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Enneagram Type 8 Personality: Empowerment and Assertiveness

Enneagram type 8

Enneagram type 8 is given a variety of names by those who teach and write about the Enneagram types such as The Protector, The Challenger, and The Powerful Person. While these names allude to some common characteristics that often appear in the type 8 personality, they only provide a hint of what's going on underneath the surface. What's going on can be found in the core focus.

Enneagram type 8 has a focus on being in control of one's own life by way of asserting oneself through strength and directness. This produces a habit of attention that avoids vulnerability and weakness while pushing through obstacles that get in the way of what's wanted.

Initial Self-Belief: “I am disempowered as I am.”

Compensation: "I must be assertive in going after what I want and stand strong against being controlled."

Habit of Attention: Type 8 attention is on what needs to be done to make something happen. This starts by going after what's wanted personally but also empowering or protecting others not treated fairly or justly. It often involves confronting and pushing through obstacles that stand in the way.

The Enneagram types evolved from Oscar Ichazo's ego-types into Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes. The goal with the ego-types was to identify an individual's fixation in order to work on transcending it. The enneatypes fleshed out the ego-types in terms of modern psychology and personality traits.

Type 8 Ego: Ego-Venge

Below are descriptions of Oscar Ichazo's ego type 8 fixation, trap, holy idea, passion, and virtue reinterpreted for today's personality types.

Type 8 Fixation and Trap

Fixation: Vengeance comes from balancing the scales of justice when others attempt to take unfair advantage.

Trap: Justice comes from pushing for the hidden truths that others don't readily acknowledge.

The fixation points to the mental preoccupation of the ego and the trap seems like the way out but keeps the individual stuck in the fixation. 

Type 8 Holy Idea

Holy Idea: Holy truth is knowing that each person has their own truth to live by and often it won't be the same truth that seems so obvious to you.;

The holy idea is the actual way out of the ego fixation.

Type 8 Passion

Passion: An excess of energy that needs to be released through activity and expression. It feels natural for me but I may have to sit on it when others find it too much. The passion is the emotional energy that serves the fixation and trap.

Type 8 Virtue

Virtue: Innocence appears when you allow yourself to experience tenderness and vulnerability instead of habitually pushing out against the world.

The virtue is what appears when the passion subsides.

Type 8 Personality Traits: Enneatype VIII

Claudio Naranjo's enneatypes expanded upon Oscar Ichazo's fixations and passions by referring to modern psychology and other sources.

What follows is the trait structure for type 8 as outlined in Naranjo's book "Ennea-type Structures."

Enneatype VIII
Coming on Strong - Lust and Vindictive Arrogance

  • Lust
  • Punitiveness
  • Rebelliousness
  • Dominance
  • Insensitivity
  • Conning and Cynicism
  • Exhibitionism (Narcissism)
  • Autonomy
  • Sensorimotor Dominance
The relationships and movements between types can be explored by way of the triads, arrows, and lines as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These elements of the Enneagram are often described as the centers, the stances, stress/security points, and directions of integration/disintegration.

    Type 8 Center

    Gut/Body-Based Center

    Type 8 is located in the 891 triad which is often described as the body-based or gut center. Type 8 has a directness and assertiveness that gets things moving and overcomes obstacles. There’s a push out against the world to get what’s wanted that also keeps it from coming in and a trust in gut decision making that can quickly jump into action.

    Types 8, 9, and 1 may also be referred to as anger types. Type 8 anger is an energy that pushes to get what's wanted. This energy can sometimes seem endless, overwhelming or wearing down the resistance of anyone in the way. It can also be reactionary, erupting in direct confrontation that can feel freeing and stimulating as it gets to the underlying truth of a situation.

    The core focus approach labels the 891 triad as the Behavioral Center and differentiates how types 8, 9, and 1 use that center.

    • Type 8: Behavioral Assertiveness - pushes through obstacles to get what's wanted.
    • Type 9: Behavioral Accommodation - yields to or joins in with the flow of movement.
    • Type 1: Behavioral Correctness - discerns right from wrong and acts accordingly.

    You can take a test comparing the three gut types here.

    Type 8 Stance or Hornevian Group

    Aggressive Stance

    Type 8 is in the aggressive triad along with type 3 and type 7. Type 8 is aggressive against being controlled, manipulated, or taken advantage of. It’s noticing who has the power, how they’re using it, and whether they’re competent and fair. From that, a determination may be made to step in and take charge or to challenge and confront.

    Type 8 Stress and Growth

    Enneagram type 8 arrows

    Movement against the arrow from type 8 to type 2

    Movement against the arrow is sometimes described as movement toward a type's security point or direction of integration or growth. Type 8 is said to take on characteristics of type 2 when feeling relaxed or secure or moving toward health and growth.

    Movement with the arrow from type 8 to type 5

    Movement with the arrow is sometimes described as a movement toward a type's stress point or direction of disintegration or stress. When feeling stressed and pressured or not in control, type 8 is said to take on characteristics of type 5.

    Connecting points from type 8 to type 2 and type 5

    Some teachers ignore the arrows and simply describe the lines as connecting points. In this case, someone identified as type 8 is said to sometimes take on characteristics of type 2 and type 5. Or to put it another way, type 8 may move to type 2 and type 5 at times when the type 8 concerns are not dominant.

    Although you have a basic or primary Enneagram type there are many subtle variations within type. These variations are defined by such concepts as wings, instincts, tritype, and levels. They're often used to explain why people of the same Enneagram type can look different.

    Type 8 Wings - 8w7 and 8w9

    Type 8 Wings

    The wings are represented by the numbers on either side of a given type as seen on the Enneagram symbol or diagram. These types are said to have an additional influence upon the type being looked at. The wing types for type 8 are type 7 and type 9.

    Although type 8 is influenced by both wings, an individual will generally be influenced more by one of the wings than the other. The wing with more influence is said to be the preferred wing.

    Type 8 wing 7 (8w7) - preferred 7 wing
    Common Name: The Independent

    • more active and goal oriented
    • more aggressive and competitive
    • more impatient and impulsive

    Type 8 wing 9 (8w9) - preferred 9 wing
    Common Name: The Bear

    • more laid-back and grounded
    • more reserved and steady
    • more prone to comfort and routine

    Click here if you'd like help finding your preferred wing.

    Type 8 Subtypes

    Type 8 Instinctual Subtypes

    The instincts of the Enneagram types are self-preservation (sp), sexual (sx), and social (so). They are traditionally used to define three instinctual subtypes or variations of a basic type (e.g., SP 8, SX 8, and SO 8). One of these three subtypes is called the counter-type because it can look different from the basic type. Below are brief descriptions of the three type 8 instinctual subtypes.

    SP 8 - Satisfactory Survival, Satisfaction: takes a direct approach in getting what they want; gets frustrated and intolerant of obstacles that get in the way; accumulates territory and material resources to assure satisfactory survival.

    SX 8 - Surrender, Possession: rebelliously asserts their “truth” or “way” in place of the rules or norms; wants others to surrender control, wants to dominate others and surroundings; can have difficulty letting go of what’s been “possessed” or taken under their control.

    SO 8 - Friendship, Solidarity (counter-type): seeks advantage and influence through associations and alliances; defends those under their protection from injustice, unfairness, and harm; appears more friendly, generous, and less aggressive than other type 8 subtypes.

    While an individual may be identified with type 8 in general, that same individual may be more specifically identified with one of the three instinctual subtypes as well. 

    A more recent approach to using the instincts is instinctual variant stacking which can be used independent of Enneagram type.

    If you'd like to find your instinctual subtype or instinctual variant stacking then click here.

    Type 8 Tritypes

    Enneagram type 8 tritypes


    With tritype you are not simply one type but three, one type from each center. There is also an order of preference for the three types (which type is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd).

    The type 8 tritypes have type 8 as their first type and gut type. The second and third types come from the heart center (2, 3, or 4) and head center (5, 6, or 7).

    Tritype® Archetype goes a step further by also looking at tritype in terms of the three types alone (independent of order of preference). Below are the Tritype® Archetype names if Enneagram type 8 is your primary type.

    The Strategist - 825 or 852
    The Rescuer - 826 or 862
    The Free Spirit - 827 or 872
    The Solution Master - 835 or 853
    The Justice Fighter - 836 or 863
    The Mover Shaker - 837 or 873
    The Scholar - 845 or 854
    The Truth Teller - 846 or 864
    The Messenger - 847 or 874

    For a description of any Tritype® Archetype above click the name. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the Tritype® Archetype you're interested in.

    If you'd like to find your tritype, tritype with wings, dominant type in a given center, or order of preference then click here.

    Type 8 - Enneagram Levels of Development

    Enneagram Levels

    The Levels of Development create a vertical dimension within each Enneagram type.

    There are nine levels ranging from healthy (levels 1-3) to average (levels 4-6) to unhealthy (levels 7-9). A person will operate within a range of levels (e.g., levels 2-4, levels 6-8, etc.). This range will vary throughout a lifetime. Two people of the same type will look different when they're operating from different levels.

    Below are two words associated with each level for type 8 as described in the book "The Wisdom of the Enneagram" by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

    Healthy Levels

    Level 1 - Self-Surrendering, Heroic

    Level 2 - Self-Reliant, Strong

    Level 3 - Self-Confident, Leading

    Average Levels

    Level 4 - Pragmatic, Enterprising

    Level 5 - Self-Glorifying, Dominating

    Level 6 - Confrontational, Intimidating

    Unhealthy Levels

    Level 7 - Ruthless, Dicatatorial

    Level 8 - Megalomaniacal, Terrorizing

    Level 9 - Sociopathic, Destructive

    Click here for descriptions of all nine type 8 levels. If you're not taken to the correct part of the web page when it appears then scroll down to the middle of the web page and look for the section on Levels of Development.

    Even though Enneagram tests are not 100% accurate they can provide a starting point for finding your Enneagram type and variations of type by narrowing down and validating your choices. The tests below can be useful if you think you might be a type 8 or you know you are a type 8 and want to explore the type 8 variations.

    Enneagram Mistypes - Type 8 Comparison Tests

    Some people correctly identify their Enneagram type on the first try. For most other people typing yourself correctly can take some time.

    If you feel that you may have wrongly typed yourself as type 8 and have one or more alternative types in mind then click on a link below to take a quick Enneagram test comparing type 8 to another type.

    To find some alternatives to type 8 you can take the type preference test below. Afterward you can compare these alternatives using the links above or the type comparison test.

    Enneagram Variations - Tests to help find Type 8 Wing, Subtype, and Tritype

    Find your type 8 wing preference by comparing the two wings of type 8.

    Find your type 8 subtype by comparing the three instictual subtypes of type 8.

    Find your missing tritype heart or head type by comparing the three types in a center.

    Find your tritype order by comparing your 2nd and 3rd tritype types.

    Quick Guide to the Enneagram

    This page is part of the Quick Guide to the Enneagram available on this website. For more information about any particular Enneagram type or the many concepts and history of the Enneagram types visit the Quick Guide main page.

    The Nine Enneagram Types x
    The Nine Enneagram Types