Putting It All Together for Type Eight

It is probable that Ernest Hemingway had an Eight personality.

It is probable that Ernest Hemingway had an Eight personality.

Well, I had thought I’d finished this series with the post on Type Seven, because the Enneagram is usually taught starting with the Gut Center and Type Eight. If you go around the symbol, Seven is last if Eight is first. (Also, it’s a joke in the Enneagram world that if you didn’t teach about the Sevens last, they wouldn’t stay to the end!) However, I recently took inventory of my posts and found that Eight and Nine are missing from this series. So, let’s look at the key elements that come together to make a Type Eight.

Center: Body/Gut (underlying emotion is anger)

Hornevian: Assertive

Harmonic: Emotional realness

Object Relation Group: Rejection

Donald Trump says what he thinks. He’s candid, brash and in control of whatever room he walks into. He shoots from the hip; he’s a reactor, not a mental processor. He goes with his gut, and he has no façade. What you see is what you get.

This is the world of the Eight.

BTW, the above is neither an endorsement nor a denigration of Trump. It’s just Enneagram fact. He is an ideal example of the “large and in charge” stance of the Eight, and he’s so visible that he provides us with a good avatar of what this Type looks like. No, not all Eights are exactly the same, but they do share certain baseline characteristics.

Let’s start with that “go with your gut” instinct. The Head/Heart/Body triads can also be called Thought/Feeling/Instinct types. Eights process the world through their “gut,” their deep instinctive knowing that’s hard-wired into them. Everyone has instincts, but Eights make decisions—and quickly—based on them. There’s no wishy-washiness going on here!

Though Nine and One are also Gut types, they look quite different from Eights. That’s due largely to the fact that Eights belong to the Assertives in the Hornevian Groups, compared to Withdrawn (Nine) and Dutiful (One). This translates to the need to express outward what’s going on in the world; Assertives tend to draw a crowd. Eights not only are fully committed to their stance in the world, but they think everyone needs to know what it is. This makes for strong leaders, but it can also make for difficult relationships. Nobody can fight like an Eight!

This leads to the Harmonic type, emotional realness. They want you to know exactly how they’re feeling in the moment, and they want you to mirror it back to them. They hate phoniness of any kind, and they thus consider full disclosure, at full volume if necessary, a virtue. These are the plate-breakers and wall-punchers of the world, for the most part. When less emotionally healthy, these are the brawlers and domestic abusers of the world.

So then, if Eights are large, loud and in charge, where does the object relation of rejection come in? Eights are tough people because they hold the mistaken belief in the core of their being that others are just waiting to reject them. Well, rejection is a terrible feeling; it makes us feel devalued and strikes at the central wound all humans share: I am not worthy of love. To defend against this feeling, Eights become tough and powerful in whatever ways they can. They often reject before they can be rejected, or their toughness ends up driving people away – a self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection that only confirms Eights’ belief that people can’t be trusted.

Unless, that is, they are quite emotionally healthy and/or have a strong awareness of their personality patterns. Don’t leave this post thinking Eights are monsters. I know some lovely, wonderful Eights whom anyone would be glad to know. As with any Type, there are many variables at play that determine how likeable someone is – including your own fears and biases about certain Types.

I hope that this post gives you a greater understanding of what’s going on behind the surface of people like Donald Trump, and to foster greater compassion. Until people are aware of their personality’s patterns, they will just keep repeating them. They don’t know what else to do. They don’t know there’s something else they can do. Let’s not punish people for their ignorance.

Do you have an Eight personality? Do you know someone who does? I’d love to hear your story!

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