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THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS

by REV. CONRAD HOCK


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CHAPTER III

THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT

I CHARACTER OF THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT

The sanguine person is quickly aroused and vehemently excited by whatever influences him. The reaction follows immediately, but the impression lasts but a short time. Consequently the remembrance of the impression does not easily cause new excitement.

II FUNDAMENTAL DISPOSITION

1. Superficiality. The sanguine person does not penetrate the depth, the essence of things; he does not embrace the whole, but is satisfied with the superficial and with a part of the whole. Before he has mastered one subject, his interest relaxes because new impressions have already captured his attention. He loves light work which attracts attention, where there is no need of deep thought, or great effort. To be sure, it is hard to convince a sanguine person that he is superficial; on the contrary, he imagines that he has grasped the subject wholly and perfectly.

2. Instability. Because the impressions made upon a sanguine person do not last, they are easily followed by others. The consequence is a great instability which must be taken into account by anyone who deals with such persons, if he does not wish to be disappointed.

St Peter assured our Lord that he was ready to go with Him, even die for Him, only to deny a few hours later that he did not know "this man."

The crowds hailed our Lord with their Hosannas on Palm Sunday but cried: Crucify Him! a few days later.

The sanguine is always changing in his moods; he can quickly pass from tears to laughter and vice versa; he is fickle in his views; today he may defend what he vehemently opposed a week ago; he is unstable in his resolutions. If a new point of view presents itself he may readily upset the plans which he has made previously. This inconsistency often causes people to think that the sanguine person has no character; that he is not guided by principles. The sanguine naturally denies such charges, because he always finds a reason for his changes. He forgets that it is necessary to consider everything well and to look into and investigate everything carefully beforehand, in order not to be captivated by every new idea or mood. He is also inconsistent at his work or entertainment; he loves variety in everything; he resembles a bee which flies from flower to flower; or the child who soon tires of the new toy.

3. Tendency to the external. The sanguine does not like to enter into himself, but directs his attention to the external. In this respect he is the very opposite of the melancholic person who is given to introspection, who prefers to be absorbed by deep thoughts and more or less ignores the external. This leaning to the external is shown in the keen interest which the sanguine pays to his own appearance, as well as to that of others; to a beautiful face, to fine and modern clothes, and to good manners. In the sanguine the five senses are especially active, while the choleric uses rather his reason and will and the melancholic his feelings. The sanguine sees everything, hears everything, talks about everything. He is noted for his facility and vivacity of speech, his inexhaustible variety of topics and flow of words which often make him disagreeable to others. The sanguine person in consequence of his vivacity has an eye for details, an advantageous disposition which is more or less lacking in choleric and melancholic persons.

4. Optimism. The sanguine looks at everything from the bright side. He is optimistic, overlooks difficulties, and is always sure of success. If he fails, he does not worry about it too long but consoles himself easily. His vivacity explains his inclination to poke fun at others, to tease them and to play tricks on them. He takes it for granted. that others are willing to take such things in good humor and he is very much surprised if they are vexed on account of his mockery or improper jokes.

5. Absence of deep passions. The passions of the sanguine are quickly excited, but they do not make a deep and lasting impression; they may be compared to a straw fire which flares up suddenly, but just as quickly dies down, while the passions of a choleric are to be compared to a raging, all-devouring conflagration.

This lack of deep passions is of great advantage to the sanguine in spiritual life, insofar as he is usually spared great interior trials and can serve God as a rule with comparative joy and ease. He seems to remain free of the violent passions of the choleric and the pusillanimity and anxiety of the melancholic.

III DARK SIDE OF THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT

1. Vanity and self-complacency. The pride of the sanguine person does not manifest itself as inordinate ambition or obstinacy, as it does in the choleric, nor as fear of humiliation, as in the melancholic, but as a strong inclination to vanity and self-complacency. The sanguine person finds a well-nigh childish joy and satisfaction in his outward appearance, in his clothes and work. He loves to behold himself in the mirror. He feels happy when praised and is therefore very susceptible to flattery. By praise and flattery a sanguine person can easily be seduced to perform the most imprudent acts and even shameful sins.

2. Inclination to flirtation, jealousy and envy. The sanguine person is inclined to inordinate intimacy and flirtation, because he lacks deep spirituality and leans to the external and is willing to accept flatteries. However, his love is not deep and changes easily. An otherwise well-trained sanguine would be content with superficial familiarities as tokens of affection, but in consequence of his levity and readiness to yield, as well as on account of his optimistic belief that sin may have no evil consequences, he can be easily led to the most grievous aberrations. A bad woman with a sanguine temperament yields herself to sin without restraint and stifles the voice of conscience easily.

Vanity and tendency to love-affairs lead the sanguine person to jealousy, envy, and to all the petty, mean, and detestable faults against charity, which are usually the consequence of envy. Because he is easily influenced by exterior impressions or feelings of sympathy or antipathy, it is hard for the sanguine person to be impartial and just. Superiors of this temperament often have favorites whom they prefer to others. The sanguine is greatly inclined to flatter those whom he loves.

3. Cheerfulness and inordinate love of pleasure. The sanguine person does not like to be alone; he loves company and amusement; he wants to enjoy life. In his amusements such a person can be very frivolous.

4. Dread of virtues which require strenuous efforts. Everything which requires the denial of the gratification of the senses is very hard on the sanguine; for instance, to guard the eyes, the ears, the tongue, to keep silence. He does not like to mortify himself by denying himself some favorite food. He is afraid of corporal acts of penance; only the exceptionally virtuous sanguine succeeds in performing works of penance for many years for sins committed in earlier youth. The ordinary sanguine person is inclined to think that with absolution in the sacrament of penance all sins are blotted out and that continued sorrow for them is unnecessary and even injurious.

5. Other disadvantages of the sanguine temperament:

a) The decisions of the sanguine person are likely to be wrong, because his inquiry into things is only superficial and partial; also because he does not see difficulties; and finally because, through feelings of sympathy or antipathy he is inclined to partiality.

b) The undertakings of the sanguine fail easily because he always takes success for granted, as a matter of course, and therefore does not give sufficient attention to possible obstacles, because he lacks perseverance, and his interest in things fades quickly.

c) The sanguine is unstable in the pursuit of the good. He permits others to lead him and is therefore easily led astray, if he falls into the hands of unscrupulous persons. His enthusiasm is quickly aroused for the good, but it also vanishes quickly. With Peter he readily jumps out of the boat in order to walk on the water, but immediately he is afraid that he may drown. He hastily draws the sword with Peter to defend Jesus, but takes to flight a few minutes later. With Peter he defies the enemies of Jesus, only to deny Him in a short time.

d) Self-knowledge of the sanguine person is deficient because he always caters to the external and is loath to enter into himself, and to give deeper thought to his own actions.

e) The life of prayer of the sanguine suffers from three obstacles: He finds great difficulty in the so called interior prayer for which a quiet, prolonged reflection is necessary; likewise in meditation, spiritual reading, and examination of conscience. He is easily distracted on account of his ever active senses and his uncontrolled imagination and is thereby prevented from attaining a deep and lasting recollection in God. At prayer a sanguine lays too much stress upon emotion and sensible consolation, and in consequence becomes easily disgusted during spiritual aridity.

IV BRIGHT SIDES OF THE SANGUINE TEMPERAMENT

1. The sanguine person has many qualities on account of which he fares well with his fellow men and endears himself to them.

a) The sanguine is an extrovert; he readily makes acquaintance with other people, is very communicative, loquacious, and associates easily with strangers.

b) He is friendly in speech and behavior and can pleasantly entertain his fellow men by his interesting narratives and witticisms.

c) He is very pleasant and willing to oblige. He dispenses his acts of kindness not so coldly as a choleric, not so warmly and touchingly as the melancholic, but at least in such a jovial and pleasant way that they are graciously received.

d) He is compassionate whenever a mishap befalls his neighbor and is always ready to cheer him by a friendly remark.

e) He has a remarkable faculty of drawing the attention of his fellow men to their faults without causing immediate and great displeasure. He does not find it hard to correct others. If it is necessary to inform someone of bad news, it is well to assign a person of sanguine temperament for this task.

f) A sanguine is quickly excited by an offence and may show his anger violently and at times imprudently, but as soon as he has given vent to his wrath, he is again pleasant and bears no grudge.

2. The sanguine person has many qualities by which he wins the affection of his superiors.

a) He is pliable and docile. The virtue of obedience, which is generally considered as difficult, is easy for him.

b) He is candid and can easily make known to his superiors his difficulties, the state of his spiritual life, and even disgraceful sins.

c) When punished he hardly ever shows resentment; he is not defiant and obstinate. It is easy for a superior to deal with sanguine subjects, but let him be on his guard! Sanguine subjects are prone to flatter the superior and show a servile attitude; thus quite unintentionally endangering the peace of a community. Choleric and especially melancholic persons do not reveal themselves so easily, because of their greater reserve, and should not be scolded or slighted or neglected by the superiors.

3. The sanguine is not obdurate in evil. He is not stable in doing good things, neither is he consistent in doing evil. Nobody is so easily seduced, but on the other hand, nobody is so easily converted as the sanguine.

4. The sanguine does not long over unpleasant happenings. Many things which cause a melancholic person a great, deal of anxiety and trouble do not affect the sanguine in the least, because he is an optimist and as such overlooks difficulties and prefers to look at affairs from the sunny side. Even if the sanguine is occasionally exasperated and sad, he soon finds his balance again. His sadness does not last long, but gives way quickly to happiness. This sunny quality of the well trained sanguine person helps him to find community life, for instance, in institutions, seminaries, convents much easier, and to overcome the difficulties of such life more readily than do choleric or melancholic persons. Sanguine persons can get along well even with persons generally difficult to work with.

V METHOD OF SELF-TRAINING FOR THE SANGUINE

1. A sanguine person must give himself to reflection on spiritual us well as temporal affairs. It is especially necessary for him to cultivate those exercises of prayer in which meditation prevails; for instance, morning meditation, spiritual reading, general and particular examination of conscience, meditation on the mysteries of the rosary, and the presence of God. Superficiality is the misfortune, reflection the salvation of the sanguine.

In regard to temporal affairs the sanguine person must continually bear in mind that he cannot do too much thinking about them: he must consider every point; anticipate all possible difficulties; he must not be overconfident, over optimistic.

2. He must daily practice mortification of the senses, the eyes, ears, tongue, the sense of touch, and guard the palate against overindulging in exquisite foods and drinks.

3. He must absolutely see to it that he be influenced by the good and not by the bad; that he accept counsel and direction. A practical aid against distraction is a strictly regulated life, and in a community the faithful observance of the Rules.

4. Prolonged spiritual aridity is a very salutary trial for him, because his unhealthy sentimentality is thereby cured or purified.

5. He must cultivate his good traits, as charity, obedience, candor, cheerfulness, and sanctify these natural good qualities by supernatural motives. He must continually struggle against those faults to which he is so much inclined by his natural disposition, such as, vanity and self-complacency; love of particular friendships; sentimentality; sensuality; jealousy; levity; superficiality; instability.

VI POINTS OF IMPORTANCE IN DEALING WITH AND EDUCATING A SANGUINE PERSON

The education of the sanguine person is comparatively easy. He must be looked after; he must be told that he is not allowed to leave his work unfinished. His assertions, resolutions, and promises must not be taken too seriously; he must continually be checked as to whether he has really executed his work carefully. Flatteries must not be accepted from him and especially constant guard must be kept lest any preference be shown him on account of his affable disposition. It must be remembered that the sanguine person will not keep to himself what he is told or what he notices about anyone. It is advisable to think twice before taking a sanguine person into confidence.

In the education of a sanguine child the following points should be observed:

1. The child must be consistently taught to practice self-denial especially by subduing the senses. Perseverance at work and observance of order must be continually insisted upon.

2. The child must be kept under strict supervision and guidance; he must be carefully guarded against bad company, because he can so easily be seduced.

3. Leave to him his cheerfulness and let him have his fun, only guard him against overdoing it.