Temperament and Character are the basis of any personality and fortunately for us, they are clearly visible in handwriting.
This is particularly interesting in view of the recent cover story in Time magazine about Obama and McCain, where the headline read “Does Temperament Matter?’
Of course it does! The very fact that it was given such prominence on the cover of Time is a certain indication that it is top of mind particularly with regard to the presidential candidates.
Temperament is all important not only to politicians but to each and every one of us. It guides our thinking, our attitudes to life and therefore our actions. Not only does temperament affect our moods it also has an impact on our relationships and our social interactions.
How much more important can it get?
An Ancient view of Temperament
By way of interest, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates believed that there were four types of temperament or “humours” based on body fluids. These were yellow bile, phlegm, blood and black bile. An excess of any of these fluids was said to directly affect the temperament.
Accordingly, you could be unpleasantly bilious, calmly phlegmatic, ruddy and sanguine or melancholic and bad tempered. Just a theory of course, but it lasted well into and beyond the middle ages.
The Difference between Temperament and Character.
You may have noticed how the words temperament and character are often bandied about loosely. Even a historian interviewed in the Time article I just mentioned stated: “Were getting a little mixed up with character and temperament. They’re really hard to distinguish…”
So yes, they can be a little confusing. But when you consider it carefully, the difference between temperament and character is really quite marked. And it is a difference that is very important to handwriting analysts or graphologists.
Temperament has to do with your response to an emotional situation. You react to your feelings in a way that is in accordance with the type of temperament that you have.
So if you have a volatile, excitable temperament and you have just been fired by your boss you’ll get angry, fretful and agitated. You certainly won’t take it calmly.
On the other hand, if you have a calm temperament, you’ll react with more composure. You’ll certainly feel depressed and worried but you won’t throw all your toys out of the cot. In either of these cases, your temperament will dictate how you’ll respond to an emotionally charged situation.
Temperament is inborn but character is created
Character is not about your reaction to your feelings; rather it is a built-in judgement which you acquire as a result of your experiences which have taught you how to behave in a certain way.
You can only develop character from the accumulation of your life experiences. That is why a very young child cannot have character. A child has temperament. Character develops later when the child has learnt how to deal with difficulties.
Character is about the strength of your personality built up over time from the failures and successes in your life and how these in turn affect your judgement.
Character is not revealed in your first reaction to a crisis but in your considered judgement concerning that particular situation. When you can react to the difficult circumstances in your life with strength – then you have character. That is why we refer to strength of character and not to strength of temperament.
When people refer to the temperament of politicians such as Obama and McCain it is about how they react emotionally. Their characters will only be tested by the judgement that they bring to bear in a crisis.