Each week I will post on one of these temperaments define as a proto-psychological interpretation of the ancient medical concept of humorism and suggests that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors. Hippocrates believed certain human moods, emotions and behaviors were caused by body fluids (called “humors”). The four temperaments are sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (analytical and thoughtful), and phlegmatic (relaxed and quiet) and help develop the personality and attitudes of characters.

MELANCHOLIC: The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and is given to thought. Melancholic people are often perceived as very (or overly) pondering and are both considerate and very cautious. They are organized and schedule oriented, often planning extensively. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry, art, and invention – and are sensitive to others. Because of this sensitivity and their thoughtfulness they can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world and are susceptible to depression and moodiness. Often they are perfectionists. Their desire for perfection often results in a high degree of personal excellence but also causes them to be highly conscientious and difficult to relate to because others often cannot please them. They are self-reliant and independent, preferring to do things themselves to meet their standards. One negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of other issues. Their caution enables them to prevent problems that the more impulsive sanguine runs into, but can also cause them to procrastinate and remain in the planning stage of a project for very long periods. Melancholics prefer to avoid much attention and prefer to remain in the background; they do, however, desire recognition for their many works of creativity They have been called “task-oriented introverts.”
Along with the above definition, the Melancholic Strengths and weakeners will be covered in the areas of: Emotions, Parenting, Work, and Friendship. Using this theory as a tool in creating characterization will provide you with some unique fodder as you develop the character’s personality, interests and lifestyle. I hope you find it interesting and helpful

MELANCHOLIC: The Introvert | The Thinker | The Pessimist
Strengths of a Melancholy
1. The Melancholy’s Emotions
* Deep and thoughtfully
* Analytical
* Serious and purposeful
* Genius prone
* Talented and creative
* Artistic or musical
* Philosophical and poetic
* appreciative of beauty
* Sensitive to others
* Self-sacrificing
* Conscientious* Idealistic

2. The Melancholy As A Parent
* Sets high standards
* Wants everything done right
* Keeps home in good order
* Picks up after children
* Sacrifices own will for others
* Encourages scholarship and talent
3. The Melancholy At Work
* Schedule oriented
* Perfectionist, high standards
* Detail conscious
* Persistent and thorough
* Orderly and organized
* Neat and tidy
* Economical
* Sees the problems
* Finds creative solutions
* Needs to finish what he starts
* Likes charts, graphs, figures, lists

4. The Melancholy As a Friend
* Makes friends cautiously
* Content to stay in background
* Avoids causing attention
* Faithful and devoted
* Will listen to complaints
* Can solve other’s problems
* Deep concern for other people
* Moved to tears with compassion
* Seeks ideal mate

Weakness of a Melancholy

1. The Melancholy’s Emotions
* Remembers the negatives
* Moody and depressed
* Enjoys being hurt
* Has false humility
* Off in another world
* Low self-image
* Has selective hearing
* Self-centered
* Too introspective
* Guilt feelings* Persecution complex
* Tends to hypochondria

2. The Melancholy As A Parent
* Puts goals beyond reach
* May discourage children
* May be too meticulous
* Becomes martyr
* Sulks over disagreements
* Puts guilt upon children

3. The Melancholy At Work
* Not people oriented
* Depressed over imperfections
* Chooses difficult work
* Hesitant to start projects
* Spends to much time planning
* Prefers analysis to work
* Self-deprecating
* Hard to please
* Standards often to high
* Deep need for approval

4. The Melancholy As a Friend
* Lives through others
* Insecure socially
* Withdrawn and remote
* critical of others
* Holds back affections
* Dislikes those in opposition
* Suspicious of people
* Antagonistic and vengeful
* Unforgiving
* Full of contradictions
* Skeptical of compliments

Think about the characters in your latest novel. How could one of these temperaments clash with the personality of another major character to result in dynamic conflict. Whether you believe the theory or not, it makes great fodder for creating great motivation and conflict.

Next’s weeks post will cover the final temperament in this theory is phlegmatic which is relaxed and quiet.


Leave a comment
  1. Jill September 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    You’ve gone into so much detail with this series, Gail, thank you so much. So far, I’ve found a little of myself in each temperament.

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