The Innate Nature of Enneagram Type 4

On another page we were discusing the nature of sx 4... So I am including my response here.

Do 4s tend to mistype as Sx 4s at first?

Yes, I have found this to often be true...beginning in my 1995 research on the Instincts. Then, 18 months later, in April of 1996, I had the good fortune to attend Naranjo's first Enneagram Intensive in the US in Bolder, Colorado.

I had been teaching what had emerged in my findings in Instinctual Subtype workshops… and the sx 4s had completely related to the findings and their ability to have and call off ‘raw’ truthful and intense emotions.

Naranjo had moved ‘Reckless’ from sp 4 to sx 4 saying that sx 4s were ‘emotionally reckless’ whereas the sp 4s were more ‘self-contained and enduring’. And, that the sx 4, when triggered, could have intense "out of control" emotions that could make even an 8 back down. ;))

So, the sx 4’s ability for raw, outspoken emotional truth was confirmed by Naranjo’s teachings as well. Naranjo’s new teaching about sx 4 further validated what the sx 4s had shared in interviews for my research study and what they had revealed about their inner world.

Jack Labanauskas interviewed me regarding my experience of Naranjo's Intensive for Enneagram Monthly in 1996. The article is titled ‘Reflections on Type’. There are a lot of gems about the types from Naranjo in that article. It is available from Enneagram Monthly and on

In 1997, after two years of research on the 3 Enneagram Instinctual Types and 27 Subtypes, I shared my findings at the IEA Conference in Baltimore. In the presentation, after listing the study findings and describing the 27 combinations, I had 3 panels of exemplars for each instinct and all 9 types for each. In the interviews I asked each type to share what it meant to have their instinctual subtype.

This served to explained what it felt like to have that defense strategy. And, why for example, the sx4 is ‘reckless’ and has the words of competition and hate as their dominant words. Research also yielded that sx 4s felt that ‘idolatry’ was key as well as they seek their ideal in every situation and tend to idolize intimates and then when hurt, can denigrate and diminish them…sharing that both feelings co exist.

I laugh when sx 4s say I don’t use the word hate very often at all... and within minutes they will often say something like "Don't you hate it when ______ ". It is in their vocabulary, the water they swim in, so to speak.

I see these 3 Instinctual Types and 27 Subtypes as biological imperatives. We as a society need the 27 combinations to support each family, group, tribe, community, culture, country and so on. 
So if your defense strategy is sx4, you must find the way you hate. The sx4 is mobilized by 'angry envy' as it is the fire to their engine. They are a dynamic force and often mistaken for 8s. In contrast, the intensity of the 8 is solid and cold like concrete... it is immovable and resistant. It is only when the 8 is over the top that you see fiery anger. For the most part, when fixated, 8s believe that revenge is best served cold. ;).

The sx 4 is also a strong flavor. But they are liquid, emotional, mercurial and fiery. and as Naranjo said ... "The sx4 won't budge...even for the president, stating that they pay taxes and it is their road too." To contribute to the greater good, this defense strategy notices what is missing… even the tiniest thing will be noticed when absent. This is how we as a society can excel, become more individuated and possess the values that meet our ideals.

Every society needs someone that won’t budge for the president…someone that will say the emperor has no clothes…. someone that will hold to their emotional truth and seek that which is exquisite. The sx 4 has that role in society. They are fierce, competitive and intense seekers.

So, sx 4s will naturally feel disappointed when their defense strategy is on overdrive and is constantly finding what is missing in their lives… what is plain, ordinary and lacking in esthetics. The truth is that they find themselves the most painfully lacking. Their journey is to recognize when they are in fixation … and when to speak… and when their drive for beauty, perfection and emotional truth will not serve the greater good.

On the panel in my 1997 presentation, David was the poster child exemplar for the sx 4. True to expressing the high side of the sx 4, he was willing to share the raw, unedited truth of what it meant to have sx 4 as his primary defense strategy. It was so compelling and revealing that sx4s came up to me and to us throughout the rest of the conference and shared how much it meant to them to know that there were other people that felt the same way they did… and struggled with the emotional intensity.

They were relieved to have their gifts acknowledged and to understand more about their challenges. Until that panel, when they compared themselves to other 4s, they thought they were the 'bad' difficult, flawed, outspoken 4. When they had been with other 4s that did not have the sexual instinct they felt like they were too much… So they felt misunderstood by the other 4s and felt ashamed to mention their fiery intensity and emotional outbursts.

The reason for this is that until then, nothing had been written about the sx 4’s fiery emotional intensity. From the first books written in the late 80s to those written in the early 90s, 4s were described more in terms of the so 4 and sp 4. In the chapters on 4s, they were described as sad, shy and withdrawing.

This is what the sx 4 feels as well… at first…. but if the issue is about a mate or a strongly help passion, their fear of abandonment is triggered and they react with intense, angry emotions. We all know what happens if we feel intense angry emotions… imagine if this was your primary defense strategy. wink emoticon So, it was easy to see why sx 4s had concealed their fiery emotional reactivity. When triggered, they are feeling that they are not enough and all is lost. Afterward an outburst they feel intense shame. When they finally heard about this fierce intensity from other sx 4s they finally felt met and more understood.

What I learned from the sx 4s is that on the high side, they are fiercely protective of intimates and when inflamed will more than go the distance in service of those to whom they are intimately attached.

What was so key for me to learn in that first study was that the sx 4s felt that ‘everyone’ had the right to express thier individuality. And, if you have known and/or loved a sx 4, then you know how they can see someone’s uniqueness and individual gifts better than others. It is an amazing gift when they shine their light in someone’s direction. They see tiny nuances about people that most miss. They call off the beautiful and the ugly with the same ease. They are amazing troubadours that share their inner world and what makes us all human… and more specifically, our flaws and imperfections. They can make people feel truly seen. 
In fact, when coming from the high side, sx 4s are by far the most inclined to see what is innately human.

To enter the world of sx 4 in pain but calling off her emotional truth in a beautiful way, listen to Why by singer/songwriter Annie Lennox. 

©1995-2019 Katherine Chernick Fauvre

Typologies: Enneagram Type 8 Thinking vs. Feeling

I am enjoying reading the results of those that have participated in the Enneagram Tritype, Instinctual Type and Myers-Briggs Type study.

To have a current sense of the tests available for all of these categories I have taken many tests again in all of these systems. I am struck by how important it is to ask the right questions and enough questions to cover important variables.

I can easily see how some questions in MBTI perfectly match some Enneagram Types, Tritypes and/or Instinctual Types... and some of these possible types are entirely missed. For example, the questions written to ascertain if one is more introverted or extroverted are written primarily for the social instinct vs. self-preserving instinct… and there are very few if any questions that include the sexual/intimate instinct.

8 and the T vs. the F
Working with a great many 8s, I have found that 8s that are willing to explore the world of therapy, coaching or self-help do not really identify with or test with a distinct preference for the T or the F. When these 8s are with Ts they feel more passionate about their opinions and feel more F by comparison and when they are with Fs they feel more realistic and practical and feel more like T by comparison. This is true for me as well.

Extravert(22%) iNtuitive(30%) Thinking(1%) Perceiving(67%)
You have slight preference of Extraversion over Introversion (22%)
You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (30%)
You have marginal or no preference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
You have distinct preference of Perceiving over Judging (67%)

So, I come out as an ENTP... which is for the most part accurate but does not account for my compassion. Some tests will say ENXP. I have found that ENXP is the most accurate but it could be that I am just the playful, no nonsense ENFP 8. ;)

As an 8 I tend to see the questions as difficult because they are not in 8 speak. Most of the F questions are too sappy or saccharine for my language choices. I also find that the T questions are better but too indifferent and more self-preservation. I clearly care about people and enjoy working with them at a deep level but IMO that is simply the sx874.

Simply put, if one has empathy and will help people one will test as an F in most of the testing instruments. I have also found that 8s do not like the language use, questions or description for the ENFP. Having said that, there are many ENFP 8s that are therapists, coaches and body workers in the self-help field.

How do you as your EType, and/or Tritype, Instinctual Type relate to your Myers-Briggs Type? Are they complimentary or at odds with one another?

©1995-2019 Katherine Chernick Fauvre

Enneagram Talk Styles

Enneastyle talk styles was one of my early studies in 1995. This study was after I had learned a great deal about the most common words used by the 9 Enneagram types to describe themselves to a total stranger. From this initial group of words, I learned even more about the talk styles. In person, however, you see gestures as well. Online you will notice if someone tends to say they are a skeptic, talks about being cautious or cautions others or says "beware of ________", (6) vs someone that is diligent and tends to say they are responsible, talks about improvement, shoulds, shouldn'ts, and oughts (1).

I would love your feedback as to how you experience your talk style and if pertinent you tritype talk style.... additions?

1 Teaching, Moralizing, Educating
2 Flattering, Advising, Supporting
3 Wooing, Promoting, Self-Promoting
4 Lamenting, Sad Stories, Personalizing
5 Explaining, Systemizing, Treatises
6 Cautioning, Questioning, Doubting, Group Thought
7 Anecdotes, Story-telling, Sarcasm
8 Imperatives, Unmasking, Teasing
9 Monotonous, Sagas, Pleasantries

Reflections on Enneagram Type:  A Workshop with Dr. Claudio Naranjo

Introductory Note:

Studying the Enneagram has been a turning point in my life. From the first book  I read and later  my first course given by Tom Condon, I became fascinated with the possibility of understanding the nature of the forces that make us who we are, and began to avidly study the Enneagram. After the Stanford conference, I studied with Helen Palmer and David Daniels, whose Professional Training and panels masterfully taught me to have empathy and compassion for all of the types. Don Riso's and Russ Hudson's Professional Training gave an organized psychic structure for each type, complete with the Levels of Health, which explain why two people of the same type can appear to be so different. Each lesson was distinctive and a testament to the seemingly inexhaustible way of evaluating human nature, and all filled a different section of the broad mosaic that is the Enneagram. For the wisdom of Gurdjieff, Ichazo, Naranjo, and my teachers, and those before them who have been the custodians of this knowledge, I am respectfully grateful.

When I was asked to write this article, I felt there was much I could share about this extraordinary workshop. However, writing about the experience proved to be another matter, for Claudio's and my speaking and writing styles are so different, as I tend to string adjectives together for emphasis, and he chooses concise words or phrases that say it all. Therefore, this article is, in effect, my "translation" of Claudio's teachings, and so any awkward phraseology should be attributed to me. Similarly, although this is my impression of what Claudio was saying, the information was so rich that it may well have resonated differently with others. Stated concisely, I walked away from the experience with a more expanded, integrated view of type. Now for the string of adjectives. ;)

In April of this year, Claudio Naranjo held a week-long workshop in Boulder, Colorado, his first in-depth teaching of the Enneagram in this country in more than 20 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend, and found that Claudio's unique style of teaching contributed as much to the learning experience as did the content. With wisdom, kindness, skill, and patience, Claudio freely gave of himself, indulging us and politely answering questions in a responsive yet neutral manner, creating an environment in which I thrived.

Claudio placed little emphasis on the structure of the workshop, instead placing more significance on the transmission of information toward a greater goal that emerged day by day. Interspersing nuances and descriptors with theories, the week unfolded. Rather than having an agenda and covering the types in an A-to-Z manner, Claudio's approach was distinctive and focused on relativity. Instead of a methodical approach, he employed an intriguing conversational style, similar to the way we actually speak, spontaneously and with free association.  Just as you might begin to predict what he would talk about next, he would suddenly journey into another deeper realm of the Enneagram before ultimately returning to his original path. On any subject, he would weave in nuances, theories, information, comparisons, character sketches, and a touch of humor. Thread by thread, random thoughts were strung together, and the tapestry of type began to take form. Often serious, sometimes thoughtful, clearly curious, and always knowledgeable, he elaborated on type. As a teacher, storyteller, and sage, he interwove more obvious, overt pathology with the hidden simplistic view of the wounded child. I found myself paying rapt attention to each pearl of wisdom, stringing them together one by one.

Beginning with a history of the Enneagram, Claudio acknowledged the works of Gurdjieff, Ichazo, Freud, Jung, Sheldon, Pearls, Horney, and others, combining their theories with Eastern philosophies and spiritual practices. Claudio explored many schools of thought, uniting Western psychology with Eastern traditions, resulting in a highly integrated view of type. First he discussed the different passions, and then examined the types, ultimately breaking the types down by the three instinctual subtypes. This was remarkably effective, in that we got the essence of the fixation prior to assigning it a number. The benefit of this approach was that when we were examining the actual passion, it was unfiltered by our previous conceptions of what that type was supposedly like. It contributed to an overall "layered" effect that I think opened up the organized mind.

Claudio started with interesting general observations of the passions, and then proceeded to discuss each passion in depth, making memorable statements along the way. For example, he defined the sloth of the 9 as a "lack of voltage," no motivation, and out of energy, stating that you cannot repress anger without repressing everything. He referred to it as a laziness of awareness, which he called being "functionally dumb," not a dumb person, but choosing to function with dispassion; and the laziness was of awareness or consciousness, because awareness is too painful, and distraction is preferred (e.g., "don't rock the boat; let's not create a problem by seeing how it really is"). He described it as a defense of "not knowing." In contrast, the passion of the 2 is pride and "ego flattery" or "egocentric generosity," and represents a "love trauma." The 2 has "false abundance" and is in full denial of emptiness, filled instead with false love, often "promising more than they deliver, and delivering more than they promise." As Claudio noted, there is not much room for the self when filled with pride.

In describing the passions, Claudio did not try to make them appear equal, yet suggested that all the passions equally keep us from our essence. Possibly, the mood in a society or a historic moment may determine whether or not a particular passion is considered good or bad. If so, this might explain his theory that many 3s believe they are 8s, for in business, some 8-like traits are valued and esteemed. Thus, some 3s, recognizing that this is how they need to be seen in order to be successful, have identified themselves as 8s; but their underlying motive is that of a 3, which is to fulfill the role.

Claudio teaches that the wings are ever-present, and that the point is the convergence of the wings. He introduced theories that the passion is the "yearning" and visible by age five and is a response to the situation, an emotional pattern, whereas the fixation is the "way of being," a life philosophy and an abstraction that is in place by age seven. He also teaches that the instinctual type is one of three sub-personalities that is the "auxiliary passion." He suggests that outwardly the instinctual subtype can look positive, like a talent, or something of which one should be overly proud, but inwardly is a reflection of unhappiness with a price to be paid, e.g., "the oyster is not too interested in the price of the pearls."

With regard to the instinctual subtypes, one intriguing insight to type 4 was the introduction of a rare type of sexual 4 that can be "counter-envious" with 8-like tendencies, which Claudio described as often appearing "more 8 than an 8." This sexual 4 is in denial of envy, is self-confident, claims position, and knows his or her own worth ("I deserve it"). Moreover, this 4 can be cannibalistic, overstep boundaries, and diminish others to make the self bigger and to prove one right. Examples given were Hitler and Pacino in Scent of a Woman. This raises the question of "counter types" for each of the Enneagram points.

Claudio's words were carefully measured, extremely concise, and effective. There was nothing forced or artificially balanced, with no sense of "apology" with respect to any particular type, thus permitting one to view the types clearly. For example, when discussing the passion of fear, he described it as a lack of courage or as too much fear, in effect a fear of fear, adding that perhaps all of us can be cowards, but not all of us are afraid of fear. He submitted that the passion arises from the attempt to avoid experiencing fear or projecting fear, and trying to ignore having fear, resulting in suspicion and no faith in self. So a defiant, counterphobic attitude arises from the need to defend and be guarded, to be inhibited. This suggests how the counterphobic 6 differs from the 8, the 6 is inhibited, whereas the 8 is notï¿i.e., the counterphobic 6 can be bold and do heroic things ("military man") but still have phantoms or phobias.

He further stated that 6s feel "swallowed by others." This choice of words creates a clear visual picture that rings with validity. Being "swallowed by others" might be interpreted as a fundamental fear of what could happen to them, a terrible fantasy, imagined exaggerated danger. There is a tendency to submit, and the counterphobic fights that tendency, while the phobic runs away. Anything new would be threatening, terrible. Therefore, the 6 is slow and "holds back and does not display" and instead becomes a "proof" junky.

Choosing words that create pictures is another impression of Claudio's teaching style. Furthermore, he does not seem to use the same approach for each type, and instead uses the words that serve the type. As an illustration, Claudio sees the 7 as passive-aggressive with humor, diplomacy, and conscious manipulation, believing that "having my way is love." When he talked about the aspect of rationalization of the 7s, he referred to them as having a lubricated or "slippery" quality. As "utopians," the 7 likes and offers gentleness. With a philosophy of life to "live and let live," the 7 has a lighthearted way of getting around the super ego. Yet, "behind every good boy there is a spiteful brat" (Fritz Perls), and what is not observable is the 7's non-connection and hidden paranoia.

Claudio views the chief feature as the "core of character," a "distorting of reality, an illusion, a trap, a cognitive defect, a ruling passion¿the crazy idea about things," and sees the passions as the basic motivations. He described that all the passions are various deficiency motivations¿a wanting, a form of light passing through different filters creating different colors. The capital sins, as well, are thought to be deviations in psychic energy, creating destructive effects in life and spiritual obstacles.

He portrayed the fixations as ways of being hung up on our own assumptions of reality, the fixation is the particular assumption of reality we have, and it crystallizes in our consciousness, "lack of appreciation of life as it is," and is slightly different for each of us. My understanding is that he believes that we contend with all nine fixations, and that it is just a matter of which one we overuse.

Claudio sees the 5 as feeling a sense of impoverishment, having very limited resources and energy, and with non-expression of feeling (dry, desert-like depression). They tend to amputate reality, repressing whatever they feel is bad about themselves, and because of such repression, their unexpressed anger goes inward. Thus, they are easily depleted and look inward so keenly that solicitations from the outer world are experienced as interference, i.e., "you are in the way of my listening to myself."

Both the 5 and 1 seem to repress anger. However, by comparison, the passion for the 1 is anger and is motivated by the need for "perfect values," perfectionism, and more importantly a lack of acceptance for imperfection. So unlike the 5, the 1 has inverted anger "reaction formation," a moral superiority, kindly intentions that cover anger, a rejection of one's own experience in favor of what should be (a willed positive regard not supported by true loving feelings), therefore at odds with reality.

Working with further distinctions, he explained that the reason the 1 and 3 have a surface resemblance is that the 3 has the "right image" (e.g., the perfect person), whereas the 1 has the "perfect values." He cited Dick Tracy, Barbie, and Star Trek's Mr. Spock as examples of the 3. He sees the 3 as having no feelings, like HAL the computer in the movie 2001. The 3 modulates expression of feeling; they look like they feel "nice" when they do not feel "nice" at all. The deception is the logical and clear simulation of feeling. Think of HAL, who in an effort to be efficient killed off his own people and then kept the information from himself and searched for the killer.

Claudio teaches transmission through relativity, which he accomplishes by comparing opposites by juxtaposition rather than by cataloguing. Everything is compared and contrasted and has a point of reference, i.e., the Sexual 4 is arrogant and demanding, whereas the Self-Preservation 4 is oneish and tenacious; or the 8 is spending energy, whereas the 5 is saving energy.

Another aspect of comparison is the relationship of opposition in the Enneagram. For example, the 1 and 5 are on the "anal axis," the 2 and 7 are on the "oral receptive axis,"  and the 4 and 8 are on the "oral aggressive axis." Some of the similarities between type included those that shared common issues. In addition, the 1 and 5 have issues with control, the 2 and 7 share issues with connection, and the 4 and 8 share intensity.

Claudio introduced a multitude of theories and intriguing ways of slicing the "Enneagram pie." Of the triads, he said the 8-9-1 was the triad dealing with ignorance or unconsciousness, the 2-3-4 with craving or desire, and the 5-6-7 with issues of hate or aversion. In addition, the 8-9-1 was the neutral aspect of the Enneagram, the 2-3-4 was the extroverted perspective of the Enneagram, and the 5-6-7 was the introverted. He saw the right side of the Enneagram as primarily feminine and social, and the left side as primarily masculine and antisocial, and so on. He gave us many, many different Enneagrams, so to speak. These perspectives suggest different internal views he has synthesized, resulting in how he sees type.

With regard to the polarity of temperament, he viewed the 7 and 4, as well as the 5 and 2, in sharp contrast to one another. The 7 is seen as the happy character, whereas the 4 is seen as the sad character; and the 5 is seen as having cool aloofness, whereas the 2 is seen as having warmth and intimacy.

Another aspect of temperament was mood. He talked about mood (elation versus depression), and that the 2-3-4's are quick and gregarious, and the 5-6-7's slow and timid. He discerned that within the triad, there is a contrast in mood. For example, the 2 and 7 have the high moods, and the 4 and 5 have the low moods, in their respective triads. An example of the high mood in the "extroverted triad" is the 2, which we know to be up, quick, gregarious, and outgoing. Similarly, an example of the low mood in the "introverted triad" is the 5, which we know can be depressed, slow, withholding, and withdrawn, and so on.

As mentioned, the 4 and 5, at the pit of the Enneagram, are hypersensitive and see the abyss, and are difficult and fussy versions of the low moods from the two different triads. In contrast, 8-9-1, the third triad at the top of the Enneagram, is described as ignorant, neutral, insensitive, and unconscious, and as "defensive extroversion with an avoidance of inwardness." This insensitivity is perhaps a reflection of self-forgetting. As an example, the 8 has "solution mastery," tends to be a cynic, exploitive, and focuses on the simple nuts and bolts of life, and is viewed as tough, rebellious, vindictive, insensitive, and thick. Most important, the 8 is insensitive to subtlety, and needs strong stimuli, e.g., "loud music, heavy spices, and intensity to feel alive."

Having submitted our childhood histories to Claudio prior to the workshop, we were also able to delve into a variety of self-diagnostic psychological exercises and broke into groups by type, where impressive similarities and patterns emerged when the data was shared. We put our results to graphs, clearly demonstrating a similar pattern of attention, which was even more visible when we shared the results on panels.

Through observing the demeanor of a person, something can be perceived that is deep and profound. The trick is to be able to recognize it when it manifests. This brings to mind a Holographic picture or kaleidoscope, which when shifted reveal images not previously seen. Similarly, you need to know what you are looking for when determining type. As to knowing what to look for, perhaps it is in reality everything synthesized that with subtlety reveals a crystallized sense of type, like the varying perceptions realized from the Holographic picture or the kaleidoscope. Therefore, when an individual displays an "eagle eye," upright posture, with a carriage that is very proper and held tight, and with a finger that tends to point out all the "shoulds" and "should nots," we might all agree that this is a 1. Admittedly, this approach may not always work, for there is invariably the element of individuality. However, this concept clearly represents a way of seeing that, if understood, can be extremely powerful.

Of course, there remains an ongoing question, which subtleties do you decide are defining and, thus, indicative of type? It is unlikely that one answer will apply to everyone, and so an approach for one type will not necessarily work for another. What was most noteworthy about this workshop, its style and approach, was how it emphasized the subtle nuances about all the types, the messages that surface on their own and that you can recognize if you are receptive to them. The ability to do this must be what Claudio calls his "nose" or "seeing through the game of the other.

Claudio's focus was on recognizing the pathology and the hidden passion of the types. He reinforced that the study of typing must go beyond written descriptions, and that of much more importance is the ability to recognize type intuitively. He emphasized creating more of an environment for seeing the subtleties, trusting the gut, and letting the subtlety be the dominant factor.

I found the week to be evocative. I came away with a more expanded sense of type and yet a narrower set of criteria, "ennea-types," Claudio's assessment of personality type according to the Enneagram. The nuances have continued to surface for me. I have discovered that there is an underlying subtlety that cannot be conveyed through using one particular word or descriptor. Perhaps we rely too much on descriptors, since it is tempting to want to classify. More important, I believe there is something inherently revealing in a person's posture, something detectable in our speech, our manner, our carriage, and the distinctive way we respond to situations.

In conclusion, Claudio explained that the logic of the system suggests that whereas truth is liberating, a felt insight must also come into play; and by working on the virtues with attention to practice, transformation can occur. Finally he suggests that working with a trusted group that will call you on your fixation is one of the most effective ways to challenge your compulsive behavior and will support the growth process. 

Working with the Enneagram Type Eight Child: Parenting the Type 8 Child and Boundaries

As a student and teacher of the Enneagram, and as an Enneagram Type Eight (8) myself, I am regularly asked how to work effectively with 8s, and in particular, 8 children. I am always touched when a non-8 parent makes the inquiry because the parent wishes to support their 8 child. I am equally touched when teachers and administrators hire me to work with children and teens that appear to be perplexing and difficult to manage.

I love teaching the Enneagram because it helps people depersonalize what appears to be so personal and gives meaning to the different ways people perceive and defend their realities. Some of the most meaningful moments in teaching have come when I have experienced the raw honesty and vulnerability of the self-aware 8. The experience is always the same whether it is in a boardroom, a classroom, or a county jail. In every case, I am always unprepared for the unguarded, truly vulnerable innocence behind the 8-stance of defiance. I always see an aspect of myself and I am always humbled. Over and over again, I walk away with newfound respect for their innate capacity to continue to grow and change in the human condition. When I experience this with a fellow 8, I am in awe. In psychological terms, I am certain the 8 child that resides within me feels a renewed sense of hope.... and, that the opportunity to help another 8, especially as a child, is an opportunity that will help me to continue to grow and change as well. I believe I feel this way even more due to the support and guidance I received from the right people, at the right time, and more specifically, from two truly benevolent teachers that forever changed the course of my life.

The questions I am always asked are: "Why don't the strategies that work with most children not work with an 8?," "As the parent, teacher or therapist of an 8 child, to what degree should I allow the 8 leeway with regards to what he/she wants, and how do I set limits that will work? Which limits teach the 8 child how to manage his/her dominating and/or intimidating energy and transform it into benevolent leadership? And, which limits are destructive to the young 8 and provoke his/her defiance and noncompliance?"

These are great questions for me as an 8, the daughter of an 8, the granddaughter of an 8, the niece of an 8 and the mother of an 8. ;) As a result, I can easily make a very biased but educated guess.

The thought that immediately comes to mind is to remember that our Enneagram Type is simply just our innate defense strategy doing what it is meant to do. We are born with it. We are hard-wired to see and respond to the world the way we do. By definition, a defense would indicate a reaction to protect from something that feels threatening. This, of course, would be true for all of the 9 Enneagram Types. I believe the key is to understand that our Enneagram Type defense strategy, if left unmanaged, will end up hurting others the very same way that we are trying "not" to be hurt "by" others.

8s are intense even as children. They have big everything — big energy, big tears, and big ideas, etc. 8s have big energy. So, they talk louder, laugh harder, and even as young children cry with greater intensity the other 8 types. So, 8s often report that their actions and intentions are often misinterpreted, misrepresented, and labeled negatively. This is very painful to the 8s, so they stop crying at a very young age for fear that their sadness will be used against them. They quickly learn to not give anyone the power to hurt them. Instead, they fight for their truth to be heard. This is very hard on the young 8, especially when their explanations go unheard and their intent and motivation are misunderstood.

How does the power struggle begin?
The reason that I begin here is that from the outside perspective the direct 8 style appears to be the initiating force. But, as with all of the defenses, from the inside, it feels like it is a necessary reaction to survive an incoming threat that feels overwhelming. The difference may simply be that the young 8s' defense style appears stronger than the other 8 styles because 8s take charge of any perceived injustice and retaliate to protect themselves from being unfairly dominated. The 8 seeks revenge to even the score, no more, no less, exactly the same. Rather than walking away or simply defending a position, the 8 approach is to turn the tables and seek the advantage to avoid being at the mercy of any further injustice. The other 8 types either become defensive, seek help from other adults or just ignore the threat by suppressing it. These also come with their own set of problems… ;). But they are just easier to understand from the outside looking at a child that is upset.

Even as an infant, I remember the feelings of frustration that I experienced when I could not impact my environment. I could walk and climb by the age of 12 months, and that included climbing in and out of my crib. I felt exhilarated when I could crawl, even more joyous when I could walk, and then truly liberated when I could run, skip, climb and jump. I was never cautious and explored life with a lust for life. I was constantly told I was like a force of nature. I remember being confused when my mother was initially proud of my agility but then became constantly angry and frustrated when I was always on the move, exploring and experiencing everything in my environment and beyond. As an adult, I understood why "the beyond part" was such a source of frustration to her. I was totally fearless and uninhibited. I learned how to move a chair and climb up on anything and reach cupboards and drawers so early that it made tracking me a full-time job.

Even with a nanny, I was many handfuls compared to my three brothers. I simply had a child-like call of the wild. I wanted the freedom to explore whatever captured my interest and wanted to do things other children never even thought of doing. So, I was constantly punished for disobeying, such as taking off my itchy clothes, climbing up my dresser to get the clothes I wanted, taking apart something that I found fascinating like my grandmother's mirror and lipstick, (wow that lipstick sure seemed like a special crayon with a shiny mirror and a lid). And as all parents of 8s know, once an 8 has set their heart on exploring something, they do not stop trying until they can get it. As a baby, I could not stop thinking about it. So my mom and grandmother felt that they had not been stern enough, so to punish me they put me in my crib and went outside to socialize. But, baby or no baby, I wanted that red crayon so I went and got it from my grandmother's handbag in the living room and climbed back into my crib to color. But as you can imagine, my mother and grandmother were NOT happy that I colored all over my blanket and walls, and were even angrier that I could climb out of my crib and open my bedroom door. At that moment they forgot that I was a baby. They just tried to curb my "bad" behavior (which was innocent curiosity at that age) with punishments.

The problem was that my behavior was age-appropriate but due to my agility, intelligence, curiosity and strong will, I seemed older than I was. So, it seemed like I was being defiant and was directly disobedient. This is because 8s are often very age progressed in terms of independence and physical agility. But emotionally, they are still young and vulnerable and very sensitive. The truth was that I was just too young to understand why my mother and grandmother were so upset with me. I was innocently having fun exploring my world. So, it was threatening to be punished over and over again before I could even talk. I was so confused and angry that I learned not to cry and gave up seeing my mother and grandmother as sources of comfort. I was just too young to understand the consequences they felt would guide me to develop more obedient and acceptable behaviors, but too young to see how exhausting it would be to have me as a child.

My mother and grandmother had no idea that they had set in motion the course for the ultimate power struggle, because 8s, even at ages 12-18 months, will not back down if something seems mean, confusing, physically hurts or feels unfair. I remember making a conscious decision to go it alone because they didn't make any sense to me and they never seemed to understand the joy I felt expanding my horizons. They couldn't know then what we all know now. They did not know that they could have sat with me and said, "Of course you want to play with the lipstick, it looks just like a fancy cool crayon that opens and closes. I know you are sad that I have to take it away. I know it must be so hard to understand. It must seem really unfair. Let me show you how to hold it so it doesn't break or stain the sofa or your blanket, and, I feel so sad that you want something that I can't give you. But I am your mommy and it is my job to keep you safe, and as the mommy I have to take the crayon away because it isn't really a crayon, it is a lipstick, and this is how a crayon and lipstick are different and that's why I can't let you play with it." Instead, I just wondered why they were being so mean and were not letting me play with the big red crayon with the mirror.

The 8 child's view
So very early on, my primal drive to explore and take charge combined with my parent's attempt to curb my behaviors with daily punishments, caused me to not trust them. I personally expected the world to be cold, indifferent to my needs, unfair and unjust. I expected NOT to be protected. Punishment "without representation" felt unjust and triggered my innate defense strategy of defiance and non-compliance. Further disciplines without fair representation further compounded this cycle creating a strong sense of distrust for adults that were perceived to be abusing power. And, in terms of consequences, this only served to reinforce my world view that there was no love in the world and that I was truly on my own. Therefore, the true life-altering experiences happened not when I was punished, but rather when I was afforded the opportunity to be taught the power of love, wisdom, and compassion by a truly benevolent teacher.

An 8 child's Story

In the 6th grade, during the Easter Break, I was at the school participating in outdoor supervised play with 2 friends; a whip-smart social 137, and a congenial self-preserving 935. At first, we were having fun but then we became bored. That was when our 9-friend told us that she had found a classroom open during the Christmas Holidays. It seemed unlikely that it would happen again, but it was an interesting idea for 3 bored 11-year olds. So, the three of us decided to check the doors and sure enough, we found a classroom that was unlocked, just as our 9 friend had predicted.

We saw it as an unexpected opportunity for an amazing adventure filled with possibilities. We moved things all around the room; I changed the names on the chalkboard and looked into the desks and found other names and put them up instead. I was sure they would laugh at the change of the names for the all-star students. I moved books from one desk to another. I thought it would be like an Easter scavenger hunt looking for whose book was where. My 137 friend was experienced with equipment, so she talked into the tape recorder. My 9 friend was going through the drawers and desks too, so I imagined that she was rearranging the books too. Later she told me she had helped herself to random lunch money as well. I told the 1 that I thought it was stupid for a straight-A student to leave her voice as evidence on the tape recorder, and I told my 9 friend that I thought it was uncool to take the kid's lunch money. They both shrugged their shoulders and I imagined that it was handled, and besides, we were 11 so we didn't say much more. We had had fun creating total havoc just anticipating how much the kids would enjoy not having to do school work and that it would be fun for the students to sort it all out when they returned to school from the holiday week. After all, they wouldn't have to work! Right?

Later, as we ate our ice cream cones both friends begged me to not tell anyone. I thought that we rearranged the room to boast about our adventure, like in the movie The Parent Trap, so I was confused but gave my word of honor and we all finished our cones and went home.

Anyhow, the friend that was the straight-A, Enneagram social 137, school president, became riddled with guilt and told her parents. I, of course, kept my bond of secrecy, as she had begged me to give my word that I would never tell anyone what she did. To an 8 their word is their bond. So, I did not reveal her name, even knowing, that she had told them mine. I took pride in keeping my word even if she couldn't. My mom, a self-preserving 469 felt very anxious and ashamed. She thought the social 137 was the good child and that I, as the sexual 874, was the problem child.

We all met at the school the following Monday morning. It was so quiet and strange to be there before the teachers or kids were there. Both of my friends were there with both of their parents. I was with just my mom. I later found out that my Dad, a social 874, did not think it was a huge deal and secretly respected me for keeping my word. My friends were both fearful and gently crying. It made me very sad for them. So, I knew right then and there that they weren't as tough as I was. So, since I was going to miss out and be in trouble anyway, I didn't tell on them and took the full blame, for everything. This is an example of the way that 8s protect their friends and the way the 8 will be self-sacrificing for intimates that are weaker than they are.

The Principal, the social 136, was very resolute in the belief that a strong hand and severe punishment was the way to teach a wayward, strong-willed child (sexual/intimate 874) the lessons of life. Especially one that had corrupted the school's ‘straight A' student body president (137), and that nice quiet girl 962, as he couldn't remember her name. He assumed it was my idea as an outspoken kid that in his eyes had just become the trouble maker and ring leader. ;) He was sure it was all my idea, and no one corrected him (typical 8 experience…) because actually, it was our quiet, self-preserving 935 friend's idea. ;) But, we all had agreed to check it out, so I felt it was on all of us. After all, what were the odds that we just happened to come across a door that was not locked?

His punishment was to have me spend all of lunch and recess in his office for the last 2 months of school, to publicly humiliate me, as well as deprive me of all graduating festivities and events. This, of course, is the kind of experience that 8s believe created their 8ness. After all, I had spent 7 years getting through the rigors of limitation that school rules presented to an 8, and graduation was a major element towards freedom from my perception of elementary school oppression. I could not see the fairness or justice in losing all privileges due to one misguided mistake. But I remained silent as I held steadfastly to my stance of having given my word.

A very fair-minded Vice-Principal (social 739) that had been our 5th-grade teacher knew that we were all good kids that just didn't understand the potential harm our fun could cause. He was also struck by the fact that I took total blame for the transgressions and never told on my friends. Later, I was to learn that this was my ‘straight As' 1 friend's cry for much-needed attention to not have to be the perfect person. At the time, of course, this was unknown to me. I was just having fun and did not experience guilt yet as I did not intend any harm. My cry turned out to be of another kind, far more hidden and silent.

Years later, my mom told me that he had said she did not need to worry about me because I was a true leader with a big heart, an original mind, and an innate sense of justice. He told her that I would make a great adult but that some teachers and adults would not appreciate how outspoken I was until then. He told her that one day she would recognize that I had shown true courage in the face of adversity by taking the full blame. She told me he said that if they just help me get there, I would one day be in a position of power and that he felt certain that I had the capacity to wield truly benevolent power. But she never mentioned it to me, until 40 years later. She was a self-preserving 469 after all, so she doubted it. :)

From the limited perspective of an 11-year old, this experience with the principal not asking me anything and jumping to conclusions, served to reinforce the theory that life is not fair so why respect unjust authority? Why care? Most of all it confirmed the notion that I needed to be even tougher because I truly was on my own. I would also suggest that this further proves to the 8-stance that the 8 is correct in their world view and that due to experiences such as these, the 8 begins to stop sorting for data to the contrary. I would also suggest that there is a trap for all of the types. There are always situations and experiences to support whatever our Enneagram Type defense strategy would have us believe to be true.

Seat of Shame

For 2 months I did sit in the principal's office right where all of the kids came and went. I was humiliated and was imploding inside of course, but I never shed a tear and came across as self-possessed, nonchalant and unaffected. I even made jokes. This was far from the truth. 8s protect themselves from painful emotions that feel debilitating. 8s deny their vulnerability so that they can prevail in the face of adversity. I endured this extreme punishment without complaining because such extreme injustice and mistreatment fueled my passion to seek the advantage and take the lead one way or another. I would stand against the unjust punishment. This is because 8s are natural-born leaders that naturally know how to power through obstacles and have the ability to use mind over matter. They have the strength to stand alone for their truth, stand up for the underdog, disadvantaged and under-represented and at great personal cost. And, the 8 is the Enneagram Type that has the defense strategy designed to challenge oppression and fight against tyranny and injustice, the very qualities of a true leader. The problem is that the 8 child needs to learn to work with their tendency to be assertive and overpowering, just as the timid 6 or 9 child needs to learn how to speak up for themselves rather than being passive-aggressive.

The vice-principal (739) was a good guy. I really liked him, so I hated to disappoint him. He kept talking about the fact that I was a leader and an original thinker. At 11, it didn't make much sense to me. He didn't seem to be mad at all. He said that I was a good kid and would make a great adult. He reminded me that in 5th grade I didn't read the stories in order and color that I was supposed to and that I was the only kid that didn't, but that I did read them all, and that I just saw a better way that made more sense to me. I thought they should be read in order of interest, just like at the library. He agreed. I didn't always follow assignments the way they were intended but did what I had to. So, he said that he was looking forward to what I was going to contribute to the world.

He passed his punishment on to the Teacher of the classroom we had rearranged. So, his punishment was far more painful than that of the principal. It was instructive rather than punitive. In contrast, the vice-principal's punishment was to assign me to meet after school each day with the teacher (social 269) whose room I had vandalized. This was horrifying to me. It was easy to endure sitting in the principal's office for all to see, as I believed it made me tougher. I was, after all, being unfairly treated and a survivor. However, to have to face my unknown victim was unnerving. I had visions of slave labor to further define the unjust world of the adults. Internally I just said to myself, "They can tell me what to do but they can't tell me how to think or feel."

Ouch, not so. This teacher ( social 269) was very nice and never made me 'do' anything. Every day she just talked with me. Every day, I had to feel more and more feelings and it was agonizing. When was she going to be mean and unjust? Why didn't she make me a slave so I could rile against her tyranny? Why didn't she treat me with disdain so that I could raise my jaw and glare at her with defiance? Why was she so understanding? I had no defenses for such unexpected acts of kindness. I felt bereft of resources to deal with this kind of power.

She did not lecture, she did not chastise, in fact, she told me nothing, she only inquired. She continued her onslaught of gentle benevolence by asking me questions about what mattered to me. She asked me what I had hoped for by rearranging the room. When I told her, she laughed and then explained how some of the children laughed and had a wonderful time but that many of the children were frightened and others thought that their things might be gone never to be found and cried. This of course, had never occurred to me. I had to let in that my actions had left little 3rd graders feeling afraid and unprotected, my very own core wounding. I was crushed! I wasn't a Santa Claus as I has imagined; I was the Grinch to these little vulnerable 8-year-olds. I found it unforgivable. My self-vengeance was far crueler and greater than anything the principal had denied me.

In addition, to further make me squirm in my own feelings, she asked me what I wanted out of life. She asked what my dreams were, and since I was naturally protective, what I wanted to do as an adult to protect others. She asked me if I would want to have me for a friend and why? I had never thought of these things. They were life-altering questions. She said that she would have been happy to be my friend in school because I was so protective and willing to take the full blame to protect my friends. I agreed, but then I immediately told her that on second thought, there were things I wouldn't like about having me as a friend. I found a longer list, and the beginning of the journey towards becoming my own trusted friend. For the first time, I knew who I didn't want to be and slowly began to imagine who I might be, or could become.

It was there in the room of my disgrace that I found the divine embrace of a strong, flexible boundary that introduced a mirror to my innermost self and a window to my soul. I no longer felt like a gorilla in a small zoo cage unable to be, but rather a gorilla high in the jungle with a family troop to protect. It was there in that classroom of my misadventure that I learned the true meaning of teaching consequences with 'benevolent' tough love. I learned about life in a new way, and how to have true power, the power of benevolence. I was not crushed, rejected, demeaned or humiliated as I had been so many times before when my intentions were misunderstood. Rather, I was like a crumpled piece of paper retrieved from the trash bin to be gently unfolded, read and accepted so that I might know that like the paper I had once been a part of a majestic tree - worthy of being cherished and kept, rather than discarded.

Rarely does a year go by that I do not remember my misadventure in the 6th grade, the moment of my disgrace, or most importantly, the benevolent mirrors that allowed me to see myself clearly for the first time. I will always remember the experience of the adults that supported me by affording me the opportunity to glimpse my potential adulthood, open my defended heart and discover the power of my impact. From then on, I chose to try and have a positive impact on others and show the same power of compassion and understanding that I had received. I actively sought out examples in my world to draw upon to shape a new view of true power. As a result, I try to show kindness in the face of disempowerment, but I can assure you that I can still fail at times, in spite of my efforts. The difference is that due to the benevolence that I was shown as a child, I want to be benevolent with others. Because it came as such a surprise, without judgment, and with such kindness, it created a lasting imprint on my character. I am truly more because of them.

Empowering the 8 child

So, back to the question I am always asked : "Why do strategies that work with most children NOT work with an 8?," "As the parent, teacher or therapist of an 8 child, to what degree should I allow the 8 leeway with regards to what he/she wants, and how do I set limits that will work?" "Which limits teach the 8 child how to manage his/her dominating and/or intimidating energy and, which limits are destructive to the young 8 and provoke their defiance and noncompliance?"

In answer to the inquirers' initial questions, I can say that promoting "consciousness" is far more important than handing our "consequences," and it is the best place to begin.

For the 8, to learn from traditional consequences, the 8 must first have a great deal of trust and respect. If the 8 trusts you and respects you, they will want to please you. This counter-intuitive approach removes the power struggle. Once engaged in a power struggle, the 8 will never back down and the message you wish to teach will be lost. The journey is to assist the 8 by listening to the 8s explanations of what happened, and by validating their experience -- as they see it. When this is in place, you can slowly help the 8 learn to manage the pain that is underneath the flippant remarks and "big" behaviors.

Involve them in the solution, ask them what they would do and why? They will be flippant at first but don't get hooked, they are just unconsciously testing you. They are asking "Are you real? "Are you strong enough to be there for me? "All of me?" So just smile when they are flippant and then nonchalantly keep going. Ask the 8 what he or she thinks is important in this type of situation and they will innocently reveal their inexperienced viewpoints, and you will have a more meaningful way to approach the problem. Ask what he or she thinks would make a difference and what he or she thinks would be fair to all involved.

When you disagree, make deals. I know that this is also counter-intuitive, but this is what feels fair to an 8. When the 8 is adamant about his or her truth about what is or isn't fair, don't back away, don't back down and don't assert dominance. It will only trigger a huge power struggle that you can never win. Instead, make a deal. Say something like: "Ok, you win this time, next time it is my turn." Ask him or her to give his or her word. Then whatever you do keep your word. The 8 will then feel compelled to keep his or her word and will reluctantly comply when you remind him or her of the deal the two of you made. And never back away from this, ever.

Begin with little deals, then the bigger deals as the 8 grows up. Teach that a true leader has power because they keep their word. The key is to let the 8 have small victories so you have the important victories. Remember that prior to the stance of defiance that makes you want to use traditional methods, this will only serve to reinforce the 8 feelings of disempowerment. Remind yourself that the 8 is in a great deal of pain. Anger acts as an immediate anesthetic protecting the 8's more tender emotions. When you have validated the 8s experience, no matter how far-fetched it sounds, they will feel heard and become more receptive and less defiant. Wow, it sounds like you really felt ______. Mirror what they have said in a nonchalant manner, so they don't feel manipulated or patronized. Repeat what they have said verbatim, don't use your words or overview, use the 8's words only. Only ask him or her to tell you more about the way they were wronged. Underneath is a very real wound.

I can promise you that prior to any act of defiance, the 8 felt caught off guard and wounded by a sense of rejection for just being an 8. It is their innocence they are protecting, and that's why the reaction is so fierce. The pain caused by the misinterpretation of the 8s motivation is at the heart of the matter, therefore, discovering the pain the 8 feels and has rejected will explain the pain they inadvertently cause. The 8's innocence is at the core of this cycle. Every 8 might benefit from learning what they are really feeling in order to understand their need to defend their heart so strongly. What is unknown and usually unseen is how empathetic the 8 is. Empathy that is so great, it has to be limited or denied in order for the 8 to survive. But eventually, it must be nurtured to be integrated. This is the most difficult thing you can ask an 8 to do. The 8 fears that if they feel their full capacity for empathy it will crush them and that they will be betrayed and become pathetically weak and undesirable.

Inquiring as to what happened is the beginning. 8s deny they were feeling anything because it is out of their consciousness. If the 8 is too defended and doesn't know, or can't retrieve the event or feeling, a gentle inquiry as to how others are not as tough as the 8 might feel in the same circumstances, may prove helpful. Analogies using those the 8 loves and sees as vulnerable, such as in younger siblings, cousins, friends or pets, often breaks the direct stance of 'being against'. Love and protection will rise for those the 8s deem in their circle of care. This is where one may find the clues to the deeper, more painful and hidden issues behind the 8 bravado and rash acts.

One can be assured that prior to the negative behavior or outburst the 8 felt a deep sense of betrayal, humiliation, and injustice where the 8 experienced themselves as unable to affect the outcome, rendering them powerless and without mercy. The unbearably painful experience may have occurred a moment earlier or days earlier. This is also true for adult 8s, the wound could have happened years earlier, but it did occur and the 8s internal victim was sent to the dungeon of their heart to be silenced.

Exploring what the 8 might have been feeling just prior to the action is a large part of the discovery process. This can take what feels like an eternity to non-8s. So, hang in there. Think of it as investment spending. It takes forever for the 8 to get to their feelings because their defense strategy is in place to give them the power to act, even when they hurt and to have courage in the face of adversity. Think of it as a biological imperative. If they talk, listen. Don't try to make them feel better or interrupt their feelings by reassuring them. It is not their defense strategy and they will immediately opt-out of feelings and feel like they need to take care of you.

So, keep your hand in your lap after a few wounds, tell him or her that he or she matters to you, that you care about his or her feelings, and that you love him or her no matter what. That this is just life, but that you will get through this together, side by side, back to back, looking out for one another.

But, by talking about the hurt feelings they buried and denied, they are able to answer their own questions. Once the 8 is in the feeling state, it may be imperative to listen to every slight that the 8 may have felt he/she has endured, especially those by you. Like a chest retrieved from the attic after years of storage, opening it may create a flurry of wounds that fly out in need of immediate attention. The scabs feel ripped open and the scar tissue feels rigid and painfully twisted. The bigger question the 8 is asking is "Can you take it, can you take all of me and my hurt at one time?" The 8 belief is that no one could, therefore no one can.

So hang in there. This is a wonderful opportunity to prove the 8 wrong. After the deeper emotions have surfaced and are fully spent is a window of opportunity to be inside the full and open embrace of the 8 heart. This is the rare moment between defensive posturing when one can benevolently teach the 8 how comforting it feels to be treated with loving boundaries that stretch and grow with the 8. This is when one can teach the 8 the power of setting their own boundaries to self-limit; that anger is a signal of pain and betrayal, that it can be healed yielding powerful insights. Most of all, this is the time when one can deeply touch an 8 by demonstrating the power that comes from treating others with benevolence.

©1995-2019 Katherine Chernick Fauvre