Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature

Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature

Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature

Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature

Synopsis

Psychologist Jerome Kagan examines the implications of the idea of temperament for aggressive behavior, conscience, psychopathology, and the degree to which each of us can be expected to control our deepest emotions--an idea proposed nearly 2,000 years ago by a physician named Galen of Pergamon.

Excerpt

It has proved profitable in young, emerging sciences to base inquiry on reliable facts rather than on historically popular abstract ideas. The trusted reality that served as the origin of the research to be summarized is the mundane observation that some people are excessively restrained when they meet a stranger, wary when they confront an unexpected event, or cautious when they must act with a risk of possible failure. Fiction is full of examples that contrast this personality with its complement -- the sociable, fearless, bold agent who is unaffected by these everyday events. Walter Matthau andJack Lemmon in The Odd Couple are a well-known movie example.

These two categories of people are represented, albeit by different words, in every current theory of personality, as well as in the essays of ancient Greek philosophers and physicians who believed they understood the basic forms that human character assumed. The melancholic and sanguine types described first by Hippocrates and later by Galen became the introvert and extrovert in Carl Jung's vocabulary. These distinctive styles are present in similar, and remarkably undisguised, form in schoolage children. The quiet, shy, tense child who sits in back of the classroom usually migrates to the edge of the playground to watch, sometimes with . . .

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