the situation (as Fi is their second function.) This aptitude for seeing multiple possibilities doesn't make them any less stubborn, however, as they may trust so strongly in their intuition that they will not budge when unhealthy.
Extroverted Thinking Types (ENTJ, ESTJ)
Extroverted Thinking breaks a process down into its logical components and checks it for logical consistency.
Extroverted Thinking Ones are experts at arranging the world around them in the way that most efficiently advances their ideals. ExTJ Ones tend to shape the world around them wherever they go. When healthy, they can be an extremely positive force. But a great deal depends on them, so when they are unhealthy, their stubbornness can shut everyone down around them.
Extroverted Feeling Types (ENFJ, ESFJ)
Extroverted Feeling refers to an awareness of the emotions or hidden beliefs of another, but does not necessarily imply that an Fe-dominant person must bend to those emotions.
ExFJ Ones are extremely in touch with what others are trying to convey. This makes them a more people-oriented One than an ExTJ might be. You may find that many ExFJ Ones are also Social ones, but that need not be the case. Regardless of the stacking, ExFJ Ones have a strong tendency to shape their ethics around the needs and desires of people in general.
Introverted Sensation Types (ISTJ, ISFJ)
Introverted Sensation types tend to use their experience to guide them; Si dominant Type Ones fit new experiences into the framework of existing experiences to develop an ethical code that works. ISxJs are very practical people who have strong, time-tested values.
Introverted Intuition Types (INTJ, INFJ)
Ni dominant Ones (INxJ) use their ability to navigate abstract systems to advance their ideals.
INTJ Ones are methodical, diligent, logical and objective in their search for an ideal and workable ethical system.
INFJ Ones are caring, compassionate, understanding and open in their attempt to create an ethical system that is ultimately righteous.
Introverted Thinking Types (INTP, ISTP)
Introverted Thinking types (IxTP) emphasize the particular meanings of words and how each individual piece fits together within a concept.
IxTP Ones are generally moral theorists who focus on specific areas of a theory instead of looking at it broadly. In some ways, they act as troubleshooters, pointing out where an ethical system fails. They are also particularly aware of when someone is being hypocritical.
Introverted Feeling Types (INFP, ISFP)
Introverted Feeling types are concerned more about the essence of a particular subject than the gritty particulars. (This is the opposite for Introverted Thinking types.) IxFP Ones care deeply about what's right and wrong and often feel a personal connection to that outcome. They troubleshoot ethical theories like an IxTP One does, but on the macro level instead of the micro level.
X. Paths to Security
Type One - “I will be secure if I'm perfect.”
Type Two - “I will be secure if I'm loved, appreciated or respected.”
Type Three - “I will be secure if I am successful.”
Type Four - “I will be secure if I am unique.”
Type Five - “I will be secure if I withdraw from harm.”
Type Six - “I will be secure if I am always aware of danger.”
Type Seven - “I will be secure if I can plan for the future.”
Type Eight - “I will be secure if I can control the world around me.”
Type Nine - “I will be secure if I have peace.”
XI. Freudian Association
From my article, “The Freudian Theory of Enneagram”
Type 1: Superego "Ego Ideal" Focused.
Basic Fear: To be corrupt or defective.
Basic Desire: To be good and to have integrity.
Type 1 is the perfect embodiment of the "ego ideal" described by Freud as a part of the superego. Freudian personality theory holds that the superego strives against the id and the ego, and similarly, a Type 1 individual strives to uphold their moral principle. Whatever that principle happens to be, it's a very real part of the Type 1 lifestyle because the Type 1's influences often flow from their superego.
Type 1s have a strong ability to determine what is right and what is wrong, and can be judgmental of both themselves and others if they don't uphold what's right. They not only have a strong superego, but they are confident in it; enough to present it to the outside world in an often-assertive manner.
If you are a Type 1, you'll notice that hypocrisy may be an issue for you. There probably have been times in your life where you failed to live up to your ideal, and this may give you some degree of primal satisfaction but you still feel guilty. This is your superego doing battle against your id. A force always takes the path of least resistance - so you are likely to try to justify your actions within your existing rule-set than revise your rules. That's because you have a very strong superego and it's difficult to assail directly.
To Encourage Integration: Allow your id more room to breathe. Fulfill your desires occasionally; take the time to assess the realistic concerns behind your moralistic drives.
To Avoid Disintegration: Don't let your superego dictate everything you do; your internal rules may be fallible. Keep in mind that your superego is not rational: it will come up with perfectionist standards that may be completely impossible to follow.
Type 1 Wings:
Type 1 with a 9 Wing (Superego-Ego): The link to the ego drive softens the 1w9 in some respects, making them more relaxed as they are more able to temper the will of their superego. This type probably finds it easier to integrate to 7.
Type 1 with a 2 Wing (Superego-Superego): This wing doubles-up on superego aspects, making the 1w2 more incorruptible and aggressive than the 1w9. 1w2 is often more confident in their superego ideals and are more likely to be confrontational about them. However, this type is more likely to suffer stress because the superego is not rational and will likely generate unrealistically perfectionist standards.
“The only journey is the journey within.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke