Fine Distinctions – Eights – Tom Condon

Fine Distinctions – Eights – Tom Condon


Self Preservation Eights

• Strongly focused on physical security; very hard workers.

• When healthy they are exceptionally self-reliant, independent and responsible.
• Self-preservation Eights can be implacably determined to prosper. • Momma Bear or Poppa Bear; both fiercely protective and tenderly nurturing.

• Eights with this subtype can be homebodies who are focused on comfortable survival.
• Often see the world as a place where they have to fight for whatever they have.
• Grow up poor or struggling or feel somehow responsible for the material well-being of their family of origin.
• Eights with this subtype can have a stronger connection to Five and may be collectors or have prized, treasured objects.
• May value possessions and objects over people.
• Possessions may symbolize security, representing the fact that the Eight has made it and overcome past deprivations.
• Eights with this subtype can grow preoccupied with controlling their immediate environment, including their home.
• The people who endanger the Eight’s possessions are the same people the Eight is pledged to take care of – their family.
• Could bully their children to “toughen them up” for life in the hard world outside.
• Bully their own vulnerabilities in order to feel safe.
• Prone to survivalist thinking. Might openly preach selfishness and believe that civilized behavior is just a veneer concealing our true animal nature.
• This subtype is also evident in the behavior of tycoons, self-made men and women who create business empires out of nothing.
• Some are notoriously aggressive, bosses-from-hell.
• A Self Preservation Eight’s family members could become inadvertent obstacles to the Eight’s continued survival in a dangerous world. So they must be controlled, contained or squelched.

Intimate Eights

• Considerate protective friends; loyal, dependable and there when you need them.
• Healthy Intimate Eights can be thoughtful and philosophical about matters of the heart, the vagaries and complexities of relationships.

• Sensitive and compassionate, they often have a stronger connection to Two.
• Boxer-poets; people who have a paradoxical combination of aggression and sensitivity.

• This subtype can bring artistic tendencies: the desire to create, express, write.
• Many female Eights have this subtype.
• A nuanced ironic intelligence, especially about relationships.

• Intimate Eights are sometimes mistaken for Fours and occasionally have a Four parent.
• More easily able to switch places with their beloved, to sympathetically enter into the world view and feelings of the other person.

• When intimate Eights are less healthy, they are wary of betrayal and prone to suspicion.
• They can freight up their relationships with expectations, often worrying about the other person’s capacity to handle their aggression and vulnerabilities.
• Want stable, loyal predictable partners and may be sensitive to signs of faltering commitment.
• Can feel that a close relationship is a mutual pact of protection in
a dangerous world.
• Test their partner’s motives and fortitude by being paradoxically tough and aggressive. If the partner can handle being emotionally roughed up then the Eight can relax enough to be unguarded.
• Reminiscent of the practice of “hazing” that new members endure when they join a fraternity.
• Intimate Eights can express love so implicitly and invisibly that their partner doesn’t know it.
• May give you a gift that they have poured their heart into, but do so in such a casual way that it seems to mean nothing.
• Set themselves up to be ignored and overlooked and then react angrily.
• Can be possessive and try to dominate and control an intimate partner.
• They can be exceptionally jealous, hooked into the other, overreacting to their partner’s every move.
• Might seek out pliant or passive people – Twos Sixes or Nines – so that the Eight can be in charge.
• The dark extreme of this subtype can be seen in the behavior of male stalkers and spousal abusers.

• May want revenge for being rejected and carry the sense that the other person is my possession and they aren’t going to get away from me.
• Connected to the low side of Two, prideful codependence and emotionalism.

Focus on the other person while they neglect themselves.

Social Eights

• Healthy Social Eights are often loyal to a chosen group and conceive of themselves as that group’s protector, provider or leader.
• The group’s welfare and cohesion are important to them. To this end, they are often cooperative, seeking positive solutions and open to feedback
• Social Eights are genuinely interested in how others feel and are willing to listen and to negotiate.
• Honest about their faults and hold themselves accountable to others.
• More likely to apologize when they’ve been unfair.
• This subtype has a stronger connection to Two and can emotionally switch places with others in their chosen group.
• As friends they want to protect what’s soft or young in you and appreciate the same treatment in return.
• Can be bold, audacious or progressive in the service of changing a system so that it becomes more socially just.
• Some suffer from “eldest child syndrome,” feeling responsible for younger siblings while compensating for inadequate or distant parents.
• The group the Eight protects could be family, friends, coworkers. Or stray animals, abused children, misfit teenagers or the small and inarticulate – those who can’t advocate on their own behalf.
• Members of the group represent the Eight’s vulnerabilities and that’s what the Eight is essentially protecting.
• When Social Eights are less healthy, they are more likely to put themselves in a one-up position, considering themselves more adult than the other members of the group.
• Friendless protector of others, alone in the middle of a group.
• They can’t receive well, and don’t expect to be given to or believe anyone will notice when they need something.
• Their group is pitted against the world or another group; persecutory justice for a cause.
• The mentality of unhealthy Social Eightness is always present in wars.
• Hang onto power for its own sake.

• Gangsters, street and prison gangs; cultures prone to retributive feuding and cycles of revenge.

Connecting Points: Eight With a Seven Wing

• Expansive, extraverted and overtly powerful.
• Gregarious and generous; can display a cheerful, sunny bravado.
• May be forceful but with a light touch.
• Often funny and have a sense of humor about themselves.
• May talk loud and be sociable partygoers, although this can be modified by their subtype.
• Generally ambitious and materialistic.
• Can be visionary, idealistic and enterprising.
• Sometimes driven to bring the new into being and willing to take risks to make that happen.
• The realm of tycoons or high-profile social reformers who overhaul a system to make it more just.
• Can be good at seeing options, being flexible and strategic in the exercise of power or achieving a goal.
• This wing also brings Eights more intellectual capacity.
• Eights with a Seven wing are usually more visual and see clearer imagery in their mind’s eye.
• Use their imaginations to dream up projects and plans but have trouble seeing themselves.
• A busy, fast-moving tempo to the way they think, talk and move. In a hurry.
• Some Eights with this wing can speak in hyperbole using words like always, never, the greatest. This reflects their grandiosity as well as either/or, black-and-white thinking.
• The appetite of Seven and Eightish lust combine to form a stronger tendency towards addiction.
• Reactionary, prone to temperamental ups and downs; moody, egocentric, quick to anger.
• May court or create chaos as well as inflate themselves narcissistically.
• Some are ruthlessly materialistic. Driven by plans or big dreams.
• Can use people up, suck them dry, roll over them.
• May be explosive or violent, prone to distorted overreaction.

• Activity addicts; some Eights with this wing are chronically restless and stay in continual motion to avoid the shadow of boredom.

Eight with a Nine Wing

• Healthy Eights with a Nine wing can have an aura of supernatural calm. • Have a strong implicit belief in their own abilities and take their authority for granted.
• The outward manner of someone who hasn’t had a self-doubt in decades.
• The queen or king of all they survey. A quality of not needing to display their strength.
• A grounded rock-like quality, as though their feet are anchored to the center of the earth.
• Healthy Eights with this wing have a receptive Nine-like quality and a modest, mild-mannered social presentation.
• Can be gentle, kind-hearted and soft-spoken. Sensitive in a non- emotional way.
• Tender, nurturing parents as well as steady, supportive friends.
• Informal and unpretentious, patient and laconic, often more introverted.
• May have a dry or ironic sense of humor.
• A stronger receptiveness to other people. More disposed to reflexively pleasing others. Can seem like Nines.
• Eights with this wing are generally more auditory and kinesthetic and less visual.
• A slower tempo of thought, physical movement and speech.
• Some have flat or even voices, which they modulate only slightly.
• More oriented to the present than Eights with a Seven wing.
• Many have a high physical pain tolerance.
• Can be oblivious to the force of their anger until after they’ve hurt someone.
• Can be calmly dominating, emotionally cold and blind to softer emotions. • Might have an aura of implicit, simmering anger, like a sleeping volcano. They can be slow to erupt but when they do it’s sudden and explosive.
• Some Eights with this wing act jaded and present the world with a tough, deadpan, poker-face.
• They sometime broadcast an implicitly challenging, go-to-hell attitude.
• Prone to boredom and have a marked tendency towards clinical depression.

• Can go numb, have trouble showing affection, act dead.
• Can be cruel especially in the service of ill-conceived goals.
• May be highly intelligent but their aggression makes them stupid.
• Prone to paranoid plotting, muddled thinking and warped acts of revenge.
• Blind destructive behavior, abusive towards those they love, don’t know when to quit.
• Might passively accommodate other people’s expectations and then get angry when they have done too much.
• Can turn violent when they get close to their own vulnerabilities.

Eight’s Connection to Two

• Connection helps Eights to sympathetically identify with others.
• They extend themselves, become better communicators, admit their interdependence.
• More compassionate, thoughtful, open and vulnerable.
• Peacemakers. Some have a conscious ethos of love.
• More in touch with the child within themselves.
• Healthy Twoish Eights can have “therapeutic” personalities in that they want to heal others and make things better.
• They see people 3-dimensionally instead of as 2-dimensional caricatures.
• This connection brings codependence.
• Some Eights can become overidentified with their partner and are unable to disengage.
• Could compensate for and defend their partner’s weaknesses, even those that injure the Eight.
• Compulsively over-protective of others.
• They may also overreact, displaying a kind of hair-trigger emotionality based in anger.
• Can hang onto slights and injustices, take the whole world personally.
• Might be more vengeful, act entitled, episodes of megalomania. The Two’s self-inflation reinforces the Eight’s narcissism.
• Possessively demanding; could become obsessed about their partner. This connection sometimes brings jealousy and reinforces the unhealthy tendencies of the Intimate subtype.
• Try to dominate people on whom they are dependent.

• The Eight defense of denial and Two habit of repression reinforce each other.
• It is not unusual for Eights to express this connection by marrying it.

Eight’s Connection to Five

• Healthy connection brings mental clarity.
• Able to be strategic and think things through.
• Less driven by power or aggression.
• Can see better in their mind’s eye, their visual field is enhanced.
• The connection brings a detailed, subtle, nuanced quality to an Eight’s responses.
• Can detach, stand back from circumstances and pause before they react.
• May have an intellectual streak, especially with a Seven wing.
• They can be bookish, could have technical or philosophical interests; a love of learning.
• Loners. May recharge and replenish themselves by withdrawing into solitude.
• This connection takes the edge off Eight’s addictive tendencies and helps moderate their behavior.
• A calming influence; helps them see the big picture, remember their long-term goals and avoid (over) reacting to immediate circumstances.
• Fiveish Eights can isolate themselves and lapse into inaction and depression.
• Collectors, hoarders, might be stingy with money.
• Distrustful and suspicious; start seeing friends as enemies.
• Guilty brooding about past actions, may sink into morbid regret.
• Self-punishing; in extreme cases a risk of suicide.
• Feel powerless; heightened fear of betrayal by others.
• Anti-social, try to manipulate people from a distance.
• Can be fond of malformed, unfounded conspiracy theories.
• Dissociated, lose touch with reality, paranoid-schitzophrenic.


Excerpted from The Dynamic Enneagram by Tom Condon

Copyright 2009, 2013 by Thomas Condon

Available as an ebook serial at Tom’s website


Tom Condon has worked with the Enneagram since 1980 and with Ericksonian hypnosis and NLP since 1977. These three models are combined in his trainings to offer a useful collection of tools for changing and growing, to apply the Enneagram dynamically, as a springboard to positive change. Tom has taught over 800 workshops in the US, Europe and Asia and is the author of 50 CDs, DVDs and books on the Enneagram, NLP and Ericksonian methods. He is founder and director of The Changeworks in Bend, Oregon.

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