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Enneagram Type 1 - The Perfector • Reformer • Perfectionist

Enneagram Type 1 - The Perfector • Reformer • Perfectionist

Enneagram Type 1

The Perfector • Reformer • Perfectionist

If you are a Type One, you strive to perfect yourself and everything around you.

When you discover flaws, imperfections, or wrongness in yourself or others, you feel frustrated that things are not up to your standards. You often strongly identify with your Inner Critic, communicating your frustration in the form of harsh, and sometimes punishing, criticisms.

But all that control seems necessary because you can't allow these strong passions and instinctive impluses to compel you to act in ways that compromise your high standands and integrity. So you defend against these anxiety-inducing tendencies by acting out their opposite–You create a life of virtue, responsibility, and integrity through strict, rigid, control of yourself. This is reaction formation.

As a Type One, you have an incredible sense of what is right or wrong in each situation–and how to perfect the situation. But your blindspot is believing that only you have the objective truth, and then rigidly adhering to that belief. This rigidity is a defense against the unconscious or conscious fear of being found to be flawed, imperfect, out of control, wrong or just plain bad.

The archetypal father

If Type Nine represents the archetypal baby, Type One represents the archetypal father. The archetypal father has two forms: The Good Father, who parents wisely and fairly, and the Tyrannical Father, whose fathering is authoritative and inflexible.

You are ultimately afraid of being punished by your own tyrannical superego–the Inner Critic, the Inner Judge. The voice in the back and/or on top of your head that bears down on you with harsh judgments about not being good enough, not performing up to standards, not being perfect. Not being clean, in control, or ethical enough. And the resulting punishments of forcing yourself to work harder and perform better.

The more stressed out you become, the harder you are on yourself (and others). The flaws and imperfections become louder and along with them grows the sense of urgency to perfect everything. Imperfection begets harsh criticism.

One moves to Four

Eventually you need a pressure release and open the valve to move to Point 4. If this is done consciously, you're able to get in touch with your emotions and your depths.

If done unconsciously, you can become withrawn, angry at yourself, irrational, and depressive like an average Four.

One moves to Seven

Reaction formations always results in what Freud called "return of the repressed." When Ones hit Point 7 unconsciously, they become excessive and self indulgent. This triggers another round of self-reproach and criticism, and the vicious cycle continues.

When Ones consciously develop towards Point 7, they become light-hearted, fun-loving, positive, spontaneous, enthusiastic, and flexible.

The perfection of reality

In spiritual terms, Ones have lost touch with the perfection of the universe or reality or God. Ones therefore believe they have to make things perfect. From a spiritual perspective, they would be wise to contemplate the already-perfectness and already-completeness of reality.

Thinking type in the gut center

The One is usually categorized into the Gut/Body/Instinctive center (along with Eight and Nine). This is because the One's personality is formed by the One's suppression of their instinctive energies. They are defined by this suppression of their instincts and control over their passions. And they use their mental ideals to maintain that suppression. In that sense, they may originate from the gut center, but they are actually a thinking type.

Galvanized by frustration.

Because Ones are cut off from their instinctive center, they're cut off from their motive energies. In order to get things done, Ones are galvanized by their frustration. Thus, frustration becomes a potent motivating force for Ones as they attempt to get the world to conform to their high standards.

Learning to relax and release rigidity

Whether you are spiritual or not, if you are a One, it would be wise to learn ways to relax the tight grip you have on yourself, tame your superego, and start to let loose. Practice forgiveness for yourself and others. True perfection, paradoxically, comes from letting go of perfection.

Reclaiming strength from the superego

The problem with the superego is that it is hijacking your own aggression (inner strength) and using it against you. You can learn ways to defend against your superego and reclaim your aggression from it. And you may not even recognize you have a superego because you are so identified with it that you think the superego is you!

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Marshall Æon

Marshall has been studying personality science for nearly 20 years. He has also studied and been trained in a variety of psychological and spiritual modalities and pratices. He's currently working on a book based on the Enneagram.