The personality types corresponding to Karen Horney’s Aggressive strategy are the Three, Seven and Eight. All three are generally bold and energetic and respond to problems, threats and obstacles by expanding and reinforcing egoic boundaries. In other words, they see the world as offering up that which they need and their personal philosophy tends to be that the best things come to those who actively go after them. Therefore, they will assert themselves and demand that their needs be met. These needs are defined by the Triad they fall into: Three is in the Heart Triad meaning that they will be ambitious and compete for recognition and value; Seven is in the Head Triad meaning there will be some confusion around what is truly a need and what is a want, but whatever the case, they will urgently pursue them so as to avoid the anxiety of not getting their needs met; and Eight is in the Belly Triad meaning they will invoke boundaries to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property as well as to enforce their autonomy and personal will. All three types feel their sense of self most keenly when they’re moving against others, and sometimes even the flow of life. For the Aggressive types, the affect is “life will not go the way I want it to unless I apply my will and make it happen.”
The Aggressive types are also the types most disconnected from the Heart Center. This does not mean they’re less sensitive or empathetic than other types, but rather that they tend to avoid awareness of their own vulnerability. As a result, they miss out on a specific type of inner strength that comes with that awareness. When we avoid fully inhabiting the Heart Center, we’re also going to be out of touch with our heart’s desire. Therefore the need for asserting ourselves and actively pursuing what we think we need comes into play. These types are prone to substituting acquisitiveness, persistence and lack of restraint for the dynamic juiciness, connection and impressionability that comes from being in touch with the Heart Center.
The journey of growth for the Aggressive types is of course to learn to fully inhabit the Heart Center. This entails becoming present to feelings of vulnerability, weakness, inferiority, and not being in control—and being able to tolerate these feelings without reacting with egoic reinforcement. This goes against the grain for these three types who are generally used to calling the shots and influencing people and events through the strength of their often larger-than-life personalities. However, learning to loosen control and to tolerate the fear that comes up as a result allows them to discover the awakened Heart Center qualities of delicate impressionability, mystery, beauty, gratitude as well as the strength in being emotionally resilient that have been present all along but have gone unnoticed or undervalued.