Sin-Virtue Journey: Lust to Mercy
Belief: There’s something wrong with the world and everyone needs to start moving the same direction to fix it.
Deepest Fear: Being harmed, controlled, or manipulated.
Deepest Desire: Self-protection, freedom.
How they see/justify their sin: If I can see how things can be better in the world, it’s my obligation to do something about it.
The 8 is the part of our personality that strives for freedom. Revolutionaries throughout history have been 8’s. These are the individuals who have challenged the status quo and rallied the people toward fighting the powers that be. 8’s have the ability to see the world, instinctively see all its shortcomings, and help point everyone in the same direction to fix it. Now, it doesn’t have to be a moral issue (social justice, humanitarian, greater good even). It can be any topic.
When we say the signature sin of the 8 is “lust” we aren’t talking about sexual longing, we’re talking about “Power.” An 8 that is unhealthy is grasping for power either because they feel stress that the power has been taken away from them, withheld from them, or is being denied them. While 8’s often don’t have qualms about confrontation, conflict, or righting a wrong, if they can’t resolve the tension of the issue at hand they can, in their unhealthy state, start to rally other people against their antagonist or begin to right other wrongs in their life with renewed vigor.
But 8’s can move toward health and start to display the virtue of “Mercy.” Mercy toward themselves, toward their authority figures, and toward those they see underperforming around them. The decision point they reach is: what do I do with my opinions/beliefs about people, their actions, and the world around them? Can I give people a break? Can I celebrate people’s journeys and allow them to make their own decisions even if I disagree?
8 wing 7 | Tony Stark, Iron Man
The eccentric genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist that is Tony Stark is an example of an 8w7. Tony has strong belief in how he sees the world and how pretty much everyone around him is inferior and incompetent. He doesn’t accept objects that are handed to him, mocks governmental hearings that are attempting to place boundaries on his work, and has the classic 8 response when Captain America poses him with an ethical dilemma: “Are you the guy to take the fall, lie on the wire so the other guy can crawl over you?” Tony Stark’s snarky response is: “why not just cut the wire?” 8’s hate feeling trapped.
This specific type (8w7) is called “The Entertainer.” Tony’s 7 wing is over-the-top in his parties, his greed (Pepper Potts says “I think [the painting] is incredibly overpriced.” Tony says “I have to have it, buy it.”), and his womanizing. We see Tony start to go toward his healthy 2 integration and show some virtuous “Humility.” He starts to see people compassionately (consider the young boy in Iron Man 3 or Peter Parker in the most recent Spiderman: Homecoming) and offers assistance instead of judgment.
8 wing 9 | George Banks, Mary Poppins
One of the misconceptions about Mary Poppins is that Mary is (wow, it’s weird not to say her name as a whole phrase “Mary Poppins”) the protagonist of the story. In fact, the kids aren’t really even the leads in this story, they more or less simply participate in the various antics of the story (maybe learning a bit about compassion and generosity with the woman who feeds the birds at the cathedral). But it’s George Banks who goes through the most radical transformation.
At the beginning of the story we see a hardened, uncompassionate, elitist father who is fed up with the incompetence of the people around him. His wife can’t hire a good nanny, his housekeeper can’t follow simple directions about letting one interviewee in at a time, his children can’t heel/toe, the operator is incompetent (asking him for the police’s phone number, “no I do NOT know the number!” he screams into the phone), and even perfect Mary Poppins promises to fail his (low) expectations somehow.
But George isn’t interested in pleasure, he simply wants peace (his 9 wing). He wants (as he sings in one of his opening songs) “I treat my subjects, servants, children, wife, with a firm but gentle hand, no ‘bless you’ please.” He wants control of his world, but he simply wants it to operate like a well-oiled machine and stop bothering him.
It’s the end of his journey where he drops his iron grasp on his perfect life, really looks at his wife and children for perhaps the first time in his life and does something a truly merciful, compassionate father would do: he goes and does something what his kids have wanted all along: flying a kite.
We’ve illustrated the healthy integration of the 8: the move toward “Mercy” and “Humility.” It’s not accepting actual oppression, manipulation, or control, it’s looking at anything the 8 finds inferior or inept through the lens of grace, serenity, and patience.
On the other end of the spectrum the unhealthy 8 who fails to procure followship, feels unheard, unheeded, rejected, or isolated will withdraw into the “Greed” of the 5. There’s a sense of “I’m taking my ball and going home” that they begin to hoard their resources, their “wisdom” (opinions), and their emotional reserves until they’re noticed again. At their worst, 8’s can be guilt machines, will never allow themselves to be put in the hot seat without taking someone down with them, notorious gaslighters, and critical. At their best they can be inspirational, winsome, forthright, and committed to bettering the world around them.
Quite a few protagonist 8’s of late have been young lead women: Beca, Pitch Perfect and Tris, Divergent for example. But 8’s actually make up the vast majority of villains in literature, TV, and movies. The tendency for unhealthy 8’s to dominate, control, and condescend makes them easy to script and represent.
Consider the quintessential unhealthy 8 villain: Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada. She’s elitist, opinionated, and actually has all the power. She negotiates aggressively, blackmails, insults, and has created an entire culture that operates to her outrageously high standard of excellence. Only it’s never to her satisfaction. She keeps everyone around her in a full state of panic by criticizes even jobs well done. Her art director, Nigel, even explains to sweet, innocent Andrea: “her opinion is the only one that counts.”
The 8-2 combination between Miranda and Andrea is a great set up for disaster. Andrea kills herself trying to help the impossible-to-please Miranda (while trying to differentiate and individuate herself by integrating to her healthy “4”) and Miranda takes Andrea under her wing and exploits her like shooting fish in a barrel. We never see Miranda’s integration to health, in fact, she stays in her greedy “5” the entire movie without remorse.
What we’re hoping happens to our 8, however, is the development of compassion and humility. They can change the world healthy or unhealthy. What we hope to see is an 8 who uses their natural abilities for good.
8’s are strong characters. They are vocal, strong, decisive, and often people of great conviction. Give your 8 any cause whatsoever and they’ll own it. They’re not scared of powerful people, in fact they can find it stimulating to have someone oppressive to duel with.
Because of 8’s strong commitment to not being controlled, they’ll often live by their own set of rules (unlike the 1). It might even look like “breaking” the conventional rules. When caught or penalized by the normal consequences of violating convention they’re unlikely to feel any remorse, attack any hypocrisy (or deflect by exposing someone elses sin), and/or rally their followers to defend their actions or protest the rule they deem ridiculous.
8’s can work well with strong types such as 1’s, and 6’s. 9’s might actually be better companions for 8’s than 2’s. 2’s, 3’s, and 5’s are likely to be dysfunctional pairing for the 8 as they will work their tails off to win the 8’s favor (which the 8 will have a hard time not taking advantage of). 7’s and 4’s are hit or miss, they’ll do well if healthy, but poorly if not.
Remember that 8’s aren’t all evil. In our modern age of storytelling, every character needs relatable humanization so no matter where a protagonist begins their upward journey or in what state we meet the villain, give them something to humanize them. Even better: give them a cause to champion and you’ll see a tenacity unlike any other type.
Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter
Captain Kirk, Star Trek
Karen Walker, Will and Grace
Scar, The Lion King
Mother Goethel, Tangled
Frank Underwood, House of Cards
Annalise Keating, How to Get Away With Murder