An Enneagram Eight is the Challenger, the Maverick, the Boss, the Rock. Eights are tough, decisive, and confrontational. There are many musical Eights, but the two I'd like to highlight here are Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra.
Sandra Maitri, in her book The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues, writes about how Eights are very closely associated with the body, the physical senses, and physical pleasures. Eights inhabit their bodies vividly. They don't step lightly, or with hesitation. They like to move. For a desk-job working Eight, it's hugely refreshing to hit the gym, do martial arts, run, chop a giant pile of firewood, work up a good sweat, get your heart beating! And this of course builds up a big appetite, so let's satisfy that with food and drink - lots of it. Seconds and thirds, make it hot, and give me extra. Don't pussyfoot around! And then there's the greatest sensual pleasure of all, sex, like a giant string of TNT going off.
All of these things fit in with an Eight's basic desire, as outlined by Enneagram authors Riso & Hudson: to be/feel strong, real and alive.
Aretha Franklin famously punctuates her singing with powerful yells, straight from the pit of the soul, from the soles of her feet, from beneath her right to the core of the planet. You know it's her in front of the microphone, and there's nothing else you need to look at or listen to.
Check out this performance of her song Dr. Feelgood (no relation to the Motley Crue song). This Dr. Feelgood dispenses good loving, not pills, as she makes clear in the final verse - especially with that orgasmic moaning, and her final cries in this live performance from 1971 makes the climax last almost as long as the rest of the song altogether.
I don't want nobody, always
Sittin' around me and my man
Be it my mother, my brother, my sister
Would you believe, I get up
Put on some clothes
Go out and help me find somebody for this self,
if I can'
Now I don't mind company
Because company's alright with me
Every once in awhile
When me an that man get to lovin'
I tell ya girl, I dig ya, but I don't have time
To sit, and chit, and sit and chit-chat an smile
Don't send me no doctor
Fill me up with all a those pills
I got me a man named Doctor Feelgood
That man takes care of all my pains and ills
His name is Doctor Feelgood in the morning
To take care of business is really this man's game
And after one visit to Dr. Feelgood,
You understand why I feel good, in this pain.
Oh! Yeah! Oooh!
Oh, good God a-mighty
The man sure makes me feel real........
Another strong Eight desire is to control their life. No one's gonna fuck with me. If they try, watch out. An Eight's retribution is swift, and brutal, and they're ready to dish out more.
Frank Sinatra once said this of his childhood: "In Hoboken, when I was a kid, I lived in a plenty tough neighbourhood. When somebody called me a 'dirty little pig,' there was only one thing to do: break his head."
This strategy might be what's needed to survive in rough circumstances, but it got Sinatra expelled from high school for "rowdy conduct" after a mere 47 days' attendance.
And like every other personality type, the strategies developed to get our needs met when very young continue, usually unexamined, even as we age and our situation changes. When he toured Australia in 1974, Sinatra, after getting in a scuffle with some reporters at the airport, ranted against them on stage, referring them as bums and parasites, and the female journalists as "buck-and-a-half hookers." The aviation union, in retaliation, refused to refuel or service his private jet until he apologized. He never did. A high level union leader intervened, and he was flown out in the middle of the night.
Sinatra's song My Way really does capture an Eight's fierce appetite for independence:
And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the highway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.
To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
"No, oh no not me,
I did it my way".
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
The right to say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!
An Eight who's divorced from presence veers further and further into their ego's attempts to "jumpstart the world," as Russ Hudson put it at a recent talk. But that feeling of aliveness is something they can access here and now, without any provocative action or external stimulation. Again, quoting Riso/Hudon, they "let go of the conviction that they must always be in control of their environment," and become truly strong, courageous, selfless, compassionate, merciful, and vulnerable, as the raw and simple majesty of existence touches them and gives them a feeling of pure Being that vastly outstrips any orgasm, porterhouse steak or barroom brawl.