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by Helen Palmer

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HarperCollins Publishers
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New from Helen Palmer, a "leading teacher and practitioner of the Enneagram" (San Francisco Chronicle), the first Enneagram book to give practical advice, in fascinating detail, on how to have the best possible relationships in love and business.


Editorial Reviews

Tony Schwartz
More than anyone, she has helped bring [the Enneagram] alive.

Related Subjects

  • ">Business - General & Miscellaneous
  • ">New Age
  • ">Self-Improvement
  • ">Social Interactions in Relationships

    Read an Excerpt


    Chapter One

    One — The Perfectionist

     personality bias    essence qualities

      subtype focus  

    anxiety (worry)

    The One Bias


    The world is an imperfect place. I work toward perfection.

    Spiritual Path

    A preoccupation with error points to a search for perfection. From a spiritual perspective, the child felt anger at being separated from the perfect environment of essence. Anger is focused on violations of standards. The commitment to perfection is at stake. Anger disturbs the serenity of being held in a perfectly balanced flow of events. Resentment develops from seeing the difference between life as it isand how much better life could be. The Perfectionist strategy is a child's attempt to construct a perfect outer life both to cope with a critical world, and to protect the vulnerable sense of perfection. The search for perfection and a serene emotional life are both spiritual and psychological catalysts. The perfectionistic personality bias mimics the perfection of higher being.


    • Works toward perfection. Avoids error and evil.
    • Self-denial causes anger. Unmet needs generate resentment.
    • Finds an outlet for anger through correcting error and champi-
    • oning social causes.
    • Acts out anger in three key areas of life:
    JEALOUSY in sexual or one-to-one relationships.
    NONADAPTABILITY, adopting rigid, inflexible social opinions.
    ANXIETY (WORRY) about personal survival. "Am I good enough to make it?"
    • Looks for impeccable ethics as the mark of admirable character.
    • Conscientious. Monitors own actions.
    • Think right. Moralistic thoughts block real feelings. Should,
    • must, ought to.
    • Do right. Admires the practical virtues: work, thrift, honesty,
    • and effort.
    • Be right. Has severe mental critic that judges own actions. Harsh
    • superego.
    • Feels guilt about not meeting high internal standards.
    • Dedicated worker. Work can block pleasure and shadow issues
    • like anger.
    • Has difficulty reading the signals of anger. "I'm energetic today,
    • not mad."
    • Self-criticism reverses in self-defense to become critical ofothers.
    • Worries about decisions. Afraid to make a mistake.
    • This focus of attention supports ethical behavior. It can also lead to:
    • One-right-way thinking, right or wrong, black or white. No grays.
    • Has superb critical powers. Effective organizer and, analyst.
    • Leads by example. Ethical policymaker who tries, to uphold stan-
    • dards.

    Personality Bias

    We're all familiar with the One mind-set because we adopt it when our values are questioned. When it's a question of integrity, we, like Ones, search carefully for the correct approach. Once established in the right, we feel invincible. We're in service, mistakes seem less important than the purity of the intent. We are suddenly kind to ourselves, because we see the value of our own efforts. It is an honor to dedicate oneself to something good.

    A life dedicated to perfection requires heroic effort. You can't help noticing when standards slip and no one else feels guilty. How can they ignore this? Have they no shame? The tension builds. Something has to be done. You start to see details slipping out of order. If others don't notice and you do, then you'll be held responsible. Your conscience goes wild when error is overlooked. I saw. I knew. I'm guilty." You can't leave it alone. You feel compelled to fix it. You don't recognize the rising signals of anger. The tension feels entirely appropriate. Tension means that you're trying hard. You brace for greater effort.

    If focusing on error becomes automatic, self-observation stops. All you know is that you're working desperately hard, that you see loose ends everywhere, and you can't rest until it's finished. The scope of the task enlarges. More details appear. It's late. It's out of control. Your mind flogs you for being tired and helpless. It's maddening that other people don't care. You don't realize how angry you are until you hear the jagged edge in your voice and feel the fury spiking through your body.

    Anger leads to action. You can't hold back that shot of lightning. You know exactly what's wrong, because it's infuriating. Something perfect has been ruined. You can't keep quiet. You're too mad to care about overreacting. Attention locks on the right way to fix what's gone wrong, and anger fuels your conviction.

    Ones grow by knowing what they want instead of what would be right. They grow by relaxing, by letting pleasure in. You have a choice when you can read the natural signals of anger and watch your mind begin to focus on error.

    They can be helped in relationships by people who accept differences of opinion, who soften the one right way to perfection, and who are open to pleasure.

    Subtype Focus:

    Anger Affects Sexual, Social, and Survival Attitudes

    Jealousy (Heat) in Sexual and One-to-One Relationships

    Sexual jealousy is acted out in an angry, possessive way. Ones say it's a white-hot rage that seizes their guts if a relationship is threatened. A threat to sanctioned pleasure is maddening. "How dare you take what's rightfully mine?" Ones have such difficulty in recognizing what they want, and in allowing themselves to have pleasure, that any threat to gratification feels like losing a lifeline. You've earned the right to be loved. You deserve sexual pleasure. You're angry at being compared with a rival. You want to be made right again. If you had been perfect, there would be no contest.

    This is permissible anger, based on the misconduct of associates or a mate. Jealousy quickly becomes obsessive. Your mind is besieged. You can't drop it. "This has to stop." You feel a compulsion to relieve the tension, an urgency to take action. You have to check up, you must go see, you have to know exactly who said what to whom.

    Enneagram in Love and Work. Copyright В© by Helen Palmer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.


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