Enneagram Type 8

Type 8 ~ The Protector

Basic Proposition

The original innocent state of sensing the essential truth in everything and in each individual goes into the background in a world that Type 8s perceive as hard and unjust, where the powerful take advantage of others. Type 8s come to believe that they can assure protection and gain respect and regard by becoming strong and powerful, by imposing their own personal truth and by hiding vulnerability. Concurrently, Type 8s develop a big, exuberant energy. Their attention naturally goes to injustices and to what needs control or assertiveness. Denial glues the structure together by helping them to blank out or ignore dangers, or to prevent themselves from experiencing vulnerability. Their ultimate concern or fear is being totally vulnerable and powerless. As compensation, Type 8s sometimes control by becoming forceful, overly direct and impactful, declarative, confrontational, the enforcer of their view of truth and justice, intimidating, and impulsive.

Where Your Attention Goes

Type 8’s attention goes outward towards action. As a result, they focus on power, control, involvement, and immediacy, typically using themselves as a reference point. Eights live an all-or-nothing lifestyle of attending to what is just or unjust, and so they live in the present with amnesia for the past. They also fixate on the overt, the incongruous, the extremes, and the excessive.  

Type 8’s Stressors: What Makes Them Most Personally Reactive

Type 8’s fixation on control and justice results in numerous stressful preoccupations. Because 8s admire strength, honesty, and correcting injustices, they try to dominate and control people, space, and things. Type 8s enjoy taking a position and direct action, and facing conflict by making the first contact. Their need to correct injustice can stem either from a desire for revenge or a desire to protect the weak. Consequently, they can be openly aggressive or angry, as they view anger as both a form of protection and as a representation of strength and respect. 

Type 8s resent deceitful or manipulative people, and any perceived injustices that they cannot correct. As a result, they may be angered by boundaries or rules that are unjust or constraining, and other attempts to control them. Type 8s also dislike weakness in both themselves and others, especially people who will not stand up for themselves or who remain inactive. Consequently, Eights might deny their own vulnerability. Finally, as people of action, 8s love to create intensity in life and dislike being bored. 

To self-develop, Type 8s should work to diminish these preoccupations, as such reactions block their vulnerability, consequently impacting their connections to others in trust, and ultimately their ability to sense reality as it comes in each moment.

Type 8’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Type 8’s Strengths

  • Being strong and powerful
  • Exciting
  • Intense
  • Determined
  • Courageous
  • Persistent
  • Protective of others
  • Just
  • Friendly
  • Truthful
  • Fair
  • Clear and straightforward
  • Firm

Type 8’s Weaknesses

Difficulties Produced for Self

  • The “too’s” – Too much, too soon, too loud, too long, too many – all lead to exhaustion, self-abuse, rejection, and other self-defeating behaviors
  • Denial of fear, weakness, vulnerability, and limits, which results in harm and damage to the self and others
  • Desire for control and domination may result in a counter attack, loss, defeat of own goals, or trouble with authority
  • Mixing up justice with revenge, sometimes with resulting self-vengeance
  • Missing the virtues of tenderness, dependency, passivity, and sensitivity

Difficulties Produced for Others

  • Finding one’s self driven away by the Eight’s excesses and control
  • Resenting the Type 8’s intimidating, intrusive, and confrontative nature 
  • Experiencing harm and disrespect from Type 8, and feeling particularly hurt by the one who loves you lost
  • Experiencing Type 8’s violations of “rights and property”
  • Experiencing Type 8’s misdirected justice as revenge 

Personality Dynamics

When Type 8s suffer from personality biases, the resulting features are biased mental and emotional dynamics. Fortunately, if Type 8s work to diminish their personality biases, they are able to return to their Essential Qualities and, consequently, attain a higher mental and emotional capacity. 

Mental Center Dynamics: Vengeance and Truth

Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation): Vengeance

Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea): Truth

When Type 8 has a biased mental dynamic, they experience a Mental Preoccupation (or Fixation) called Vengeance. In Vengeance, Type 8 imposes and expresses themself by forcefully directing their power and strength towards maintaining control and dominance. They are in denial of weakness, as they succumb to the polarities found in the “All or nothing; My way or the highway” type of thinking. 

When Type 8 restores their mental dynamic, they experience an Essential Spiritual Quality (or Holy Idea) called Truth. In Truth, Type 8 realizes that truth flows from cosmic laws which are just, and senses the truth in all sides and in each individual. As a result, Type 8 acts with as a compassionate and understanding leader with appropriate power.

Emotional Center Dynamics: Lust and Innocence

Emotional Reactivity (or Passion): Lust

Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue): Innocence

When Type 8 has a biased emotional dynamic, they experience an Emotional Reactivity (or Passion) called Lust. In Lust, Type 8’s impulse goes to aggressiveness and intense action. Type 8 has a big hunger, few boundaries, and little counterforce as they yearn for excessive stimulation. 

When Type 8 restores their emotional dynamic, they experience a Higher Emotional Capacity (or Virtue) called Innocence. In Innocence, Type 8 senses reality as it is unprejudiced by power motives or schemes. As a result, Type 8 can respond freshly to environments without judgement, and there is energy available for appropriate action.

Instinctual Center & Subtypes

When any of the Enneagram types suffer from biased passion and emotional reactivity, they can either contain or compensate for the associated preoccupations through their subtypes. 

Self Preservation (Self-Survival): Satisfactory Survival

Type 8s with a self-preservation subtype cope with emotional bias by asserting power and control over survival needs. They strive to keep control of small territories that are well supplied, and ensure that they always have adequate provisions. This verifies adequate strength/security.

Sexual (Pair Bonding Survival): Possession | Surrender

Type 8s with a sexual subtype cope with emotional bias by protecting, dominating, and possessing the loved one. Alternatively, when they trust this loved one, they surrender to them. This is the energy of potency, or the power in the one-to-one relationship. This verifies and expresses strength.

Social (Group Survival): Friendship

Type 8s with a social subtype cope with emotional bias by connecting to others socially, and giving energy to others, parties, and activities. They desire true friends, who they trust and who they influence. This verifies power and influence.

As the Enneagram types are quite dynamic and intercorrelated, Type 8 is influenced by:

Left Wing Type 7: The Epicure

Right Wing Type 9: The Mediator

Security Point Type 2: The Giver

Stress Point Type 5: The Observer

Self-Development Strategies: Attaining Higher Personality Qualities and Reuniting with Essence  

The Central Theme for Type 8’s Healing and Development

Since Type 8s believe that you must be strong and powerful and actively stand up for truth and justice, it can seem implausible to them to embrace innocence. Yet as a Protector, the path for their healing and development involves embracing innocence, meaning that they come to each situation freshly without prejudice or power motives, ready to appreciate differences and realize that everyone has their truth. To do this, it is necessary for Type 8s to moderate their own overriding exuberant instinctual energy and to notice how this energy defies boundaries, how it can be excessive, and how it impacts others. Type 8s need to learn exactly how much power is appropriate in any given situation and to delay the tendency to go from urge to action in an all-or-nothing fashion.

How You Can Self-Develop and Fulfill Your Relationships

  • Notice and moderate your intensity, excess, and impact
  • Allow a gap between impulse and action in order to consider of your behavior
  • Observe your all-or-nothing style of paying attention
  • Realize that true power comes from the appropriate application of force
  • Value truths in others and in opposites and differences
  • Realize the positive power in receptive force and vulnerability
  • In meditation, allowing the mind and body to quiet and return to the empty slate when outer directed energy arises
  • Once each hour checking for the energy and impulse to act, then taking several relaxing breaths
  • Each day previewing and reviewing your impact upon others
  • Asking others if you are being any of the “too’s” – too much, too soon, too loud, too long, too many… 
  • Keeping long term goals in mind and asking what are the consequences of your behavior
  • Advocating the virtue in the mundane, the mild, and the moderate
  • Practicing delaying gratification and stimulation, and welcoming boredom and fear
  • Allowing the other side – the emergence of vulnerability, weakness, and innocence
  • Utilizing adversary situations as a beginning for compromise and for win-win solutions

How You Can Help a Type 8 Self-Develop and Fulfill Their Relationships

  • Encourage the Protectors in your life to accept their own vulnerability, distinguish it from weakness, and to reduce excessive and impulsive behavior
  • Provide honest feedback about their impact on you and intimidation of you, and help them to realize their impactfulness
  • Help them reduce their excesses and impulsiveness
  • Be forthright and firm, yet flexible
  • Demonstrate the virtues of receptivity, flexibility, and acceptance
  • Show the virtue of passivity and acceptance


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