Temperament, style and disorder

mermaid in desert
Mermaid in desert

Personality styles and personality disorders

Personality is a continuum of the personal traits and patterns of behavior that are unique to the individual. Typological representation is one of the oldest ways of distinguishing individuals. When the elements of personality are expressed in a characteristically repeated and dynamic combination, this is a personality style.
American psychiatrist and author Dr. John M. Oldham has derived 14 personality styles from the classification of personality disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association: “…the personality disorders are but extremes of normal human patterns, the stuff of which all our personalities are made.”

The difference between personality functioning and malfunctioning – between style and disorder – is only one of degree.
The personality disorders are caricatures of temperament. Whatever is the pattern of personality in the normal state; it is intensified and brought to an extreme manifestation in the pathological state. Personality types described here are normal, non-pathological styles of personality derived from the personality disorders described in psychiatric literature.

Personality type, temperament und corresponding disorder

The Idealist (Melancholic Temperament)

The Idealist type goes for superiority and opts out inferiority. The Idealist prefers:

  • Perfection
  • Meaning
  • Purpose
  • Acceptance
  • Approval
  • Altruism
  • Aesthetics
  • Accomplishment
  • Accuracy
  • Completion
  • Faultlessness
  • Improvement
  • Intimacy
  • Self-actualization
  • Social justice

David Keirsey reconfigured the typology created by Isabel Briggs Myers to a scheme of four groups of four types that corresponds to the classic four temperaments. In Please Understand Me (1984), he defined Idealist temperament:
“Idealists want to search for Self, to become themselves, to have a goal, a purpose in life, to be self-actualized, to be and become real, to be what they are meant to be and to have an identity which is uniquely theirs, to become self-actualized into a perfect whole and to have an identity which is perfectly unique, to have meaning, to have their significance appreciated, or at the very least, recognized as existing, to have integrity with no facade, no mask, no pretence, no playing of roles, to be genuine, to communicate authentically, to be in harmony with the inner experiences of self, to avoid a life of bad faith, to live a life of significance, making a difference in the world, to experience life as a drama, to be sensitive to the subtle gestures and metaphoric behaviour in relationships, to help others become kinder, warmer, and more loving human beings, to reform the world, to romanticize their experiences, their lives, and the experiences and lives of others”.

Areas of Interest for Idealist:

arts, journalism, languages, linguistics, literature, mental health, music, mysticism, personal growth, philosophy, psychology, religion and spirituality, social science, teaching, theatre, writing.

Prominent examples of type:
Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, Mahatma Gandhi, Herman Hesse, Frederic Chopin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustav Flaubert, Erich Fromm, Benito Mussolini, Albert Schweitzer, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf.
Positive attributes: altruistic, analytical, authentic, believing, calm, caring, communicative, compassionate, compliant, conscientious, considerate, creative, cultured, deep, deliberate, dependable, detail conscious, dignified, disciplined, emotional, empathic, enthusiastic, ethical, even-tempered, exacting, faithful, genuine, helpful, idealistic, industrious, inspired, intuitive, loyal, orderly, organized, perfectionist, persistent, private, planner, pleasing, precise, prophetic, psychic, reliable, respectful, scheduled, self-sacrificing, sensitive, serious, sincere, spiritual, subjective, supportive, sympathetic, systematic, thoughtful, understanding, unworldly, visionary, warm, well-behaved, well-organized.

Negative attributes: alienated, boring, credulous, critical, depressed, detached, difficult, disappointed, estranged, exacting, fussy, guilt prone, hard to please, hypochondriac, indecisive, inflexible, insecure, introvert, isolated, judgmental, loner, moody, moralistic, mystical, negative attitude, overly sensitive, perfectionistic, pessimistic, picky, revengeful, resentful, sarcastic, too sensitive, sceptical, self-absorbed, self-critical, self-defeating, self-righteous, shy, suspicious, touchy, unforgiving, unpopular, unrealistic, withdrawn, worry prone.

Melancholic type – Hyperesthetic Personality Disorder

The Hyperesthetic Personality results from desiring, needing, and delighting in superiority; and from fearing, and being distressed by, inferiority.

  1. Refined, tender sensibility
  2. Sensitivity to nature and art
  3. Tact and taste in individual style
  4. Sentimental affection for certain individuals
  5. Hypersensitivity and vulnerablity about daily irritations of existence
  6. Complex inner life