Self Preservation Eight

Angry and Confrontational

Ty Cobb is a self-preservation subtype Eight. That's an understatement about the movie, Cobb. In the movie he has all the degenerate characteristics of an unhealthy Eight and only several of the redeeming virtues.

Cobb played baseball as thought it were war. That's a hallmark of an Eight. Eights live in a world in which hostility is to be expected and is to be dealt with forthrightly. In Cobb's life that meant hurting whomever he could on the base paths, pistol-whipping a man to death, amassing wealth and probably shooting his own father.

I should warn you that the movie has consistent psychological and physical violence and is vulgar throughout. Many Eights are vulgar. I'll never forget the fine Christian woman married to a minister who asked me if she were an Eight. I asked if she, although sweet and proper as a minister's wife must be, ever used profanity. She burst out laughing and told me several stories of her bursts of profanity. Profanity and vulgarity are the kinds of language we all use when we're angry. Unhealthy Eights are always angry so they use the vocabulary of rage.

Eights' anger is in defense of an unacknowledged inner softness. They feel they can't share their inner softness, so they frequently take care of the small and helpless among us. Even Cobb, who is portrayed as systematically unashamedly vicious, took care of one of his old baseball buddies who had a drinking problem.

You'll notice how Cobb didn't like any acknowledgment of his weaknesses. He was furious that he had become impotent, he hated walking with a cane and when he went to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame induction, he accepted help surreptitiously so as not to be noticed as having any need.

Cobb tried, feebly, to make friends the way unhealthy Eights do. They put pressure on the person, and if the person fights back, then the Eight can trust. If the person does not fight back, then they are not to be trusted. In the movie, whenever the wimpy sportswriter would muster his courage and fight back, Cobb would be appreciative. That's in character for an Eight. In a really hostile world, you want strong people with you -- that's the thinking of an Eight.

When Eights are angry, they reduce enemies to a cartoon caricature. In contemporary times, Rush Limbaugh, an Eight, referred to Hilary Clinton (on the David Letterman show) as looking "like a hood ornament on a Pontiac." Rush doesn't disguise his wholehearted hatred, for Hilary, so he sees her as a cartoon, in two dimensions.

Rage is blind, and Eights often cannot see when they get angry. Some Eights cannot hear when they get angry. They seem to be physically deaf. This prevents them from getting feedback in a relationship if anger occurs. But after all, one doesn't dialogue with an enemy, one attacks. If this relationship is intellectual or social, one tries mightily to convince while not listening to the other side at all. However, a display of force, either physical or mental, will get the Eight's attention. Then you can talk to them. They can listen if force accompanies your words.

Cobb hated everyone who was different: Jews, Catholics, Blacks, Italians (always referred to as dagos) - the list was rather comprehensive. Unhealthy Eights have lot of enemies and make no bones about it.

Eights have no time for sham. Cobb put it this way: "Life is too short for diplomacy." They prefer confrontation. Their approach is "Don't talk them into it, just force them." When you listen to Limbaugh, you get that same clarity produced by selectivity and oversimplification. Things must be changed ("The Way Things Ought to Be.") and the bad people are in control, let's throw the bums out. Part of the reason fixated Eights appear to be so honest is that they tend to be simple. They reduce all grays to black and white. You're an enemy or you're a friend. There are no middle areas. Eights would like to issue uniforms to everyone so it is clear who is on their side and who is on the other side! John Wayne is a famous Eight and his movies were never complex psychological teasers. It was bad vs good and John was not about to endure bad guys surviving.

Healthy Eights are wonderful friends --they are loyal and protective. Eights populate a lot of social action community work. They do not allow injustice and will work endlessly to see justice done. They are also expansive, generous and energetic and make wonderful party friends!


  1. The Enneagram Movie and Video Guide has a strong section on Eights. (Tom Condon)
  2. The Movie, Patton, is a clear portrait of an Eight.
  3. In Karen Horney's book, Our Inner Conflicts, chapter four "Moving Against People," sheds really good light on Eights. Michelle Pfeiffer is a lovable Eight in the movie, The Fabulous Baker Boys.


  1. Being an Eight is about power. "Might is right." Discuss the popularity of football. Watch the TV show Friday Nite Lights for the Eight culture of football.
  2. Regardless of what political party you belong to, tell what is best about your opponent's position. If you are uncomfortable doing this, remember Rush Limbaugh saying "I'm the only one who knows the truth" and getting laughed at by the entire audience.
  3. Do Eights bluff?
  4. If you're an Eight, how do you want to be treated? If you are not, what do you think is the best way to deal with an Eight, especially in a possible conflict situation?
  5. What would be some special problems that "Lady Eights" would face in our culture?