The psycho-physical personality peculiar to an individual, influencing his metabolic process, manner of thought, and action can be termed as the temperament of that particular person. The word temperament is derived from the Latin word “temperare” which means to temper, or moderate.
TEMPERERE = TO MODERATE
Temperament is partly determined by genes but broadly influenced by the environment. It is true that the genetic tendency child derives from the parents, does not yield to any treatment, but the physiological disturbances which disturb the quality of life can be modified by the perfectly selected similimum.
The temperament unlike the constitution can be modified to some extent during the lifetime of a person. Temperaments are, to a large extent physiological. Temperament includes the state of the person, color, functions of the systems, mental and emotional tendencies, etc in relation to environment and circumstances.
The morbific influences that are attached to the temperamental tendencies are amenable to treatment and can be removed by the homeopathic remedy; this in itself greatly preventive of the dangers arising from the temperamental weakness
Classification of Temperaments
Four classical types of temperaments have been explained by H.A.Roberts:
- Nervous temperament
- Bilious temperament
- Sanguineous temperament
- Phlegmatic temperament
Sometimes, we find the combination of these types in a single patient, but one type will always dominate. In some instances, it will even become difficult to grade a person under one heading as he seems to be a mixture of many temperamental types.
1. Nervous temperament
The patient is mentally and physically alert, nerves easily excite. He takes quick decisions and acts very rapidly. Nervous weakness and loquacity can be seen in him. Example: Actaea racemosa, Agaricus, Nux vomica etc.
2. Bilious temperament
Combination of earth, cold and dry. This is also called the Choleric temperament. There is a tendency to liver disorders. Ill-humored persons are seen in this temperament. Generalized pigmentation, high blood pressure, slow pulse, well-developed muscles, strong appetite, and tendency to sluggishness is the characteristic of these personalities. Example: Aloe socotrina, Argentum nitricum, Podophyllum, etc.
3. Sanguineous temperament
Combination of fire, hot and moist. The name is derived from the Latin word “sangus” which means “blood”. The patient is optimistic, confident, and full of vigor, blood-related diseases, and vascular abnormalities are seen in this type. The patient is plethoric, hopeful with a fair complexion, light hair and eyes, a full pulse, and good digestion. Example: Aconitum napellus, Cactus grandiflorus, etc.
4. Phlegmatic temperament
Combination of water, wet and cold. Phlegm or Mucosal discharges are much present in this temperament. The patient is sluggish, indifferent, calm, and very lazy. The pallor of the skin, slow shallow respiration with lymphatic glandular enlargement, and venous stasis are some important findings in this type. Example: Pulsatilla.
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Let’s also explore other types of temperaments also which are also noticed in the literature & not discussed by H.A Roberts.
i. Melancholic temperament
Combination of air, cool and dry. This name is derived from the Greek words “melen” which means “black” and “chole”, which means “bile”. The patient is pessimistic, always thinks about the negative side of things. He is of a silent natured, dull, emaciated, lean body with a sad and depressed mentality. Example: Aurum metallicum, Baryta carbonica. etc.
ii. Irritable temperament
The patient is an irritable, easily vexed person. It is very difficult to please him. He becomes easily angry. Example: Apis mellifica
iii. Lymphatic temperament
Sluggish, pale patients with lean, flabby muscles and slow shallow respiration and inflammation of the skin and lymphatics are seen in this type. Example: Baptisia tinctoria
- It helps the physician in understanding the psychological basis of the disease.
- It helps in understanding the patient in relation to his environment and disease.
- The temperamental study helps in selecting the similimum remedy. “In homeopathic instruction, there is frequent mention of temperaments; especially do we consider temperaments in case taking and in prescribing,” says Roberts.
- Temperament helps in the grouping of remedies in Materia Medica with similar temperaments.
- Prescribing on the basis of constitutional types and temperaments alone is not the right method. Roberts calls it the prescription based on “half-truth”, i.e. partial symptoms.
Temperament can give a clue to the remedy, but the final prescription must always be made on the basis of the totality of the patient’s symptoms.
“Prescribing on types and temperaments is the best slack method of using the blessings of homeopathy. It is really keynote prescribing, and then not any morbific symptoms, but on a general stature, that is present from the birth. Keynotes may often give us a clue to the indicated remedy, but this clue must not be allowed to overbalance our judgment in weighing the whole symptom picture.
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