The Social One

The One Right Way

Social Ones would like to reform the world. Ralph Nadar, Hillary Clinton,Nelson Mandela, Paul Wolfowitz (former head of the World Bank and fine example of public probity and private vice, which we call "trapdoor Ones",) Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice and John Ashcroft are all eager to remake the world according to their insights. Social Ones live by the moral and legal rules as they understand them. They give themselves over to these rules so completely that they can have a tendency to lose sight of their emotional and volitional urgings. The tradition uses the word non-adaptable. (One person cannot arrogate to him or herself the power to adapt a rule to fit an exception or circumstance. You don't argue with the answer book, you change your own thinking).

The most famous social One in the world was Pope John Paul II. Like a lot of social Ones, he has a Nine wing. Do you think it bothers him that much of the world thinks he is dead wrong on the ordination of women, birth control and homosexuality? Not at all. The belief is simple and clear: no good can come out of morally wrong actions. And (this is more treacherous), if I do the morally right thing, then good things will necessarily flow from them. So if the conscience is clear, the consequences are necessarily positive. Dr. Laura (Schlesinger) applies this procrustean principle to intricate emotional problems with complete confidence.

Only righteousness matters

It is a small but significant psychological shift from putting morality first to considering only morality. It's a byproduct of thinking there is only one way. If there is only one correct decision, then if you make the correct moral decision, you make the correct decision. Period. (If there were two morally correct decisions, then one could factor in the political, economical, emotional and social consequences But like all Enneagram compulsions, one purpose of our tight focus is to simplify life to fit the model we developed at an early age. So having only one right decision makes life, in one sense, a bit simpler.

The Catholic Church is a Nine organization with a One wing. So the official church became upset about "situation" ethics. Situation ethics says an act is good or bad by its consequences. But the social One compulsion says that a good act always and everywhere must have good consequences. You can't reverse the flow. (There is another school of thought that notes that no good deed goes unpunished...) Also because the flow can't be reversed, social Ones feel free to impose the older rules on new situations without sensing much need for flexibility or adaptability.

Self-erasure leads to overidentification with a tradition

Social Ones speak for the moral tradition. Their identification with the social tradition is their psychological compensation for their loss of self-awareness, what many writers and teachers call letting the self go to sleep, so they don't see any difference between what they think and what the tradition teaches. There is no "self" opinion, there is only the correct teaching of the tradition. This has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it is not the individual who is right, it is the tradition that is right. Some of you are Catholics and you can see traces (?) of this in the One True Church.

To highlight the specifically sexual/sensual repression that goes on inside Ones, the Catholic tradition of moral theology has a Latin axiom: non datur parvitas materia in re venerea. Translated that means "there are no venial (insignificant) sins where sex is concerned." The teaching was that all sins regarding sex were of such serious consequence that you earned hell for committing one. One furtive masturbation, one lecherous look at Marsha in her low-cut jeans and you were doomed. The reason, I think, that so many Catholics talk about this with anger later in life is that the teaching had this flavor.

Defense against criticism

The function of all this rigidity and sexual repression is to render the style One above criticism. The criticism they level against themselves has the same function. Your criticism of me is irrelevant because I've already acknowledged my fault. No double jeopardy.

Let me add that the high side of this compulsion is an eagerness to fight the moral fight. Ones are drawn to high ideals and noble causes and are untiring in their efforts to make this imperfect world a little better. We probably owe seat belts to Ralph Nadar's social One compulsion and we wish had listened to Hilary Clinton on health care. They have only one concern, but as we look around Washington (an arbitrary look -- any corporation could possibly yield similar results), we see that an exaggerated moral concern would be most welcome. I am foursquare in favor of morality. In the social One, it is the loss of self that is the crucial and only negative factor. A strong moral concern is only unhealthy if it is compensatory for going to sleep about one's self.

All rise: here's the judge

Another high side of the social One is the frequent soundness of their judgments. When your whole self is involved in every decision made, the tendency is to weigh all the evidence extremely carefully (mistakes are fatal). Ones often make excellent judges, critics and public officials.

Resources: Tom Condon's The Enneagram Movie and Video Guide is not only one of the best sources for information on the Subtypes, but he gives you some good movies to study. Social Ones are frequent in movies because they make such good halves of dramatic fiction. The Seven/One conflict is most frequent. The recent One Fine Day has Michelle Pfeiffer the One laden with social responsibility and George Clooney the happy childlike/childish Seven. But the classic is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Nurse Ratchet is a social One and Jack Nicholson, a Seven in real life plays her nemesis. Raoul Julia in Kiss of the Spiderwoman is a good study of a social One; with videos and DVDs available, we can study the older Ones inexpensively. (If you're interested in social Ones, go see Rooster Cogburn or Emma Thompson in Wit.)