Thursday, March 8, 2007

My Friends Call Me Phlegm

The notion of the Four Humors (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic) was conceived by the Greek physician Galen, who proposed that a predominance of one of four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, black bile, or yellow bile) determined an individual's temperament or "humor".

I ran across this quote from an essay called The Role of Temperament in Child Development:

One Friday [during watercolor painting] there was an accident, and a huge bucket of water got kicked over. What did the melancholics do? They got up and stood in it. The sanguines were immediately standing on their chairs and shouting, 'Ooh -- what is that?' The cholerics rushed out after mops and buckets. What did the phlegmatics do? You may not believe it, but they sat in their chairs and lifted their legs above the water. I got the best lesson in my life.'

From this illustration alone, I know that I am definitely phlegmatic. The water spilled. Get over it, sanguines. And what the heck is the rationale behind standing in it? Put your feet up and carry on with your day. Absolutely. Now, I might conceivably go get a mop, but not because I particularly care about the mess, but to make nice with the cholerics.

Just to be certain, I took this temperament quiz (after all the Internet is your one-stop source for accurate scientific personality and psychological testing) -- and, yep, I'm phlegmatic:

You Have a Phlegmatic Temperament
Mild mannered and laid back, you take life at a slow pace.
You are very consistent - both in emotions and actions.
You tend to absorb set backs easily. You are cool and collected.

It is difficult to offend you. You can remain composed and unemotional.
You are a great friend and lover. You don't demand much of others.
While you are quiet, you have a subtle wit that your friends know well.

At your worst, you are lazy and unwilling to work at anything.
You often get stuck in a rut, without aspirations or dreams.
You can get too dependent on others, setting yourself up for abandonment.

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