The study of the four humors have their roots in ancient Egypt and Greek study, but they really gained popularity during the Middle Ages. Islamic medicine added its own layers as well.
Each humor was thought to be caused by an excess of too much bodily fluid. Diseases and personality were influenced by a person’s fluids. At times, it was also tied to the four elements (fire, water, earth, air). They were:
Sanguine-generally happy, cheerful, outgoing, often scattered, caused by an excess of blood.
Melancholic-yep, we get the word “melancholy” from this one. Prone to sadness, depression, but also thoughtful and observant. (*waves hand*) Due to an excess of black bile.
Choleric-demanding, prone to anger, powerful. Caused by an excess of yellow bile.
Phlegmatic-slow-moving, don’t-rock the boat kinda person. Easy going and peaceful. Due to an excess of, well, phlegm.
I haven’t done any reading to see if the author of The Color Code based any of his research on the four humors, but I see plenty of similarities. Both theories center around four temperaments that appear to correlate. A little reading and it’s easy to see most of us are a combination of at least two temperaments on either theory.
My husband and I read The Color Code when we were engaged. The section on how Blues (similar to Melancholics) interact with each other in intimate relationships was surprisingly accurate for us-we laughed at how much it ‘read our mail’. We both also have White (or Phlegmatic) elements to our personalities, and Mike has a much-loved Yellow (Sanguine) streak. That particular one is like a breath of fresh air and a pesky fly, sometimes all at once. 😉 I’m glad he has it.
I’d love to incorporate more personality theory into my future character crafting. I’d also love to create workbooks for other writers that would help enable them to do that for their characters. Think of how fun (and easy) it would be to throw obstacles at a character if you know what they want and fear. And how humorous it could be to throw different temperaments into the same situation and force them to work it out! Ok, that pun was not intended.
For a list of several great resources on the four humors, click here. Are you familiar with the four humors, whether from study or from books you’ve read? Do you pull from personality theories when you create your characters?