Instincts: 8

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of Enneagram 8, let’s talk about Instinctual differences among Challengers. If you need a refresher on what Instincts are, check out my first post on the topic.


When talking about instincts, it’s important to realize how the same instinct can look different from core type to core type. The general descriptions of the instincts (above) are much less specific than when those instincts are applied to a specific Enneagram type.

The survival mentality, power seeking tendencies and dominating nature of type 8 manifest with each instinct in a unique way.


Though different, it’s easy to see how the first (general descriptions) factor into the type specific ones.  As aforementioned, all 7’s will probably relate somewhat to all three above descriptions, but more strongly with one or two.  This brings us to the concept of Instinctual Stack, which denotes the order of an individual’s instinctual need.  For instance, Sp/So tells us that Self Preservation is preferred/needed most, So is auxiliary and Sx is the “blind spot”. I do also think looking into the instincts of your wing (especially if it is heavy) is important to behold the whole picture.

Other great sources for more detailed reading on the instincts, are The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut, these descriptions originally from (the now inactive) Ocean Moonshine, and the work of early Enneagram scholar, Claudio Naranjo (notes on his work on the instincts).

Have any questions about instincts, Enneagram or typing? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!  Be on the lookout for my next post on the basics of type 9. 🙂

Instincts: 8

Enneagram 8

Wow! Sorry for the unexpected delay since my last post, friends! Without further ado, let’s get to talking about the basics of Enneagram 8, The Challenger. Feel free to click for a closer look!


The Challenger is aptly named, in that they often naturally force their will on whatever environment they are in.  8’s see life as “survival of the fittest”, and thus often come across as antagonistic– emotionally, physically and mentally pushing or challenging anything or anyone in their path. At the heart, 8’s lust greatly after power and autonomy in order to avoid ever being controlled or harmed by others (hence why they seek to overpower their environment). Vulnerability, though crucial to growth and health for 8’s, is often extremely unnatural and only developed with select individuals– this is because they see emotional openness as a weakness to be avoided.

As one can imagine, the motivation of survival makes for a high success rate– if we believe our lives are on the line, adrenaline and tunnel vision kick in. Such is the case with an 8, but as a constant way of life.  An 8 friend of mine has described this as “machine mode”, automatically putting all of one’s physcial and mental effort into the current endeavor.  This of course, often leaves no space or consideration for people, emotions or relationships. In this way, 8’s can have a strong sadistic streak, caring only about obtaining control and furthering the self. Unhealthy 8’s gain pleasure from causing pain and destruction to others, reveling in their supreme control.  With that natural force of will, though, healthy 8’s can bring about the opposite– justice and peace, to others.

Challengers are the natural leaders of the Enneagram, who, when health-focused can create revolutionary change around them. This requires an opening of the heart. I like to note that while 8’s have very hard, rock-like exteriors (both figuratively, and often physically), they have extremely soft centers. Black sheep, under-dogs, or those who have endured injustice often gain the compassion and support of 8’s.

A note on mistyping, which I feel obligated to make. In my experience, 8 is the most common mistype– specifically for men.  I have found that many 3’s, counter-phobic 6’s and 7w8’s mistype as Challengers, because it’s simply more flattering to their masculine identity. Unfortunately, the Enneagram is meant to address our sin patterns and dark sides, not to flatter or make us comfortable. Most individuals who do mistype as 8’s, usually do not fully comprehend the sadistic and destructive themes at the core of this type.

If you have any questions about typing, or Enneagram 8, feel free to leave me a comment below. Also, keep an eye out for my next post on the instinctual varieties of 8! 🙂

Enneagram 8