Temperaments in Education
By Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND, Ph.D.
Even Samuel Hahnneman, the father of homeopathy recognized the importance of type and related that it was important to know a persons type to discover the different ways they would exhibit the same disease and the different ways they would react to similar medicines.
In his essay, Suppression in the Four Hippocratic Temperaments, Samuel Hahnemann observed that each type reacted differently to the medical suppression of rashes. Sanguine people would get piles, hemorrhoids colic and renal gravel after the suppression of an itch. Phlegmatic people would suffer from dropsy and delayed menses in consequence of such suppressions and melancholic people would become mentally imbalance or sterile by a suppression He stated that Each innate constitutional temperament has its own unique reactions to stimuli. For this reasons the same pathogen will affect the 4 temperaments and their 12 mixtures in a different manner. For example, the phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments are usually aggravated by cold while the choleric and sanguine temperament are usually ameliorated by cold.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TEMPERAMENTS:
SANGUINE, CHOLERIC, MELANCHOLIC, and PHLEGMATIC
The Sanguine Element as a physiological trait provides motive energy of the body and stimulates the logical faculty through the veins and arteries. Signs excess sanguine humor are usually displayed in terms of the circulatory system. A person having excess sanguine or a sanguine person may observe that their veins are bigger (or at least appear so), and fuller than ordinary, their skin is red, they may have pricking pains in the sides, and about the temples they may sometimes experience shortness of breath or headache and may have thick, colored urine. Practitioners have observed over time that many sanguines posses all or some of the following qualities: ruddy, smooth, firm, moist and warm skin, dark brown or fair hair, hairy body, medium stature, muscular body build, a good appetite, quick and good digestion, light yellow urine, brown firm faeces, happy dreams and happiness. Sanguines typically would eat everything in sight and in a restaurant they enjoy talking so much that they almost never look at a menu until the waitress arrives. Sanguine types are often light footed and rhythmical much like their counterpart, the circulation system. They usually have expressive faces and sparkling eyes and may often have curly hair, rather than straight hair. The sanguine will be most extreme or imbalance in Spring or Summer or when exposed to wind or heat (going out in the heat to shop, or leaving the car window open when driving, etc…) and after eating sour, greasy and spicy foods . Any sort of stimulants such as sugar, coffee, drugs (even prescription) and in some cases wheat and meat products are dangerous to the sanguine type. Sanguine types or people with excess sanguine condition should eat greens daily in the form of swiss chard, parsley, mint, coriander, chives, argula (jarjir), rigla, dark greens, and lettuce (dark green) and avoid rich or sugary foods. Sanguine types tend towards yeast infections, fatigue and high nervous system stress because they usually are abusers of stimulants, especially sugar and bread. They find that sugar offers a temporary relief during their low cycles and that bread offers comfort during their high energy cycles (it slows and cools them down) so they use these substances constantly in a subconscious effort to balance themselves. When a sanguine person learns to balance without abusing food and to eat more balancing foods in general they will become more balanced themselves and usually have less struggle with the yeast infections and other illness. When a sanguine person is acting dreamy or not there check their sugar consumption or blood sugar levels . An excess of sanguine in general can be corrected by consumption of all foods and herbs that are cold, by lemon juice, oxymel, or cooling activities such as yoga, meditation or reading. Donating blood can also be beneficial for this type.
The Phlegmatic Element as a physiological aspect of man has expelling properties and functions to expel substances not required by the body. This role of phlegm in the body is famous during boughts with the cold and flu, when copious amounts of it are expelled by the body through the nose in an attempt to clear out toxins and bacteria. The phlegmatic humor has a beneficial cooling and moistening effect on the heart and strengthens the function of the lower brain and the emotions. Phlegm maintains proper fat metabolism and the balance of body fluids, electrolytes and hormones through the circulation of lymph and moisture in the same way the sanguine or blood provides nutrition through the circulation system. The receptacle for the phlegm humor is the lungs. Signs of excess phlegm in the system can be exhibited by sleepiness, dullness, slowness, heaviness, cowardliness, forgetfulness, much spitting, runny nose, little appetite to meat, bad digestion, and white and cold skin. Many practitioners have observed that the phlegmatic types often possess many of the following qualities: pale, smooth, soft, cold and moist skin, dark blond or blond hair, hairless bodies, shortness of stature, flabby and fat body build, poor appetites, slow or weak digestion, thin and pale urine, pale and loose faeces, dreams of water and the emotion of apathy. At the dinner table, phlegmatic types are the most deliberate eaters of all and are invariably the last ones through eating. This can mean that they gain weight easily because they stay too long at the table. Phlegmatic types often complain of soreness and pain in the lumbar region, loose teeth, deafness and/or tinnitus, thinning and loss of head hair, weakness and pain in the ankles, knees and hips, weakness in hearing and vision, impotence, infertility, miscarriage and genetic impairments. They may also exhibit disorders of growth and development, including problems of fertility, conception and pregnancy. Phlegmatic types may have disorders of the central nervous system (MS, Muscular dystrophy, or cerebal palsy) , diseases of the spinal column, bones, teeth and joints, and disorders of fluid metabolism. Phlegmatics can be balanced in general by keeping away from phlegm inducing foods such as milk, wheat and sweets, eating more heating foods and engaging in more heating activities. They are benefited by the herbs anise, cinnamon, valerian root, fenugreek, cardamom, garlic, and ginger.
The physiological choleric element is closely associated with the nervous system and acts to increase its rate of function. The choleric element has a warming effect on the body and stimulates the intellect and increases physical and mental activity and courage. Its receptacle is the gall bladder. Signs of excess choleric element are: leanness of body, hollow eyes, anger without a cause, a testy disposition, yellowness of the skin, bitterness in the throat, pricking pains in the head, a swifter and stronger pulse than usual, troublesome sleeps, and dreams of fire, lightning, anger and/or fighting.Practitioners have also observed that choleric also posses many of the following qualities: yellow, rough, warm and dry skin, dark brown or red hair, very hairy bodies, short stature, a lean body build, a strong appetite, overactive digestion, orange and thick urine, and dry and yellow faeces. At the dinner table cholerics seldom vary their menu from one day to another and when the food arrives, they bolt it down in big chunks, often talking while chewing their food. The choleric type may experience problems with anxiety, agitation, and frenzy and may frequently suffer from nervous exhaustion and insomnia. They may also have palpitations, hypoglycemia , rashes or palsy or strokes. They have a tendency to migrate to mind-altering substances (anything from coffee to chocolate or alcohol and illegal or prescription drugs) and they typically have problems with disturbed sleep, bed-wetting as a child, disturbances of the heart, disturbances of speech or sensation, and blood pressure and circulation problems. Cholerics need to eat foods that moisturize and cool. Good things for the choleric are: juicy fruits and vegetables, warm soups, and adequate liquid intake , denser root vegetables, sea vegetables, legumes, and fish protein. Raw and cooked foods can be used to balance the cholerics states of hyper- and hypo activity. Warm, cooked foods can stimulate the choleric when they are slowed down and tired, and cool, raw foods can cool her down when they are overexcited. Cholerics should rarely use ice cream, spicy condiments, yogurt, and icy drinks. Adult cholerics need to avoid overindulging in curry, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, tea, chili, and salt. Choleric children need to avoid colas, sugar and processed foods.
The Melancholic Element in the body consists of a cool and thick earthly aspect which is prone to coagulation and a more fluid, vaporous substance. In normal quantities the element of melancholy stimulates memory and makes the nature of a person homely, practical, pragmatic and studious. However, the coldest part of the melancholic element is adherent and if not eliminated properly, can settle on or in tissues and form tumors. The spleen removes the melancholer from the blood and body fluids and is the receptacle of melancholer. Signs of excess melancholy element are fearfulness without a cause, fearful and foolish imagination, skin rough and swarthy skin, leanness, want of sleep, frightful dreams, sourness in the throat, weak pulse, solitariness, thin clear urine, and sighing. Practitioners have also observed that melancholic types may often display the following characteristics: brown, rough, dry, cold skin, dark brown or black hair, balding hair, medium build, slim body build, large appetite, slow digestion, thick, pale urine, dry and black faeces, nightmares, and the emotion of worry or grief. At the dinner table melancholics are very picky eaters. It takes them forever to make up their minds about what to order, but once it arrives they savor every bite. Melancholics tend to drag their feet and use their body as if it were a burden to them and may often experience major physical pain from even the most minor if injuries. The most effective therapies for the melancholic excess or the melancholic ailments involve purging or fasting through use of cleansing fasts or herbs such as senna pods (always use with cinnamon or cumin and at most one cup a month). Warming foods, activities and herbs are good for this type.
A simpler method of balancing the types can be followed by combining food properly according to its cold or hot attributes. In the time of the prophet, it was common to combine foods in certain ways according to their properties. In fact, healing and health maintenance can be achieved to a large degree through the simple observation of excess heat or cold in a person. In general you can observe excess heat (the sanguine or choleric element) in a person by noticing that they have a high fever, they feel hot, they are easily fatigued, they have excessive thirst, they have a bitter or burning sensation in their mouth, they cannot tolerate hot foods, they enjoy using cold foods and things, and they suffer more in the Summer or suffer greatly from inflammatory conditions.
If there is an access of this heat in a person or they are naturally sanguine or choleric they would do best on cooler foods such as beef, fish, cows milk, butter, goats milk, cheeses, buttermilk, lettuce, celery, sprouts, zucchini. tomato, turnip, cabbage, okra, broccoli, white and sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, melons, pears, figs, apricots, oranges, brown rice, barley, lentils, sunflower oil, green tea, coffee, dill, thyme, rose, vinegar, sour things, and water. They are advised to eat very few or no nuts and seeds. They should also engage in cooling activities such as praying, meditating, yoga, tai chi, resting, sitting or reading.
You can observe an excess of cold (the phlegmatic or melancholic element) in a person if they complain of weak digestion, lack of thirst, and catarrhal conditions. A person with an excess of cold will report that they suffer most in the Winter and cold things in general upset them. If there is an access of cold in a person or a person is naturally phlegmatic or melancholic they would do best with warming foods such as lamb, liver, chicken, goose, duck, eggs , cream cheese, cream, ghee, beets, radishes, onion, mustard greens, leeks, eggplants, red peppers, chick peas, green peppers, turnip, parsley, peaches, plums, limes, lemons, bananas, raisins, dates, figs, olives, dried fruits, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, wheat, thin-grain rice, basmati rice, sesame oil, black tea, basil, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, mint, honey, anise seed, and curry powder. People with excess cold often do better with sweets or modern medicine than the other types, who often react badly to them. Phlegmatics or melancholics should also involve themselves in more heating activities such as running, walking, intense exercising, and intense conversations and activities.
THE PERSONALITY OF TEMPERAMENTS A quick definition of each temperament personality is usually given by how they react to stimuli in their environment. Thus, the sanguine temperament is marked by quick but shallow, superficial excitability; the choleric by quick but strong and lasting; the melancholic temperament by slow but deep; the phlegmatic by slow but shallow excitability. The first two are also called extroverts, outgoing; the last two are introverts or reserved.
A choleric person is won by quiet explanation of reasons and motives; whereas by harsh commands he is embittered, hardened, driven to strong-headed resistance. A melancholic person is made suspicious and reticent by a rude word or an unfriendly mien; by continuous kind treatment, on the contrary, he is made pliable, trusting, affectionate. The choleric person can be relied upon, but with a sanguine person we can hardly count even upon his apparently serious promises. Without a knowledge of the temperaments of our fellow men we will treat them often wrongly, to their and to our own disadvantage.
With a knowledge of the temperaments, one bears with fellow men more patiently. If one knows that their defects are the consequence of their temperament, he excuses them more readily and will not so easily be excited or angered by them. He remains quiet, for instance, even if a choleric is severe, sharp-edged, impetuous, or obstinate. And if a melancholic person is slow, hesitating, undecided; if he does not speak much and even if he says awkwardly the little he has to say; or if a sanguine person is very talkative, light-minded, and frivolous; if a phlegmatic cannot be aroused from his usual indifference, he does not become irritated.
People aiming at finding the right mate, or improving their relationships with their family or even striving to be better spiritually are encouraged to explore their type and those of the people around them and use this as the map of their path in life. Rev. Conrad Hock says: One of the most reliable means of learning to know oneself is the study of the temperaments. For if a man is fully cognizant of his temperament, he can learn easily to direct and control himself. If he is able to discern the temperament of others, he can better understand and help them. Scientist and Psychologist David Keirsy says that although people dislike the idea that they cannot change, that they must learn that we were each created as different types because the world needs different types. He says, Of course, some change is possible, but it is a twisting and distortion of underlying form. Remove the fangs of a lion and behold a toothless lion, not a domestic cat. Our attempts to change spouse, offspring, or others can result in change, but the result is a scar and not a transformation. Similarly, …. says that when we strive to be more spiritual and better as a person that we would have much more success if we realized the attributes of our type so we could better avoid the pitfalls (sins) and better strive towards the successes our type is most likely to have.
Is self-composed, seldom shows signs of embarrassment, perhaps forward or bold. Eager to express himself before a group; likes to be heard. Prefers group activities; work or play; not easily satisfied with individual projects. Not insistent upon acceptance of his ideas or plans; agrees readily with others wishes; compliant and yielding. Good in details; prefers activities requiring pep and energy. Impetuous and impulsive; his decisions are often (usually) wrong. Keenly alive to environment, physical and social; likes curiosity. Tends to take success for granted. Is a follower; lacks initiative. Hearty and cordial, even to strangers; forms acquaintanceship easily. Tends to elation of spirit; not given to worry and anxiety; is carefree. Seeks wide and broad range of friendships; is not selective; not exclusive in games. Quick and decisive in movements; pronounced or excessive energy output. Turns from one activity to another in rapid succession; little perseverance. Makes adjustments easily; welcomes changes; makes the best appearance possible. Frank, talkable, sociable, emotions readily expressed; does not stand on ceremony. Frequent fluctuations of mood; tends to frequent alterations of elation and depression.
Superficiality. The sanguine person does not penetrate the depth, the essence of things; he does not embrace the whole, but is satisfied with the superficial and with a part of the whole. Before he has mastered one subject, his interest relaxes because new impressions have already captured his attention. He loves light work which attracts attention, where there is no need of deep thought, or great effort. To be sure, it is hard to convince a sanguine person that he is superficial; on the contrary, he imagines that he has grasped the subject wholly and perfectly. The sanguine is always changing in his moods; he can quickly pass from tears to laughter and vice versa; he is fickle in his views; today he may defend what he vehemently opposed a week ago; he is unstable in his resolutions. If a new point of view presents itself he may readily upset the plans which he has made previously. This inconsistency often causes people to think that the sanguine person has no character; that he is not guided by principles. The sanguine naturally denies such charges, because he always finds a reason for his changes. He forgets that it is necessary to consider everything well and to look into and investigate everything carefully beforehand, in order not to be captivated by every new idea or mood. He is also inconsistent at his work or entertainment; he loves variety in everything; he resembles a bee which flies from flower to flower; or the child who soon tires of the new toy. Tendency to the external. The sanguine does not Like to enter into himself, but directs his attention to the external. In this respect he is the very opposite of the melancholic person who is given to introspection, who prefers to be absorbed by deep thoughts and more or less ignores the external. Optimism. The sanguine looks at everything from the bright side. He is optimistic, overlooks difficulties, and is always sure of success. If he fails, he does not worry about it too long but consoles himself easily. His vivacity explains his inclination to poke fun at others, to tease them and to play tricks on them. He takes it for granted that others are willing to take such things in good humor and he is very much surprised if they are vexed on account of his mockery or improper jokes.
This lack of deep passions is of great advantage to the sanguine in spiritual life, insofar as he is usually spared great interior trials and can serve God as a rule with comparative joy and ease. He seems to remain free of the violent passions of the choleric and the pusillanimity and anxiety of the melancholic. He feels happy when praised and is therefore very susceptible to flattery. Cheerfulness and inordinate love of pleasure. The sanguine person does not like to be alone; he loves company and amusement; he wants to enjoy life. In his amusements such a person can be very frivolous.
Dread of virtues which require strenuous efforts. Everything which requires the denial of the gratification of the senses is very hard on the sanguine; for instance, to guard the eyes, the ears, the tongue, to keep silence. He does not like to mortify himself by denying himself some favorite food
The life of prayer of the sanguine suffers from three obstacles: He finds great difficulty in the so-called interior prayer for which a quiet, prolonged reflection is necessary; likewise in meditation, spiritual reading, and examination of conscience. He is easily distracted on account of his ever active senses and his uncontrolled imagination and is thereby prevented from attaining a deep and lasting recollection in God. At prayer a sanguine lays too much stress upon emotion and sensible consolation, and in consequence becomes easily disgusted during spiritual aridity.
The sanguine is very helpful to neighbors and friends and always willing to lend a hand. He is sociable and easily makes contact and talks to new people. He is entertaining to listen to and usually very willing to please. They may get mad easily, but they just as easily forget they were mad and usually bear no grudge. Even if the sanguine is occasionally exasperated and sad, he soon finds his balance again. His sadness does not last long, but gives way quickly to happiness.
To make the best of who he is a sanguine person must give himself to reflection on spiritual as well as temporal affairs. It is especially necessary for him to cultivate those exercises of prayer in which meditation prevails; for instance, morning meditation, spiritual reading, general and particular examination of conscience, meditation on the mysteries of the rosary, and the presence of God. Superficiality is the misfortune, reflection the salvation of the sanguine. In regard to temporal affairs the sanguine person must continually bear in mind that he cannot do too much thinking about them: he must consider every point; anticipate all possible difficulties; he must not be overconfident, over-optimistic. He must daily practice moderation of the senses, the eyes, ears, tongue, the sense of touch, and guard the palate against overindulging in exquisite foods and drinks. He must absolutely see to it that he be influenced by the good and not by the bad; that he accept counsel and direction. A practical aid against distraction is a strictly regulated life, and in a community the faithful observance of the Rules.
He must cultivate his good traits, as charity, obedience, candor, cheerfulness, and sanctify these natural good qualities by supernatural motives. He must continually struggle against those faults to which he is so much inclined by his natural disposition, such as, vanity and selfcomplacency; love of particular friendships; sentimentality; sensuality; jealousy; levity; superficiality; instability.
The education of the sanguine person is comparatively easy. He must be looked after; he must be told that he is not allowed to leave his work unfinished. His assertions, resolutions, and promises must not be taken too seriously; he must continually be checked as to whether he has really executed his work carefully. The sanguine child must be consistently taught to practice self-denial especially by subduing the senses. Perseverance at work and observance of order must be continually insisted upon. The child must be kept under strict supervision and guidance; he must be carefully guarded against bad company, because he can so easily be seduced. Leave to him his cheerfulness and let him have his fun, only guard him against overdoing it.
Remember the sanguine type is like a plant in a vegetable garden. The Spring comes and the plant grows larger and larger and stronger and stronger until one day it blossoms. How well the plant does is directly related to the soil it grows in and the gardener that tends it. Then in the Summer its blossoms become fruit and it offers this fruit to those around it. Then comes the fall, the fruits start to become less, the richness of the green plant fades, and it starts to go into a cycle of decline. The leaves change color and the fruits eventually fade away, the plant wilts and starts to mulch it self into the soil around it and decompose. After the Fall comes the inevitable Winter time. The plant is completely mulched into the ground and dies. But then the Spring comes again and the plant once again starts to blossom. And this time (the next year) it blossoms even more splendidly than before because the mulch from the year before has enriched its soil even more. It does not matter what the soil was to begin with, the next year is always better for the plant as each year its mulch enriches the soil around it.
So the sanguine person is very effected by the people around them, the place they live in, the weather and all other external stimuli including books and movies. The sanguine person is also very effected by the gardener that tends them. This usually is the spouse, mother, father, friend or doctor. The key thing to watch in a wood person is over stimulation (over watering the garden) which creates a selfish and dissatisfied attitude or under-stimulation which creates an angry and dissatisfied individual. The sanguine type themselves also need to realize what stage they are in. They will be either under or over stimulated most of the time so they need to seek balance and when they are not balanced they need to hold their tongue about their TEMPORARY dissatisfaction and instead administer the cure (which would be either to cut down or increase activity and nurturing and/or nutrition).
A sanguine child THRIVES on structure and as an adult they crave and need organization. They are often skilled at organizing their homes, people or projects. Ironically, though, they often have trouble staying within their own organizational bounds because of the constant balance seeking they are doing. As a sanguine person becomes more aware and balanced they will find it easier to stay within their own bounds.
The choleric man is a man of enthusiasm and passion; he is not satisfied with the ordinary, but aspires after great and lofty things. He craves for great success in temporal affairs; he seeks large fortunes, a vast business, an elegant home, a distinguished reputation or a predominant position. He aspires to the highest also in matters spiritual; he is swayed with a consuming fire for holiness; he is filled with a yearning desire to make great sacrifices for God and his neighbor, to lead many souls to heaven. Many dictators, commanders, rulers and missionaries are of this type.
He sees only one road, the one he in his impetuosity has taken without sufficient consideration, and he does not notice that by another road he could reach his goal more easily. If great obstacles meet him he, because of his pride, can hardly make up his mind to turn back, but instead he continues with great obstinacy on the original course.
The choleric has a great deal of self-confidence. He relies too much upon his own knowledge and ability. He refuses the help of others and prefers to work alone, partly because he does not like to ask for help, partly because he believes that he is himself more capable than others and is sure to succeed without the help of others It is not easy to convince the choleric that he is in need of Gods help even in little things. Therefore he dislikes to ask Gods help and prefers to combat even strong temptations by his own strength. Because of this self-confidence in spiritual life the choleric often falls into many and grievous sins. The choleric may be proud and aloof, secretly or openly feeling he is superior to his fellow man.
However if the choleric develops his faculties and uses them for good and noble purposes, he may do great things for the honor of God, for the benefit of his fellow men, and for his own temporal and eternal welfare. He is assisted by his sharp intellect, his enthusiasm for the noble and the great, the force and resolution of his will, which shrinks before no difficulty, and the keen vivacity which influences all his thoughts and plans.
The well-trained choleric is very patient and firm in endurance of physical pains, willing to make sacrifices in sufferings, persevering in acts of penance and interior mortification, magnanimous and noble toward the indigent and conquered, full of aversion against everything ignoble or vulgar. Because the choleric has not a soft but a hard heart, he naturally suffers less from temptation of the flesh and can practice purity with ease
The choleric is very successful also in his professional work. Being of an active temperament, he feels a continual inclination to activity and occupation. He cannot be without work, and he works quickly and diligently A choleric needs high ideals and great thoughts; he must draw them from the word of God by meditation, spiritual reading, sermons, and also from the experience of his own life. The choleric will make still greater progress if he can humble himself to ask his fellow men, at least his superiors, or his confessor, for instructions and direction. The Choleric Temperament is self-composed; seldom shows embarrassment, is forward or bold. Eager to express himself before a group if he has some purpose in view. Insistent upon the acceptance of his ideas or plans; argumentative and persuasive. Impetuous and impulsive; plunges into situations where forethought would have deterred him. Self-confident and self-reliant; tends to take success for granted. Strong initiative; tends to elation of spirit; seldom gloomy or moody; prefers to lead. Very sensitive and easily hurt; reacts strongly to praise or blame. Not given to worry or anxiety. Seclusive. Quick and decisive in movement; pronounced or excessive energy output. Marked tendency to persevere; does not abandon something readily regardless of success. Emotions not freely or spontaneously expressed, except anger. Makes best appearance possible; perhaps conceited; may use hypocrisy, deceit, disguise.
The Choleric in relationships tends to burn up those around them. They are very free in giving and in taking emotion, things and support. Since they are very free in giving and very enthusiastic in their generosity they do not feel they ask too much of others. What they do not realize is that others (who are not choleric) do not have their burning passion and energy and are actually UNABLE to give what they can. So the fire person ends up burning up their friends and family with their requests and needs, but at the same time always feels unsatisfied because their own needs are not met. The fire person needs to understand this. They need to understand that other people are willing to give them what you want. They DO love the fire person and want to make them happy as their friends and family, but they are unable. It is not their fault, nor does it mean they are shallow, unloving or unworthy of a choleric person. The choleric person also needs to understand that the demands they put on their friends and family may be too much. Not just for their sake, but for their own. For when the fire person asks for too much and are constantly disappointed, they will be hurt and sad and withdraw. Instead, they need to expect less from the people around them and disperse your fire.
The melancholic must cultivate great confidence in God and love for suffering, for his spiritual and temporal welfare depend on these two virtues. He should always, especially during attacks of melancholy, say to himself: It is not so bad as I imagine. I see things too darkly, or I am a pessimist. He must from the very beginning resist every feeling of aversion, diffidence, discouragement, or despondency, so that these evil impressions can take no root in the soul. He must keep himself continually occupied, so that he finds no time for brooding. Persevering work will master all.
St. Theresa devotes an entire chapter to the treatment of malicious melancholics. She writes: Upon close observation you will notice that melancholic persons are especially inclined to have their own way, to say everything that comes into their mind, to watch for the faults of others in order to hide their own and to find peace in that which is according to their own liking. St. Theresa, in this chapter touches upon two points to which the melancholic person must pay special attention. He frequently is much excited, full of disgust and bitterness, because he occupies himself too much with the faults of others, and again because he would like to have everything according to his own will and notion.
The Melancholic Temperament is self-conscious, easily embarrassed, timid, bashful. Avoids talking before a group; when obliged to he finds it difficult. Prefers to work and play alone. Good in details; careful. Deliberative; slow in making decisions; perhaps overcautious even in minor matters. Lacking in self-confidence and initiative; compliant and yielding. Tends to detachment from environment; reserved and distant except to intimate friends. Tends to depression; frequently moody or gloomy; very sensitive; easily hurt. Does not form acquaintances readily; prefers narrow range of friends; tends to exclude others. Worries over possible misfortune; crosses bridges before coming to them. Secretive; reclusive; shut in; not inclined to speak unless spoken to. Slow in movement; deliberative or perhaps indecisive; moods frequent and constant. Often represents himself at a disadvantage; modest and unassuming.
Inclination to reflection. The thinking of the melancholic easily turns into reflection. The thoughts of the melancholic are far-reaching. He dwells with pleasure upon the past and is preoccupied by occurrences of the long ago; he is penetrating; is not satisfied with the superficial, searches for the cause and correlation of things; seeks the laws which affect human life, the principles according to which man should act. His thoughts are of a wide range; he looks ahead into the future; ascends to the eternal
Love of retirement. The melancholic does not feel at home among a crowd for any length of time; he loves
silence and solitude. Being inclined to introspection he secludes himself from the crowds, forgets his environment, and makes poor use of his senses eyes, ears, etc. In company he is often distracted, because he is absorbed by his own thoughts.
The melancholic is a stranger here below and feels homesick for God and eternity. This is where the melancholy comes from – not because he is sad. Inclination to passivity. The melancholic is a passive temperament.
He is reserved. He finds it difficult to form new acquaintances and speaks little among strangers. He reveals his inmost thoughts reluctantly and only to those whom he trusts. He does not easily find the right word to express and describe his sentiments. He yearns often to express himself, because it affords him real relief, to confide the sad, depressing thoughts which burden his heart to a person who sympathizes with him. On the other hand, it requires great exertion on his part to manifest himself, and, when he does so, he goes about it so awkwardly that he does not feel satisfied and finds no rest.
Confession is a great burden to the melancholic, while it is comparatively easy to the sanguine. What he could do today he postpones for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or even for the next week. Then he forgets about it and thus it happens that what he could have done in an hour takes weeks and months. He is never finished. For many a melancholic person it may take a long time to decide about his vocation to the religious life. The melancholic is a man of missed opportunities
He is slow in his thinking. He feels it necessary, first of all, to consider and reconsider everything until he can form a calm and safe judgment.
He is slow in his speech. If he is called upon to answer quickly or to speak without preparation, or if he fears that too much depends on his answer, he becomes restless and does not find the right word and consequently often makes a false and unsatisfactory reply. This slow thinking may be the reason why the melancholic often stutters, leaves his sentences incomplete, uses wrong phrases, or searches for the right expression. He is also slow, not lazy, at his work. He works carefully and reliably, but only if he has ample time and is not pressed
The pride of the melancholic has its very peculiar side. He does not seek honor or recognition; on the contrary, he is loathe to appear in public and to be praised. But he is very much afraid of disgrace and humiliation. He often displays great reserve and thereby gives the impression of modesty and humility; in reality he retires only because he is afraid of being put to shame. Because of their peculiarities they are frequently misjudged and treated wrongly. The melancholic feels keenly and therefore retires and secludes himself. Also, the melancholic has few friends, because few understand him and because he takes few into his confidence.
The melancholic practices with ease and joy interior prayer. His serious view of life, his love of solitude, and his inclination to reflection are a great help to him in acquiring the interior life of prayer. This temperament causes difficulties at prayer, since the melancholic person easily loses courage in trials and sufferings and consequently lacks confidence in God, in his prayers, and can be very much distracted by pusillanimous and sad thoughts.
One must always encourage him. Rude reproach, harsh treatment, hardness of heart cast him down and paralyze his efforts. Friendly advice and patience with his slow actions give him courage and vigor. He will show himself very grateful for such kindness.
Because melancholics take everything to heart and are very sensitive, they are in great danger of weakening their nerves. It is necessary, therefore, to watch nervous troubles of those entrusted to ones care. Melancholics who suffer a nervous breakdown are in a very bad state and cannot recover very easily.
In the training of a melancholic child, special care must be taken to be always kind and friendly, to encourage and keep him busy. The child, moreover, must be taught always to pronounce words properly, to use his five senses, and to cultivate piety. Special care must be observed in the punishment of the melancholic child otherwise obstinacy and excessive reserve may result Necessary punishment must be given with precaution and great kindness and the slightest appearance of injustice must be carefully avoided.
The Phlegmatic Temperament is Deliberative; slow in making decisions; perhaps overcautious in minor matters. Indifferent to external affairs. Reserved and distant. Slow in movement. Marked tendency to persevere. Consistancy of mood. The soul or mind of the phlegmatic person is only weakly or not at all touched by impressions. The reaction is feeble or entirely missing. Eventual impressions fade away very soon. He has very little interest in whatever goes on about him. He is not easily exasperated either by offenses, or by failures or sufferings. He remains composed, thoughtful, deliberate, and has a cold, sober, and practical judgment. He has no ambition, and does not aspire to lofty things, not even in his piety.
The training of phlegmatic children is very difficult, because external influence has little effect upon them and internal personal motives are lacking. It is necessary to explain everything most minutely to them, and repeat it again and again, so that at least some impression may be made to last, and to accustom them by patience and charity to follow strictly a well-planned rule of life.
Phlegmatic types have a quiet will of iron. They may seem quiet and push-overs at times but they will turn into a wall when pushed against their will. They may resist change and seem lazy at times and may not be the most exciting people you know but they are kind, take time with their friends and family, are easy to get along with, and inoffensive, good listeners, they have compassion and concern and do not get upset easily. Keep in mind that the life of the water type is to be appreciated for its steadiness rather than its excitement or romantic nature. This type is often unappreciated since they do not provide the glitter and glamor that attracts a lot of people, but they are usually appreciated by their friends and family who know they can always depend on them.
The Traditional Healers Handbook: A Classic Guide to the Medicine of Avicenna by Hakim G.M. Chisti, N.D.
Natural Childhood by John Thomson
Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey
Personality Plus by Florence Littaner
Between Heaven and Earth Chinese Medicine
Complete Herbal and English Physician by Culpeper
Childhood: The Study of the Growing Soul by Hydebrand
Teaching as a Lively Art by Marjorie Spock