Eights control through lust which includes sexual lust, but encompasses a lust for power, a drive to dominate and prevail. This is similar to Freud’s concept of the libido, which includes sexuality, but also has a more expansive meaning. After unconsciously deleting themselves. Eights compensate by filling themselves with energy, some of it sexual, some of it angry; all of it driven by a will to prevail. This drive can be aggressive or mild, but its force is unmistakable.


An Eight’s lust is sometimes expressed through their sexuality but may also come out through excessive or domineering behavior as when Eights invade the boundaries and trample the dignity of others. Another possible expression is through restless motion: A business associate of an unhealthy Eight described him as having a “driving fear of boredom, and therefore the need for activity – not action always, but activity – it is any activity, all activity, as much activity as possible, all the time. He has no friends, no hobbies, no interests. Nothing except activity.”


Eights dissociate from their vulnerable feelings through the defense mechanism of denial, an inner refusal to identify with their softer feelings or admit or the effect of their actions on others. Defensive Eights cope with their wounds and soft spots by denying they are there; or by internally overpowering them or by leaping into external action. Denial is a kind of willed insensitivity, buttressed by the Eight’s tendency to think in oversimple either-or terms.


This defense explains the difference between the powerful effect the Eight has on others versus the Eight’s inner experience of that same power. Most entranced Eights don’t realize how obnoxious they can be because they defensively deny feedback. An Eight might deny their guilt, cover it up with more attacks and then pretend they have nothing to apologize for. As one Eight joked, “It didn’t happen, I didn’t do it and besides they deserved it.”


Out for dinner with an Eight in denial and you might have a conversation like this:

“You just hurt that waitress’s feelings.”


“No, I didn’t, you’re imagining things.”


“When you told her shoes made her walk like Porky the Pig, she blushed and winced.”


“Nah, she didn’t, she …”


“Then she started crying.”


“No way. She’s probably just been cutting onions.”


“I can see her crying across the room right now.”


“She’s probably having her period.”


“It started with you.”


“OK, OK! What do you want from me? If she’s going to be such a crybaby maybe we should leave her a Kleenex for a tip!”


The combination of denial and their desire to protect underdogs can lead Eights to take peculiar ideological stances. An Eight ex-politician used to make well-paid speeches to select businesses in which she would deride all claims about the dangers of industrial pollution. In an interview she explained her mission: to protect and support companies that were known polluters. Why? “Because they need cheering up the most – everyone’s against them.”


In addition to denial, Eights defend themselves by externalizing. Defensive Eights can unconsciously displace their inner reactions, conflicts and dynamics onto outside people or situations. An Eight who gets close to uncomfortable feelings in himself could then jump out of his own skin and suddenly focus his attention on someone who seems to need protection or who has wronged the Eight. Or the Eight might be aware of how two people in his presence are interacting – maybe one is powerful and one is weak – not realizing that the people are representing two inner parts of the Eight.


An Eight’s externalizing is not exactly projection; it is more like the practice of Psychodrama, a type of therapy that identifies and explores a client’s problem through role playing in a group setting. People in a Psychodrama group are explicitly assigned roles to play based on the various parts of a group member’s psyche.


Dr. Richard Gattling, inventor of the repeating rifle, was a compassionate physician horrified by the number and severity of wounds he saw in the American civil war. So he invented the repeating rifle, the machine gun – first called the Gattling Gun. He believed that the weapon would make warfare so deadly and futile that it would become obsolete. That, of course, didn’t go as planned.


Eights are prone to well-intentioned but ill-conceived courses of action and their problems sometimes stem from the fact that they lose track of their original intent and follow a course of action that produces an opposite result. At times an Eight’s drive for power can overwhelm his ability to see where he is going. There is a mantra taught to riflemen “Ready, aim, fire.” With some Eights the sequence is more like “Ready, fire, aim.” The extreme of this mentality is captured in what an American army officer famously said of a decimated village in Vietnam: “It became necessary to destroy the town in order to save it.”


Within the logic of their defenses Eights believe that the best way to defend themselves is to overpower their own tender feelings. They protect themselves by bullying themselves. At the extreme of this effort, Eight are trying to murder their vulnerabilities in order to safeguard them. As Eights become more self-aware they usually find new ways to protect themselves and use their power to prevent damage rather than to avenge it.


An elderly man, harassed one weekend by the hostile taunts of neighborhood children, offered to pay them each a dollar if they would return on Monday and yell their insults again. The children did so eagerly and received the money. Then he told them he would pay them 25 cents to insult him on Tuesday. They returned the next day, insulted him again and collected their quarters. Next he informed them that Wednesday’s rate would be just a penny. “Forget it,” they said and never bothered him again.


In the trance of their style Eights can feel as if their only choices are to be totally armored or utterly helpless, like an infant lying on its back on a freeway. As they grow and change they discover the range of possibilities between those two extremes. As Eights become less defended they become more strategic and develop a different and often paradoxical relationship to their own vulnerability. They find strength in kindness, safety in surrender and power in not fighting back. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said: “maturity means learning to lean on your faults.” For evolving Eights, true strength means learning to lean on their weakness.


One Eight used humor to diffuse confrontations – even ones he provoked. At a football game the Eight angered a fellow fan. A tense exchange followed. After the fan said something insulting the Eight replied, “Oh yeah? Stand up and say that!” When the fan stood and proved to be a full foot taller than the Eight and built like a football player, the Eight thought quickly and said, “Now sit down and say that!” The fan burst out laughing and the Eight apologized.