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Enneatype 8 - The Challenger

Characterological Structure

Modern Enneagram

Passion: Lust

Intense, gusto, contact, sensory-motor disposition, passionately in favor of lust/hedonism in life, need to prove themselves/that things deemed "bad" are not that bad, need stimulation/excitement (propensity to boredom), impatient, impulsive, pleasure in fighting for pleasure, pain (of others or of themselves in overcoming obstacles) becomes pleasure when they satisfy their impulses.


Fixation: Rebellion

 Revolutionary activists, strongly opposed to authority/traditional education. Living in an oppressive society, rebellion constitutes fighting for what is most natural for one to follow, their own impulsive desires, especially for pleasure.


Defense Mechanism: Counter-introjection

Spitting out of bad objects or the transformation of bad objects into good ones. The E8 defends against being called a bad or "immoral" person by reasoning that if following one's desires is "bad," then bad is the new good. Insensitivity, remorseless.


Basic Traits:

Punitive, dominant, insensitive, exhibitionist, conning, cynicism, autonomy, sensory-motor dominance.

Passion & Fixation

The ego cycle constituting E8's character is Lust (passion) and Rebellion (fixation) which perpetuates the propagation of lust. Being situated at the top of the Enneagram in the gut triad, this is a type whose passion has a tendency to dehumanize themselves out of a need to numb themselves out to existential suffering. Lust is a search for an intensity in life that will drown out the noise of an empty existence, becoming characters who take from others as much as they need to take, building a thick psychological wall around them so that nothing passes through. This is their way of achieving artificial satisfaction, barreling through life with intensity and insensitivity. However, underlying this, and subsequently motivating it, is an orientation to existential indolence, which turns the E8 into a visceral and realistic character.

I will therefore use the word “lust” to denote a passion for excess, a passion that seeks intensity, not only through sex, but in all manner of stimulation: activity, anxiety, spices, high speed, the pleasure of loud music, and so on.

Character and Neurosis, Naranjo

The lustful type desiring impulse release above all things was born into a world that desired to control impulses at the outset. While others may be more trustful of society and of the status quo, the E8 gives the deciding weight of its actions to its natural impulsive desires, like a child, and will go against whoever supposes to hinder them. Hence the fixation of rebellion arises, it is a rebellion fixated completely on protecting the right to live according to one's impulses and desires, and stems from having to fight for this right very early on in childhood. They do not allow themselves to be weak or vulnerable, it is shunned to the farthest limit in the unconsciousness, because this weakness would imply an incapability in getting what they want and in turn becomes a threat to their ego. Just as the E9 numbs out with redundancies and daily tasks, the E8 numbs their weaknesses by lustfully engaging in intense stimuli.

The origin of this character structure can be found in a childhood where they were denied the ability to be a child; they did not receive adequate care as a child neither concretely nor emotionally/psychologically. This situation of oppression and precariousness leads them to cultivate an internal aspiration to respond to violence with the same vehemence and force, while they wait for the day of final vengeance. This is a child that has had to grow up fast, who cannot submit to weakness, softness, or fragility.

27 Personalities in Search of Being, Naranjo

They are in fact anti-intellectual characters, which is not to say that they are unintelligent, but that they rebel against the intellectuality of institution and abstain from abstraction or mental obscuration. This rebellion against intellectuality may include institutions such as schools, government, tradition, and so on, which can all fall under the category of "intellectual," and this altogether conveys the idea that the E8 rebels against symbols of fatherhood, which is the person they often fight against in childhood, because fatherhood represents not only intellectual institution but also authoritarianism and impulse-control. However, the E8 is not often plagued by enduring complexes other than their dominating ego-cycle, they are realistic and immediate in their decisions.

Rebounding & Viscerality

An essential aspect of the E8 is their orientation to the here and now. Their parent triad is the triad of action and of the existential indolence, which when combined with the adjacence to E7 creates a character who is attuned to the highest pitch of actuality. This gives them the perception that they truly see things for what they really are, without the over-intellectualized clouds of thought obscuring reality. This further gives them a basis for open rebellion and anti-social activities, making others "see" reality with their actions.

We could say that their passion consists of obtaining satisfaction and gratification in the here and now, like a teenager. The future doesn’t exist and the past is unnecessary. They are pragmatic and concrete; all problems must be resolved immediately (and the problem is their need to possess and get satisfaction). The wound is a received offense, an abuse: the E8 feels and lives with the conviction that they must be immediately compensated. Their interpersonal style is vengeance (fixation): they cannot leave anything open and unclosed; when they carry out vengeance, they find fulfillment again.

27 Personalities in Search of Being, Naranjo

Although, this perception that they really "see things as they are" is only a one-sided and distorted perception of the world that only penetrates to the surface of reality.

When the physical is the only dimension of reality that we are perceiving, we may believe that we are seeing things as they are, but in fact we are seeing through a distorted lens. We see the surface of things, including ourselves, and this lack of dimensionality alters our very perception of that surface and we do not even see the physical dimension as it truly is.

The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues, Maitri

In this visceral disposition the E8 has a mechanism of the "instant rebound." Unlike some types such as the SX4 and SX6, the E8 does not hold onto often grudges and does not wait to resolve something. When they are hit with an attack or an offense of some sort they have the perception that they must immediately act on impulse and return the favor, and often to an excessive degree, because doing so will not only prove their strength and invulnerability, but serve as a mechanism for creating an airtight repression of remorse. If the E8, like any person, puts too much thought behind the action of vengeance, they are going to be burdened by the moral and existential weight of the reaction. If such a thing happens, they are once again left with the feeling of vulnerability that threatens their artificial paradise. However, this already implies an underlying weakness, a failure to simply "be" among other people.

Defense Mechanisms

The unconscious of the E8 character is a depository of composted vulnerabilities. Consciously, It feels the need to be strong, insensitive, unapologetic, aggressive, assertive, all in the name of securing the means to having what they desire, because a weak person is not enough in obtaining these things. Unconsciously, the image of a weak person exists, and subsequently motivates them to uphold the ego of omnipotence.

Their motivation is not to seem superior but rather get their needs satisfied. As they do not give themselves the permission to feel their emotions, they also do not allow themselves to feel physical pain, which may lead them to not take care of their body; even when they are suffering, they find satisfaction in intensity

27 Personalities in Search of Being, Naranjo

The defense mechanisms the E8 character possesses is negation and counter-introjection. In the former negation is more obviously explained as a kind of desensitization to guilt, pain, psychological discomfort, remorse, anything that disturbs the E8's will to take and endure. In the context to counter-introjection, this suggests a polarity with E4 (whose defense mechanism is introjection) and inverses its defense mechanism. While the E4 takes in "bad objects" in an act of identifying with them, the E8 spits these bad objects out, and although the E8 may very often identify with being called a "bad" child and fighting for the expression of that which is "bad" in society, it is by spitting out the identification with being bad that creates a positive identification with what others may think is bad, and on the whole desensitizes the E8 to morality.

The opposition of type VIII to type IV in the enneagram suggests, however, that “counter-introjection” may be even more specific for, unlike type IV, who all too regularly brings bad objects into his psyche as foreign bodies, ennea-type VIII is the opposite of one willing to swallow and is most ready to spit out what doesn’t agree with his wishes.

Character and Neurosis, Naranjo

Further, this polarity with E4 further explains the E8's tendency to move towards and enjoy that which induces anxiety, because it provides an opportunity to "conquer" it. This is not conquering in the sense of personal development (as the E8 is not typically one to go on paths of introspection and self-development) but a conquering in the idea that they transform the pain and anxiety into a lustful intensity.

 This characteristic elevation of the pain threshold that may be understood as the basis of both callousness, as a giving up of the expectations of love from others, and the turning against societal standards, we may call desensitization.

Character and Neurosis, Naranjo

More specifically, desensitization regards a resignation to and negation of love. Just as the E2 represses the envious part of themselves (E4), the E8 negates the love-abundant part of themselves (E2) and shrinks this false-abundance into a true depravity of love. This is because love is at the core of vulnerability, by opening oneself to love you are simultaneously allowing the other a degree of control over your autonomy and being, and allowing oneself the capacity to give love further allows the capacity to feel pain. In this sense, they mimic the E5's self-containment, who is also resigned to love.

We are all moved by love. Each form of disturbed personality is an alteration in the way we act to find love. One acts too cute or too good at school, another is too perfect in his morality, and so on. In an eight, it seems that the main issue is renunciation, the abandonment of love. He thinks it's better to go for power, for pleasure, for what he wants, instead of waiting for love, instead of getting sentimental. For an eight, people who are looking for love are sentimental. So an eight is a character that veers towards the cynical, towards the rough, towards the harsh. Incidentally, eights are not usually interested in activities related to self-knowledge, since it is a little harder for them to develop this type of insight in their own emotional life: they have a lot of repression from the soft side, as if they had had to bury their inner child to be able to go out to life in an armed way, towards a struggle for existence, red in teeth and nails, as the Darwinists say. An eight is someone armed to the teeth.

27 Personalities in Search of Being, Naranjo

Childhood - Active Child vs Active Parent

The child and the parent are very often engaged in open conflicts, being both oriented to two different agendas, the home and family life becomes a battlefield which is where the E8 learns is how he must toughen up for the world and and not allow love into his life. They were often not loved, but fought, and because of this may later begin to mistake the dominance of fighting and exploitation for love. It is because they were forced to survive this battlefield at a young age that they are "armed to the teeth," they take this and repeat it in their relationships and environments in their adult life, being combatant and in a constant state of defensiveness and toughness.

Theophrastus & Commedia Dell'arte


The cynic (shameless person) is a type of man who swears an oath lightly, has a bad reputation and insults the powerful. He has a vulgar character and is capable of anything. You can be sure he does not mind dancing the córdace, without being drunk and without wearing a mask in a procession.

He could be one of those who gather around themselves and convoke a circle of people and then, with a powerful, cavernous voice, apostrophize and strike up a conversation with them ... He finds no better occasion to make a show of his cynicism (shamelessness) than when there is a public feast.

If honest folk speak, he maintains that honesty is unnatural and that all men are unequal, and he recriminates those who are honest. He affirms with total tranquility that the wicked man is one who has freed himself of prejudices.

Coarseness is not difficult to define; it is annoying, disagreeable mockery ... The coarse person is the type of subject who, when he finds himself among respectable women, lifts up his clothes to exhibit his genitals ... He stops in front of the barber’s or the perfume shop and tells the customers that he is going to get drunk.


Commedia Dell'arte

Brighella has bright, malicious eyes under a leather mask, thick lips and a turned up mustache and is dressed in white. If my clothes are white, says Brighella, that means that I have carte blanche to do and undo as I please. And the green adornments? Ah, that’s something else altogether. The desires of my customers will always remain green: that is to say, unsatisfied. I may make promises, but another thing is keeping them. His name, Brighella Cavicchio, derives from briga, deception, trick, something not very clear, and also evokes the first two syllables of brigand. He is a character that comes down to us from the 14th century, from Upper Bergamo, reputed for its astute folk, while in Lower Bergamo are to be found simple, good-natured types, more like Arlecchino or Pulcinella, who though they cause trouble, do so with good intentions, poor devils, to get themselves out of trouble. The case of Brighella is different. He deceives others for pleasure; he is great at cooking up ruses: he makes them big and decorated like a wedding cake.

This is the way he shamelessly proclaims in the market place: I have talismans for everything, perfectly triangular stones, collected from faraway India, that safeguard from all dangers those who possess one, I also prepare magnetic dressings that cure rheumatism or liver sickness in twenty-four hours, I make lotions for the bald and magic filters for young women looking for a husband.

Brighella laughs at the people at the fair, at those sitting in the market place, at the credulous servants and their elderly masters

Idealized Aspect - Red

The Essential Aspect of the Red gives us a sense of aliveness, vitality, vibrancy, strength, and capacity. It gives us initiative and forcefulness, boldness and daring. Eights believe that strength is the answer, and so they attempt to control and dominate, to bully and overwhelm to gain a sense of it. They have little tolerance for what they consider weakness or deficiency, and so have difficulty with “soft” feelings, especially pain and fear, both in themselves and others. Imitating the Red, they engage life with gusto and passion, forcefully and aggressively going after what they want. With the need to be in charge and take the lead, they have difficulty not being the boss and going along with someone else’s wishes. They are fighters for what they believe in, and just as the Red is the power to defend what is real, Eights are fierce defenders of what they consider to be the truth. They seem to others large in energy, with a strong and powerful presence even when they aren’t saying a word. Some Eights seem to have a perpetual chip on their shoulders, meeting life with belligerence and bluster. They have difficulty being vulnerable and receptive, tend to stay very much in control and in charge, and often feel energetically hard.

Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, Sandra Maitri



Fixation: Vengeance
Destructive of self and others out of a sense of injustice.

Trap: Justice
Being aware of living in a very injust world, he is very sensitive to any unfair actions or thoughts directed at him. His immediate response is that of revenge.

Holy Idea: Holy Truth
Once the seeker for justice realizes that his essence follows truly the cosmic laws which are imminently true and just, he will be satisfied and at peace.

Passion: Excess
The person seeking justice and truth very often overdoes his vengeance in his great moral indignation at injustice. Just as he can punish too severely one who he thinks has wronged him, he can be even more punishing to himself when he feels he has failed in justice. Often he will do physical damage to himself.

Virtue: Innocence
The excess of revenge on others and on himself can give way to a childlike innocence. "Why should I want to hurt anyone and why should anyone want to hurt me?”

The justice maker starts by being an idealist [VII], the active. Then he becomes a nonconformist [IX], the attractive. His process with reality, his idealism, will put him in the point of the nonconformist; after failing in the search for his own truth, the function, he falls into his fixated point where he will want to make justice for everybody, the result.

Point 8 is known as "Ego-vengeance". The fixation is also known as "Over-Justicemaker".

The over-justice maker character is always concerned with justice. He is concerned with whether justice is correct or not in everything. He is never going to find strict justice outside. And if he does not find strict justice, he will not start anything outside. Inside, he will judge himself until it really hurts

This ego derives from the Historical Ego, which is a response to the Conservation Instinct. The psychic poison of the Conservation Instinct at the root of Ego-Vengeance is Avarice, extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

Ego-vengeance experiences a sense of abuse in the childhood relationship with a Mother figure.

The main ego-characteristic of this fixation is Vengeance. The Passion which feeds this ego is Lust (Excess) which is first felt when one is abused by a parent, teaching the child that the attainment of food and nurture is a fight against people trying to stop them from getting it, creating a sense of vengeance in the fight and a resulting excess in getting what they need, confusing it with what they want. This excess makes them feel powerful and autonomous, as though they have won the fight ten times over, but many people were punished in the process. The primary defense mechanism is Rationalization, a justification that if you fight for something you deserve to have it. Worsening of this fixation can lead to the Passive-Aggresive Personality Disorder. A secondary defense mechanism is Resistance. Further worsening leads to psychosomatic illness.

Domain of Laws and Morals










Becoming fixated in the Domain of Laws and Morals, there is a swing to the dichotomies of that domain. This can manifest in a positive sense as a focus on Morality on one side, or Tolerance at the other side. It can manifest in a negative sense as Puritanism at one extreme or Hedonism at the other extreme. These dichotomies are represented by two characters: the Self-righteous character at one end, the Libertine at the other. A sense of Remorse invades the consciousness in this domain. The stress of being fixated and imbalanced in this domain can lead to Cruelty as a compensatory mechanism. The poison of this domain is Mythomania.

The Trap which simultaneously restricts but potentially liberates this ego is its focus on Justice, a solidarity with the oppressed. The Way of self-realization of this ego is the Way of Redemption, which redeems the past and the people in it that were hurt in the conquest for Justice.

The Holy Idea which acts as a catalyzer for the transformation of this ego is Holy Truth, or Divine Truth. This can lead to the Virtue (energy) of Innocence, "why should I want to hurt anyone and why should anyone want to hurt me?"

According to Ichazo, Divine Truth is:

The awareness that the cosmos objectively exists now; that this existence is its own definition, and continues whether an individual understands it or not; and that the individual experiences the truth of Reality most completely when he views each moment fresh, without preconceptions about what should be happening.

On the Symbol

Lines to E2 and E5

Desensitization regards a resignation to and negation of love. Just as the E2 represses the envious part of themselves (E4), the E8 negates the love-abundant part of themselves (E2) and shrinks this false-abundance into a true depravity of love. This is because love is at the core of vulnerability, by opening oneself to love you are simultaneously allowing the other a degree of control over your autonomy and being, and allowing oneself the capacity to give love further allows the capacity to feel pain. To the E2, love is a prerequisite to taking, but to the E8 any prerequisite is an inhibition and therefore an act of impulse-control.

In this sense, they mimic the E5's self-containment, who is also resigned to love. The E5's Detachment both allows them to stop feeling the burden of love, but also creates a sense of autonomy for themselves. The E8 mimics this, by pushing away love and rebelling against it, they are able to act according to their natural desires without guilt and without weakness.


E8's polarity with E4 is that of sado-masochism. While the former is more explicitly sadistic and the latter is explicitly masochistic, both of them have inverse implicits, i.e. E8 has a secret masochism to them and the E4 has a secret sadism. The E8 is masochistic in that it seeks out anxiety inducing situations in order to transform the anxiety and pain experienced into a feeling of conquering, of desensitizing to it, while the E4 is sadistic in that it loves to bemoan its existence and by drawing attention to their feelings of existential deficiency they make others feel bad for them.

Moral & Anti-moral

The E8 has a polarity with the E1 of anti-moral and moral. While the E1 is hyper-social and upholds preconceived canons of behavior to an absolute tee in order to exact perfection over their impulses, the E8 is anti-social and generally views morality as a form of intellectualism, which is just another way to perpetuate impulse control. The E8 opts for the anti-moral approach in order to uphold its feelings of invulnerability and the idea that they have a limitless autonomy to do whatever they please.

E7 & E9 Adjacence

The E8 is more fundamentally impacted by its proximity to E9, being a gut type, and thus sharing with it an underlying passion for numbness which obscures their sense of being. However, the E9 numbs themselves out to their existential anxiety by going through daily tasks and various redundancies, losing themselves in something and gaining no real satisfaction from it. The E8 by contrast is far more hedonistic, intense, loud, and confrontational. These qualities it borrows from the E7, the qualities of activity and mania which turn it from a inertial character to a lustful character seeking intense stimuli in order to distract themselves from the inner existential static.



Active - Active

The E8 shares with the E9 the "active" disposition twofold. This is a type whose life is oriented purely to action in and of itself, experiencing the sensory object to the highest pitch and using its intensity to drown out the voice of their internal world. Contrast with E1 (the active-intellectual) or the E9 (active-emotional) whose activity is accompanied by an immense rationalism or emotionality, while the E8 experiences no buffer or different auxiliary. Instead, the action justifies itself, the impulse is enough reason in and of itself, hence those who suppress their urges or their natural being are "sitting ducks". To E8, action, and the activity of the world, is the principal factor of reality.



In Horney's triad of psychic types, E8 corresponds to the type which moves against others. It's aggressiveness and violence in going for what it wants, and in particular its rebellion against the patriarchy, constitute a character who seems as though it is fundamentally opposed to everything that society as a whole pushes forward. They go against the grain for what they believe is their right to exercise their agency in any way they wish to, and denounce institution, or any form of intellectualism which serves to dull their lust.


Erotic (eros) - Erotic (eros)

Like the E7, the E8 is predominantly an erotic lover, they wish to be satisfied like a child and are focused entirely on the pleasure and profit received from the affective or pseudo-affective bond. However, the E7 is also compassionate, they give to others as a product of their social adjustment and from a need to seduce the other in order to satisfy the erotic desire, while the E8 goes ahead and takes, seeing the other as dispensable.


[1] The Human Process for Enlightenment and Freedom: A Series of Five Lectures

[2] Unveiling the Enneagram - Arica 

[3] The Arica Training

[4] Dramatis Personae

[5] Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View

[6] The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge

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