Four Temperaments

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Four Temperaments is a theory of psychology that stems from the ancient medical concept of humorism.


History and development

Temperament theory has its roots in the ancient four humors theory. It may have origins in ancient Egypt[1] or Mesopotamia,[2] but it was the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) who developed it into a medical theory. He believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by body fluids (called "humors"): blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Next, Galen (AD 131-200) developed the first typology of temperament in his dissertation De temperamentis, and searched for physiological reasons for different behaviors in humans. He mapped them to a matrix of hot/cold and dry/wet taken from the Four Elements.[3] There could also be "balance" between the qualities, yielding a total of nine temperaments. The word "temperament" itself comes from Latin "temperare", "to mix". In the ideal personality, the complementary characteristics or warm-cool and dry-moist were exquisitely balanced. In four less ideal types, one of the four qualities was dominant over all the others. In the remaining four types, one pair of qualities dominated the complimentary pair; for example; warm and moist dominated cool and dry. These latter four were the temperamental categories Galen named "sanguine", "melancholic", "choleric" and "phlegmatic" after the bodily humors. Each was the result of an excess of one of the humors that produced, in turn, the imbalance in paired qualities.[4][5][6]
In The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna (980-1037 AD) then extended the theory of temperaments to encompass "emotional aspects, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self-awareness, movements and dreams."[7]

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