Since August 2015, I have written four blogs about Donald Trump, not so much questioning what his type is – this due to the fact that for many years I have perceived him as a type 8 – but in order to predict what he might do in the future and what would be his motivation for doing so. These four blogs can be accessed on the links at the bottom of this blog.
In the last month, some Enneagram Facebook forums have been abuzz with strong opinions and even arguments – or at least what I read as arguments; I’ve just observed to some degree but not engaged – about Trump as an Enneagram type 8 or a 3.
I want to state that, from my perspective, trying to figure out whether he is an 8 or a 3 is not so useful by itself and not something to argue about since we don’t know him personally. So our take on Trump’s type is speculative. Type as a predictor of behavior, on the other hand, does matter when the stakes are so high such as in a presidential election.
That said, I started to wonder more about the type 8 versus type 3, since there was such strength of opinion on both sides. As a result, I went to a process I thought might shed a little more light on this.
I asked two people who are 8s and two who are 3s to answer this question: Do you think Donald Trump is an 8? (for the two 8s), or Do you think Donald Trump is a 3? (for the two 3s). The thinking behind this methodology is that we often recognize people of our own type more readily than we recognize people of other types. You may agree or disagree with this approach; perhaps two people are not enough to gain enough insight. But read on; I hope you find it interesting. All four people are typed correctly themselves, know the Enneagram well, and teach the Enneagram to others professionally.
From Lisa Alessi, an Enneagram 3 herself
If Trump were truly a 3, he would more than likely identify with successful political leaders, working hard to project an attractive image something more presidential in demeanor, which we have not seen. When 3s are feeling threatened, they usually go into overdrive to prove themselves, so you’d also expect him to try to prove his competency and be more prepared for the debates. Instead, we’ve seen more impulsive behavior in the form of retaliation, threats or oppression of his opponents or denial, not letting things roll off his shoulders, which are more typical reactive tendencies for 8s.
From Monirah Womack, an Enneagram 3 herself
Watching the last presidential debate confirmed for me once again that Trump is not part of the 3 tribe, my tribe. In my experience of the 3 patterns, we usually “color inside the lines,” aligning with rules, standards or processes in service of succeeding and being esteemed and admired for our accomplishments. Trump’s pattern seems to be that of rule-bender or rule-breaker — his “wait and see” remark about potentially not accepting the outcome of the election is clearly “coloring outside the lines,” from my 3 point of view. Unlike many 3s, his debate rhetoric sounded more like the exercise of power or control as a means to an end, rather than speaking of doing/goals/achieving. I was also struck by his lack of eye contact with the camera when he wasn’t speaking — it was as if there was a hood over his eyes. Most 3s seek eye contact as a means of connecting and winning others over to their point of view. When I take it all in, I don’t “read” Trump as an “other-referencing” character type; 2s, 3s, and 4s are all other-referencing, defining who they are in relation to how others perceive them.
From Jim Grant, an Enneagram 8 himself
Thoughts about Donald Trump:
Level of development
Red level of consciousness – opportunistic, power hungry, focused on impulsive self, egocentric, motivated by personal desires
Worldview and experience
Red, self-defensive, a bully, the way he is in life: “be what you are and do want you want regardless”
Degree of freedom in life experience
Narrow and specific (himself period!)
Scope of view
Insists only on his point of view, yours and mine don’t matter
Stage of identity
I want to be immortal, creating a permanent separate self
– There are those that have and those that don’t – I have more than any of you
– Gratify impulses and senses immediately
– Fight without guilt or remorse
– World is seen as and experienced as: me and them with a very narrow view – mine!
– Self is synonymous with my will, ideas and wishes
– Follow rules only if it’s in my best interest
– Others are seen as barriers to getting what I want
– Limits are to be tested
– People and things out there are a source of blame for things not going the way I want
– I can manipulate the world
– Speaks in concrete, direct, straight forward way, simple dichotomies
– Expresses feelings as angry, sad, happy
– Tends to polarize arguments and show prejudices
– Uses crass and lewd humour to taunt and tease on another’s weakness
– High emphasis unspeaking to his own views and low emphasis on listening to others’ views, especially if different
My vote – very low functioning unhealthy 8
From Lindy Amos, an Enneagram 8 herself
Trump is an 8 because:
Whether we like it or not, Trump cuts a powerful figure on the stage, filling up the space physically, energetically and with his combative verbal style. As Jonathon Norcoss states, “Trump has the ability [and I would add audacity] to convey his authority and expertise, while having little of either.”
Whilst many in the media accuse him of intentional intimidation, like many 8’s, however, he may genuinely be unaware of the power of his presence, (an alternative, of course, is that he is aware, and does not care – 8-like unhealthy behaviour at its worst).
Fashioning himself as a politically incorrect saviour holds appeal for him I propose, because in an 8-like manner, this justifies his recklessness (in word and deed) and his defensiveness. His hubris is communicated through his bluster, his denial and his refusal to take responsibility for his actions. When he is proven wrong, his reflex is to blame others, deny responsibility and rewrite history (a classic 8-like smokescreen).
He has the unique 8-like talent of speaking with such force, convinced his opinion about the world is the right one, and this, I believe, instills confidence in others (particularly those yearning for the traditional masculine heroic leader). He appears to operate from a black and white view of the world. Proposing simple answers to complex and nuanced problems, Trump favours domination as a means of attack, whereas wisdom, discretion, compassion and collaboration would be more appropriate.
I offer this commentary as an outsider who has watched both debates in full and have been following the press on this. I also offer this commentary with a bit of discomfort mostly because I think the best use of the Enneagram is to focus on how we can each identify and develop healthy ways of being in the world, so my hope is that the pre-election blog would have some balance in it. We wouldn’t want our audience to think that all 3s or 8s are like Donald Trump, or any public figure for that matter, (if you catch my drift).
As you can read, the 3s do not think Trump is a 3; the 8s are certain he is an 8. Food for thought!
Prior Trump Blogs
Donald Trump and the enneagram | what makes The Donald run?
Donald Trump and the enneagram | what would make The Donald stop?
Donald Trump | in lust we trust
What’s next with Trump | where grandiosity and paranoia intersect
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of six best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org