Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: Overlooking Temperament

Friday, November 20, 2015

Overlooking Temperament

Temperament and disability are rarely discussed together. What I mean by "rarely" is that, before I started blogging about disability and temperament, I have only seen one brief mention of a connection. If gender, race, and financial standing are mentioned frequently, why is temperament completely overlooked? Is it due to the widespread aversion to labels that temperament theory is avoided or have we simply overlooked temperament theory as a potential helpful tool in favor of more specialized services?

Everything I wrote about is based on pure extrapolation on what I have read about temperament theory. I have very little empirical data; most of my "findings" are just extrapolations off of what I already know of temperaments. However, this speculation stew is better than a total lack of discussion of disability and temperament. It is not that other life factors have not been discussed alongside disability or that every life factor bears relevance, but temperament, which bears a great deal of relevance, is overlooked.

Realizing temperamental differences among the disabled clarifies why two people with the same disability with roughly the same effects will respond differently to it whether it is acquired or inborn. The disability community encompasses a wide variety of temperaments, which largely go unknown. A lack of accessible temperament tests may be to blame as well the aforementioned other factors.

Mainly in the case of neurologically-based disabilities, temperament has an effect on perceived functioning level. Generally, melancholics appear "higher-functioning" due to their inclinations towards perfection while phlegmatics will appear "lower-functioning" because they tend not to tax themselves with looking "normal." Supines' expression difficulties are sometimes misdocumented as a clinical symptom. The effect is highly variable for cholerics as their temperament can manifest as dogged determination to achieve whatever goal they set before themselves or a hairtrigger temper that leads to angry outbursts. Sanguines have the same the same variability, but to a lesser extent. Either a sanguine's continued pleasure seeking will lead to behavioral issues or they will try to "blend" to look "normal" in order to fulfill their social needs. Sanguines also tend to have a "functioning swing" depending on their mood. They can be "just fine" one moment and completely fall apart the next.

In the case of acquired disability, the grief stage and adjustment is difficult to navigate for any temperament. Cholerics are more frustrated with the stereotypes of submission and lost independence. They will often deny that they are grieving and mask it as anger. Social isolation takes the greatest toll on the sanguines; they tend self-loathe and grieve intensely during this turbulent time, but are usually the quickest to "rebound". Melancholics will cry, retreat within themselves, and lament the asset they use in trying to meet their own standards. Generally, people of the melancholic temperament take the most time in adjusting to an acquired disability. Phlegmatics may have few outward displays of emotions, but their internal turmoil runs strong due to the amount of change that hits them at once. Their grief tends to manifest as neglecting their appearance and personal interests. Supines "go invisible" and seldom request help even if they need it. Recognizing the temperaments of people who acquired disabilities can assist them in adjusting to their new life.
Including temperament on an IEP/504 plans or other forms of requesting accommodations can help in their effectiveness. Knowing the temperamental differences between students can assist in motivating them and otherwise ensuring their success. For example, verbal assessment of a supine allows them to express their needs while assisting a choleric in mood regulation by presenting reactions as choices allows them to appropriately fulfill their driving need for control. Recognizing the driving needs of different temperaments assists in knowing what makes someone tick. This is important in getting a student to learn, exercise independence, and otherwise think for themselves.

Advocacy methods are affected by temperament. More often than not, cholerics and sanguines are the leaders of nonprofits, the public speakers, and are otherwise the persuasive, active ones. Phlegmatics and supines tend to more passive roles as followers of what the cholerics and sanguines say. Melancholics blend these methods by blogging and otherwise passively dominating disability-related regions of the Internet. In the event that a melancholic stumbles across a choleric's blog, they may find the choleric brash and careless in their methods. The choleric may think the melancholic just "beats around the bush" and will not get anywhere. When working in accord, advocates adapt to each other's temperaments to create a cohesive community. When conflicts of temperament arise, advocates form small, disjointed subgroups, fight over small issues, and get nothing done. In such instances, cholerics and sanguines tend to trample over the phlegmatics and supines while the melancholics shut this chaotic scene out by retreating within themselves and doing nothing. Temperament theory can prevent conflicts that arise among advocates by creating understanding--and that is what we seek to do.


  1. I can certainly see how having temperament info on IEP's would be helpful.

    1. It certainly is nice to know about someone's temperament-related driving need if you are going to motivate them.


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