Archive for January, 2009

The Black Horse – Melancholy

“I looked and there before me was a black horse.  Its rider rode out as a thoughtful, gifted and analytical genius but also deep, sad and depressive.”

Skip to: Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 5


As a child were you sensitive you your surroundings and easily moved to tears?  Did you line up your toys in rows and go around shutting drawers that no one else seemed to notice were open?  Did you do your home work in time and even enjoy research projects?  Did you feel sorry for poor children and want to support the underdog in any situation?  Then you are a Melancholy.

From the time a Melancholy can stand up and move around he/she is trying to make the crooked paths straight.  Melancholies more than anything need perfection.  They are perfectionists who must have life in order and hopefully everyone else’s as well.  We all appreciate order and and sensitivity, but for the Melancholy these traits are emotional needs.  

A melancholy with a sanguine spouse who is a poor housekeeper either takes over the duties, criticizes his/her mistakes, or gets depressed.  The Melancholy will keep his closet  in perfect order with all pants and shirts folded exactly the same.

Florence Littauer, in her book Your Personality Tree writes about a Melancholy man who kept a milage chart on his shoes from the time he bought them to the time until he gave them away to the salvation army.  He found out when he divided the cost of the shoes by the by the number of days he wore them that that the shoes had cost him 9 cents a day.  Only a Melancholy would care!  Another man dates every light bulb in the house at the time or purchase.  This way he is able to keep a record of each bulb and know the exact length of service.

The Melancholy also has a deep need to be understood and longs for others to respond with sensitivity to his/her inner struggles and to sympathize with him over comments made by shallow people attempting to be funny.  They are sensitive to their surroundings and easily moved to tears.

Melancholies are so sensitive and have such a need for order that it is easy to see how they get so quickly depressed.  Since their desire to get everything and everyone in perfect order is never fulfilled, they either have to lower their expectations and accept life as it is or sink in to despair.

The Melancholy is also unwilling to express his/her needs, which throws others in to a constant guessing game.

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The Pale Horse – Choleric

“And I beheld, and lo a pale horse; and he that sat on him was destined to be in control.   Its rider is full of ambition, energy and passion but also easily angered and bad-tempered.”

Skip to: Part 1   Part 2   Part 4   Part 5

taylor-pale-horseCholerics more than anything else need to have control, achievement and appreciation.  Not only do they want to be in control but have little ability to catch even a glimpse of their weaknesses.  We all like to accomplish our goals and enjoy being appreciated, but for the Cholerics, these become emotional needs.

Cholerics have a great bent for leadership, but a blind spot in seeing how they effect other people.  Cholerics have a compulsion for constant achievement.  Because the Choleric is a born leader, he has the need to see things accomplished and has a mental progress list stored in his/her brain.  Where the Melancholy writes his agendas on paper, the Choleric plots his life out quickly in his head and gives instant commands to everyone in sight.  The Choleric assumes others both need and want instruction and feels those who aren’t marching to his drumbeat are lazy.

Cholerics are usually married to Phlegmatics who look forward to the weekend’s rest, so their insatiable need for getting things done now is often thwarted.  Choleric parents keep their children moving, use all available manpower, and get frustrated when their spouse don’t respond to their call to arms.

The Choleric workaholic nature appears self-satisfied, but much of what he/she does is inwardly a cry for recognition.  If he/she has not received praises as a child, he will work to death trying to stimulate his parents to enthusiastic comments.  When Cholerics don’t receive credit or others don’t thank them, they often say, “After all I’ve done for them.”

Many families are destroyed by Choleric men who feel no one at home appreciates all he has done for them and who reaches out for something to restore his slipping self-confidence.  In strutting his stuff, he finds a friend who makes him feel like a man again, and he walks away from his family.

Choleric women tend to marry Phlegmatic men and unconsciously of them and the children.  As long as everyone has an obedient attitude, the mother stays happy, but when anyone in the group rebels, she may become depressed.

Cholerics become depressed when they feel that they have lost control of where they are heading in life.  Cholerics who are physically disabled also often get depressed.

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The red horse – Sanguine

“And there went out a horse that was red: and the attribute was given to him that sat thereon to be spontaneous, fun-loving and to have fun in life.  But also given to him was the weakness of arrogance, impulse & constant need for approval.”

Skip to: Part 1 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5


Sanguines more than anything just want to have fun.  The sooner we accept this the sooner we can come to the realization that they will never grow up and get down to business.

While sanguines want to have fun in life and appear to have no serious requirements for happiness, underneath it all they have a deep craving for approval.  Sanguines feed on compliments and criticism wounds  them deeply.  If a sanguine doesn’t have approval they will wilt in to uselessness.  On the other hand given praise and encouragement the sanguine will go to extremes to please you, for they want to be loved.  Everyone likes attention and approval, but for the sanguine it is an emotional need.

Sanguines are usually married to Melancholies who see no reason to give praise to something that’s not done properly in the first place and who feel constant criticism will provide positive motivation.  While the Melancholy may have applauded the Sanguine’s humor before marriage, it soon wears thin and after a while the Melancholy wont even sit in the audience, let alone clap enthusiastically.  Sanguines can always charm someone in to being their friend, and soon begin to wonder why the only person who doesn’t think he/she is cute is their mate.  The combination of an outgoing personality and the need for attention makes the Sanguine the most vulnerable for temptation from the opposite sex.

Sanguines become depressed when they are deprived of fun and attention.  When a Sanguine gets depressed, for example, because a check just bounced, contrary to logic they go out and treat everyone in sight.

They must be accepted by their friends and buying their way to popularity is one way of cheering themselves up while denying there is any problem.  Besides buying things, treating everyone in sight and starting new ventures the sanguine also handles depression by overeating.  Of course this ends in futility for the Sanguine loves clothes and gets additionally depressed when nothing seems to fit right anymore.

While a sanguine without a spotlight may become lonely and depressed, a change of scene or outlook will help them bounce back again.

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The 4 Horsemen of the Humors


(Part 1 – Introduction)

Skip to: Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

As discussed in a previous post, as humans we are hard-wired to connect, we’re programmed for kindness, love and authentic intimacy.  Positive human relationships are the key to living a meaningful and joy-filled life.  Also, strong relationships, or a high degree of relational intelligence, are  factors in improving the immune system, adding to life expectancy and creating overall happiness.

“Apocalypse” is defined as the disclosure of something hidden from the majority of humankind.  In this five-part series we “disclose” the four human temperaments, also known as personality types.  Studying the temperaments  is a tool to understanding ourselves and learning to get along with others.  By learning the underlying needs of each temperament we will have an advantage in our human relationships.  Although no two of us are exactly alike, our similarities are what provide us with a framework by which we can measure our strengths and weaknesses.

By looking at our innate desires, our needs and our emotions, our eyes will be opened and we will obtain some insight not only on to who we really are but also discover why others function the way they do.  Think of the value in understanding others and have an explanation for their behavior.  This, in my opinion, could drastically change your ability to get along with others.  The four temperaments are as follows: Sanguine, CholericMelancholy & Phlegmatic.

In Part 2 of this five part series we look at the Sanguine personality (The red horse).  A person who is sanguine is generally light-hearted, fun-loving, a people person, loves to entertain, spontaneous, and confident.  However they can be arrogant, cocky, and indulgent.  The sanguine can also be day-dreamy and off task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion.

In Part 3 (the Pale Horse) we look at the Choleric personality.  A person who is choleric is a doer and a leader.  They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others.  They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types.  Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics.  On the negative side, they are easily angered and bad-tempered.

In Part 4 (the Black Horse) we analyze the Melancholy personality.  Often very kind and considerate, melancholics can be highly creative – as in poetry and art – but also can become overly pre-occupied with the tragedy and cruelty of the world, thus becoming depressed.  A melancholic is also often a perfectionist, being very particular about what they want and how they want it in some cases.  This often results in being unsatisfied with one’s own artistic or creative works and always pointing out to themselves what could and should be improved.

And finally in part 5 we’ll look at the Phlegmatic personality (the White Horse). Phlegmatics are generally self-confident and kind, but their shy personality can often inhibit enthusiasm in others and make themselves lazy and resistant to change.  They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats.  Like the sanguine personality, the phlegmatic has many friends.  However the phlegmatic is more reliable and compassionate, traits which typically make the phlegmatic a more dependable friend.

Florence Littauer, in her book Your Personality Tree writes about a 10 year old school boy who heard her speak on the temperaments and later did a school science project based on his personal analysis of his fellow students.  For his project, Littauer writes in her book, the child made a chart entitled “Questions Regarding Human Behavior.”  Each child in the class was asked to answer the following:

Suppose a play were to be done at our school.  How would you want to be involved?

I would like to work backstage_____Why?

I would like to be student director______Why?

I would like to be cast in a leading role _____Why?

I would not want to participate ______Why?

From the boy’s tabulations there were 8 Melancholies who wanted to work backstage, 15 Cholerics who liked the idea of directing the others, 10 Sanguines who all wanted to star, and 3 Phlegmatics who didn’t care to get involved.

The concept of the four basic temperaments is so easy to understand and grasp that even a child can learn it.

Our aim in studying the temperaments should be to assess our basic strengths and realize that we are people of value and worth; to become aware of our weaknesses and set out to overcome them; to learn that just because other people are different  doesn’t make them wrong; and to accept the fact that since we can’t change them, we might as well love them as they are.

The traits of the human temperament have been labelled many different names over many centuries but they all seem to originate from Hippocrates’ theory of the humors which has been around for over 2000 years.

The contents of this post is based on Florence Littauer’s Your Personality Tree which you can find here.  For further study I also recommend checking out keirsey.com there you can take a free test that will help you discover your personality type.

In future posts I will write on “personality masks” and the 4 temperaments as they relate to children.


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