Characteristics and Potential of the Enneagram Type 1

Enneagram Type 1 people are conscientious and ethical.
Characteristics and Potential of the Enneagram Type 1
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

The Enneagram Type 1 personality is as complex as it is striking. This is the typical perfectionist, a person who strives to be coherent, well-intentioned, and virtuous at any given moment. It’s common for these people to hide some contained anger though. It’s due to certain areas of themselves they dislike and that keep them from reaching their full potential.

Claudio Naranjo points out that Enneagram Type 1 is an assertive virtuoso in his book Character and Neurosis. The main characteristic of this type of person is their desperate obsession to improve the things that surround them, without realizing that such eagerness is detrimental for their life and that of others.

Enneagram Type 1 has the need to be coherent at all times: to be right, good, objective, and rational.

This set of traits isn’t negative or limiting. It’s quite the contrary, in fact. This is because the ultimate purpose of an enneagram is to serve as a valuable tool for self-knowledge. It’s a way of getting to know the masks you hide behind and delve into your needs, deepest instincts, emotions, mental processes, and potential.

An Enneagram Type 1 person is highly resourceful and skilled and, according to this approach, can reach enlightenment as long as they deepen their character and consciousness by resolving their problematic features. In future articles, we’ll describe the rest of the enneatypes in detail. Today’s is about the personality known as “the reformer”.

“The Enneagram is, at its most abstract, a universal mandala of the self — a symbol of each of us.”

-Don Richard Riso-

An enneagram of personality from type 1 to 9.


Enneagram Type 1, the desire to lead a coherent life

Anyone who’s ever seen or read To Kill a Mockingbird will remember Atticus Finch, one of the most beloved characters in the history of literature. His profile, will, humanity, and balance all perfectly symbolize the most enlightened Enneagram Type 1. He has no wrong or dark sides to work on. His vital energy and sense of justice are the very imprints of the first of the enneagram types.

However, before ascending to this pedestal, Enneagram Type 1 usually moves through convulsive seas, complex contradictions, and scenarios of high frustration where their aspirations don’t always materialize.

Characteristics, according to Claudio Naranjo in Character and Neurosis

  • An obsession for details.
  • The need to make lists of almost anything, as well as diagrams, reminders, etc.
  • Every task they carry out must be perfect. However, this need is a source of continuous frustration because they’re seldom satisfied. This behavior often reaches the point of exhaustion. In fact, this eagerness can get to the point of creating tensions and disagreements and can affect others.
  • These people are conscientious, often inflexible, and scrupulous.
  • Also, they have a heightened sense of justice, what’s right and wrong (according to them), and what’s acceptable.
  • Their internal dialogue abounds with “shoulds” and “musts”.
  • Furthermore, they don’t usually delegate tasks to others and find it difficult to team up when it comes to working matters. This is because they doubt anyone else can be as effective as they are.
  • Finally, Type 1 is rather attached to their possessions and family, although it’s often an unhealthy kind of attachment.
A man looking out the window.

Moreover, an interesting detail Claudio Naranjo points out about Enneagram type 1 is they’re usually angry. This dimension is what endows this person with such rigidity and lack of spontaneity. This anger is nothing more than the result of so much accumulated personal frustration. It’s due to the feeling that everything around them is unfair, lazy, or wrong and beyond their control.

Things the Enneagram Type 1 can do to achieve personal fulfillment

This personality can attain high discernment, wisdom, and good judgment when they work on their problem areas: pent-up anger, controlling nature, and extreme perfectionism. Indeed, they can be just like Atticus Finch and even inspiring, guiding, and influential in an enriching way.

How can they achieve this, though? Well, by becoming aware of their attitudes and limits. For instance:

  • They should lower their unreasonable standards a bit.
  • They must also lower the volume of their critical, hypocritical inner voice that demands a moral virtuosity that not even they can attain.
  • In addition, they must reduce the “shoulds” and any other self-imposition they put on themselves. This is because such limiting demands imprison them.
  • They must learn to delegate and trust others a little more.
  • They must understand that the world around them won’t ever be the way they want it to be. Life is about “living and letting live” and that implies allowing others to do as they wish without it letting it affect them in any way.
  • Finally, Enneagram Type 1 must get in touch with their emotions, channel them, and release them. All that pent-up anger must dissolve and all dissatisfaction must find better-ventilated rooms. This is mainly to understand that perfectionism goes hand in hand with wear and tear, just like authoritarian discipline is tied to exhaustion.
A woman looking at a bird.


A healthy and fulfilled Enneagram Type 1 is above all a person freer from their own mental attachments. There’s an intermediate sphere where they can feel truly fulfilled and useful in their noble aspiration to create a fairer world and be a better being.

It’s a psychological stratum where emotions are more adjusted and where there’s a humbler acceptance of reality. Because you can only begin to be calmer and more satisfied, flexible, and compassionate when you stop being a “fault-tracker” both internally and externally.

Be on the lookout for future articles that’ll continue to describe the rest of the eight Enneagram Types. It’s a great tool of personal knowledge, no doubt.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.