Blood, passionate, phlegmatic, amorphous, choleric character … which one do you identify with?
What is character ? What types of character are there and how are they classified?
Le Senne himself defines characterology as “the methodical knowledge of men, as each one is distinguished from the others by its originality.” This concept will help us to understand the behavior of particular groups and of various individuals.
In simple words, characterology is the discipline that studies character and its classification. Therefore, it is evident that the study of character is of vital interest for the study of the genesis and dynamics of the most common criminal phenomena to the extent that character is a criminogenic factor.
What is character?
In Psychology, as a science, many concepts are created that serve to summarize in descriptive terms sets of behavior patterns. These concepts, which are called psychological constructs, can be more or less concrete, ranging from the description of specific actions, such as self-injury, to the more abstract, such as the tendency to neuroticism. Character is part of this second group.
Thus, character is a concept that attempts to explain very diverse groups of behaviors that are expressed in a great variety of situations. Therefore, their study provides general patterns of behavior, although to know the details you have to refine more and go to the “micro”, something that in turn is somewhat easier to study if you start from these “macro” concepts know where to start and what kind of hypotheses to test.
Characterology and its importance in the criminological study
For the characterology applied to the study of the criminal (the so-called criminal characterology ), the individual predisposition to the commission of a criminal act is represented by the hypertrophy of the characterological mechanisms, a consecutive atrophy of the other mechanisms, which then lose their ability to neutralization.
Benigno Di Tulio, an eminent student of criminology, pointed out that there are dispositions and aptitudes of each criminal that make them feel attracted to a certain form of crime, which in certain cases make the offender repudiate other criminal manifestations. For example, people with fetishistic features (who commonly tend to be sanguine ) who enter houses exclusively to steal feminine garments, but not other goods.
Character and predisposition to criminal behavior
On the other hand, Presten already adequately pointed out two points:
1. Certain characterological mechanisms predispose a subject to crime, so that character can be an endogenous criminogenic factor.
2. The criminogenic “power” of a mechanism seems to be directly linked to its hypertrophy, which can be global or selective (in relation to the three constitutive factors of this).
Criminal characterology: character classification
The characterological typology studied by Le Senne proposes the following classification with a total of eight character profiles.
1. Nervous character (emotional, inactive, primary)
Above all emotional, he feels vividly each and every one of the stimuli of the outside world, the slightest touch is enough to excite his hyperesthesized sensitivity. Being inactive, it has a high energetic potential, which by not being discharged by persistent activity remains available to the drives, instincts and antisocial tendencies. When it reaches its peak, it reacts instantly without measuring the consequences of its actions. The most criminogenic of all characters.
2. Passionate character (emotional, active, secondary)
It is a subject par excellence related to the so-called “crimes of passion”, despite the fact that it has a weak crime incidence. The dangerous element of the passionate character comes from the fact that their emotions affected by their secondary nature are prolonged over time, which are sometimes organized on a basis of hatred and / or jealousy that, linked to the activity they have, facilitates their actions and that they could easily be transformed into actions with homicidal intentions. The acquired hypertrophy is the consequence of a derivation of the psychic energy that uses the exit route that better favors the perpetration of homicide, caused by hatred, jealousy or revenge. Paranoid states occur quite frequently and easily orient the passionate mechanism toward aggressive antisocial behavior.
3. Choleric character (emotional, active, primary)
Easily observable in this type that emotion transforms into reaction. The choleric mechanism easily conditions initiative, combativeness, aggressiveness: these behavioral traits easily run the risk of being directed against people, turning into antisocial acts. The need for action gives rise to certain tendencies such as greed or sexuality and even expressiveness. This anger mechanism favors injury and fraud more than robbery.
4. Sentimental character (emotional, inactive, secondary)
Heymans, Wiersma and Resten point out that this character does not predispose to delinquency. The sentimental person is restrained in the expressiveness of his emotions by his secondary nature, which traces in front of him distant perspectives of his behavior and also by his inactivity that very rarely leads him down the path of crime. However, its secondary nature can organize emotions on a passionate theme, the basis of which may be hatred, resentment, envy, etc. Hence, the violent, aggressive and unusual reactions, most of the time are directed against people. Like the classic example of some guy who overnight decided to murder his entire family or cause a shooting at a school, and who later commits suicide. This fact can only be explained by a momentary eclipse of the sentimental mechanism that gives way to a nervous mechanism.
5. Blood character (unemotional, active, primary)
The sanguine tends to give quick and complete satisfaction to the demands of your body : eating and drinking greedily, for example, also trying to satisfy your sexual appetite. It intervenes relatively little in crimes against property (such as theft for example), instead it has a certain incidence in sexual crimes and violence against people.
6. Phlegmatic character (unemotional, active, secondary)
Generally cold, calm, punctual, orderly, truthful and thoughtful individuals. Low participation in crimes. However, their intellectual and meticulous traits can make it so that when the phlegmatic person chooses to turn to crime, they carry out antisocial behaviors that have been long considered, carefully prepared and carried out, unlike, for example, the nervous or the choleric, who can commit crimes due to impulsive outbursts. They are commonly associated with highly intricate intellectual crimes such as bank robberies, white collar crimes, etc.
7. Amorphous character (unemotional, inactive, primary)
His dominant trait is extremely radical laziness. He lives in the immediate present and is not usually thoughtful about the consequences of his actions, he only attends to their needs to always give them satisfaction with the minimum of effort. The amorphous is easily influenced to crime by the influence of others since he has no aptitude to resist suggestions from a group. The case of those who are only secondary collaborators in a crime (for example, in a kidnapping: the one who keeps the victim at home and feeds him).
8. Apathetic character (unemotional, inactive, secondary)
Characterologically poorly endowed and difficult to adapt to the environment. Sometimes they have mental weaknesses of some kind with flaws in the moral and volitional sphere. With notorious deficiencies in education. Especially participant in sexual crimes against minors, given his multiple difficulties in establishing relationships with other individuals.
Character and prevention of aggressive and criminal behavior
Finally, we want to indicate that crime prevention must begin with the clinic : by early discovery of the aggressive or antisocial tendencies of young people and the characteristic needs of each individual. Early diagnosis of these needs will allow establishing pertinent and proactive relationships on re-education and biopsychosociological intervention.
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