In the last issue the four temperaments were introduced: sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic. These are based on the predominant characteristics of our own internal make-up. Most of us exhibit a combination of these temperaments, but one usually predominates. Our temperaments are innate and hereditary. They are permanent and can be modified only secondarily without being totally eliminated. Acquiring the moral virtues are the greatest means to shape and modify the temperaments. Spiritual writers and modern psychologists have utilized this knowledge to help people know themselves better, and to find good strategies for overcoming bad habits.
In this issue we will look at the first two temperaments:
This temperament reacts quickly and strongly to certain stimuli but is short in duration. Sanguines are cheerful, affable, sympathetic, sensitive, compassionate, and are often the life of the party or the class clown. They are gifted with common sense, and make friends easily.
Some negative aspects of this temperament are: superficiality, inconstancy, impulsivity and sensuality. Sanguines may repent of their sins quickly, only to return to them on the first occasion. Thus, it is crucial to encourage them to persevere through the time of temptation.
This temperament is difficult to arouse, but once aroused, will maintain the emotion for a long period of time, especially if the emotion involves a hurt to themselves, either perceived or real. Melancholics are inclined to reflection, piety, prayer, creativity and compassion. They tend to have but a few friends, but keep these friends for a lifetime. They do not forget easily, so any passion aroused in them, for good or for ill, will last for a long time. They tend to be very intelligent, as they are introspective, and spend much time pondering life. If their physical powers are exhausted, their will is weak. They make good artists, poets, philosophers and contemplatives.
Negative aspects of this temperament are that they concentrate heavily on themselves, a tendency to exaggerate negative experiences, hence a constant feeling of sadness and melancholy, and often lose confidence in themselves and can be timid.
Next Issue: A closer look at phlegmatic and choleric temperaments.