The Most Dangerous and Powerful Personality Type for Women, According to Psychology

There is a certain personality type that can be dangerous yet astoundingly powerful for women. Can you guess what it is?

What is The Enneagram Personality Test?

The Enneagram personality test has been used by psychologists since the 1970s. The elements of the Enneagram can be traced back to South American philosopher Oscar Ichazo and was adapted by psychiatrists Claudio Naranjo and John Lilly in the United States. It has been widely used and validated in some studies, although a recent research review showed mixed evidence of reliability and validity; however, researchers note that it can be a helpful assessment for personal and spiritual growth.  The Enneagram test has a nine-point structure which allows it to explore multidimensional personality traits and behaviors. It can point to how we cope with stressors in our external environment since each Enneagram personality type has “an associated fear, basic desire and predictable pattern of behavior in times of stress and security,” according to the American Journal of Psychiatry. While people may exhibit some traits from all nine personality types, they tend to “lead” with the traits and motivations of the personality type they match with. Each personality type can also match one of two “wings” which characterize dominating aspects of their personality although their core personality type is what drives their behavior. Whatever you may think of the Enneagram, it’s clear it can be a useful tool for growth and self-development. If you are using the Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire (iEQ9), this includes 175 questions which groups you into one of 9 categories.

What is the Most Misunderstood, Yet Powerful Enneagram Type for Women?

One of the most misunderstood yet powerful and influential enneagram types for women is the Enneagram 8 – The Challenger, also known as The Protector or The Leader. According to the Enneagram Insititute, “Eights are charismatic and have the physical and psychological capacities to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of endeavors—from starting a company, to rebuilding a city, to running a household, to waging war, to making peace.” Enneagram 8 types are confident, driven leaders with a need to control their environment. Yet there is a gender difference in the way they are treated by society. While Enneagram 8 men are expected to be and celebrated for being natural leaders, women with the Enneagram 8 personality type are often mischaracterized and feared due to gender stereotypes, assumptions and biases in society. This makes Enneagram 8 one of the most “dangerous” and powerful personality types for women, but in a good way.

Not only does the Enneagram 8 woman have the natural gifts and influence to create positive changes in her environment, she is able to potentially inhabit positions of power that might otherwise be denied to her due to her driven, passionate, and persistent nature, allowing her to create necessary and positive changes in the world. Yet what also makes this type dangerous for women is the way she may be mislabeled by society who is not used to seeing women exhibiting these characteristics. The Enneagram 8 woman defies gender stereotypes. Although she can certainly be nurturing in her own way, her motivation is to create change by “doing” rather than only validating and affirming. She may be told she is too “aggressive” or “intimidating” and other types may find her polarizing.

Here are some characteristics that makes this such an influential personality type, especially for women:

They stand up for what they believe in, regardless of the costs to their reputation or whose authority they may be challenging.

Enneagram 8 women have a reputation for being fearless and bold. This is what makes them astounding leaders as they are willing to bravely do the work others are too afraid to take on or say the taboo things most people will keep silent about. At the same time, they’re not afraid to speak up to people no matter who they are, which can ruffle many feathers. The decisive, straightforward, and truthful nature of the Enneagram 8 woman can be mischaracterized. Her passion is mistaken for intensity and her ability to tell it like it is can easily offend enablers and toxic people who don’t wish to be held accountable. These types are the truth-tellers and the whistleblowers of the Enneagram and people who aren’t ready to accept responsibility for their actions or the truth likely won’t have the courage to face such a type head-on.  The Enneagram 8 woman marches to the beat of her own drum without apologies – and observers of this type note that she is also seen literally “marching” even when she walks to her destination with purpose; this take-charge attitude is not only present in her spirit but the way she presents herself physically as she always takes up space in any room she enters. Many people are used to women people-pleasing, fawning, and shrinking themselves due to social conditioning, which is why meeting an Enneagram 8 woman can be disorienting for some people. Not only is she purposeful in her beliefs and strategies, she does not dim her own light. This can feel disturbing to those who have not owned their own power or are accustomed to women denying their strengths. 

They are deemed domineering due to their natural assertiveness and confidence.

The Enneagram 8 woman, much like her male counterpart, has a need to maintain a certain level of control over her life and resists being controlled or harmed by others. People with the Enneagram 8 personality type have their guard up as they feel the need to protect themselves. One of their biggest fears is being exploited or taken advantage of if they show vulnerability; as a result, they take charge of all facets of their life to minimize this risk of harm. Enneagram 8s often try to micromanage their world so that it meets their high expectations and standards. This can often cause conflict with more diplomatic or avoidant personality types or people with lower standards who don’t wish to be called out or asked to do better. When people come across an Enneagram 8 woman, some may be tempted to typecast her as bossy, aggressive, lacking in empathy or arrogant even if she is behaving the same way as a man with the Enneagram 8 personality would and is simply exhibiting healthy pride in her accomplishments and is only asserting herself in a straightforward manner.

Granted, people can be arrogant and lacking in empathy while possessing any personality type. An Enneagram 8 of any gender is no different: if they are toxic or narcissistic, that is a core problem that goes beyond personality type. But a healthy, empathic Enneagram 8 woman who has empathy has usually earned her confidence. Her hard work, talents, and skill sets often speak for themselves. It is important to distinguish between healthy confidence which the Enneagram 8 woman has an abundance of and the arrogance that is projected onto her from insecure people.

They will fight on behalf of the vulnerable which can dismantle the status quo.

They aren’t called “The Protector” for nothing. One of the biggest stereotypes about the Enneagram 8 woman is that she is not emotional or compassionate because she doesn’t waste time on social niceties or political maneuvers just to get ahead. Yet she’s more likely to actually get things done than spend her energy not being authentic or kissing up to people. In reality, Enneagram 8 women have a natural instinct to protect the marginalized groups of society and defend their loved ones with a ferocity that shocks onlookers. They can be sensitive to the emotions, needs, and rights of others. If they are empathic leaders, they have a deep conviction and longing to use their power for the greater good. They are a force of nature that inevitably creates changes in the status quo, usually for the better. Since the Enneagram 8 woman goes through far more adversity due to the social stigmatization of her natural traits, she is uniquely positioned and prepared to handle anything that comes her way, alchemizing obstacles into opportunities and achievements. Whatever their “mission” in the world may be, rest assured the Enneagram 8 woman has the drive and the willpower to complete it.

What Are All The Enneagram Personality Types? Here is a quick summary.

Type 1 – The Reformer

These are conscientious advocates and activists for change who want to improve the world by raising its ethical and moral values.

Type 2 – The Helper

These altruistic personalities are genuinely interested in helping others and improving the lives of others using their compassion.

Type 3: The Achiever

This personality types are successful, energetic, and always interested in personal advancement. Their personal accomplishments lead the way.

Type 4: The Individualist

This personality type wants to create their own way in the world by establishing themselves from society. They can be melancholy and feel different from others.

Type 5: The Investigator

Investigators are cerebral innovators who work from their imagination, constantly thinking about how the world works and ask the questions needed to find solutions.

Type 6: The Loyalist

True to their name, Type 6 personalities are loyal to the authority figures and institutions they serve, although they can also be revolutionary in defying social norms if it means protecting and defending those they love.

Type 7: The Enthusiast

Enthusiast personality types are experience-seekers who are curious about everything and anything. While they can be scatterbrained, they are uniquely versatile in their talents and interests.

Type 8: The Challenger

Self-assured, bold, and assertive, Type 8s are interested in controlling their environment. They often achieve extraordinary results and leave their mark on the world in remarkable ways.

Type 9: The Peacemaker

These harmonious and diplomatic types are creative and optimistic and tend to be on the spiritual side. They want to establish peace in the world but in doing so they may avoid necessary conflict.

About the author

Shahida Arabi

Shahida is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University. She is a published researcher and author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse and Breaking Trauma Bonds with Narcissists and Psychopaths. Her books have been translated into 16+ languages all over the world. Her work has been featured on Salon, HuffPost, Inc., Bustle, Psychology Today, Healthline, VICE, NYDaily News and more. For more inspiration and insight on manipulation and red flags, follow her on Instagram here.