Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Melancholic Turned Phlegmatic

I usually don't give much thought to the Four Temperaments theory of personality. I much prefer MBTI because it's more detailed and thus more discriminative (16 personalities!!!). Besides, I don't really like the ill-sounding names of the temperaments: sanguine - blood, choleric - cholera, phlegmatic - mucus, and melancholic - depression. How much more medical can you get.

Recently, though, in my usual lazy surf around blogosphere, I came across this post by Amanda at Worthy of Agape. I always enjoy WoA, so seeing a post about the Four Temperaments there sparked my interest, although not fully, because [I thought] I already know what my temperament is: melancholic, or to be precise, melancholic/choleric.

This test confirmed it. However, this test put melancholic as my secondary temperament, and put — dum dum dum — PHLEGMATIC, as my primary temperament.

My initial reaction to this was pretty choleric in nature but then I looked at the list of traits. Here's a table comparing the four temperaments taken from the second website, starting from left to right, from my highest score to my lower score.

Calm and collectedSensitive to anguish of othersSelf-sufficientJoyful/Cheerful
QuietAnalyticalBorn leaderOptimistic
WittyDeep thinkerDynamicPassionate
KindArtistic or musicalCompulsive need for changeResponsive to emotions
InoffensiveSelf-sacrificingMust correct wrongsCharismatic
Hides emotionsPoetic and philosophicalUnemotionalCompassionate
Reconciled to lifeAppreciates beautyStrong-willedImpractical/Dreamer
Not in a hurryPerfectionist with high standardsIndependentStoryteller
Takes the good with the badDetail consciousOptimisticChildlike
PracticalNeat and tidyNot discouraged easilyMemory for smells & colors
Dry sense of humorOrganizedConfidentMakes friends easily
MediatorSees the problemGoal-orientedDoesn’t hold grudges
Avoids confrontation and conflictSeeks creative solutionsKnows the right answersLoves people
Cool under pressureMust finish what is startedCan see the whole pictureInattention
Takes the easiest wayContent to stay behind the scenesQuickly moves to actionLack of concentration
Good listenerLikes charts, numbers, and listsThrives on oppositionDisorganization
Likes to watch peopleCautious to make friendsLittle need for friendsEasily distracted
Compassionate and concernedWill listen to complaintsLeads and organizesForgetful
PleasantProblem solver for othersExcels in emergenciesImpulsive
Good administrative abilityMoved to tears with compassionDelegates workRestless
IntuitiveTries not to raise attentionMotivatorVery talkative
DependableSerious Long-term thinkerInterrupts (Egotistical)
Slow and LazyStudiousCruelEmotionally unstable
Selfish Not practical--DreamerImpatientCircumstantial
Detached observerMoody

What surprised me is that, apparently, the traits of the phlegmatic, or rather, the combination of phlegmatic/melancholic suits me better than the combination of melancholic/choleric does. I didn't know temperaments can change!

A few of years ago, I was your classic melancholic/choleric: serious, studious, thinker, solitary and proud to be, perfectionist, aggressive especially in debates, hot-tempered, and even cruel, I gotta admit. Just ask the victims of my bullying in high school :p

So I wonder, since when did I become the calm, composed, patient, pressure-proof, sympathetic, and *KIND* phlegmatic??? :D

Which of the two temperaments dominates also matters. Here's another paragraph from this website that compares phlegmatic/melancholic with melancholic/phlegmatic:

If you are phlegmatic-melancholic, it’s likely that you are a bit more upbeat than the melancholic-phlegmatic, a little less introverted, more trusting, slightly less moody, more generous with your time, and a more gracious host. You will rarely find yourself angry (though your feelings may be easily hurt), forgive more readily, and do not hold onto hurts in the same way that a more dominantly melancholic temperament would.

Way-hay, this seems like a good maturation over the years! Still it's funny how one can change dramatically. Maybe it's due to the hours I put into reading less Nietzsche and more John Paul II? ;) Well I just hope I didn't completely lose the good qualities of the choleric: confident, motivated, courageous, and a born leader! (The image of St. Paul the Apostle quickly comes into mind!)

So there you go, I'm the phlegmatic/melancholic. My saints are: St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope John XXIII (phlegmatic), St. John the Evangelist, and Bl. John Henry Newman (melancholic). Great guys!

What is your temperament?


  1. Definitely melancholic, and secondary varies (but sanguine's always last). I love understanding something about the different temperaments, but agree the names of these 4 leave something to be desired!

    1. Writers are usually deep thinkers as well, so no wonder most of us are melancholic!


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