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cholerics article

slightly edited, From "The Four Temperaments," by Rev. Conrad Hock. Motherlands does not identify itself with Rev. Hock. And I agree it might just be frivolous pop-ridiculousness. I just liked his vivid descriptions. Despite their exaggeration and old-fashioned tone, they convey the spirit of this temperament. This treatise can be found in a few places online, such as [View source]


The Choleric, cont. …

Is quick and decisive in movement; pronounced or excessive energy output.

Is marked tendency to persevere; does not abandon something readily regardless of success.

Is characterized by emotions not freely or spontaneously expressed, except anger.

Makes best appearance possible; perhaps conceited; may use hypocrisy, deceit, disguise.

The choleric person is quickly and vehemently excited by any and every influence. Immediately the reaction sets in and the impression remains a long time.The choleric man is a man of enthusiasm; he is not satisfied with the ordinary, but aspires after great and lofty things. He craves for great success in temporal affairs; he seeks large fortunes, a vast business, an elegant home, a distinguished reputation or a predominant position. He aspires to the highest also in matters spiritual; he is swayed with a consuming fire for holiness; he is filled with a yearning desire to make great sacrifices for God and his neighbor.

The natural virtue of the choleric is ambition; his desire to excel and succeed despises the little and vulgar, and aspires to the noble and heroic. In his aspiration for great things the choleric is supported by:

1. A keen intellect. He is a man of reason while his imagination and his emotions are poor and stunted. As in the idea of Julius Caesar dictating different letters to several secretaries at the same time without losing the line of thought for each dictation.

 2. A strong will. He is not frightened by difficulties, but in case of obstacles shows his energy so much the more and perseveres also under great difficulties until he has reached his goal. Pusillanimity or despondency the choleric does not know.

Hamilcar of Carthage in North Africa took his son Hannibal to the altar of their god and made him swear eternal hatred for Rome, their implacable enemy. Later, Hannibal assembled a complete army and elephants and led them through Spain, over the Pyrenees, through Southern France and over the Alps into Italy, a feat never equaled before or after, and came very close to conquering and destroying Rome.

3. Strong passions. The choleric is very passionate. Whenever the choleric is bent upon carrying out his plans or finds opposition, he is filled with passionate excitement. All dictators, old and new, are proof of this statement.

4. An often times subconscious impulse to dominate others and make them subservient. The choleric is made to rule. He feels happy when he is in a position to command, to draw others to him, and to organize large groups.

A very great impediment for the choleric in his yearning for great things is his imprudent haste. The choleric is immediately and totally absorbed by the aim he has in mind and rushes for his goal with great haste and impetuosity; he considers but too little whether he can really reach his goal.

He sees only one road, the one he in his impetuosity has taken without sufficient consideration, and he does not notice that by another road he could reach his goal more easily. If great obstacles meet him he, because of his pride, can hardly make up his mind to turn back, but instead he continues with great obstinacy on the original course. He dashes his head against the wall rather than take notice of the door which is right near and wide open. By this imprudence the choleric wastes a great deal of his energy which could be used to better advantage, and he disgusts his friends, so that finally he stands almost alone and is disliked by most people. He deprives himself of his best successes, even though he will not admit that he himself is the main cause of his failures. He shows the same imprudence in selecting the means for the pursuit of perfection, so that in spite of great efforts he does not acquire it. The choleric can safeguard himself from this danger only by willing and humble submission to a spiritual director.

Dark Sides of the Choleric Temperament:

Pride which shows itself in the following instances:

a) The choleric is full of himself. He has a great opinion of his good qualities and his successful work and considers himself as something extraordinary and as one called upon to perform great feats. He considers even his very defects as being justified, nay, as something great and worthy of praise; for instance, his pride, his obstinacy, his anger.he Italian dictator 

b) The choleric is very stubborn and opinionated. He thinks he is always right, wants to have the last word, tolerates no contradiction, and is never willing to give in.

c) The choleric has a great deal of self-confidence. He relies too much upon his own knowledge and ability. He refuses the help of others and prefers to work alone, partly because he does not like to ask for help, partly because he believes that he is himself more capable than others and is sure to succeed without the help of others.

It is not easy to convince the choleric that he is in need of God's help even in little things. Therefore he dislikes to ask God's help and prefers to combat even strong temptations by his own strength. Because of this self-confidence in spiritual life the choleric often falls into many and grievous sins. They act as if perfection and Heaven were not in the first place due to grace but to their own efforts.

d) The choleric despises his fellow man. To his mind others are ignorant, weak, unskilled, slow, at least when compared with himself. He shows his contempt of his neighbor by despising, mocking, making belittling remarks about others and by his proud behavior toward those around him, especially toward his subjects.

e) The choleric is domineering and inordinately ambitious. He wants to hold the first place, to be admired by others, to subject others to himself. He belittles, combats, even persecutes by unfair means those who dare to oppose his ambition. Julius Caesar said that he would rather be the first in the smallest Alpine village than the second in Rome.

f) The choleric feels deeply hurt when he is humiliated or put to shame. Even the recollection of his sins fills him with great displeasure because these sins give him a lower opinion of himself. In his disgust over his sins he may even defy God Himself.

Anger. The choleric is vehemently excited by contradiction, resistance, and personal offenses. This excitement manifests itself in harsh words which may seem very decent and polite as far as phrasing is concerned, but hurt to the core by the tone in which they are spoken. Nobody can hurt his fellow man with a few words more bitterly than a choleric person. Things are made even worse by the fact that the choleric in his angry impetuosity makes false and exaggerated reproaches, and may go so far in his passion, as to misconstrue the intentions and to pervert the words of those who irritated him, thus, blaming with the sharpest of expressions, faults which in reality were not committed at all. By such injustice, which the choleric inflicts in his anger upon his neighbor he can offend and alienate even his best friends.

The choleric may even indulge in furious outbursts of anger. His anger easily degenerates into hatred. Grievous offenses he cannot forget. In his anger and pride he permits himself to be drawn to actions which he knows will be very detrimental to himself and to others; for instance, ruin of his health, his work, his fortune, loss of his position, and complete rupture with intimate friends. By reason of his pride and anger he may totally ignore and cast aside the very plans for the realization of which he has worked for years.

P. Schram says: "The choleric prefers to die rather than to humble himself."

Deceit, disguise and hypocrisy. As noble and magnanimous as the choleric is by nature, the tendency to pride and self-will may lead him to the lowest of vices, deceit and hypocrisy. He practices deceit, because he is in no way willing to concede that he succumbed to a weakness and suffered a defeat. He uses hypocrisy, deception, and even outright lies, if he realises that he cannot carry out his plans by force.

Lack of sympathy. The choleric, as said above, is a man of reason. He has two heads but no heart.

This lack of human sentiment and sympathy is, in a way, of great advantage to him. He does not find it hard to be deprived of sensible consolations in prayer and to remain a long time in spiritual aridity. Effeminate, sentimental dispositions are repugnant to him; he hates the caresses and sentimentality which arise between intimate friends. False sympathy cannot influence him to neglect his duties or abandon his principles. On the other hand, this lack of sympathy has its great disadvantages. The choleric can be extremely hard, heartless, even cruel in regard to the sufferings of others. He can cold-bloodedly trample upon the welfare of others, if he cannot otherwise reach his goal. Choleric superiors should examine their conscience daily, to discover whether they have not shown. a lack of sympathy toward their subjects, especially if these are sickly, less talented, fatigued, or elderly.

Bright Side of the Choleric

If the choleric develops his faculties and uses them for good and noble purposes, he may do great things for the honor of God, for the benefit of his fellow men, and for his own temporal and eternal welfare. He is assisted by his sharp intellect, his enthusiasm for the noble and the great, the force and resolution of his will, which shrinks before no difficulty, and the keen vivacity which influences all his thoughts and plans.

The choleric may with comparative ease become a saint. The persons canonized, with few exceptions, were choleric or melancholic. The choleric who is able to control his temperament is recollected in prayer, because by his strong will he can banish distractions and especially because by force of his nature, he can with great facility concentrate his attention upon one point. The latter may also be the cause, why the choleric so easily acquires the prayer of simplicity, or as St. Francis calls it, the prayer of recollection. With no other temperament do we find the spirit of contemplation, properly so called, as often as with the choleric. The well-trained choleric is very patient and firm in endurance of physical pains, willing to make sacrifices in sufferings, persevering in acts of penance and interior mortification, magnanimous and noble toward the indigent and conquered, full of aversion against everything ignoble or vulgar. Although pride penetrates the very soul of the choleric in all its fibers and ramifications, so much so that he seems to have only one vice, i.e., pride, which he shows in everything he undertakes, he can, nevertheless, if he earnestly aspires for perfection, easily bear the greatest and most degrading humiliations and even seek them. Because the choleric has not a soft but a hard heart, he naturally suffers less from temptation of the flesh and can practice purity with ease. But, if the choleric is voluntarily addicted to the vice of impurity and seeks his satisfaction therein, the outbursts of his passion are terrible and most abominable.

The choleric is very successful also in his professional work. Being of an active temperament, he feels a continual inclination to activity and occupation. He cannot be without work, and he works quickly and diligently. In his enterprises he is persevering and full of courage in spite of obstacles. Without hesitation he can be placed at difficult posts and everything can be entrusted to him. In his speech the choleric is brief and definite; he abhors useless repetitions. This brevity, positiveness, firmness in speech and appearance gives him a great deal of authority especially when engaged in educational work. Choleric teachers have something virile about themselves and do not allow affairs to get beyond their control, as is often the case with slow, irresolute, melancholic persons. A choleric can keep a secret like a grave. 

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