TYPE EIGHT: The Protector

If you are a Protector, you are bold, assertive and action-oriented with a strong belief that vulnerability can be avoided by being strong and powerful.

You habitually focus your attention on power and control.


You are driven by a lust for life and excess. They possess a huge energy that fuels the personality. Challenges for this courageous and intense personality include being domineering, excessive and controlling. 

Each Enneagram Type has its own idealization, avoidance and defense mechanism which holds the idealization “in place”. 

IDEALIZED SELF-IMAGE: “I am powerful.”

AVOIDANCE: Vulnerability, weakness

DEFENSE MECHANISM: Denial; denying the reality of our vulnerability allows them to leave the present moment with its painful thoughts, feelings and events.

VIRTUE: Innocence; a state of being when you instinctively know the amount of energy needed in the present moment and you let go of judgment, control, blame and expectation that things should go as you think they should.

Remember a time when you felt no need to control, create big things and intensity, and opened yourself up to a wider perspective.

The path from lust to innocence is to become more aware of how lust operates in your life and your insatiable need for intensity and physical satisfaction. Practice experiencing the moment just as it is without needing to assert control or create intensity.


Reclaim innocence.

Learn how much force is necessary.

Moderate impact on others.

Appreciate others truths.

Allow personal vulnerability.

Feeling grateful for something helps keep our focus and energy on it.

This is helpful when working with the Enneagram because gratitude automatically shifts focus away from those things which habitually grab attention to perhaps more productive or nourishing things. Intentionally cultivating a gratitude practice is an excellent way to broaden our focus of attention.


Cultivate gratitude for a different point of view you hadn’t considered.


Anger may be a request for deeper connection.

Anger clarifies confusion by surfacing authentic emotions.

The truth comes out in a fight.

Make sure 8s are fully informed.

Put all your cards on the table. Misinformation turns your small oversights into major betrayals.

8s can be a rallying point, a tower of strength under pressure.

Contact is essential.

Bonding through high adventure and shared difficulty.

Expect periods of strict control followed by disobedience bouts.

8s make the rules and they get to break them.

Anger flares quickly.

Anger is easily expressed and is just as easily forgotten once its protective function is served.

Eights can retreat into an all or nothing world.

Your ambivalence feels threatening.

Expect to be tested.

Eights want your strength, vitality and independence in relationship.

8s can be introverts.

Particularly if they operate out of the Self-Preservation instinct. Their directness is in service of getting to the truth.

Learning to recognize the patterns of type, accepting them with compassion and learning to relax them, brings us to the present moment where life can be experienced more fully. Recognizing these patterns in others helps us understand and relate to them.


Watch Leslie give a short introduction and explanation of Type Eight, The Protector:

Interested in learning how we can support you through Enneagram typing or coaching? Click here.

Sources: Helen Palmer; Type Eight panelists; Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition

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