Have you ever met an unhealthy Enneagram One type? If you did, chances are it was an experience you’ll never forget. Idealistic and driven, Ones strive for perfection and excellence. Morally conscious, it’s vital for them to live up to their high internal standards. These types are rarely slackers and can help improve the world with their visionary sense of integrity. That said, unhealthy Ones can be far from the pragmatic helpers that healthy Ones are. The unhealthy One (like any unhealthy Enneatype) can be a nightmare to encounter. Harsh, judgmental, and controlling, they bulldoze over other people’s sensitivities and individualistic traits in an effort to get them to conform.
Today we’re going to explore how an unhealthy Enneagram One can show up in day-to-day life.
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10 Signs of an Unhealthy One Enneatype
#1 – Unhealthy Ones Are Intolerant
Obsessed with their own ideals and values, unhealthy Ones have no patience for any actions that waver from their core beliefs. They enforce their rules with domineering precision and are closed-minded to alternate viewpoints and suggestions. Unhealthy Ones tend to see things in black and white terms and have little patience for anything that they see as morally “gray.”
#2 – Unhealthy Ones Won’t Accept Criticism
More than anything, Ones want to live up to their core ideals and values. However, unhealthy Ones are unwilling to tolerate anything that makes them face their own weaknesses. They must see themselves as beyond reproach, so they will have quick, strong reactions to any form of criticism.
#3 – Unhealthy Ones Dish It, But Can’t Take It
Unhealthy Ones are more than willing to give criticism to others. In fact, they pride themselves on being straight-talkers who don’t waste time with needless “sugarcoating.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t work both ways. At an unhealthy level, Ones are unwilling to accept criticism and will become offended and judgmental of people who critique their ways of doing things.
#4 – Unhealthy Ones Can’t Relax
Many Ones have an endless mountain of things to accomplish in their mind. Tireless list-makers, they force themselves to persist until all their obligations are met. At an unhealthy level, Ones either delegate many of their tasks onto others (becoming pushy and bossy) or they feel that no one can complete the tasks up to their standards and insist on doing them themselves. However, their list is constantly expanding, so these Ones find themselves perpetually working and exhausted. As a result, they become resentful, bitter, and judgmental of others whom they see as lazy and incompetent.
# 5 – Unhealthy Ones are Judgmental
As we’ve already discussed, unhealthy Ones tend to critique freely and see things in black-and-white terms. They also tend to play prosecutor, judge, and jury all at once when reprimanding people. Unwilling to see alternate perspectives, they imagine that others are depraved, corrupt, evil, lazy, incompetent, or shallow, simply because they aren’t following the same moral code or lifestyle that they adopt for themselves.
#6 – Unhealthy Ones are Slaves to Perfectionism
Ones believe that if they’re going to do something, they must do it perfectly. They see no point in stopping once a project is “good enough.” They must persist beyond that and complete their obligations and responsibilities with excellence. Unfortunately, this can mean that they wind up taking too long to finish their projects. It can also mean that they get burned out, overwhelmed, frustrated, and disillusioned.
#7 – Unhealthy Ones Have Biting Humor
Because Ones tend to repress a lot of their anger, it often comes out in sharp, critical comments veiled as “jokes.” They might tease people for their incompetence, only to act miffed when the other party gets offended. They make sarcastic jabs at the people who they feel have failed them in some way.
#8 – Unhealthy Ones Can Be Co-Dependent
Ones like to have a sense of control of their surroundings. This can mean that they even feel the need to control the people in their vicinity, telling them what to do, where to go, or how to behave. They also feel like they need to make up for other people’s careless deeds and incompetencies. They may re-do tasks that others have finished or insist on doing everything themselves, thereby numbing other people’s natural sense of responsibility. The people around the One might feel like there’s no use trying to do anything because the One will only see what’s wrong with it or “fix” it.
#9 – Unhealthy Ones are Impatient
Ones tend to be constantly moving and making things happen. As reactive types, they tend to have quick responses to immediate needs. When others take time to deliberate or relax, Ones can feel flabbergasted by it. “Why aren’t they doing what they’re supposed to?” “This is no time to relax! Don’t they see what needs to be done?!” “Do I have to do EVERYTHING myself?” “Come on! We need to go!” The internal critical voice of the unhealthy One desperately shouts about all the incompetence and slowness of others.
#10 – Unhealthy Ones Are Hypocritical
At the worst levels, Unhealthy Ones give in to their repressed desires while publicly continuing to condemn them. If they believed in abstinence before marriage, for example, they may become closeted porn addicts, while publicly condemning sexual depravity. If they preach humility, they may secretly dwell on all their fine qualities. They may binge eat in the late hours of the night as they preach moderation and health. Unwilling to face their shame, they chastise others for doing the very things they say they deplore.
Unhealthiness and the Instinctual Variants
Unhealthy Ones aren’t all exactly the same. Sexual Ones are wired a little differently from Self-Preservation Ones or Social Ones, for example. In this section we’re going to look at some of the presentations of unhealthy behavior in each of the Instinctual Variants.
The Unhealthy Sexual One:
Sexual Ones crave a passionate relationship with an ideal significant other. In all their relationships they desire chemistry, deep understanding, and shared values. At an unhealthy level, Sexual Ones want a flawless relationship. Any imperfections will be quickly chastised, and they will drive their partners away through their constant chiding, correcting, and nitpicking. They often have a critical, controlling attitude and may feel the compulsion to “check up” on their partner, read their texts, follow them around, or inspect their items. Unhealthy Sexual Ones are intensely jealous and feel the need to have the highest priority in their partner’s life. Sexually, they may waver between acting out their intense desires and then repressing them. They are typically co-dependent, controlling, and exhausted.
The Unhealthy Social One:
Social Ones perceive themselves as role models that represent the right way of living and thinking. They may be social justice warriors, journalists, preachers, or even schoolteachers. Rather than focusing on an idealized partner, they focus on institutions they can impact in a positive way.
At an unhealthy level, Social Ones react to public policies as if they were personal affronts or triumphs. For example, if the president they want isn’t elected, they may become harshly judgmental about people of that political party. Instead of seeing them as individuals with unique experiences and ideas, they internally label them as personal attackers. Unhealthy Social Ones also tend to get annoyed when people take their critiques personally, yet constantly take criticism of any kind personally themselves without realizing it.
The Unhealthy Self-Preservation One:
Self-Preservation Ones want to feel like everything in their lives is orderly and structured. They worry a lot about their material well-being, whether that be their budget or their health. Typically hard workers, they expend a lot of energy and stress on building up their security. In fact, many times these Ones can be mistaken as Sixes because Sixes have a lot of these same tendencies.
At an unhealthy level, Self-Preservation Ones oscillate between periods of debauchery and strict restraint. They may be aficionados of fad diets, preaching their restraint to the world, yet secretly binging on fatty foods when no one is looking. They feel an intense craving for their instinctual impulses – binging on food, alcohol, or sex. Then they may “punish” themselves by restraining from such practices for long periods of time and even possibly starving themselves or self-harming.
What to Do About It:
Life is never without its struggles. You may not relate to any of these unhealthy traits immediately, only to see them later in life. Many of our weaknesses are unconscious to us when it comes to the Enneagram. They’ve become so automatic we don’t even feel any sense of shock or alarm regarding them.
Some of us experience unhealthy moments, where we lash out and do things we shouldn’t. Some of us experience unhealthy years or decades of life. If you’re reading this and you’d like input on how to overcome these qualities, you can check out The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson. You can also get a few quick tips in my article 7 Struggles of the Enneagram One Type.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any suggestions or insights to add? Let us know in the comments!
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