The Angelic Helper and the Helper from Hell

These can be two different people or two personalities in one.

Posted Oct 02, 2012

Mother of All Beetles

By Elizabeth Wagele from "Career Within You"

Famous Enneagram Helpers are rare, because Helper types are usually busy supporting someone else, like President Reagan’s wife, Nancy. Healthy Helpers are generous, kind, and loving, make steadfast friends, and exemplify human qualities of caring and having a personal touch. They exude warmth and therefore can harmonize a group, welcome newcomers, soothe those in pain, and mother those who need TLC.

Pamela Harriman, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Cosby are examples of Helper types. See for more famous Enneagram types.

Dixie was loyal, observant, and sensitive. She would visit every day when friends were in the hospital, even taking off from work to do so. Friends valued her for diplomatically telling them when something about them bothered her or if they hurt her feelings. When she died many felt shattered to lose her honesty and her balance along with her true friendship.

Ellie writes in The Enneagram of Death that she went through World War II bombings not knowing when her father might get killed fighting or if her home might not be standing when she returned from school. Now she volunteers in the dementia ward where her husband died. “I am happy there. I just seem to belong. I serve all the people at recreation time, but I also have my special friend, Kathleen, whom I adopted. We are gifts to one another. She does not know my name but we both love one another. No blindness, no thinking that I am the Helper and Giver. No more one-way street. I need her as much as she needs me.”

Be Polite

By Elizabeth Wagele from "The Career Within You"

Helpers aren’t always healthy. The unhealthy ones give in order to get instead of out of the goodness of their hearts. They keep track, expecting love, approval, or something else in return. Expectations are a recipe for disappointment so they may have a martyr quality about them. They think they know what others need to the point of being prideful: “I’m the only one who knows what you need.”

All nine types become stuck when unhealthy. Unhealthy Helpers:

• have trouble accepting that others can help themselves so they may be bossy and give unsolicited advice

• may have trouble receiving gifts

• are often attracted to needy people and don’t realize they also have needs

Helpers from Hell might smile a lot and do many favors for people but if they don’t get the reward they expect back, they will attack. One unhealthy Helper lavished attention on a new friend for several months, then told her she didn’t want to see her any more because she robbed her of her energy.

Another unhealthy Helper wanted more attention from her grown daughter so she babysat a lot for her, expecting the daughter would become more attentive (change her personality) in appreciation. Not surprisingly, the daughter’s behavior toward her mother remained the same. The mother became enraged when her efforts at manipulation failed and quit babysitting in a huff, leaving her daughter wondering why.

You don’t have to be a Helper type to have some of these characteristics. I’m not a Helper type but when I hear stories like these I look for the healthy and unhealthy aspects of them in myself. I try to get to know as many parts of myself as possible through the Enneagram. This is one way to expand my awareness of my own behavior and my shadow elements in order to integrate my personality.

About the Author

Elizabeth Wagele was the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.

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