Enneagram Type Two
2

THE HELPER
Overview of Type Two

Because it has so many facets, love is difficult to define. It means different things to different people in different kinds of relationships. The word can be used to cover a multitude of virtues as well as vices. Of all the personality types, Twos think of love in terms of having positive feelings for others, of taking care of others, and of self-sacrifice. These aspects of love are undoubtedly important parts of the picture. But what Twos do not always remember is that, at its highest, love is more closely aligned with realism than with feelings. Genuine love wants what is best for the other, even if it means risking the relationship. Love wants the beloved to become strong and independent, even if it means that the Two must withdraw from the other's life. Real love is never used to obtain from others what they would not freely give. Love outlives a lack of response, selfishness, and mistakes, no matter who is at fault. And it cannot be taken back. If it can be, it is not love.

Twos believe deeply in the power of love as the prime source of everything good in life, and in many ways, they are right. But what some Twos call "love" and what is worthy of the name are very different things. In this personality type, we will see the widest possible uses of love, from disinterested, genuine love, to the flattering effusions of "pleasers," to the outright manipulation and the dangerous obsessions of a "stalker." There is tremendous variety among those who march under the banner of love, from the most selfless angels to the most hate-filled devils. Understanding the personality type Two will help us understand how they got that way.

In the Feeling Center

Although Twos have strong feelings for others, they have potential problems with their feelings. They tend to overexpress how positively they feel about others, while ignoring their negative feelings altogether. They see themselves as loving, caring people, yet all too often they love others only to have others love them in return. Their "love" is not free: expectations of repayment are attached. Twos are often hampered in their ability to truly love others because their self-image is highly invested in having only certain positive feelings for people, and not having other, "unpleasant" feelings.

Healthy Twos, however, are the most considerate and genuinely loving of all the personality types. Because they have strong feelings and sincerely care about others, they go out of their way to help people, doing real good and serving real needs. But if they become unhealthy, Twos deceive themselves about the presence and extent of their own emotional needs as well as their aggressive feelings, not recognizing how manipulative and domineering they can be. As we shall see, unhealthy Twos are among the most difficult of the personality types because they are extremely selfish in the name of utter selflessness. They can do terrible harm to others while believing that they are completely good.

The essence of the problem is that even average Twos cannot see themselves as they really are, as persons of mixed motives, conflicting feelings, and personal needs which they want to fulfill. Instead, they see themselves only in the most glowing terms, ignoring their negative qualities as they gradually become self-deceptive. What is difficult to understand about Twos is how they can deceive themselves so thoroughly; what is difficult to deal with in them is the manipulative way in which they go about getting what they want. The worse they get, the more difficult it is for others to square their perceptions of them with their totally virtuous perception of themselves. They constantly exonerate themselves and demand that others do the same—indeed, they demand that people accept their interpretation of their actions against their own judgment, and sometimes even contrary to the plain facts.

Twos correspond to the extroverted feeling type in Jung's typology. Unfortunately, it is not one of his most insightful descriptions; nevertheless, the following traits are worth noting.

Depending on the degree of dissociation between the ego and the momentary state of feeling, signs of self-disunity will become clearly apparent, because the originally compensatory attitude of the unconscious has turned into open opposition. This shows itself first of all in extravagant displays of feeling, gushing talk, loud expostulations, etc., which ring hollow: 'The lady doth protest too much.' It is at once apparent that some kind of resistance is being over-compensated, and one begins to wonder whether these demonstrations might not turn out quite different. And a little later they do. Only a very slight alteration in the situation is needed to call forth at once just the opposite pronouncement on the selfsame object. (C. G. Jung, Psychological Types, 357-358.)

What Jung describes is the ambivalence of the Two's feelings—the ability to shift from apparently totally positive feelings for others to highly negative ones. As we trace the deterioration of the Two along its Continuum of its traits, we can see that healthy Twos really do love others genuinely. But average Twos have mixed feelings: their love is nowhere near as pure or selfless as they want it to be. And in unhealthy Twos, the opposite of love is operative: hatred finds nourishment in burning resentments against others. Jung is not correct in saying that "only a very slight alteration in the situation is needed to call forth at once just the opposite pronouncement on the selfsame object," since hatred is at the other end of the spectrum from genuine love. But what is true is that step by step, as Twos deteriorate along the Continuum toward neurosis, this is precisely what happens.

Problems with Hostility and Identity

Twos, Threes, and Fours have a common problem with hostility, although they manifest it in different ways. Twos deny that they have any hostile feelings whatsoever, concealing their aggressions not only from others, but also from themselves. Like everyone else, Twos have aggressive feelings, but they protect themselves from realizing their existence and extent because their self-image prohibits them from being openly hostile. They act aggressively only if they can convince themselves that their aggressions are for someone else's good, never for their own self-interest. Average to unhealthy Twos fear that if they were ever openly selfish or aggressive, not only would their negative behavior contradict their virtuous self-image, it would drive others away from them. They therefore deny to themselves (and to others) that they have any selfish or aggressive motives whatsoever, while interpreting their actual behavior in a way which allows them to maintain a positive self-image. They eventually become so practiced at this that they completely deceive themselves about the contradiction between their expressed motives and their real behavior. Unhealthy Twos become capable of acting both very selfishly and very aggressively, while, in their minds, they are neither selfish nor aggressive.

The source of their motivation is the need to be loved. However, Twos are always in danger of allowing their desire to be loved to deteriorate into the desire to control others. By gradually making others dependent on them, average Twos inevitably arouse resentments against themselves while demanding that others confirm how virtuous they are. When interpersonal conflicts arise, as they inevitably do because of their attempts to control others, average to unhealthy Twos always feel "more sinned against than sinning." They see themselves as martyrs who have sacrificed themselves selflessly without being appreciated for it in the least. Their repressed aggressive feelings and resentments eventually manifest themselves in severe psychosomatic complaints and physical illnesses which force others to take care of them.

Gaining the love of others is important to Twos because they fear that they are not loved for themselves alone. They feel that they will be loved only if they can earn love by always being good and by constantly sacrificing themselves for others. In a word, they fear that others would not love them unless they made others love them. (Twos could be briefly characterized as persons who, fearing that they are unlovable, spend their lives trying to make people love them.) Naturally, that creates a deep source of hidden aggression, and if people do not respond to them as they want, average to unhealthy Twos become increasingly resentful. But since they cannot consciously own up to their aggressive feelings, they express them indirectly, in manipulative behavior they disavow. It is mind-boggling to see how badly unhealthy Twos can treat others while justifying everything they do. But no matter how destructive their actions are, unhealthy Twos must persuade themselves that they have nothing but love and the purest of good intentions at heart.

One of the major ironies of all Twos is that, unless they are healthy, the focus of their attention is essentially on themselves, although they neither give this impression to others nor think of themselves as egocentric. Assertions to the contrary, even for average Twos, the welfare of others is not primary. Rather, their positive feelings about themselves—as reinforced by the positive reactions of others—is what is important to them and what they are always angling for.

In a real way, Twos are dependent on the loving responses of others to validate their self-image—the good, selfless, loving person. The problem is that as long as Twos are focused on others to find indications of their own value and lovability, they fail to be fully aware of all of their own feelings and cannot recognize the lovable qualities within themselves. As Twos deteriorate, the situation worsens, because they also fail to recognize loving responses in others. Average to unhealthy Twos start looking for very specific signs that others love them, and any others indications of affection do not count. Thus, Twos must figure out what kind of person they need to be, what they will have to do, in order to elicit from others the specific responses that "count" as love.

This is why Twos have a second problem in common with Threes and Fours, a problem with their identities. Other people do not see Twos as they really are, and, more important, Twos do not see themselves as they really are. There is an ever increasing disparity between the saintly, loving self-image and the actual needy person, between the claims of selfless generosity and the claims on the love of others which they make.

In a real way, Twos have learned to reject themselves and their own legitimate needs, believing that the idealized self-image they have created—the loving, selfless helper and friend—will be more acceptable than their own authentic feelings and responses. And because their identity is dependent upon others affirming and appreciating their goodness, Twos become trapped in behaviors that increasingly frustrate them and alienate others. For Twos to escape this trap, they need to recognize the degree to which they are ignoring their own needs as well as their grief and shame. They can then take some of their wonderful nurturing skills and apply them to a person who really needs them—themselves.

Parental Orientation

As children, Twos were ambivalent to the protective-figure, the person in their early development who was responsible for guidance, structure and discipline. This is often the father, but other people can also play this role, including the mother or even an older sibling. Twos did not identify strongly with the protective figure, but they also did not psychologically separate from the person entirely. As a result, Twos felt that they could best fit into the family system by creating an identity that was complementary to the protective figure. Since the orientation is toward the protective-figure who represents the qualities associated with patriarchy—authority, structure, discipline, guiding the child in the ways of the world—the child began to identify with the complementary, matriarchal role. The young Twos learned to become "little nurturers" as a way of gaining safety and security in the family system. In other words, they believed that if they could nurture the others in their family sufficiently, they could win the love and protection of the protective-figure. This relationship with the protective-figures sets the stage for a similar orientation toward everyone who can give the love they want.

This ambivalent orientation to their protective-figures helps explain why the Twos’ self-esteem is conditional. Twos do not love themselves unconditionally, and this is really the source of all the suffering that Twos will experience or cause. Their self-esteem is based on the condition that they be absolutely good and "unselfish." They must see themselves as good because they believe that only by being extraordinarily good and generous people will they ever obtain love from others. Further, the more dysfunctional the Two’s family system was, the more he will feel that he must sacrifice and repress his own needs in order to get love.

Unfortunately, the more Twos see their own needs as selfish, the more they must find indirect ways of meeting them. The Twos’ superegos are ever vigilant, judging not only the "selfishness" of the Two, but the responses of others to the  Two’s help. "That was a nice thing Brenda said, but if you were really a lovable person, she would have given you a hug." In average to unhealthy Twos, very little can satisfy the superego. The Two cannot be self-sacrificing enough, and no response from others is sufficient to make Twos believe that they are loved. Ironically, Twos try to maintain their psychological survival by trying even harder to convince themselves and others (as well as their punitive superegos) that they truly are being good, selfless and without needs.

While there is certainly nothing objectionable about Twos seeing themselves as good and loving people when they are genuinely good, problems begin when they need to feel that they are good all the time. Even when they are far from good, Twos must see themselves as good for others. The irony is that their need to think of themselves as all-good and helpful is never more urgent than when they are frantically needy, self-centered, and manipulative.

However, when they are healthy, Twos are able to move beyond their desperate search for love by learning to nurture themselves. They understand that self-nurturance is not selfish: in fact, it is essential if they are going to be of any real help to others. They know that to the degree that they can love themselves unconditionally, is the degree to which  they do not have to get love from others by being good all the time. They can then be caring, unselfish, and disinterested, in the most positive meanings of those words, because their love is truly without agenda. Unfortunately, at the lower end of the personality Continuum, the "love" of unhealthy Twos is nothing more than a veneer for the desire to create dependencies to hold onto others. Because of the intensity of their neediness, Unhealthy Twos do evil in the name of good and can no longer tell the difference.

(from Personality Types, p. 60-67)

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