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Mistyping Series: Type Seven vs. Type Eight

One of the hardest parts of the Enneagram is finding your Type--Nine Types with 54 combinations can create a lot of confusion and lead to mistyping. If you are unsure which Type you are between Type Seven and Type Eight, read on for ways to find your true Type.

Why Are These Types Mistyped? Because Both Types Can Be:

Resistant to Authority

If you are lucky enough to have a Type Seven or Type Eight in your life, it will be no secret to you that these Types are resistant to authority. Type Eights resist authority out of reaction to their core fear of being powerless, controlled and at the mercy of injustice. In this way, Eights do not necessarily need to be in control of others, but in total control of themselves and so are naturally resistant (and sometimes openly testing and adversarial) to authority. Type Sevens can be equally resistant to authority, because authority has the potential to trap Sevens in boring situations , which can result in them experiencing painful emotions (one of Type Sevens core fears). Type Sevens are more adept than Type Eights at hiding their contrarian tendencies behind a guise of playfulness and whimsy, but they are equally motivated to escape situations that are painful to them. When it comes to interacting with authority, Type Sevens are more likely to try to neutralize the threat of being trapped by befriending the authority figure and treating them like an equal, whereas the Type Eight will test the authority (and quickly rise up against them) to be able to ascertain their character.

Energetic and Enthusiastic

Both of these Types are extremely energetic and enthusiastic about life and what can be accomplished and experienced. Type Sevens are natural dreamers and enthusiasts of life and can motivate others with their infectious energy around new, big ideas. This enthusiasm for something new stems not only from their own personality but from their core desire of being fulfilled, which they believe they can achieve with that next new project, that next vacation, that next experience. Type Eight's energy and enthusiasm, on the other hand, stems from their vice of lust/excess (not in a sexual sense but in a sense of a constant desire for more), which is a result of their desire for ultimate control in their lives and a feel that all things in life depend on them. This push for more (to the point of excess) leads to the Type Eight enthusiastically and energetically (in fact, probably more energy than any other Type on the Enneagram) pushing for more experiences, more awards, more anything that will help them feel whole and in control.

Aggressive in Pursuit of What They Want

Sevens and Eights are both part of the Aggressive Triad in the Enneagram, which means that they have a natural tendency to move against others to get what they want. Type Eights are the most obvious Type to aggressively move toward what they want in life--they are direct, energetic, and resistant to others standing in their way. This is not to say that Eights are not amazingly kind, social creatures as well, but they won't be stopped by a little social norm in their pursuit of what they want. While Type Eights are more obviously aggressive, Type Sevens also have this aggressive energy and may use it anytime something stands in their way of escape or pursuit of new experiences. Sevens may become impatient or frustrated if they feel that they are not able to pursue new experiences or avoid emotional pain and discomfort and can even lash out if the feeling of being "trapped" is truly activated.

How Are These Types Different?

Frustration Type vs. Rejection Type (Object Relations Triad):

How Their First Relationships Shaped Them:

Looking at Types from a stance of Object Relations can provide a lot of clarity to the meaning behind some of the characteristics we see as similar between Types.

Type Seven:Frustration Type

Type Eight: Rejection Type

What Does "Frustration Type" Mean?

When the Type Seven's ego was developing, they did not feel adequately "seen" and known by the Nurturing Function in their lives. The Seven did not experience this "miss" as a personal deficiency, but as a frustrating comparison to the ideal amount of nurturing they believe they needed to feel whole. The Seven took this initial miss as a signal that they would never receive their ideal amount of mirroring and love from others and took it upon themselves to nurture themselves. They then nurtured themselves by giving themselves a steady stream of transitional objects (the object given to the child to ease separation anxiety from the nurturer) in the form of fun and stimulation.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

In relationships, Sevens may choose to avoid (and maybe even run from) talking and processing the darker sides of life because they believe that they would not receive the support they would need to properly cope (since they never had in the past). In fact, they may run from addressing issues altogether in favor of soothing their unprocessed feelings with their favorite transitional objects of fun and stimulation.

What Does "Rejection Type" Mean?

When the Type Eight's ego was developing, they didn't feel adequately "seen" and "known" by the Nurturing function in their lives and even felt rejection from having this need to be nurtured and not receiving nurturing. This feeling of rejection was so great that the Type Eight decided to reject their own needs of being nurtured (thus denying they need to be nurtured) to prevent feeling rejected again. From this position, they grasped onto the role of the Protective function in their lives and became overidentified with it. This initial feeling of rejection around their basic needs caused the Eight to create a belief that their belonging was dependent on providing something (other than just themselves) to relationships. As a result, the Eight gives their power and protection to others in order to belong.

How Does This Shape Their Current Relationships?

Since Type Eights reject their own Nurturing side (and the needs associated with it) and over-identify with their Protective side, they will frequently struggle being required to show any vulnerable side of themselves (this was a side that was never fostered and caused feelings of being rejected). They may even struggle seeing the weaker, more vulnerable side in others since this reflects what is not allowed in themselves. Eights may also become overly-attached to their ability to provide protection, power, and support to others and will see it as a sign of not belonging to have this "gift" rejected or unappreciated by others.

Head Type vs. Body Type (Instinctual Triads): How Types Initially Process Information:

Type Seven: Head Type

Type Eight: Body Type

What does "Head Type" Mean?

Type Sevens are a member of the Head Triad, which means that they first process information through their heads and operate under the assumption that the world is a dangerous place and they need the support of others to be safe in it. This may surprise those of us who know a playful, positive Sevens because they do not appear to be preoccupied with anxiety, fear, and worry of the dangers of life...but they are. During daylight hours, the Seven's positivity, energy, and escapist tendencies can put off their deep anxieties, but in the wee hours of the morning, the Seven's anxieties come knocking and there is nowhere to escape (cue "I was up in the middle of the night thinking about....").

What Does "Body Type" Mean?

Type Eights being a member of the Gut or Body Triad means that they will first process information on the instinctual level (which leads to taking action) and are preoccupied with injustice and their anger around it. Eights as Aggressive Types and Gut Types means that they are some of the biggest "doers" on the Enneagram Hexad. Eights trust their instinct or they "gut" so much that this signal could be the only form of information that they need before making a decision and acting. Only after they have acted do they sometimes decide that maybe checking in with their emotions and mental analysis was a good idea...but not usually.

Optimistic Type vs. Reactive Type (Harmonic Triad): Type: How Types Cope When They Don't Get What They Want

Type Seven: Optimistic Type

Type Eight: Reactive Type

What Does "Optimistic Type" Mean?

When the Type Seven does not get what they want from a situation, they will first try to escape the situation by mentally reframing it to emphasize the positive experiences and their enjoyment of it. By employing this tactic, they can avoid their own negative feelings and the reality of the situation in service of remaining free to do what they want. Though positivity is a wonderful quality, Sevens frequently find that avoidance used on any broad scale can lead to situations festering or blowing up.

What Does "Reactive Type" Mean?

When the Type Eight does not get what they want from a situation, they will react strongly to the situation (usually with intensity and passion) and will try to demand or provoke a similar response in others. Trying to "call out into the room" the issues at hand is a common value held by all members of the Reactive Types (Fours and Sixes), which Eights will do in order to maintain control of themselves, seek independence, and clear the air quickly in order to come to a fast solution.

Helpful Typing Questions:

Ask "Why", "What Does It Mean", "How Would You Feel", and "What Would Happen"

Asking these questions in regards to any characteristics that a person claims as the reason for choosing their Type will help them gain a layer of clarity on the motivation behind the behavior.

Question: When have you had the hardest time with authority figures in your life?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that indicate a feeling that you couldn't do what you wanted to do or were trapped doing something boring (Type Seven) versus answers that indicate a feeling of distrusting the authority and feeling that the situation was unjust.

Note: Both Types will follow fair, just leadership, but Type Sevens are more likely to feel positively about authority than Type Eights.

Question: When you have a new big idea, how quickly does this idea move into action?

Answer Hint: Type Sevens are big dreamers, but are more comfortable with staying in idea-mode for longer than Type Eights. Type Eights (being part of the Body Triad) love action and will likely move to action on big ideas faster than Type Sevens. Listen for answers that indicate a higher degree of comfort with brainstorming for the sake of it (Type Seven) versus brainstorming leading to almost immediate action (Type Eight).

Ask Questions That Clarify Their Triad:

Asking for reactions based on the Type's Triads can also give a lot of clarity based on how they act in certain situation:

Question (Frustration vs. Rejection):

Question: How does it feel when others reject your projection or support?

Answer Hint: No one likes to have their help rejected, but to Type Eights rejection of the one gift they offer feels like not belonging. They may not say something like this and will instead just have a reaction (anger likely that masks feeling hurt), but Type Sevens are less likely to see a rejection of their protection as a sign of not belonging.

Question (Head vs. Body/Gut):

Question: How often do you find yourself thinking (and over-thinking) about a situation? Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night mentally spinning about a situation?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that indicate a high degree of mental spinning (Type Seven). Not that Eights are free from over-thinking but Sevens so regularly over-think situations that they are more likely to have numerous instances of it.

Question (Optimistic vs. Reactive):

Question: When you are faced with a conflict or situation that needs resolution, do you call out into the room the issues that are at hand or do you plan your escape from the situation and maintain a positive (almost comical) view of it all?

Answer Hint: Listen for answers that indicate a huge amount of intensity and emotion that is expressed outward almost immediately (Type Eight) versus answers that indicate a moving away from the drama and staying positive (and a little escapist) (Type Seven).

For more information on Object Relations and the Enneagram Triads, click the buttons below:

For Typing help, questions, or to schedule a personal coaching session, email Kimberly at


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