Some people see the world as dangerous, and some see it as safe. Some see it as just or unjust. Nevertheless, we all live in the same world. Elements of our personality color our views, and human perception is little more than an inkblot test. One purpose of the Enneagram of Personality is to describe the various lenses that distort our perception of the world. If you believe that the world is ultimately in need of saving, that you must be helpful, and that the objective of life is to be loved and needed, then you might be:
TYPE TWO: THE HELPER
(Also known as “The Giver”)
I. Introduction to the Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a personality classification system comprised of nine types. Each one of these nine types represents a distinct set of motivations, fears, desires and virtues. This article (and the other articles in this series) are designed to present each of the nine types in an understandable and comprehensive way. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, as it is the most popular personality instrument discussed on PersonalityCafe. The Enneagram is a fantastic compliment to the MBTI test because the Enneagram deals with core motivations, while MBTI deals with information processing. When taken together, MBTI and Enneagram can provide an accurate description of an individual's personality.
These articles are intended to describe each Enneagram type from the ground up, starting with the most fundamental motivations of that type and moving up to how those motivations are expressed in the real world.
II. Quick Facts about Type Two
These facts will be described throughout the article.
Holy Idea: Freedom
Enneagram Triad: Image (Associated Emotion: Shame)
Hornevian Triad: Compliant
Harmonic Triad: Positive Outlook
Basic Drive: To make their ideal image into a reality
Basic Fear: Unworthiness of Love
Basic Desire: Unconditional Love
Freudian Association: Superego
III. Type Two Description
The novelist Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote:
“So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”
(From his book “Lay Morals and Other Papers.”
This indispensability is at the root of the Type Two personality. Type Twos want to be indispensable, much like Stevenson described, and that comes through helping others. Twos admire helpfulness, and strive to be generous and kind. They take great pride in their goodness, which is at the root of Type Two.
Pride is a multifaceted concept. At their best, a Two with a strong sense of personal pride in their good deeds can embody the Type Two virtue of altruism. But at their worst, pride can become ostentatious and self-serving, leading to the Type Two vice of vainglory (love of one's own goodness.) The psychological healthiness of a Two can be measured by how close they are to their virtue, or how close they are to their vice.
Type Two is an image type, like Types Three and Four. While Type Three wants a successful image, and Type Four wants a unique image, Type Twos seek out an image in which they can take pride. Type Twos share the same fundamental problem as the other image types, which is that they can sometimes conflate what they seem to be with who they really are. This is because their primary sphere of action is the world of the image; that is, their image is the canvas upon which they paint. For Body types, their canvas is the world of interaction with others. For Head types, it is their own thoughts. Image types directed their creative energy toward how they are perceived, and how they perceive themselves.
This doesn't mean that Image types should be looked on cynically as self-serving, but rather, they strive to embody the ideals that they have internalized. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the famous saying by Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Within the Enneagram, these internalized ideals are called “Holy Ideas”, as they represent one quality of the world that the individual is particularly sensitive two. The “Holy Idea” of Type Two is freedom.
Freedom is a concept with many definitions. The closest definition of freedom in this context is the “absence of subjection to foreign domination.” In this case, “foreign domination” refers not to foreign countries but to those outside influences which have a tendency to crush the human spirit. Cruelty, poverty, accident and mistake are all examples of how the realities of the world victimize the human spirit. Seeing this strikes a chord in the Type Two, inspiring them to actively take a role in freeing others from this oppression. Ironically enough, this also causes Twos to ignore their own needs, thus helping others without really helping themselves.
This primary motivation causes a host of secondary consequences which make up the key characteristics of Type Two behavior. The first is a deep-seated desire to help others, as well as a natural tendency toward empathy. Because of the strength of this desire, they want to see that reflected in reality, which explains their image fixation. An inability to live up to this image leads to the negative emotion of shame, which is shared amongst all the Image types (2, 3, 4.)
Image is a two-fold concept: it contains both the individual's perception of themselves, and the perception others have of the individual. When the latter form is lacking – that is, if the helpful nature of the Two is not acknowledged – they can experience a condition of great stress. This is not because Twos are naturally vain or self-centered. Some people have a cynical image of Twos, believing that Twos are kind only for image purposes. This is not true; it just happens to be that Twos (like all Image types) conflate images with reality. In essence, if a Two does not believe that they appear to be kind, this is tantamount to them not being kind.
In short, Type Twos are friendly, kind, generous and helpful. They tend to get along with people and are usually easy going. Their greatest strength is their constant desire to help, while their greatest weakness is a tendency to ignore their own needs. Secondary strengths are the ability to get along well with others and a naturally positive outlook. Secondary weaknesses are the risk of falling victim to vainglory and the need to be appreciated.
IV. Developmental Progression of Type Two
Early in life, the Type Two is sensitive to the concept of freedom. In this case, freedom means “freedom from pain” and the drive for self-determination.
The material world (life) corrupts this ideal into the delusion that freeing others is more important than freeing the self. (This is based on the erroneous notion that the Two and those around them are indeed separate entities. Think of “spiritual oneness” here.)
The Two can succumb to vainglory, which gives them the illusion that they are freeing others when they actually are not. (Or at least, are not to the extent that they believe.) This leads to the stress point of Eight, where they can become domineering and actually subvert their true goal of being helpful.
The Two’s virtue, altruism leads them to their growth point of Four, as it helps them actualize their own needs and to become more self-aware. (This is elaborated on later in the article.)
Enneagram theorists quickly discovered that each Enneagram type can have traits of the types around it. This is called “wing theory”, and while some theorists dispute the finer points of it, it's generally agreed that each type has a connection to the types around it and one of these connections will be dominant. For example, Type Two is surrounded by Types One and Three. Someone could therefore be a Two with a One Wing (Two as their main type with some Type One traits), or a Two with a Three Wing (Two as their main type with some Type Three traits.) The notation for this is 2w1 and 2w3, respectively. It is generally held that one wing is more dominant than the other; while you may have traits of both wings, one is more pronounced. Some believe that you can have balanced (equal) wings, but this Enneagram type description operates under the “dominant wing” theory, which is the most prevalent in the Enneagram community.
Type Two shares wings with Type One and Type Three.
Type Two with a One Wing:
Type Two's primary motivation is to be helpful, while Type One is principled and self-critical. 2w1 combines these two elements. 2w1 individuals like to help because it's the “right thing to do” and this reflects their firm moral code. They can be particularly selfless and generous, although when unhealthy, they can develop a martyr complex.
Generally speaking, they are not as aggressive as a 2w3.
Type Two with a Three Wing:
Type Three is associated with the desire for a successful image, and this combines with the Type Two desire to be helpful to make a 2w3. 2w3s are less introverted than 2w1s and can be very socially engaging. 2w3s are also flashier with their good deeds, as they gravitate toward positions where their kindness and generosity is likely to be recognized. While a 2w1 will take on a thankless task, a 2w3 is more likely to run the show and thus be in a position to be publicly praised.
2w3s can be much more aggressive than 2w1s, as their Three wing can sometimes show itself, especially when their image is called into question.
VI. Growth and Stress Arrows
One theme in the study of the Enneagram is interconnectivity. Each type is distinct, but it does not stand alone. We discussed Wings earlier, which shows how a type can have traits of the types next to it. Another example of interconnectivity are stress and growth arrows. When an individual is in a state of stress or growth, they can take on traits of other types. There is some disagreement within the Enneagram community as to what precipitates a stress or growth condition, but I believe that the most logical interpretation of this is that a type becomes stressed when they succumb to their vice, while a type grows when they are following their virtue. Following a vice is a natural response, as it is the easy way out. Virtues are risky because they cause a person to confront their “dark sides” or fears and may result in a radical reassessment of one's thoughts and actions. Nevertheless, the Enneagram is a system of personal growth and the stress/growth arrow dynamic reflects that, as it embodies the concept that transcendence is hard work, and it's always darkest before the dawn.
This is also in line with the overarching theme that the Nine types are basically just different means of perceiving reality, and no type is more correct than any other.
Growth Arrow to Type Four:
Type Fours naturally withdraw into themselves, and are thus in-touch with their own emotions and needs. Type Twos, when in a growth state, start to obtain those qualities. Twos grow when they practice the virtue of altruism, which is helping others for the sake of helping others with no other motivation behind it. Altruism is, by necessity, a humble venture. This humility acts as an antidote to the image-type temptation of exaggerating one's image. Humility forces the Two's image in line with objective reality, and thus allows the Two to honestly explore their own feelings and desires in a realistic way. Humility says to the Two, “Loving your own image is NOT loving yourself.”
Therefore, Type Twos in a growth state break out of the delusion that was described in the Developmental Progression section in this article. They can actually free themselves, as well as freeing others, when they approach themselves with pure honesty.
Stress Arrow to Type Eight:
Being a Type Two can often be a thankless job. While the generous acts of a Type Two are often appreciated, the vice of vainglory means that the Two may have an inflated opinion of their own deeds. Vainglory means “a love of one's own goodness.” Love has a tendency to cloud objectivity, so this can lead to a Two feeling vastly unappreciated, as vainglory makes them overestimate and unduly glorify their virtue. This is the start of the stress arrow from Two to Eight. As the Two feels more and more undervalued, they may become domineering and aggressive like an unhealthy Type Eight in a bid to gain the respect that they believe they deserve.
The stress arrow to Eight can manifest in a different way, however. If a Type Two succumbs to vainglory, they can become domineering even if they are fully appreciated. In that case, the Two believes that they are simply so good that they deserve to be calling the shots. Vainglory can make the Two believe that they are so far above everyone else that others would benefit from being micromanaged.
This stress arrow echoes a perverse interpretation of the Holy Idea of Freedom that we discussed earlier. Vainglory deceives the Type Two into following the wrong path, promising them freedom from their own negative situation but – in actuality – only binding them further.
VII. Type Two Variants
Self-Preservation Twos tend to be helpful in a material way; they like to be seen as providers who selflessly give to others. They are adept at taking others under their wing and providing physical and material support.
Social Twos concentrate on improving and serving their social circle and community. Social Twos are probably the most likely to volunteer their time, both in the assistance of individuals and in group projects.
Sexual Twos focus their generosity into personal relationships, particularly intimate relationships. They will often bend over backwards for their partner, doing everything they can to keep the other person happy. While this is great for the partner, it can breed resentment in the Two if the generosity is not adequately reciprocated. This can cause friction down the road.
VIII. Comparison within Triads
Within the Head/Body/Image Triads:
Head: These types are primarily concerned with their own thoughts.
Image: These types take action when it comes to their image, which they equate with reality.
Body: These types focus on the border between themselves and the world around them.
Within the body triad…
(Compared to Nine) Twos are more likely to glorify themselves than a Nine would. Nines can be very disinterested in their own lives, while Twos are fixated on it.
(Compared to One) Twos lack the self-critical nature of a One. Twos can easily take pride in their own accomplishments while a One would be more critical.
(Compared to Eight) Part of the Two identity is being helpful and kind, which doesn't square up with the aggressive nature of an Eight.
Within the image triad…
(Compared to Three) Twos are less action-oriented and less ambitious than a Three. Threes want a successful image; Twos want an image they can take pride in.
(Compared to Four) Fours feel that they are naturally separated from the world and withdraw from it; Twos, on the other hand, are constantly trying to connect with other people. Part of the Four image might be uncooperative individualism, while Twos would not act that way.
Within the head triad…
(Compared to Five) Fives believe that they have to withdraw from the world and act cautiously to avoid harm; therefore, Fives see people as potentially dangerous while Twos see them as engaging.
(Compared to Six) Sixes seek to affiliate with others as a means of resolving anxiety. Twos, on the other hand, do it primarily to help others.
(Compared to Seven) Twos are more focused than Sevens. They are also less energetic.
Within the Hornevian triads:
The Hornevian triads describe how each type copes with a situation. They were originally developed by psychologist Karen Horney.
In this context, “aggressive” means “action-oriented.” It doesn't mean belligerence.
Type Three – Takes action to gain success.
Type Seven – Takes action to keep engaged in interesting activities.
Type Eight - Takes action to secure more resources and to continue to consume.
Type Four – Withdraws to protect themselves from being absorbed into the crowd; to maintain their uniqueness.
Type Five – Withdraws to defend themselves and to get a better/clearer view of the situation.
Type Nine – Withdraws to maintain peace.
In this context, these types are compliant to their superegos. It doesn't mean that they are pushovers.
Type One – Complies with the superego because they will feel corrupt if they don't.
Type Two – Complies with the superego because they will feel useless if they don't.
Type Six – Complies with the superego because they will feel insecure if they don't.
Within the Harmonic triads:
The Harmonic triads describe the primary problem-solving skill employed by each type.
Type Two – Twos focus on their own goodness and virtue.
Type Seven – Sevens adopt an “it doesn't affect me” mentality.
Type Nine – Nines focus on the “silver lining” in a situation instead of negative aspects.
Type One – Ones must be competent to maintain their set of ethics.
Type Three – Threes must be competent to avoid challenges to their success.
Type Five – Fives must be competent to survive in the “outer world.”
Type Four – Fours may take things very personally, which makes them very emotionally intense.
Type Six – Sixes are observant of their world and react accordingly.
Type Eight – Eights are quick to react to challenges and to assert their boundaries.
IX. Enneagram and MBTI Interaction
The Enneagram describes motivations, while the MBTI describes modes of information processing. It would stand to reason that MBTI is subordinate to Enneagram, as the Enneagram deals with more basic motivations. Imagine that two people want to tell the same story, but one is a writer and one is a musician. One will write a book while the other will write a song but both have the same origin point.
So let’s look at each type and how that form of information processing would appear when directed by the primary motivation of Type Two.
Extroverted Sensation Types (ESTP and ESFP)
Extroverted Sensation is associated with a strong connection to the “present moment” and places an emphasis on practicality in life. ESxP Twos have a natural ability to work easily with other people, and tend to be very laid-back. They make excellent friends.
Extroverted Intuition Types (ENTP and ENFP)
Extroverted Intuition is essentially the opposite of Extroverted Sensing: instead of focusing on present information, Extroverted Intuition brainstorms a myriad number of possibilities that may or may not be true.
ENxP Twos can be very creative in the plans and possibilities that they generate. Natural “idea people”, ENxP Twos make excellent counselors but usually prefer to provide advice rather than taking a hands-on approach. With that said, they can be very comforting, although their natural inclination is toward brainstorming instead of practical action.
Extroverted Thinking Types (ENTJ, ESTJ)
Extroverted Thinking breaks a process down into its logical components and checks it for logical consistency.
Extroverted Thinking Twos are natural administrators, and they tend to make compassionate bosses and forward-thinking government officials. They usually channel their ability to organize into pursuits that will help other people.
Extroverted Feeling Types (ENFJ, ESFJ)
Extroverted Feeling refers to an awareness of the emotions or hidden beliefs of another, but does not necessarily imply that an Fe-dominant person must bend to those emotions.
Extroverted Feeling Twos, in many ways, are the “typical Two.” Their ability to key into the unspoken emotions of others makes them extremely effective at resolving the problems of others. This skill, though, can potentially make them more vulnerable to the vice of vainglory.
Introverted Sensation Types (ISTJ, ISFJ)
Introverted Sensation types tend to use their experience to guide them; Si dominant Type Twos are careful in their attempts to help others. Their carefulness comes from their desire to take new information and fit it into existing systems, to thus create a proven formula for fulfilling their altruistic goals.
Introverted Intuition Types (INTJ, INFJ)
Ni dominant types can easily navigate and structure abstract systems. INxJ Twos are natural systems builders, whether in a more objective sense (INTJ) or a more social sense (INFJ). INxJ Twos can seem detached at times, but that doesn't mean they don't care.
Introverted Thinking Types (INTP, ISTP)
Introverted Thinking types (IxTP) emphasize the particular meanings of words and how each individual piece fits together within a concept.
IxTP Twos are in a unique situation because Extroverted Feeling, which is associated with an awareness of other people's unspoken desires, is their inferior function. This means that IxTP Twos are difficult to spot, as the tend to be helpful in an indirect way.
Introverted Feeling Types (INFP, ISFP)
Introverted Feeling types are concerned more about the essence of a particular subject than the gritty particulars. (This is the opposite for Introverted Thinking types.) IxFP Twos tend to be very accepting of others, as their search for “essence” often leads them to see the good in people where others cannot.
X. Paths to Security
Type One - “I will be secure if I'm perfect.”
Type Two - “I will be secure if I'm loved, appreciated or respected.”
Type Three - “I will be secure if I am successful.”
Type Four - “I will be secure if I am unique.”
Type Five - “I will be secure if I withdraw from harm.”
Type Six - “I will be secure if I am always aware of danger.”
Type Seven - “I will be secure if I can plan for the future.”
Type Eight - “I will be secure if I can control the world around me.”
Type Nine - “I will be secure if I have peace.”
XI. Freudian Association
From my article, “The Freudian Theory of Enneagram”
Type 2: Superego Helper.
Basic Fear: To be undeserving of love.
Basic Desire: To have unconditional love.
Type 2 is called "The Helper" because this type is associated with a concern for the well-being of others. Any type can care for others, but for Type 2, it's a core motivation. There's a tension within Type 2: they help out of the goodness of their heart, but they also want to be loved. This is a typical function of the superego: their superego sees "helping" as a laudable ideal, and the superego reward is love. The id understands love, but not unconditional love; love that extends beyond the present moment is not consistent with the instant gratification drive that the id possesses. Instead, this resides in the superego, and helping others allows the Type 2 to achieve their ego ideal.
There is a darker side to Type 2. Unhealthy Type 2s can be manipulative and fall in love with their own goodness. As I've stated before, even though Type 2 is a superego type, a Type 2 individual still possesses an id. For the world to make sense, the Type 2's ego has to rationalize the conflict between the id and the superego. They do this by turning their instincts into something that they would find morally laudable. This allows them to retain their superego's integrity while fulfilling id desires.
To Encourage Integration: Avoid the temptation to only look at your positive elements. Honestly confront your shortcomings, because you can't deal with them unless you do. This may be psychologically stressful, but it helps you understand your limitations so that you don't overextend yourself. Once this self-certainty has been attained, the Type 2 gains some assertive characteristics of the Type 8. But instead of being assertive to fulfill their id desires, they become assertive to accomplish their superego's goal: to help others.
To Avoid Disintegration: Recognize where your desires are coming from: are you doing things to satisfy some base impulse (id), or are you actually trying to help others (superego)? Try to channel your less altruistic desires into pursuits that don't put you at risk of manipulating others.
Type 2 Wings:
Type 2 with a 1 Wing (Superego-Superego): This wing doubles-up on superego elements, making the 2w1 very moralistic. A 2w1 can appear more "uptight" than a 2w3 in many ways, since the id seems like a foreign force to them. They are more likely to be blindsided by their id desires because of that.
Type 2 with a 3 Wing (Superego-Id): A 2w3 is more in touch with their basic id desires, making them more spontaneous and energetic than the 2w1. Some of the 3 image focus bleeds through, making the 2w3 more concerned with how they appear to the outside world than the 2w1. A 2w3 would be more in touch with their primal desires than a 2w1. This is exactly what you would expect out of a Superego-Id connection.
“The only journey is the journey within.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke