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Does Your Body Type Really Dictate Your Personality?

“Most of us are committing suicide by inches in one form or another…” – Elsie Lincoln Benedict

I read a lot; books about spirituality, quantum physics, psychology…I am a seeker. As one of my old friends once said to me; “I absolutely have to know what is going on!” He had just finished the fascinating book; ‘The Kybalion by The Three Initiates’ and was ready to pack his bags and head east, on the trail of alchemy and in search of answers. I devour these sorts of books one by one, hungry to know more of the nature of human beings and our origins, why we are here, what life is really for… the real drivers. The more time one spends pondering on life, the more one can be convinced that we are all living in a complex prison, on the financial treadmill of mortgage, job, bills, societal expectations and fanciful diversions, in fact incorporating only a slither of what actually truly has meaning and stimulates us.

In the face of these bigger questions, daily struggles with those who obsess over the little things can become less and less worthwhile. The other day, as myself and my colleagues vented about one such person. One of the more incorrigible of the group remarked upon the distinguishing physical features of the offender, and I was reminded of a book I read a couple of years ago which linked the physicality of the person to their psychology and behaviours. The person in question certainly proved the assertions of the book, and when I shared the appropriate passage of the book with my colleagues, they were astounded. This has driven me in my latest blog to offer a summary of the book (written back in the 1920’s, by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict), How To Analyze People On Sight.

It should be borne in mind that the physical type outlined in the book are ‘pure types’ and if analyzing yourself and others against the descriptions, you will likely find you need to take two or three types into consideration, as few people are a ‘pure type’. Most, assuming you buy-in to the theory of the book, to find a prominence of one or two types in a person.

Many comments I have read about the book have derided it as offensive or stunted thinking, but I encourage you to overlook the dated mentality and language, and instead just assess the message for yourself. It can be found free online, even as an audio book on Librovox.

I found a recording here:

The book breaks human beings doing into five types;

Alimentive Type – The Enjoyer

Thoracic Type – The Thriller

Muscular Type – The Worker

Osseous Type – The Stayer

The Cerebral Type – The Thinker

Elsie and Ralph assert that the most highly developed, the largest, most dominant physical systems/organs in the human body influence and determine the behaviours of that person.

Alimentive Type – The Enjoyer

The alimentive person is driven by their digestive system, all behaviours rolling out as a result of the dominance of their digestive system. The book does not mince its words, which could very well explain the complaints of the ‘offensive language’ of the book. There’s no modern day political correctness at work as the chapter regarding the alimentive type sets about describing ‘the fat man’, as ‘fat rolls away from the elbows, wrists, knees and shoulders’. They are noted as having small feet and hands, with round fingers, and having a head small for their body, with a round youthful face (triple chins) and rosebud lips.

The alimentive person is one of little movement – preferring a more sedentary life – This in turn links to the kind of jobs they are typically found in. They are often found in senior roles, certainly not interested in active roles where frantic activity is required.

They prefer clothes of comfort, and they also prefer to be warm, They love rich food, and have a sweet tooth. They are great hosts and are cheerful, getting on best with easy-going people. They have no time for combat, or even serious, more cerebral conversations. On the negative side, they can be pouty and petulant, and also needy and dependent on others.

Thoracic Type – The Thriller

One of the most physically attractive and stimulating of the physical types. Their ‘type’ is driven by the circulatory system; heart, arteries and blood system. They often have high colour, and can blush easily. They are often lean and good-looking, with triangular shaped bodies. They are outgoing and love attention. They have high tempers, capable of busting out the biggest temper tantrums. They are very connected to their emotions and as result are good at empathizing with others. They are flamboyant and will choose class over style, making them the best dressed of the physical types.

They are ambitious and energetic and adaptable, and are eager to share their talents, making them unwilling to be maligned at work or take on ‘anonymous’ roles in a cubicle. Their weakness is that they can become too excitable, irresponsible and also over-sensitive. They can be self-centred and flighty in their fancies and preferences - one moment you are on their pedestal, and the next, you have been replaced.

Muscular Type – The Worker

The muscular type is loves work – they work like dutiful horses pulling a plough – it comes naturally to them. Their muscular system is their most dominant system, with firm, large

muscles, a solid structure and a square head. They are thick set and can be shorter, and also have proportionally longer arms than the other types, and have square fingers. They are naturally very physically strong, and tend to love their bodies, as (as with everything) they worked so hard for their toned figure. They are the most confident of the five types.

They must be doing something at all times, love being active and doing hands on work. Even when not at work, they will be found out in the yard, making work for themselves, and laboring away. You can rely on them; they don’t have to be pestered or managed as they love getting things done. Unlike other types, they are not as easy to socialize with as they are more action than words! They are very loyal and straight forward, and love to be successful.

The muscular person can (on the negative side) be prone to overwork and also to fight.

Osseous Type – The Stayer

The Osseous type is known as ‘the bony type’. They are thin, and have a prominent bony structure, and are often tall. The bones in their knuckles and elbows, hips and other joints will be very obvious – perhaps even appearing oversize.

This type is very dependable, and will expect the same thing from you. They are eager to accept responsibility. If they manage you at work, you might find they nit-pick and micro-manage; wanting the job to be done precisely as they would do it. They are not revered for their people management style, and often operate best as lone, independent workers.

The osseous type is not a social star, being a person of few words, and likes to keep to themselves. They do not like to be hurried or hustled, and loathe to be ordered around. They have a strong habitual nature and are slow and stubborn to change. The bony person does not like people who try to speed him up, hurry him, or make him change his habits. At work, this type of person is reliable, orderly and dependable. They are well known as honest, faithful and dependable, and are completer-finishers; finishing up and closing out tasks and projects others have abandoned. Stubbornness, slow work, over-cautiousness, a lack of emotion and a tendency towards a lack of generosity are the weakest links in people of the extreme osseous type. Socially, they hate being interfered with and will do things their own way, so don’t attempt to manage them – just let them be, and they will get what needs to be done, done.

The Cerebral Type – The Thinker

The cerebral type have the most highly developed nervous system, often have a large head on a small body, and are recognized as the most intelligent out of the five types. As would be expected, they excel and enjoy mental activities over physical, testing their

mental ability. Unlike the alimentive, the cerebral type can go without out meals and not mind. The brain of a cerebral type is more taken up with solving puzzles than wasting time and energy on digestion. They love to learn, and will happily lose themselves in a book and just munch on crackers for dinner.

They are not social, finding most people they meet as mentally unequal to them and therefore not stimulating. They are quiet and not open to conversation. The cerebral type doesn’t spend energy on worrying about clothes and can therefore be found wearing whatever came to hand that morning. The book states that they have the tendency to die young due to a lack of nutrition and good diet habits.

Cerebral types hate the business scene – simply can’t be bothered with it. This type’s strong points consist of thinking capacity, progressiveness, and selflessness. Their physical frailty and also to plan yet not take action can be a stymy to success.

So take a look at your physical type and at others around you, and see if you find elements of truth on Elsie and Ralph's findings. This is just one of the many theories about personality and physicality, and it links to a multitude of other theories put forward by thinkers through the ages... from the four humours of Hippocratic medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and the 'doshas', to Rupert Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance...

All the best,


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