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Enneagram Type One

Updated on December 8, 2010

The World of the One

Ones devote their energy to figuring out the truth of the situation or to determining what the right thing to do is. They can be judgmental and harsh, but they can also be completely blind to their own faults, and without mercy to their enemies - real or imagined.

If countries and cultures can be said to have types, as well as people, then there is no better example of a Oneish culture than the Taliban “students”. Their “teachers” marinated them in a rigid, intolerant, merciless system of thought that taught that the end justifies the means, and they ground themselves and others up while trying to make the outer world conform to their fixed inner ideas.

Not all Ones are confrontational, though you may see them in debates or discussions holding up their fingers, pointing at others, or jabbing at a tabletop. Ones can be found teaching in colleges and ministering in churches and at your bedside in the hospital.

When healthy, Ones can be powerful, nonjudgemental guides, interested in your welfare and growth. When unhealthy, they can be uncompromising, rigid, and even fanatical.

What motivates them

Ones have an obsession with being right, honorable, moral, correct, and other similar concepts. While Ones may insist that these standards are handed down from esteemed thinkers, or God Himself, they may concede that ideas about honor have varied from place to place and time to time. Because of this Ones can easily get caught up in social movements, either as fire-breathing rebels out to erase the infamy, or as establishment figures defending Order against the ravages of Chaos.

Unhealthy Ones will fall into compulsive conflicts and strife like a bee to flowers. They are able to put their own lives and well being in jeopardy for a Cause, but at the risk of destroying their own humanity and becoming a wrecking machine. In the movie Dr. Zhivago, the character of Pasha the student revolutionary is first drawn into the struggle by the injustice he sees all around him. But after sacrificing his own happiness to the cause, then sacrificing others, he loses his vision and ability to sympathize, and becomes the hated, feared, and pitiless General Strelnikov.

Ones can be enlisted in crusades, though you may regret it. You must back up your opinions, else the Ones will complain tirelessly with letter campaigns, press conferences, public denunciations, and so forth.

Ones closer to Type Nine will show some of the reservation of that type. The classic 1/9 is the effete British aristocrat, who affects being above it all, but is really heavily invested with maintaining the British Way of Life through control of immigration, keeping power and authority in the House of Lords and the Crown, and so on. In contrast to the 1/2, 1/9s may seem reserved or even flat emotionally. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Neal Peart, and Mr. Spock are 1/9s.

Ones closer to Type Two are markedly more extroverted and often feel empowered in their cause by the energy of moral pride from their proximity to Type Two. This makes them more reckless and self-sacrificing in their particular just cause.

I can’t think of a better example of a 1/2 than Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite the enormous responsibility of being the Captain of the Federation’s flagship, he nevertheless breaks the Federation’s Prime Directive (of noninterference in local planetary matters) again and again in the service (as he sees it) of doing the right thing or upholding justice. Patrick Stewart, Cokie Roberts, and Hillary Clinton are 1/2s.

What professions appeal to them

It’s a rare One who has not thought about teaching, if they have not done so in the past. They have a conviction that carries weight with students. Many doctors are also Ones - but not necessarily the ones with the best bedside manner. Theologians, concerned with the truth and the right, are often Ones, as are many newspaper and television reporters. Scientists, especially those engaged in medical research, or other altruistic pursuits, may often be Ones.

Talents and Traps

Talents are traps turned on their heads, and vice-versa. The same elements that make Ones penetrating analysts and principled thinkers work against them if they are caught up in fears or passions. The teacher who can open minds to truth and beauty becomes rigid and dogmatic, closing the minds of his students. The minster who observes the profound meaning in an orderly universe with a presiding Authority can deteriorate into a threatening accuser eager to send the “ungodly” to hell.

What they avoid

Ones avoid situations where they look undignified or silly. There are actors who are Ones who are also funny, but I have never seen a One comedian. They also avoid appearing indecisive, irresolute, spineless, and so on. Of course, their great fear is of being just plain wrong.

What they seek out

1/9s seek out secure situations from which they can act in appropriate ways. The ancestral home of a 1/9 Earl represents all the authority of aristocracy backing him up. 1/2s look for ways to support a good cause for the good of the public in general, and are not shy in front of the camera or microphone. When Bill Clinton asked Hillary to take on the problem of organizing a system of national health care, I’m sure she was eager to run with the ball, but her personal style of uncompromising confrontation vitiated her program before it got very far.

How they deal with fear and greed

While not fearless, Ones have a kind of natural mental toughness that can make then impervious to intimidation; it may even make them fight all the harder. As mentioned, their “secret” fear is of being wrong or appearing foolish, undignified, or immoral or unethical. Ones may have a secret life of the mind unknown to others, or they may indulge in sexual temptations when a thousand miles from home on a business trip.

As with fear, Ones have a kind of innate austerity that often frees them from obsessions with material possessions, money, and economic status. On the other hand, if such things, or intangibles like political power or power derived from authoritative positions is useful for the Cause, they can become greedy in the service of the campaign.

How they handle money and resources

Ones are not impulse buyers. If a One considers saving money virtuous, he or she will seek out the cheaper gas station, clip coupons from the newspaper, and study the internet to make a more informed choice before purchasing. If squandering resources in the service of the Cause is warranted, the One has no problem at all with profligacy.

How you can spot them

Ones are often thin and may be tall, as fits their ascetic lifestyle. They may affect a utilitarian, almost military, personal grooming style, such as simple glasses with bare metal frames, short unstyled haircuts, and practical clothes that call no attention to them. They take to uniforms without much encouragement: religious vestments, professorial tweeds, doctors’ lab coats, urban camouflage. As mentioned, Ones will sometimes tell you their type with a finger pointed in the air, at you, or jabbed into a table for emphasis.

Some famous examples of the type:

Cokie Roberts, Carl Sagan, Batman, John Galt, Senator Diane Feinstein, Moses, Hillary Clinton, Katharine Hepburn, the Little Red Hen, Neal Peart (of the rock group Rush), Ayn Rand, E.G. Marshall, Ted Koppel, Dame Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Clean, Charlton Heston, Eliot Ness (as portrayed by Robert Stack in the old TV drama).


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