Hippocrates' Four Personality Types

Written by robyn lynne schechter
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Hippocrates' Four Personality Types
Hippocrates is known as the Father of Medicine. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Hippocrates was a well-known Greek doctor who, in addition to being the father of the Hippocratic Oath, identified four personality temperaments displayed by people. Each temperament has its share of positive and negative traits that can either prosper or hinder a person in professional or personal situations. It is rare for a person to fit solely within one of the temperaments. While any given temperament may be dominant in a person, most individuals demonstrate characteristics of more than one temperament.


You probably will have no problem identifying a sanguine personality. Sanguines are extroverts; they enjoy socialising with others and they are forward and blunt in their opinions. After engaging with the outside world intensely Sanguines often need alone time to regroup and recharge. During this time, they may spend time on creative endeavours or hobbies. Sanguines are very passionate about their personal interests, but this passion can fade because Sanguines are easily distracted by new hobbies, people or projects.


Phelgmatic personalities are almost the exact opposition of Sanguines. While Phelgmatics are friendly, their laid-back, introverted demeanour may make you think that they are unapproachable. Not so. Phelgmatics are shy and prefer to stay in situations comfortable to them rather than to continually seek out change and new experiences. Phelgmatics handle stressful situations best because they stay rational, calm and stable (whereas Sanguines can become emotional).


Cholerics are natural born leaders who are go-getters. You will rarely see a choleric personality sitting on the couch watching television. Charismatic and full of energy, Cholerics are often organising events, encouraging others to reach their full potential and delegating work. Since Cholerics like to get things done, they may come across as being demanding, impatient or bossy. Cholerics also tend to compartmentalise, which can be an asset in the workplace, but when this trait shows up in relationships, a choleric personality may come across as detached, insensitive or rude.


Perhaps the most introverted of the four temperaments are Melancholics. The melancholic personality enjoys an independent lifestyle, often preferring to be alone. Melancholics are thinkers -- they analyse events ad nauseam -- which sometimes can leave them bogged down and indecisive with fear that they will make a less-than-perfect decision. While Melancholics are picky about those whom they associate with, once they have forged a friendship, they are fiercely loyal and expect the same in return.

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