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The Sexual Eight Enneagram Personality Subtype

Beatrice Chestnut (2013) calls this Eight Personality Subtype “Possession” and points out  that this Eight has a strong antisocial tendency. People with this subtype are provocative people who express “lust” (the Passion of their personality type) through open rebellion. Often this is done by declaring in word and deed that their values differ from the norm. Along with being the most rebellious of the Eight subtypes, the Sexual Eight is, interestingly, also the most emotional. Eights are generally not hugely emotional or expressive creatures, but Sexual Eights often don’t hold back in terms of expressing their emotional world.

Wagner (2010) notes that when the “passion” or existential vector of type-8 (Wanting, Thirsting, Hunger, sometimes referred to as Lust) combines with the sexual (sx) instinct, the result is a strong attraction and devotion to certain forms of control, especially with regard to others.

When the vice of lust leaks into the sexual instinct, the result is the attempt to possess the earth, or at least one’s own turf, mate, children, employees, etc. Possession means intense involvement in and taking charge of others’ lives and is the EIGHTS’ substitute for genuine closeness.

Contests for control are ways of connecting with others. If others stand their ground, and remain forthright, strong, and respectful (i.e., if they respond like EIGHTS), then maybe they can be trusted and EIGHTS can surrender some control.

When Eights move to the downside of the TWO personality style, they obsess over their partner and, if they become suspicious besides, may become stalking and vengeful. Their aggressive pursuit covers an underlying dependency.

Intimate EIGHTS tend to be the delinquent kids (or adults) on the block (or in the firm). They are the rebels with or without a cause. They tend to squeeze the life out of things and use them up. “You only go through life once, so live it with all the gusto you can.” They may like some kind of version of fast cars, vast amounts of liquor, and anything else they can consume. Control and possession become ways to avoid anxiety, vulnerability, and intimacy.

The issue of who’s on top, who’s in charge, who’s ultimately in control, is a lively one for the intimate EIGHT. They find surrender an extremely difficult gesture.

As such outspoken, rebellious Eight we may even like to be seen as “bad” or a little bit rebellious in some way – or at least we don’t mind it – and we tend not to feel any guilt over the rebellious things we do. It’s almost a matter of pride for us Sexual Eights to go against the stream of convention or to disrespect rules and laws.

In childhood, many of us Eights experienced disrespect and a lack of affection and attention from one or both parents, so they decided (consciously or unconsciously) not to recognize maternal or paternal authority. This first rebellion against authority became the template for their strong rebellious tendencies.

It is perhaps for this reason that Chestnut refers to us Sexual Eights as being all about “Possession,” which refers to a kind of charismatic taking over (or dominance) of the whole environment- an energetic capture of people’s attention. Us Sx8s Eights display the idea of “Possession” in that we can often take over a whole scene energetically, becoming the centre of things. Sexual Eights like to feel their power by possessing everyone’s attention. Either consciously or unconsciously, we  sometimes hold the idea that “the world begins to run when we arrive.”

Knowingly or not, we have a need for dominance and power over others. We fear losing control of anything or anyone, and so we want to influence people with our words if we can. Everything– whether it is a person or a material thing- is an object to possess and to have some influence over. We Sexual Eights don’t seek material security per se; rather, we seek to get power over people, things, and situations. We can do this in healthy ways, but when we go unhealthy in this regard, we turn into the Putins and Trumps of this world.

In getting and maintaining our power, as Sexual/Intimate Eights, we can be fascinating and charismatic. We can draw people towards us, may even to the point where they become somewhat enthralled or “smitten” by us. Our power comes through a kind of seductiveness and intensity that differentiates us stylistically from the other two Eight subtypes. As Naranjo explains, Sexual/Intimate Eights have more colours in their feathers; they are more magnetic and more outspoken. They have great powers of seduction (hence the preponderance of Dictators and Don Juans in this Sexual Eight roll call).

Us Sexual Eights look voraciously for love, sex, and excess pleasure in life. We seek adventures, risks, challenges, and the thrill of an adrenaline rush. In line with our passionate forward movement into action, we may be particularly intolerant of weakness, dependence and slow people.

As the most emotional of the Eights, the sexual subtype displays a great deal of passion that may at time gets expressed through emotions that may seem surprising to others and atypical for the other Eights. In these very passionate, emotional Eights there’s often a detachment of the intellect. While us Sexual Eights may be very intelligent, we often express action and passion more than contemplation in the things we do and say.

As Sexual Eights, we feel things very deeply. This capacity can benefit a good relationship, but it can be a problem when a relationship isn’t going well. In romantic settings, Sexual Eights may encourage their partners to become very dependent on them or to treat them as the energetic center of their lives. We demand loyalty, but may not be faithful in return. (England’s King Henry VIII may serve as an example of this). We often tend to have possessive relationships, not only with lovers, but, also with friends, objects, places and situations.

We may at times look like Sexual fours in that both types can be angry, emotional, and demanding but us sexual eights distinguish ourselves in our deeply confident (or overconfident) manner in contrast with the Sexual Four’s’ sense of inner deficiency.

Kathy, a Sexual Eight interviewed by Chestnut for her research into this personality type gives some insight into how we as a subtype work:

As a sexual eight, I like to have a small group of trusted and trusting people around me. When my circle becomes too large, I become uncomfortable and withdraw. I like to be all things to the people in my inner circle, and when that circle becomes unmanageable, it makes me a little “crazy”. Others can definitely feel it when I start to pull away. Those who are closest to me definitely notice when I am overcome by people who “need” too much.

On the other hand, I seem to “take care” of those around me. My sexual instinct can make this look like I am dominating or controlling the people around me. Although I am usually very conscious of my power over others, it is often difficult for others to resist the temptation to indulge me. I am absolutely charismatic and can convincingly bring others toward me without appearing to want adulation. People tend to think of me as a “guru,” and for the most part I lead and others follow without question. I have been told that my power is like a narcotic to others. And it happens without my having an awareness that it’s happening.

My sexual instinct also makes me one of those rare people who can cross others’ usual boundaries without making them uncomfortable. I genuinely care about others and that translates into others feeling protected and safe in my presence. Someone close to me made this observation and it resonates with me: “People in your presence fin themselves hanging onto your every word… looking to you for approval.. seeming submissive and overcome with awe. There is the sense that you are continually looking for an equal- someone who will provide that for you.”

I have been told that I exude sexuality. I am overtly sexual; I speak open and frankly about sex. Perhaps it is partly for shock value, but it is never meant to be offensive. It is an honest and beautiful part of me and it also communicates my vulnerability. I have been told that one cannot be in a room with me without feeling my sexual presence or life force. I think it is part of what makes me so appealing. The charisma is hard to resist.

Naranjo was correct about sexual eights. Our colours are more vivid. As a sexual eight, my colours shine brightly, except for those times when my energy is zapped by my need to be both protector and protected. I feel an intense passion and zest for life. My energy is bountiful and bold. My powers of seduction can be consuming. Because I need what I give, I am not afraid to be vulnerable. I believe it is precisely this trait that makes me a gifted leader and teacher.

Inner-Work For Us Sexual Eights

Us Sexual Eights can travel the path from “lust” to “innocence” (a purer and less anti-social version of our deepest desires) by reminding ourselves that we are lovable and “good enough” as we are, and that we don’t need to be provocative, superior, or extraordinary in order to be worthy of other people’s devotion.

It may help us Sexual/Intimate Eights to explore the reasons behind our need to rebel and to possess everyone’s attention. Our sexual Eight’s pattern of being powerful and charismatic often serves to cover over a hurt child who didn’t get the love and attention he or she deserved.

As Sexual Eights, if we can allow ourselves to own and reintegrate the lonely, needy child inside us, we can take the charge of your defensive need to have control over what happens and to have our needs be the centre of all relationships.

We have so much to offer in terms of our strength and our passion, as well as our emotional energy, but we can be even more potent and present in the things we do and the relationships we build when we can allow ourselves to have an ongoing sense of the innocence and purity of our deeper feelings, needs, and intentions.

We may also need some guidance and help from our partner to express this vulnerable side of ourselves which we so often have great difficulty accessing or voicing.

This however is the true heart and the powerful potential of innocence. When we can bring that spirit into the things we do and share more of your energetic space with others in a conscious ways, we can be truly powerful.