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Enneagram Type Eight

Updated on December 8, 2010

The world of the Eight

Eights are hard to mistake, too. They are often physically large and intimidating, and they are the most aggressive type. Their desire to run things, to have their own way, dominates their personality.

They are the natural bosses and generals. In fact, the Desert Storm war was prosecuted by two Eights - Gen. Colin Powell and Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf. The two men have different presentations, because they fall on different sides of the line. Gen. Powell is on the 9 side, and Gen. Schwartzkopf is on the 7 side.

Like Henry Kissenger, another 8/9, Gen. Powell has a subdued, rock-like, imperturbable demeanor. You get the feeling he could endure anything, meet any challenge with indomitability. The Nine influence gives steadiness, a quieter demeanor.

Gen. Schwartzkopf, on the other hand, is like a snorting bull, pawing the ground, itching to be let loose to charge and ram his opponent. The Seven excitability and volatility make the 8/7 the most aggressive, potentially violent subtype of all. Not surprisingly, many leaders of third-world countries are 8/7 tyrants and strongmen, such as Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos, and Saddam Hussein.

What motivates them

A healthy Eight is motivated by his vision of leadership and authority to carry it through. It is more than simply getting his or her own way - they can see a way to act for the greater good by taking on the burden of command. Healthy Eights do not sacrifice their troops or squander their resources on personal exploits.

Unhealthy Eights become more and more paranoid and do not hesitate to attack their opponents or those they perceive as opponents. They can be incredibly vindictive and dangerous to their own society, mobilizing huge armies on the impetus of imaginary slights or diplomatic gaffes. Though they prefer a straight up fight, they may act covertly to get to their goals.

What professions appeal to them

Naturally, Eights gravitate toward positions of command. A good portion of all small business owners are Eights, too, not because they like business so much, as because they cannot take orders from somebody else. They have to call the shots.

While most doctors are Type One, there are a number of Fives, Sevens, and Eights in there too. Sevens and Eights, and particularly the 7/8 and 8/7 subtypes, have incredible physical stamina and can stand up to the grueling internship and residency experiences. They are often surgeons of one sort or another.

Talents and Traps

Well, we’ve already gone over the significant aspects of Eights, for good or bad...they are not complex or subtle, so the characteristics of dominance and aggression determine their whole approach to life.

What they avoid

They avoid getting into situations where they have to bite their tongues or sit on their hands. Diplomacy is not their favorite activity. They need scope to act and resources to prosecute the war. Whatever the war is.

What they seek out

Eights look for confrontation, as strange as that may sound. Camille Paglia, in one of her essays, waxes rhapsodic about football players bashing into each other “like big bison”. The bashing is a test of themselves and their opponent. It embeds them in immediate reality, which is where they feel comfortable. And it builds rapport between the combatants.
Have you ever seen two amateur boxers sparring? Time and again you see them hug after the match. More often than not the contest builds a kind of fellowship between them.

How they deal with fear and greed

Eights do not display fear, but they feel it, perhaps more than some other types. Fear becomes another thing to confront and face down. If they cannot shake it, they may move into a manic state doing this and that in the interest of calming themselves down.

Unhealthy Eights will spend a fortune on their own aggrandizement, epitomized by Saddam Hussein’s building of dozens of “Presidential Palaces” all over Iraq. Likewise, huge portraits of Eights appear on the sides of buildings in cultures where personality cults are a fact of life. Here it’s Britny Spears; in Havana, Fidel Castro (8/9).

How you can spot them

As mentioned, Eights are often large, heavy men, with thick chests and bellies. On the other hand, I have met short, willowy, female Eights. The 8/9 subtype will be quieter and more reserved. The 8/7 subtype will often show great energy.

Some famous examples of the type

Bette Davis, Colin Powell, Henry Kissenger, Don Vito Corleone, Janet Reno, William Shatner, Norman Schwartzkopf, Aleksandr Lebed, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Golda Meir, Condoleeza Rice, Camille Paglia, Barbara Walters, Saddam Hussein, Gen. George Patton.


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