Temperament Theory

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.                                                                                                                           Genesis 1:27

There has been a great deal of interest in temperament types, especially in the past 30 years. People are fascinated by the idea that there are fundamental underlying forces in our make-up which drive our behavior and the way that we think. Indeed, I believe that temperament is etched into our genetic material, and that we have a natural “bent” of the way that we perceive the world and react to it.

Carl Jung (no relation as far as I know) popularized this in his work Psychological Types. The concept has been around for many centuries, darting back to Herodotus who wrote about the “4 basic humours (as he called them) which determine a person’s health”. Those humours were blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. The balance of those humours, he believed, determined not only health, but the temperament of the individual. Those temperaments came to be labeled “choleric”, “phlegmatic”, “sanguine” and “melancholy”.

Interestingly enough, Jung’s later explanations of psychological types lined up nicely with Herodotus’s explanations, just with different names, and much more science to explain them. Later still, the Myers-Briggs Personality Types were themselves a further explanation of Jung’s Psychological Types.

Being a Jung myself (but not necessarily a Jungian), I do find temperament theory fascinating and quite helpful in explaining interpersonal relationships. In relationship counseling, it can be very helpful to discover temperament and explain to the partners in the relationship how those differences, which initially brought the couple together, now drives the other crazy.

What makes an Introvert attractive to an Extrovert, and vice-versa? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each type? How does temperament affect our responses to stress? Why do some people fail to appreciate their own temperament type?

These are some of the questions and concepts I will be discussing over the next few blogs. I hope you join me on the journey.

Prayer: We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and only you can really understand us. Thank you for your creative plan for diversity, which makes life so amazing, Amen

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