Character, The concept of character, Characterology...

Chapter 14. Character

Sow the habit - reap character, Sow character - reap fate.

United States proverb

The concept of character

Character (from Greek - chasing, imprint) - is a set of stable individual characteristics of the personality that are formed and manifested in activities and communication.

Let's take as a basis this general definition of character, although the character is interpreted in psychology is far from unambiguous. So, in the modern academic psychology of the USA today there are 2 definitions of character:

1) character is the ethical and moral aspect of personality;

2) character - the motivational aspect of the personality beyond any ethical and moral assessments.

There are also very poetic definitions of character. So G.A. Zuckerman believes that character is what a person does (or does not do) himself with all the external circumstances that he gets into life, and with all the internal economy that is given to him from his parents.

If the temperament is compared with a wild, not tamed beast, living its natural, natural life, then the character is the same animal, but domesticated, tamed, educated by the master, i.e. by the person himself.

Temperament is a natural, biological basis of character. But on the basis of the same temperaments, different people can build different characters.

Thus, the most important moment in the formation of a character is how a person relates to himself, to others, to home, to things ....

Characterology as a science of character

In the history of mankind there existed and today there are many theories that try to classify people by type of character. Such a classification would help to describe the character of a person in detail and thereby predict its behavior.

Already the slaveholder, acquiring a slave on the market, was interested in his character. He could make up a fairly accurate picture of the strength, dexterity of the slave, forcing him to run or jump, but what could he say about his character? The slave or stubborn is lazy, lazy or hardworking, silent or witty and merry, will he be betrayed and subjugated or will he flee by rebelling others.

In response to the practical inquiry about the possibility to predict the character of a person, one of the first typologies of characters was spontaneously born, which we jokingly and sometimes seriously use today is a horoscope. The basis for the characteristics of a person in the horoscope is the date of his birth.

The same old attempt to determine the character of a person and even his fate along the lines of the hand. Palmistry - prediction of fate and personality traits according to the drawing on the palms.

Already Aristotle and Plato have attempted to determine the character of a person by face (physiognomy). Physiognomy establishes and studies the relationship between the appearance of a person and his belonging to a certain type of personality. Homeland physiognomy is China. The art of "face reading" - Ancient and labor-intensive science, since the number of characteristic traits to be studied reaches up to one hundred and thirty (for example, only the types of eyes of Japanese physiognomists are distinguished up to forty). It should be noted that all signs are fully determined only by forty years, and before this age, facial features are still capable of changing.

In the XVIII century. Especially notable was the physiognomic system of Johann Caspar Lafater, who believed that the human head is the "mirror of the soul."

Physiognomy is used here and there today. For example, these physiognomy data are widely used in the evaluation of candidates for senior positions in the United States, where the photos of applicants (full face and profile) are analyzed on special physiognomic tables, numbering up to 198 individual characters. At the same time, on the basis of the results of the morphological analysis and up to 80% of applicants for the vacant position are screened under a plausible pretext.

The same popular in its time as a horoscope and physiognomy, was and phrenology (from the Greek Fren - mind). The founder of phrenology was the German physician Franz Gall. He argued that all properties of character have their own strictly specialized centers in the cerebral hemispheres. The degree of development of qualities of character is directly dependent on the size of the corresponding parts of the brain. And since, according to Gall's conviction, the skull bones should exactly correspond to the bulges and hollows of the brain, one glance at the human skull or a simple feeling of "cones" head is supposedly enough to find out spiritual qualities, for example, caution and forethought, a tendency to cruelty and murder, perseverance, stubbornness, etc.

But even if individual qualities of character were laid in separate parts of the brain, it would be impossible to determine their presence over the protuberances of the skull. Anatomical autopsy soon convincingly showed that the bulges of the brain do not correspond to the convexity of the skull. The skull is molded not according to the shape of the brain, as the phrenologists thought.

The method by which the frenoligic map was created was also unscientific. For its creation sculptural or pictorial portraits of famous people were studied. However, as a standard, very often portraits of such mythical and legendary people as the biblical Moses, St. Paul, Homer, whose reliable images were not preserved, were used as a standard. As a result, the genius of Raphael was proved, for example, on the skull of a priest mistaken for the skull of a great artist. Such a curiosity is full of the history of phrenology.

In the XIX century. a number of prominent scientists drew attention to the connection between character and handwriting. Experiments have confirmed this conclusion, and graphology has taken a firm place in the circle of scientific knowledge. Although graphology as a science exists recently, the first attempts in this direction date back to the 17th century.

Another famous attempt to clarify the character of a person on the basis of external signs was made by E. Kretschmer and W. Sheldon. The German psychiatrist and psychologist E. Krechmer (1888-1964) maintained that a certain psychological constitution of the body corresponds to a certain psychological constitution of the person.

E. Kretschmer built his typology for the needs of medical practice; in the features of the human body, he

Types of Constitution by E. Kretschmer

Fig. 1. Types of constitution by E. Kretschmer : a) picnic; b) athletic; c) asthenic

I tried to find signs that could be used to diagnose mental illnesses in the clinic. E. Kretschmer singled out three constantly repeating types of body structure, which he called asthenic, athletic and picnic.

The asthenic type is thin, thin, with narrow shoulders, with dry, thin arms, tall, with a long, flat chest, with a thin, fatless stomach.

The athletic type is characterized by a strong development of the skeleton and musculature.

The picnic is characterized by medium height, a dense figure, a large belly, a small dense neck and a round head.

The theory of E. Kretschmer was very common in Europe, and in the US the concept of W. Sheldon, formulated in the 40s of the XX century, gained popularity. At the heart of Sheldon's views is also the assumption that the body and character are two parameters of a person, related to each other. The structure of the body determines the character that is its function. W. Sheldon proceeded from the hypothesis of the existence of the main types of physique, in the description of which he borrowed terms from embryology. He identified three types:

1) endomorphic (developed internal organs);

2) mesomorphic (a muscle tissue is formed from the mesoderm);

3) ectomorphic (skin and neural tissue develop from the ectoderm).

In this case, people with endomorphic type are characterized by a relatively weak physique with an excess of fat tissue; The mesomorphic type is peculiar to have a slender and strong body, greater physical stability and strength; and an ectomorphic one - a fragile organism, a flat chest, long thin limbs with weak musculature.

According to W. Sheldon, these types of physique correspond to certain types of behavior, named by him depending on the functions of certain organs of the body: visceroid (Latin viscera - internals), somatonic (Greek soma - body) and cerebrotonic (Latin cerebrum - brain).

Features of human behavior, depending on the type of physique, are listed in Table. 1.

Table 1. Peculiarities of behavior of people of different body types

Peculiarities of behavior of people of different types of physique

The constitutional typologies of E. Kretschmer and W. Sheldon and their attempts to relate directly the type of physique with the psychic characteristics of a person were heavily criticized, and even the fallacy of the approach was noted.

However, it is impossible to deny the relationship of body types with certain character traits and social behavior of a person.

The body itself does not determine the character of a person, but he may like or dislike him, thus the physique will influence the activity and behavior of the person.

Specific psychological studies revealed the dependence of the behavior and character of adolescents and young men on their physique. It turns out that this or that type of physique has a certain social value, causes surrounding people the appropriate feelings and expectations. At all ages, the most attractive is the mesomorphic type (athlete), and the least attractive is the endomorphic (picnic).

In a study conducted by the American psychologist Brodeli, the subjects were presented with five male silhouettes of different body types. It was necessary to describe the possible psychological properties of people with the proposed silhouettes. The answers received are arranged as follows. A muscular, athletic type has received consistent positive ratings in the descriptions. A small fat man (endomorphic type) in most cases was characterized negatively. Silhouettes of the ectomorphic type (tall and thin) occupied an intermediate position in the assessment, did not evoke such a benevolent reaction as a sports type, but were not criticized as fat people. !

With a slender, muscular body, adolescents associate the qualities of a leader, sportiness, activity. On the contrary, a full and well-fed teenager is the subject of peers ridicule. Such adolescents seldom occupy a leading position among their peers, have fewer choices of friends and more often need support.

It is not the constitution itself that determines the character of a person, but the evaluation of bodily properties by others, and, to a greater extent, their self-perception by an individual.

In psychiatry, a syndrome of dysmorphobia is described, manifested in fear or passionate conviction that a person has a physical defect unpleasant for others. Most often, the faults are seen on their face. It can be a large ugly nose, protruding ears, a round face, a big mouth, "ugly" leather etc. is. In other cases, attention is focused on excessive fatness or thinness, thick or thin legs, and the like. As A.E. Licko, in adolescent boys, dysmorphophobia is often combined with a delay or lack of sexual development. Therefore, the theme for the experience is a small growth, eunuchous proportions of the body, underdeveloped secondary signs. In girls, this syndrome often develops on the background of acceleration and can be painfully experienced by large growth, large breasts, hairiness on the hands and feet, etc. At the heart of dysmorphophobia are real, but minor defects, which do not at all cause negative emotions in others. The significance of these shortcomings is greatly exaggerated. In other cases, these defects are entirely imaginary.

Imprints not only the appearance of the character, but also the character on the exterior. So, for example, portraits of the brush of Rokotov, Borovikovsky, Surikov, Kramskoy, Repin, Serov clearly convey in the expression of the person features and dashes of character. However, this dependence is not regular. The best character is expressed in actions, in behavior, in activity. It is by actions that judge what a person is.

thematic pictures

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