The Perfectionists

Style One

Let's look at style One. They seem to know better than reality. By that I mean they have a habit of looking at reality in the light of something better. They look at reality and see what is wrong. They sort for fault, for flaws, for what ought to be there and isn't. They walk around asking themselves, "What's wrong with this picture?" They have high standards to which reality must, but cannot, conform.

They turn the scolding light of fault-finding on themselves first. Often ones grew up in an atmosphere in which they were criticized, perhaps severely and were told that criticism was done in the name of love. "If I didn't love you, I wouldn't correct you. I tell you what is wrong because I love you." Children turn all attention into love anyway, so they interpret criticism as an act of love.

So to be good to themselves, they criticize themselves. This is also a preemptive strike. "You can criticize me, but I've already criticized myself for that very thing so you don't really add much to the conversation." Like all Enneagram strategies, it is also a way of controlling their world. If One is hyper-critical, One is aware that this is a way of making sure the world is the way it ought to be. Implicit in this approach is a smoldering anger that things are not right.

Righteous anger

This anger is part of the 8-9-1 instinctive or gut or anger center. The One's anger is a moral one. They can be pictured as waving their index finger in a scolding manner.

This search for rightness and the energy of the anger makes them perfectionists. Ones will work endlessly on a project, making sure everything is perfect. They frequently have trouble with deadlines because almost any project can be improved.

With their intense moral concern and their interpretation of criticism as love, Ones do not want to be loved for their charm or beauty. They want to be appreciated and loved for the good work they do and their moral fiber. Love comes after evaluation, it is not be given for charm without effort.

Some prominent real life Ones: Miss Manners tells us all just how to behave. Like her, many Ones are literary and musical critics. Hilary Clinton campaigned for her health care reform with the central theme, "It's the right thing to do." (Listen to her talk, she frequently searches out the moral high ground). And Pope John Paul II was a One. One page of his book refuted eleven heresies and then pontificated the truth. Ones have a tendency to think there is only one right way to think or behave. John Paul is no exception. He thought he was infallible, but he probably thought that long before he became pope.

Oneness can show up in lighthearted situations, too. Remember (or watch again) My Fair Lady. Rex Harrison is a one. He happens to play a sexual subtype with the usual lifework of reforming those they love. The whole movie is about his making Liza Doolittle into a fine lady. Surprise! She resents it. (His picky grammar, his finicky habits, his repression of his own sensuality). He declares love by singing that he's become accustomed to her face etc. That's not exactly unbridled passion.

One's are polarized against their own sensuality because sensuality can easily lead to moral deviance. Passion, impulse, bliss -- these threaten the moral order. So One's have a specific neurotic defense called a reaction formation. A One walks down the street and sees a delicious dessert being served at a sidewalk cafe. They then begin to lecture on how terrible it is that people let themselves get fat! They do this without acknowledging how much they want that dessert.

Resources: Read St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. The whole thing is about how we can be righteous. Paul is a one and you'll see how angry he is, and how angry he is at the Law. He is angry at the law because all the law does is show us where we are wrong and doesn't enable us to do what is right. This really bothers a One. Martin Luther and John Calvin are Ones, too and Lutherans often talk about Paul's Letters to Romans and Galatians as the "Canon (Standard by which things are measured) within the Canon of scriptures." American Puritanism is quite Oneish. Just read Jonathan Edwards as he scolds and scalds his audiences with his sermons. Listen to Richard Rohr's tapes, Enneagram: Naming Our Illusions. Richard is a One and he is eloquent and insightful on his own fixation.

Ones get healthy when they get funny. Treat yourself to some humor.