In-Depth Description of Enneagram Type Eight

Common Descriptive Names: (1) The Protector, (2) The Challenger, (3) The Leader
Unconscious Fear for type Eight: Of being harmed, violated, betrayed or controlled by others
To compensate for their Unconscious Fear an Unconscious Desire arises…..
Unconscious Desire for type Eight: To protect themselves; to be dependent on no one

As our personality was forming in early childhood we each developed limiting subconscious beliefs
about ourselves, others and the world. For example, your mother or father might have yelled at you
“Get your hands out of there!” or “You should be ashamed of yourself!” or “Stop being such a cry
baby!” If you had really loving parents you might have heard, “Don’t touch that, it’s hot!” or “Don’t do
that, you might hurt yourself!” We also developed limiting beliefs about others. Growing up you may
have heard, “I don’t want you to play with those kinds of kids” or “Salesmen are sleazebags” or
“Politicians are so duplicitous and two-faced.” We also developed limiting beliefs about the world.
Newspapers and television constantly bombard our minds with reports of scandals, crimes, wars,
economic crises, natural disasters, and political corruption. Does this help us believe the world is a
loving, safe place to live? Of course not. One way or another, none of us escaped childhood without
some limiting subconscious beliefs. Your Enneagram type identifies some of the strongest
subconscious beliefs that you’ve developed over time based on your distorted perception of reality.

Limiting Subconscious Beliefs for type Eight:
• The world is a hard and unjust place.
• Emotional need is equated with weakness.
• Only the strong survive.
• It’s not safe to show softness or vulnerability.
• The powerful take advantage of the innocent.
• I must always be in control of my environment.
• To be loved I must be strong and self-reliant.
Core Coping Strategies for Eights: (where Eights focus their attention because of their
subconscious beliefs)
• Naturally noticing who has the power and who’s in control
• Imposing their will and truth on others (to stay in control)
• Having a strong sense of self and being self-assertive
• Fighting perceived injustices
• Being strong, and forceful if necessary, to gain respect
• Having a high threshold for pain
• Being fearless, tenacious, decisive and authoritative
• Denying any personal vulnerability or weakness
• Taking control of everything and everyone
• Protecting the weak, innocent and disadvantaged

Here’s a brief profile of some healthy, very healthy, average, unhealthy and destructive
Eight traits.
Healthy Eights are self-confident, self-assertive, courageous and strong. They are powerful, selfreliant
and have a lot of passionate inner drive. They follow the beat of their own drummer and want
to make an impact on the world. Eights are people of action not just words. With their instinctive,
earthy energy and imposing presence, they have no problem taking initiative, going after what they
want and making things happen. Eights like to be in charge, whether of themselves only or others
also, and healthy Eights make natural leaders. That’s because they’re authoritative, decisive, direct
and commanding. Healthy Eights care about truth and justice. They stand up for what they believe in
and use their strength to stand up for the rights and needs of others too.
Healthy Eights are selfless providers and protectors. They are extremely protective of their loved ones
yet empower them to stand on their own two feet at the same time. They also like to champion and
empower others because they can see hidden potential in people that most people don’t readily see in
themselves. Unlike other types, however, Eights like to challenge and test people’s mettle to bring out
their strengths. They believe everyone should have a healthy fighting spirit and strong will so they
won’t overprotect or coddle anyone. Healthy Eights are self-starters and resourceful people. They
often have a talent for taking raw material and using it in a constructive way.
Healthy Eights are exceptionally loyal to those who have earned their trust. Once you are an Eight’s
friend you are a friend for life and healthy Eights will treat you like a brother or sister.
Very healthy Eights are big-hearted, magnanimous, honorable and noble. They’ve attained a certain
level of inner invulnerability and self-mastery which allows them to be more vulnerable, compassionate
and forbearing with people. They have let go of their struggle against people and now use their strength to improve the lives of others instead. They are innocent in the sense that they respond
freshly to each moment, without memory, judgment, or expectation. At their best, they are both
powerful and merciful. They have surrendered their personal will to a higher will and have the heroic
courage to sacrifice their safety and security for the sake of justice and fairness for all. An inspirational
example is Martin Luther King, Jr.* who took a strong stand against racial injustice and put his life on
the line to fight for what he knew inside was right. He empowered other African Americans to stand up
for themselves too.

  • My speculation based on his life and my experience with the Enneagram

Average Eights need to have control over their lives and be as independent and self-sufficient as
possible. Since they fear being harmed or controlled by others they become tough to protect
themselves. Average Eights often feel as though they don’t need anyone and more or less see
themselves as individualistic, unconventional nonconformists. They believe that the world is an unjust
place and if they let their guard down for a second someone might take advantage of them. So, they
instinctively suppress any vulnerability, self-doubt and fear they might have and keep their guard up.
Since being in control and not having to be dependent on anyone is so important to average Eights
they do everything they can to obtain the resources they need to stay in control of their life. In light of
that, average Eights tend to be hardworking, pragmatic, shrewd, competitive, ambitious and
enterprising. They like to impress others, to be seen as important and want people to respect and
even obey them, since they like being in charge. They may try to get people involved in their plans by
making big promises or by other ostentatious shows of power and importance.
Average Eights are intense, rugged and tend to do things to excess. They enjoy pushing themselves
and testing their limits. They could stand to learn a little moderation. They enjoy challenges and
taking risks. They work hard and play hard. They tend to be lusty, daring, bold and audacious. They
are adventurous and live life with gusto.
Average Eights, like average Sixes, have major issues with trust. They are naturally untrusting. If
Eights begin to feel unsupported they can become more controlling, bossy and possessive. They can
also be blunt, egocentric, disrespectful and proud. Not surprisingly, average Eights can start to see all
of their relationships as adversarial because people don’t like to be controlled, bossed around or
disrespected so they often get angry and fight back. And if someone tries to order an average Eight
around s/he can be confrontational and combative.
Unhealthy Eights fear that others are going to take advantage of them the first chance they get so
they impose their will on others first to let people know who’s boss and in control. Unhealthy Eights
don’t see others as equals or treat them with due respect. At this level of health, Eights see everything
as a contest of wills and are constantly confronting, bullying and challenging people to get their way.
Because of a distorted belief that others are out to get them, unhealthy Eights use threats, intimidation
tactics and reprisals to get people to comply and obey them. If only unhealthy Eights knew that like
begets like they would realize that their abusive, oppressive behavior only causes others to rally
against them with similar vengeance.
Destructive Eights try to stay in control at any cost and feel as though they are in a fight for their
survival. They have isolated themselves socially so feel totally on their own. They see themselves as
social outcasts, mavericks or outlaws. Their lack of identification with pain and suffering (their own or
others) causes them to delusionally believe they can’t be harmed. They can feel omnipotent and
invulnerable like the terminator. They completely lack empathy so they become hard-hearted, callous
and ruthless. They can also be extremely aggressive, amoral, physically violent and destructive.
Destructive Eights are murderous tyrants who won’t hesitate to destroy everything, including
themselves, rather than submit, surrender or back down to others. Their motto is, “Kill or be killed.”