The Four Temperaments

The pattern of inclinations and reactions that proceed from the physiological constitution of the individual. Something permanent that admits of only secondary modification. (OUR WIRING.)

Sanguine Temperament

  • Reacts quickly and strongly to almost any stimulation or impression
  • Reaction is usually of short duration
  • Remembrance of past experiences does not easily arouse a new response.
  • Usually have a serene view of life and are optimists.
  • Tend to idealize rather than criticize.
  • Alert intellects, learn quickly if not deeply
  • Principal defects: superficiality, inconstancy, sensuality, hasty judgements
  • Quickly repent of sins, easily return to them.

Melancholic Temperament

  • Difficult to arouse, but after repeated impressions the reaction is strong and listing; does not forget easily.
  • Inclined to reflection, piety, the interior life, compassionate to the suffering, attracted to corporal works of mercy, endure suffering heroically.
  • Sharp intellect, thorough thinkers; may become detached in their intellectual interior.
  • Normally do not experience the vehement passions that may torment the sanguine.
  • Exaggerated tendency to sadness, magnify difficulties; excessive reserve, scrupulosity. Suffer in silence; do not reveal themselves, tend toward pessimism.

Choleric Temperament

  • Reacts quickly and strongly to almost any stimulation or impression
  • Impression lasts a long time
  • Inclined to practical action (work) rather than theoretical speculation
  • Quick to work the plan made/direction chosen; likewise to overcome obstacles
  • Postively channeled: great saints; negatively channeled: great sinners
  • Principal defects: obstinancy, insensitivity to others’ feelings, tactlessness, impatience
  • Can be of great worth if they succeed in controlling and guiding their energies
  • Key to spiritual growth: cultivate true humility of heart

Phlegmatic Temperament

  • Emotions rarely aroused, and if so, only weakly
  • Work slowly but assiduously, tranquil, discreet, sober
  • Great deal of commonsense and mental balance
  • Do not possess
    • the inflammable passions of the sanguine temperament
    • the deep passions of the melancholic temperament
    • the ardent passions of the choleric temperament
  • Defects: tendency toward remoteness; disengaged from events and people around them

Using Temperaments in Self-Examination

  • Temperaments are our wiring.
  • The Devil uses our wiring against us.
  • Together with a Root Sin analysis, we have greater understanding in how we are attacked by the Devil and why those attacks are successful.
  • Habits are “dwellings of behavior” – Temperaments help/hinder formation of good habits, replacement of bad habits.

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