One, the Perfectionist, explained through a famous book character and an equally famous actress who played the part.
Standing in the doorway of the train compartment, the nine year-old girl watched scornfully as Ron Weasley tried to turn the colour of his pet rat from brown to yellow with a magic trick.
“Are you sure that’s a real spell? Well, it’s not very good, is it?” she commented sceptically, after a small explosion, which did nothing to the rat, but gave Ron a blackened nose.
She continued, “Of course, I only try simple spells, but they usually work for me.”
Pulling out her magic wand, she entered the compartment, sat down opposite Harry Potter and uttered the spell “Oculus Reparo!” instantly mending Potter’s cracked glasses.
Only then did she introduce herself.
“I’m Hermione Granger,” she announced, peering out from under her massive fringe of hair.
“You two had better change into robes. I expect we will be arriving soon,” she added, having already put on her own magician’s gown.
Getting up to leave, she reached the door, turned around and looked at Ron in a slightly disgusted manner. “You’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?” she told him, then abruptly departed.
A short while later, at Hogwarts School for Magic, Hermione confided, “I’ve learned all the course books by heart, of course. I just hope it will be enough.”
Serious, hard-working and contemptuous of those more frivolous than herself, such is the character of Hermione Granger, the child heroine of the hugely successful Harry Potter books and films.
Hermione, as everyone who has followed the seven-part series knows, became close friends with Harry and Ron, and together the three of them defied and defeated the evil magician, Voldemort.
From the perspective of the Enneagram system of nine personality types, there really isn’t much doubt which strategy Hermione has adopted.
This young lady is a Perfectionist. She has ‘One’ written all over her. Author J K Rowling might not know anything about the Enneagram, but she certainly knows how a perfectionist thinks and acts.
Ones do their homework and rigidly stick to the rules – at least, until higher priorities require them to disobey them.
“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves,” said Hermione, disapprovingly, after Harry and Ron had messed up again. “Now, if you two don’t mind, I’m going to bed, before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed – or worse, expelled.”
Her unintentional humour at making expulsion from school seem worse than dying is a well-scripted insight into the minds of perfectionists, who find the prospect of being publicly shamed far worse than suddenly expiring in a magical mishap.
Another quality of Ones is a willingness to work hard and, in one of Rowling’s books, Hermione uses a time-rewinding device to study three different subjects at the same time at Hogwarts.
Type Threes, being high achievers, also have this trait, but their motivation is different: Threes want to be successful, while Ones want to make sure they know their subject as thoroughly as possible.
Not surprisingly, Ron Weasley sometimes called Hermione a ‘know-it-all’, but her thirst for knowledge did come in handy when the trio were in a tight spot.
“Honestly, am I the only person who’s ever bothered to read Hogwarts: A History?” she asked crossly, when providing Ron and Harry with much-needed information.
“Probably,” muttered Ron, with grudging admiration.
For Ones, their strong moral obligation to do things the right way carries with it, like a shadow, a slow-burning anger, directed at anyone they judge as immoral.
This was why Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Enneagram personality system, named this type ‘Resent’, his shorthand term for ‘resentment’.
From the beginning, Hermione had this quality, but, like most Ones, she struggled to keep it in check. When she finally exploded, in her third year at Hogwarts, it was bad guy Draco Malfoy who felt the force of it – in the form of a well-delivered punch on the jaw.
Looking at the Potter movies through the window of the Enneagram, what makes the portrayal of Hermione doubly enjoyable is the fact that her character is played by Emma Watson, who is also a One. This gives a new twist to the old showbiz expression “type casting”.
Watson was just nine years old when she landed the part. The daughter of two English lawyers, she was sent to the prestigious Dragon School in Oxfordshire and at the age of six told her parents she wanted to be an actress. Obligingly, they sent her for part-time lessons to the local branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts.
Her breakthrough came when one of her teachers referred her to casting agents for the role of Hermione and, when J K Rowling saw her, the author supported the choice.
From the very first movie, titled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, Emma Watson was praised for her portrayal of Hermione. As the series progressed, Daniel Radcliffe, as Harry Potter, got mixed reviews, but Watson always did well, won awards, and was complimented for ‘carrying’ the bland Radcliffe through his role.
Ten years later, when the Potter film series was completed, Emma Watson had mutated from child to teenager to young woman. But her onscreen confidence, evident through all eight movies, concealed her self-criticism and the high standard she requires of herself.
“I’m not a worrier, but I’m a perfectionist,” she reflected, in a press interview. “The thing is, feeling like I didn’t do the best job I could have. I will always be able to find something wrong, something I can do better.”
This is a classic One view of life: the need to always strive to improve and never quite reaching the impossibly high standard that Perfectionists set for themselves.
It’s speculation, of course, but looking for the source of Watson’s decision, as a young child, to adopt the One strategy, it might well have been the busy and successful lifestyle of her lawyer-parents, combined with the underlying expectation that their daughter had to shape up and work hard if she wanted to be like them.
After the Potter movies, Emma Watson put herself through university, graduating at the age of 24 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She also got herself certified as a teacher of yoga and meditation.
Now, at 27, she is recognised as an accomplished actress and recently won praise for her portrayal of Belle, the heroine, in the newest version of “Beauty and the Beast”. The movie, based on an earlier Walt Disney animation and an eighteenth century fairy tale, has been a huge success, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of all time.
Playing a fairy-tale character might seem easy, but Watson made it clear she had to work for it.
“There were so many new things that I was taking on with the role,” she said on a TV talk show. “I’d never done a musical before, I’d never sung publicly before, I’ve never ridden a horse before, I’d never danced in a movie before.
“So I kind of went into this boot camp for three months before we started shooting, which was like: singing four times a week, dancing five times a week, riding three times a week.
Watson added: “In the prep, the build-up to the shooting, I really felt the pressure from that: not just from me loving those films but knowing how much this character means to so many people.”
Here, we see the Perfectionist’s concern not just to meet their own standard of competence, but also taking on a feeling of responsibility towards others – trying hard not to let people down.
An Oscar-winning performance as Belle? When asked, Watson made it clear she has higher priorities. “I couldn’t care less if I won an Oscar or not, if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear,” she replied.
Emma Watson has also pushed her sense of social responsibility in other directions, branching out from acting and modelling into the realm of social activism, campaigning for women’s rights.
In a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York in 2014 (link), Watson said that she began questioning gender-based assumptions at age eight when she was called “bossy” (a trait she has attributed to her perfectionism) whilst boys were not, and at 14 when she was “sexualized by certain elements of the media.”
This reflects the tendency of Ones to dedicate themselves to worthwhile causes. First, they have to be convinced of the correctness of a cause, then they will throw their energy into it, taking satisfaction in a job well done.
Meanwhile, in her personal life, Watson has been fiercely protective, trying to avoid the paparazzi and gossip columns as much as possible.
“I really draw a super-conscious line between what is public and what is private and that has helped me maintain a certain degree of sanity,” she confided in an interview. “Because having people wade in and giving an opinion on absolutely everything about me would just destroy me as a human being.”
Again, this concern for privacy isn’t just for herself, but out of a sense of responsibility towards her boyfriends.
“I don’t date people who are famous and I don’t think it’s fair that, all of a sudden, intimate details of their personal life are public as a direct result of me. I wish I could protect them,” she explained.”
Naturally, Emma Watson has done her share of television interviews and it’s indicative of her type that she always appears fresh-faced and neatly dressed, looking clean, calm and clear – just how Ones like themselves to be seen.
Of course, any female star will want to look her best in front of the TV cameras, but Ones tend to make an extra effort to create a squeaky clean image. This arises out of a deep, unconscious fear of not really being okay inside – that original feeling of ‘wrongness’ that caused Ones to set out on the path to perfection.
Perhaps more than any other Enneagram type, perfectionism is understood and accepted in society as a common psychological characteristic. Lots of people experience it from time to time, but they are not all Ones.
Almost any type can slip into it, for different reasons. For example, a pushy Six, fearful of authority and doubting his or her own capacity, can get very nit-picky and pedantic. A bossy Eight can lay down the law, saying exactly the way things have to be – according to his or her own rules. An intellectual Five, operating from textbook knowledge, can get obsessed by details.
So, where does perfectionism come from? Like many Western traits, it can be blamed on Ancient Greeks like Aristotle and Plato, whose philosophical musings included the notion that human beings can – and perhaps should – be better-behaved than they actually are.
Isaac Newton, the father of modern science, was said to be so afraid of criticism, that in 1704 he removed his name from the title page of one of his own works, when he found printing errors in the text.
Other notable figures with perfectionist reputations include Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nicolaus Copernicus and, more recently, actor Cary Grant, director Stanley Kubrick and computer whiz Steve Jobs.
Michelangelo, the greatest sculptor of all time, is said to have despaired of ever attaining to the standard he set himself.
During the past century, perfectionism has also been recognized as a form of neurosis.
According to psychologists, “normal” perfectionists can pursue their ideals without losing self-esteem if they fail, and can even derive pleasure from their achievements.
On the other hand, “neurotic” perfectionists are prone to strive for unrealistic goals and feel dissatisfied or depressed when they cannot reach them.
For her part, Emma Watson’s self-esteem seems healthy enough. Even though she fears public criticism, she doesn’t let it stand in her way. On the contrary, when criticized, she fights back fiercely to defend herself.
Just this year, when she modelled for Vanity Fair magazine, Watson came under fire for posing almost topless. Critics accused her of compromising her campaign for feminism and gender equality.
Watson hit back in typical One style, delivering a lecture on feminism, keeping her feet firmly on the moral high ground and making her critics seem wrong:
“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she said. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”
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Editor’s Note: With this article on the Perfectionist, Subhuti has described all nine Enneagram types, using famous people as illustrations. Follow this link to read them all: Enneagram Famous Figures
Subhuti gives workshops about the Enneagram all over the world and also gives individual online Enneagram sessions. Contact: anandsubhuti (at) yahoo.com
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