A. Adler's Teaching of Temperament - Psychology and Pedagogy

Adler's doctrine of temperament

German psychoanalyst Adler asks the following questions: "What exactly is meant by iodine with the word" temperament "? Is this speed of our thinking, speech, and actions? The strength or rhythm in which we solve this or that task? According to Adler, all the explanations given by psychologists about the essence of temperament, are untenable. Nevertheless, he considers the concept of Hippocrates to be a revered and sacred relic. Here's how Adler characterizes the types of temperament.

To the sanguine type, in his opinion, belong those individuals who receive from life some joy. They take nothing seriously and do not allow life to wear themselves out. In any event they try to see the most pleasant and most beautiful side. They are sad when sadness is becoming a moment, but do not lose self-control, and enjoy the happiness that has fallen to them, without losing the sense of perspective. With careful consideration, these individuals are no more than completely healthy people who do not have serious shortcomings. This, according to Adler, can not be said about the other three types.

The choleric individual is described in the old poetic composition as a man who violently throws a stone lying on his way with his foot, while the sanguine man quietly passes this stone by the side. Speaking in the language of personality psychology, a choleric person is a person whose desire for self-affirmation is so intense that he constantly has to prove his strength. He rushes to any obstacle, like a bull on a red rag. In fact, such fervent feelings are born in early childhood, when an individual experiences a feeling of powerlessness and it becomes necessary for him to constantly demonstrate his strength in order to be sure of its presence.

Melancholic type produces a completely different impression. If the melancholy meets the same stone on the road, he, seeing it, will remember all his sins, surrender to sad reflections about the lived life and turn back. The psychology of the personality sees in him an indecisive neurotic who does not believe that he will ever be able to overcome his difficulties or move forward. Melancholic prefers not to take risks so as not to get into new adventures. He will rather stand than move toward the goal, and if he starts on the road, he makes any movement with the utmost caution. In his life, doubt prevails. Personality of this type thinks more about themselves than about others, which ultimately makes it impossible for it to establish adequate relationships. She is so oppressed by her worries that she spends all her time in sterile introspection and melancholy.

In the treatment of Adler, the phlegmatic is in the life an outsider. He experiences life events without drawing the appropriate conclusions from them. Nothing is capable of making a strong impression on him. He has almost no interest, no friends - in short, he has almost no connection with life. Of all four types, the phlegmatic, according to Adler, is the most remote from life because of his insensitivity to the surrounding reality.

From here, apparently, it follows that only a sanguine person can be considered "good" man. However, the German researcher reports that temperaments are rarely found in pure form. In most cases, you have to deal with a mixture of two of them or more. This fact, according to Adler, deprives the theory of temperaments of any value. In addition, the types or Temperatures are not immutable. We often notice that one temperament turns into another. A child can start a life with a choleric, then become a melancholy, and by the end of his life turn into a classic phlegmatic. Also the formation of temperament, according to Adler, can be a matter of blind chance. Sanguine, most likely, is the one who, in his childhood, felt the inferiority less than others. It has no physical defects and is not subject to the action of any strong stimuli. As a result, his development was going smoothly, and he had a kind of love for life that allows him to act confidently in this life.

A. Adler connects the types of temperaments with the work of endocrine glands. He believes that, apparently, the growth and activity of all organs and tissues is affected by endocrine secretions, which are transmitted by blood to every cell of the body. These secrets act as activators and detoxicants and are necessary for life. However, the importance of endocrine glands is poorly understood. Endocrinology - a science that studies the glands of internal secretion - is in its infancy, there is little information about these glands and their secrets, and they are extremely sketchy. First of all, Adler analyzes an important fact. There is no doubt that disorders of the endocrine system, for example cretinism, in which the thyroid gland is not sufficiently active, we also find psychological symptoms; so, for cretins an ultra-phlegmatic temperament is typical. In addition to the fact that those suffering from cretinism appear obese and swollen, in addition to the fact that they have abnormalities of hair growth, and the skin is heavily thickened, they are also characterized by extreme slowness and sluggish movements. Their psychic sensitivity is very low, and the ability to exercise their own initiative is practically nonexistent.

If we compare, as Adler notes, a similar subject with other individuals who can also be called phlegmatic, although they can not identify any pathological changes in the thyroid gland, we will see two completely different pictures and completely different traits. The pathological phlegmatic is nothing like what psychologists usually call phlegmatic. The character and temperament of the psychogenic phlegmatic has a completely different background to the psychological development of the personality than the pathogenic phlegmatic. Phlegmatic, with which psychologists have to deal, can in no way be called passive individuals. No phlegmatic person has been a phlegmatic person all his life. A. Adler believes that the phlegmatic temperament is nothing more than an artificial shell, a protective mechanism (to the development of which he may have had a constitutional predisposition) created for himself by a supersensitive being, a fortress wall he built between himself and the outside world.


According to the German psychoanalyst, phlegmatic temperament is a protective mechanism deliberately created in response to a life-challenged challenge. In this respect, he has nothing to do with slowness, laziness and mental inferiority of a cretin, whose thyroid gland has a solid defect. In fact, we are dealing with a whole complex of causes and external influences that cause the individual to feel his own inferiority. It is this sense of inferiority that leads to the development of a person's phlegmatic temperament, which he covers as a shield, outlined in general outline.

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