Ill Humored

The Greeks and Romans had a “humorist” view of the body that held sway from Hippocrates into the nineteenth century.

Essentially, this theory held that the human body was filled with four basic substances, called four humors, which are in balance when a person is healthy. All diseases and disabilities resulted from an excess or deficit of one of these four humors: black bile (melancolia), yellow bile (cholera), phlegm (phlegma), and blood (sanguis) … When a patient was suffering from a surplus or imbalance of one fluid, then his or her personality and physical health would be affected.

Still today we use these humors to describe basic temperaments: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic.

Humor Season Element Organ Qualities Name Characteristics
Blood spring air liver warm & moist sanguine courageous, hopeful, amorous
Yellow bile summer fire gall bladder warm & dry choleric easily angered, bad tempered
Black bile autumn earth spleen cold & dry melancholic despondent, sleepless, irritable
Phlegm winter water brain/lungs cold & moist phlegmatic calm, unemotional

I’ve been in ill-humor for the last two months and can’t figure out the cause. It’s something more than the surgery, which was hard enough. I’ve have several scans and tests and everything is normal but something is out of balance.

If it keeps up I’m going to slide down the table from sanguine to melancholic. And with enough Percocet, I could make it all the way to phlegmatic!


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