Author Case Study – Robert Heinlein [8w7]

Type: 8w7

Functions: Se/Ti/Fe/Ni [“ESTP”]; Dominant centres Instinctive/sexual, Intellectual
Heinlein has been mentioned in another couple of case studies, but I am profiling him further for completeness as the existing 8w7 profile [Gurdjieff] is really intended more to add perspective on his Fourth Way teachings. This study is only a very limited review of Heinleins’ work, of which I have read only a few items. Hopefully the ideas here would be useful in further reviewing or understanding others of his works, and while it is based on a few items from his library only, it is still enough to give a clear view of his ‘type’ and some precedents for identifying others.
Heinlein’s works show the ESFP function structure in a balance between a) sexual content b) high-concept SF and c) feeling, e.g. themes around morality and such, and related to that political ideas. He altered political stance on a number of occasions, with this coming through in various of his books. In terms of degree of ability to manipulate concepts, he’s sometimes considered to be one of the ‘Big Three’ SF authors – the other two, Clarke and Asimov, would both be 5w6s [i.e. Ti-primary], suggesting that Ti is a key factor there.
In Heinleins works, “Control” is a central theme (relating to the Eight intuitive sense of ‘who has the power’). This can be seen in e.g. “The Puppet Masters” where sluglike aliens hijack people’s bodies; or Farnham’s Freehold (see next) which deals with slavery themes. [Note: 5s particularly can also have some themes about mind control particularly e.g. cf. Brunner’s Squares of the City – its not necessarily totally unique to 8s].
Freehold is post-apocalyptic, with a family’s bomb shelter thrown forward in time by the bombing, to eventually find they’re in an era where African-Americans have become the dominant race and treat white people as slaves. Slavery here is really over-the-top, with male slaves being castrated (seems to be a particular 8 core fear, for males anyway) and young girls being eaten like Christmas turkeys. The underlying intended moral seems to be that slavery is bad (as he’d met people justifying it as OK), with it being of white people to drive the point home, although to modern sensibilities it looks possibly racist because the black people are so over-the-top evil. In a sense the book itself could be seen as an attempt to ‘confront’ issues that’s particularly 8-ish.
The Freehold book has a really especially 8 scene, where the master of the household threatens to shoot someone who refuses to take off their pants (undermining his authority, which he explains is risking his survival). This sort of lack of flexibility where only one possible interpretation is seen that could exist, could be seen as relating to having ‘Ni’ as the lowest function – compare with Ichazo’s conception of 8 as Lust vs. “Truth” where “Truth” is about a range of viewpoints rather than simply either/or.
“Vengeance” is also apparent: – for instance it notes that “he regretted not one megatonne of the retaliation” (of the US nuclear counterstrike on Russia). Again, a limited-Ni view where destruction of enemies [ really just the high command] justifies elimination of women, children, etc. on the enemy side. Comparatively, this may be either an ‘unhealthy’ view, or further confirms that he’s /w7; Harry Harrison [8w9] has a similar scene in Planet of the Damned where the characters debate whether to launch an assault on an enemy planet, eventually deciding against it.

Other Themes:

Sensation [“Lust”] is apparent in lots of sex through most of his books. [“How big is the tumour with the bone in it? Twenty three centimetres?” – The Cat Who Walks Through Walls]. “Time Enough for Love” has a protagonist who is immortal and sleeps around non-stop, eventually having most of humanity be descended from him. The Puppet Masters has a fair amount of nudity due to the need to spot alien slugs on people, mind controlling them. “Stranger in a Strange Land” comes out against monogamy [“relationships based on sexual jealousy”] (I have not fully read this however). 7ish themes are occasionally apparent in e.g. gambling, pleasure-seeking and perhaps 7 ‘fear of deprivation’ makes Freehold nastier; Heinlein’s character’s are also particularly aggressive and decisive/self-deterministic, in keeping with his being an 8w7.

He also seems to value ‘generalism’, something 7s are particularly good at – see below, though the quote is from a character [whether Heinlein could do all those things, I don’t know]:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

[-Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love]

(“Butchering a hog” here also fits sort of a theme. Possibly showing sensation centre primary, Heinlein seems fairly carnivorous. He particularly dislikes people who want to eat animals but refuse to kill them – calling that attitude ‘unintegrated’ in Citizen of the Galaxy).
Moralizing/Moral themes: Heinlein struggles with moral themes in various places, though his characters are not usually particularly paragons of this. [Time Enough For Love is written memoir-like, with an introduction by a historian who claims the protagonism was ‘apparently born without a conscience…I am proud he was my ancestor]. Citizen of the Galaxy again deals with slavery and has a main character who inherits a strong moral sense, but apparently through dedicated beating by his foster-father, Basright (Heinlein also favours authoritarian parenting in Freehold, where the main character’s son Duke becomes weak due to his alcoholic mother coddling him- this may be an attitude reflecting a ‘thinking’ over ‘feeling’ orientation, rather than being type-specific). “Stranger in a Strange Land’ as noted elsewhere has some sort of moral resonance similar to Gurdjieff’s ‘All and Everything’ in how it opposes or is cynical to ideas generally held up as valuable to society – its protagonist is interesting in that he displays a sort of innocence, having been raised by entirely reasonable and alien Martians.


A couple of movies have been based on/inspired by Heinlein books, but very loosely and not necessarily well enough his ‘type’ comes through so much, interpreted also through the director’s/screenwriter’s attitudes – these include Starship Troopers, and Predestination (from short story ‘All You Zombies’)

Similar authors:

-Philip Jose Farmer (8w7). Farmer likewise has a lot of graphic sexual content in his books; he’s harder to quantify as far as thinking/feeling, though feeling seems generally more extraverted in character. Farmer uses historical figure Richard Burton as a character in his Riverworld books (another Eight…). Some degree of seven-like seeking of ‘pleasant options’ is apparent, as well as maybe 7-ish charlatanry (Dayworld). ‘Dark is the Sun’ shows a probable Se/Ti/Fe function structure with the primitive ‘Deyv’ as protagonist [sensation] ‘Sloosh’ thinking (generally, conceptual background rather than anything practical), and his girlfriend Vana feeling (and blind witch Feersh as ‘intuition’, perhaps). Farmer shows 8 suspiciousness/cynicism as well in places (e.g. Riverworld scene where one couple are reborn together, only for the man to kill the woman under the influence of narcotics releasing his real feelings, and head off with someone else).
-Robert Adams (8w7 – less certain of wing). Adams was a soldier, as well as being active in the SCA. His ‘fantasy’ series have a feeling that’s somewhat Conan-esque, though technically SF (post-apocalytic with telepathy etc. being a psionic power). “fear” may be more apparent as a theme than in the /w9 ; his main protagonist [Milo] is actually immortal and regenerates (making all the fights he picks against other primitive people entirely unfair). Adams’ protagonists go further than Howards’ – though some of this may be a result of softening sensibilities – in that his protagonists (the ‘good guys’) rape, torture and keep slaves. Adams himself was a former career soldier among other things, and is described as ‘larger than life’ by acquaintances, including outspoken views on many subjects and chain smoking (in one interview he notes that he couldn’t go to movies due to needing to smoke so badly). He got on particularly badly with Harlan Ellison (One). “Remorse” is a topic dealt with in some of his writings, e.g. in that at the end of the first Horseclans books, the Lord Demetrious feels a need to confess various crimes (which nearly gets him killed until a retainer jumps in to save him); he briefly joins the “good” guys before drowning in a random accident in book 2. An “evil priest” motif that’s common in Eights appears in a couple of books, like ‘A Woman of the Horseclans”.
Wing comparisons: Compare also the Harry Harrison case study (8w9).


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