Enneagram EIGHT Detail
For EIGHTs, anger is emotion of choice, and injustice is the trigger. EIGHTs are strong, open and transparent: What You See Is What You Get. They can’t tolerate weakness. They have a hard time following orders, if they don’t respect who’s giving them. Typically, they can’t hold back their feelings.
For EIGHTS, we live in a hard, unjust world; to live in it, one must gain repect and protection against vulnerability. EIGHTS may have been abused. Early on they discovered that the strong rule and the weak are repressed, so they decided to be strong and powerful, taking on God’s work themselves and trying to protect the vulnerable and defenceless. They have a strong sense of reality, which tghey see with all its warts. They enjoy the thrill of difficult; they seek the truth; they work, play, and pray hard.
EIGHTs can easily become aggressive, and they are often rewarded for their strength and forthrightness. It is strength which could be used for less powerful. Their motto is “meet power with power.” EIGHTs have strong opinions; they get frustrated by mixed messages; they have no patience with weakness; they practised at gaining the upper hand. They can quickly sense who has power in room; they will easily take control in a power vacuum. For them, life revolves around power.
The core need of the EIGHT is the need to be against. EIGHTs oppose you and like it when you fight back. This is their indirect form of intimacy. They think that because they like a good fight, you would, too. The aggression of EIGHTs comes from the gut and is directed against everything they perceive as hypocrisy and injustice. Revenge and retaliation are how immature EIGHTs try to get the scales of justice back in balance. For them, “Whoever isn’t for me is against me,” and the world is divided into friend and foe.
The compulsion of the EIGHT is lust, but closer to the German word “lust,” which really means passion. Other sources identify the compulsion as arrogance. Only the encounter with truth can set them free. EIGHTs, who demand honesty from the people around them and who immediately unmask dishonest behaviour, must learn to demand this of themselves as well. They must recognize and acknowledge the innocent, vulnerable, and distressed child in their own soul. Immature EIGHTs deny their own inner vulnerability. “I will never cry. I will make others cry,” they say. They are perceived as the most negative type and can be cruel, rude, and unkind. It is very important for an EIGHT to look powerful and to be in control. They have a hard time admitting mistakes, because that could look like weakness. Because EIGHTs know their own strengths and immediately see the weaknesses of others, they elevate themselves above other people.
But when you’re really poor, helpless, and weak, the EIGHTs’ protective instinct is aroused, and they will do anything to assist you. But as soon as you express in any way that you have power, EIGHTs will prove that they have more power than you. You will seldom win a dispute with an EIGHT.
Don’t be put off by the EIGHT’s lust for power; just remember there’s a vulnerable, tender little child inside of all that bluster. EIGHTs are so much softer and kinder than they appear! They have a passion for the poor, the weak, and the oppressed, and like Mother Teresa, a mature Eight, take on the best qualities of the Two. Their conversion occurs when they move from power and manipulation to how to using their skills for the betterment of all. Redemption occurs through remorse at being too powerful. EIGHTs need to learn how to proceed when they don’t have control; they need to learn to wait for grace, and allow themselves to be touched by softer emotion.
EIGHTs under stress shrink into FIVE behaviour that causes them to withdraw from the world and to fabricate stories about themselves that support their dysfunction.
The healthy EIGHT moves to TWO behaviour, that helps them feel comfortable enough to risk being vulnerable occasionally, and to soften their feelings for those around them. Like self-actualized TWOs, they identify with others and develop a healthy interdependence that serves everyone. They can become genuinely altruistic.
A redeemed EIGHT, who has accepted his or her own weakness, will find that the positive side of lust is the gift of passion, passion in the double sense of a powerful love of life and the readiness to suffer for justice. Redeemed EIGHTs, like Martin Luther King, Jr., can be larger than life and can protect others with their power and vitality instead of dominating them. More than any other type, well-developed EIGHTs have the gift of leading other people to their real potential. They are “tiger mothers” and “tiger fathers” for those in need.
If you feel this describes you fairly well, then click here to explore spiritual practices that might be best suited for your type. Otherwise, click here to return to the summary descriptors of the types.