The 4 temperaments. 1. The Choleric Type.

THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS and the  Choleric Type.

“ How difficult it is, regarding the people we meet, to come to a clear knowledge of the various ideas of their nature, and how much depends in life upon our coming to such clear knowledge regarding those people with whom we come in touch.  We can of course only approach quite gradually the solution of the whole riddle of the human individual, of which each person presents a special phase, for there is a great gap between what is called human nature in general and what confronts us in each human individual”

Dr. Rudolf Steiner

Notes from THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS by Rudolf Steiner

One approach that helps a homeopath to understand some aspects of the wholeness of a human being is by applying the idea of temperaments. Through this particular kaleidoscope, as the temperaments clarify in our analysis of the anamnesis, so certain remedies emerge as being worthy of deeper consideration for the person.

These notes on the four types of temperaments were collated over several years, between 1985 and 2004, from a variety of sources and backed up by examination of my own case work. I must acknowledge principally the work of KA Lund, Understanding Our fellow Men, published in 1953 in the Anthroposophical Genre.  Also Rudolf Steiner’s work, The Four Temperaments  and Ambika Water’s insights from her book on Spiritual Homeopathy, amongst many others.


There are basically four types of temperaments:

  • the choleric
  • the sanguine
  • the phlegmatic
  • the melancholic


In individuals, aspects of these ‘temperaments’ are mixed in many diverse ways, depending upon the paradigms of each individual, so we can only say that one temperament or another predominates in certain traits. But often this is enough to point the homeopath towards one or another group of remedies and highlight, or underline, the dominating miasms of the case.

The temperaments relate to particular aspects of the physical body. I leave any spiritual or etheric discussion to others more qualified.

  • The choleric relates to the blood
  • The sanguine relates to the nervous system
  • The phlegmatic relates to the glandular system
  • The melancholic relates to the structural system.

1.CHOLERIC     Let’s see if you recognize the Choleric type.

Size:                         medium to small

Gestures:                  quick and purposeful

Appearance:               erect and self assured

Bearing:                    bolding upright and purposeful

Hair:                         darkish and sometimes red

Complexion:             pale or ruddy

Mouth:                     tight lipped

Eyes:                        as if angry, full of energy

Nose:                        assertive

Dress:                       individual

Speech:                    domineering , planning.

Psyche:                      Stage one : commanding and intolerant  (see later stages)

Organic Systems:       of the blood.

Blood characteristics:  nervous

Disposition:               honest, the conquering type.

Interests:                   the future

Good qualities:          understanding , a good organizer

Bad qualities:            despotic

Erotic tendencies :      active , commanding

Financial affairs:       generous and daring

Occupation:              position of command

Mood:                      enthusiastic

hands:                       square

Attitude towards time: thinks of the future

Complex:                 superior


From the homeopathic remedy point of view, a homeopath might consider this remedy list. All are dominated by the blood system,

and can have a powerfully developed ego from an early age.

















Further Notes from Lund’s book.

“The blood in its circulation, the force of the pulsation of the blood, is the expression of the actual ego. The ego expresses itself in the circulation of the blood, in the predominately activity of the blood. It shows itself, especially in the fiery vehement blood. One must try to penetrate more subtly into the connection that exists between the ego and other members of the human being. Suppose, for example, the ego exerts a peculiar force in the life of sensations, ideas, and the nervous system. Suppose that in the case of a certain person everything arises from his ego, everything that he feels he feels strongly because his ego is strong.  We call that the choleric temperament. What has received its character from the ego will make itself felt as the predominating quality. Hence in a choleric, the blood system is predominant.

 The choleric temperament will show itself as active in strongly pulsating blood. In this, the element of force in the individual makes its appearance in the fact that he has a special influence upon his blood. In such a person, in whom spiritually the ego, and physically the blood, is particularly active, we see the innermost force vigorously keeping the organization fit. And as he thus confronts the outer world, the force of his ego will wish to make itself felt. That is the effect of the ego.

By reason of this, the choleric appears as one who wishes to assert his ego in all circumstances. All the aggressiveness of the choleric, everything connected with his strong will nature, may be ascribed to the circulation of the blood.

Take the choleric person, who has a strong firm center in his inner being. If the ego predominates, the person will assert himself against all outer oppositions. He wants to be in evidence. This ego is the restrainer. Their inner pictures are consciousness pictures. The physical body is formed according to its etheric body, the etheric body according to its astral body. This astral body would fashion man, so to speak, in the most varied way. But because growth is opposed by the ego in its blood forces, the balance is maintained between abundance and variety of growth. So, when there is a surplus of ego, growth can be retarded. It positively retards the growth of the other members. It does not allow the astral body and the etheric body their full rights. In the choleric temperament, you are able to recognize clearly in the outer growth the expression of what is inwardly active, the actual deep inner force shows up in the nature of the man, of the complete ego. Choleric persons appear as a rule as if growth was retarded. Hence, we see as a rule in those who are preeminently men of strong will, where the ego restrains the free formative force of the astral body, a small compact figure.

In one organ it is shown especially clearly whether the astral body or the ego works formatively, that is in the eye, in the steady, assured aspect of the eye of the choleric. As a rule we see how this strongly kindled inner light, which turns everything luminously inward, sometimes is expressed in a black, a coal-black, eye, because according to a certain law, the choleric does not permit the astral body to color that very thing that his ego force draws inward.

The firm walk proclaims the choleric, and even in the step we see an expression of a strong ego force.”

K.A. Lund, 1953. Understanding our fellow men. Anthroposophical. New Knowledge Books. UK.


The Stages.

Much as homeopaths can see the development of stages within each of the major remedies of our Materia Medica, so in the Anthroposophic view of the temperaments (or humours), the various stages emerge.

Returning to Lund

“The three stages of the Choleric temperament’s life:

 In the first and second stages, childhood through adolescence and into early manhood or womanhood, choleric is a typical tyrant, who insists upon having his own way, regardless of others. Position makes him even more forceful and often brutal. It is thus that his egoism is expressed. In the second stage he begins to gain respect for others, and in the last he is the gentle ruler, who uses his organizing ability for the benefit of others, because he can then afford to disregard himself.

The main characteristic of this type is the urge to master and domineer. The Choleric feels that it is just as natural for him to rule his fellow men as it is for men to be the masters of animals. This self-opinionated behavior is irritating to others. Who feel that he has no particular right to set himself up as a public guardian, and when his personality lacks pliancy there is every justification for their annoyance.

In the Choleric there is a relationship between the mental behavior and the physical makeup. The physical basis is the circulation of the blood; that is to say the case with which the blood is sent coursing through the veins. Just as the blood is a necessary condition of consciousness, so are the peculiarities of circulation a decisive factor in temperament, particularly in the case of the Choleric.

The Choleric is energetic and tense.  Although he is not a man of great size, he has a way of appearing bigger than he is. This is because   his consciousness of himself straightens his back and broadens his shoulders. On the other hand, there is something concentrated about him, so that he never gives the impression of being loose limbed or lanky. It is this compactness of the body which is the most striking thing. A certain strength appears as a concentration of power in the joints and muscles. Frequently we find that the man of Choleric temperament has the firm, compact figure of the gymnast, a body capable of standing up to the most incredible endurance tests.

At the root of his temperament the Choleric possesses a tenseness of character which seems to lie beneath the surface smoldering like a volcano and causing the blood to race through his veins. There is a latent violence in his circulation which causes the man to boil over on the slightest pretext. The energy that he puts into his movements and the play of expression on his face express to a high degree this state of constant strain.

There is a definite danger of high blood pressure.

He is conscious of his own worth and this shows in his facial expressions. He appears as a man who goes his own way.

Another important characteristic of the Choleric is his determination to make his own body obey the edicts of his consciousness, just as he feels it imperative to rule among his fellow men. One has only to observe his economical movements to see that they are the obedient expression of his spirit’s urge to command.

He rules over every inch of his body, making it the concentrated expression of his nature. Mark the way he plants his feet. With resilient strength which commences at the base of the skull and flows through the spine, he sets his feet energetically and surely on the ground as if to pulverize the very paving stones.


The Choleric strains every nerve to force himself into the thick of things, so that he may appear later on as the conqueror, the one who bends others to his will. Opposition spurs him on, indeed competition and rivalry are the very salt of the life of the Choleric.

While young the Choleric shows a mind and will of his own, and that he dislikes giving in to other people. Long before he is grown up he has made up his mind what he wants to be, and it is seldom that others can influence him.  As he is obstinate and quarrelsome many people feel the urge to break him through punishment, but if they do attempt to pursue such methods their labors will be in vain. The mother of such a boy would be wise to find her way to his heart with love and soft words.

The Choleric is generally clever and usually has a rigid code of honor. He has nothing but contempt for those who break promises or show weakness in the face of difficulties. In youth he aims high and is prepared to sacrifice much in order to gain his goal. He is quick witted and he wants everything done at top speed. He is easily irritated when people cause him delays.

It is natural for the Choleric to be full of ideas, and if anyone steals one from him he is ready to think of something new immediately. His self confidence is like a bubbling spring which is always capable of replacing what flows away.

In the first stage of his temperament he is quick on the trigger, and becomes annoyed if the slightest objection is raised concerning his handling of a situation.

The Choleric is frequently bad tempered not because he is at fault in his view or statement, but because others simply will not see things in the right light, which is through his eyes.

The Choleric lays his plans with an eye to the future. He is a record breaker, who competes with himself, working out how much more he can achieve tomorrow  than he has done today.

In his sexual relations he wishes to take command. Everything must be in accordance with his desires. It is seldom that he consider his wife’s feelings.

The Choleric Woman

For the Choleric woman life is not easy. As a woman she longs to find a man possessing those qualities she herself lacks. Her own intelligence and natural assurance, her inability to allow mere virility to impress her and then her demand that a man prove himself her superior in every respect make it well neigh impossible for her to fulfill her demand. She is the type which gives much but in return demands all, terms which few men are willing to accept.

Many people recoil from her self assurance, her superior airs, which they can perceive as cold. She is contemptuous of the man who considers himself superior simple because chance made him a male.

She will criticize ruthlessly. She often goes through life misunderstood, and yet in the right milieu she is the best of women. More than any other does she desire to share life with a real man, one who is worthy of her admiration and respect, one who is calm, strong and wise.

The Choleric wants appreciation and admiration. He does not want to be like others, he wants to be himself. Magnanimity and generosity are two of the virtues of this temperament. He has plenty of courage.


Stage 3.

At the third stage of his life he begins to realize he is not infallible. His temperament is of the stuff that kings are made, and he must realize that subjects have the right to demand much of their ruler. If the goal of the third stage of his life is reached then we have a man to whom all instinctively look up, one to whom everyone gives way willingly, on to whom we can give our deepest admiration and respect. When the Choleric achieves this he attains in full measure his desire to be regarded as a man of real importance and worth.

When it is not reached we have the unhappy spectacle of men struggling to attain and keep some coveted position.

If the Choleric reaches the third stage through self- judgement and self discipline, it is an impressive and wonderful gesture upon his part if he holds himself in check when his one desire is to rush into the fight and push others to one side. To invite another to take the seat of honor which one has long held oneself and even to help him on his way to it, denotes a truly noble character. In the third stage of his life he is filled with the desire to encourage the development of other people’s good.

It is seldom that the Choleric with his outward nature is afforded the opportunity to show his sentimentality and soft heart. His temperament prevents people from coming close to him.”

Lund, K.A. 1953

NB. I have been unable to locate a copy of Lund's book but see that there is one in the British Library. My own copy is long lost, sadly. So I have quoted at length from some of Ambika Wauters' notes in her Spiritual Guide. 

Notes on the other three temperaments, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic will follow soon.