The Double Edged Sword of Temperament

There are always peaks and valleys encountered in one’s life journey in time and space.


“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.
But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy
is the quintessence of true religion”
Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Get action. Do things; be sane;
don’t fritter away your time; create, act,
take a place wherever you are and be somebody;
get action.”
Theodore Roosevelt

“Fix reason firmly in her seat,
and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.”
Thomas Jefferson

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain
what I consider the most enviable of all titles,
the character of an honest man.”
George Washington

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Well, the road to the heavens is also paved with good intentions and bad intentions.  Because we never know, and never will know, the side effects of our actions that we in-tend — for our actions are ex-tensions that we can’t at-tend to, by definition.

And all of us have good intentions, in beginning, at least, and many still have good intentions to the end.

However, most people don’t enjoy directly dealing in the negative – they don’t like to think or talk about negative things, about themselves,

and sometimes others

Mistakes were made (but not by me).

These are Truisms, perhaps, but these are easily applied to the way in which Temperament is viewed, if you have an open mind, maybe just for a day, a week, or a few minutes, if you can attend (and in-tend) to it that long.

The usefulness and popularity of the Temperament concept is conditional on its presentation. Most of us are happy to learn about the good aspects of our personality, but few are eager to explore their negatives or willing to pay (attention, time, or money) for such information.

My mother – an Idealist and member of the Greatest Generation – has always been adamant that I not discuss “bad” people and their underlying Temperaments. Her attitude has affected me: only on rare occasions did I ever point people to my now defunct Rogues Gallery of Temperament. It doesn’t pay.  I have found that one must be diplomatic when introducing politically incorrect individuals, because some people will be offended. Discussing Temperament in politics and economics is problematic. Politics and economics is essentially the same as religion in that all politicians, jurists, and economists, like all religious icons, are politically incorrect to some segment of the world population. People often have hostile feelings toward, and will not listen to, those they view as socio-political or economic enemies or religious opposites. In my father’s words, “We all think others are either bad, mad, crazy, or stupid.” (And, of course, any combination of those epithets)

Nevertheless, it is instructive to look at famous individuals whose life choices have made them both admired and reviled. Why? Because those choices have been based, partially at least, on Temperament: whether that be good or bad, happy or mad, fun or crazy, smart or stupid.

There are many examples, but all apply indirectly, if not directly.


Imagine that: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

One Life Case:  Wernher Von Braun.


Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun, Inventor Rational, (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and, subsequently, in the United States. He is credited as being the “Father of Rocket Science”.

In his 20s and early 30s, von Braun was the central figure in Germany’s rocket development program, responsible for the design and realization of the V-2 combat rocket during World War II. After the war, he and some select members of his rocket team were taken to the United States as part of the then-secret Operation Paperclip. Von Braun worked on the United States Army intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) program before his group was assimilated by NASA. Under NASA, he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. According to one NASA source, he is “without doubt, the greatest rocket scientist in history”. His crowning achievement was to lead the development of the Saturn V booster rocket that helped land the first men on the Moon in July 1969. In 1975 he received the National Medal of Science. [Wikipedia, revised]

He earned the moniker “Mr. Space” for his Herculean efforts in building the American space program – but he also led Nazi Germany’s rocket program, which developed the V2 rocket that bombed England in World War II.

Inventors begin building gadgets and mechanisms as young children, and never really stop, though as adults they will turn their inventiveness to many kinds of organizations, social as well as mechanical. There aren’t many Inventors, say about two percent of the population, but they have great impact on our everyday lives. With their innovative, entrepreneurial spirit, Inventors are always on the lookout for a better way, always eyeing new projects, new enterprises, new processes. Always aiming to “build a better mousetrap.” Inventors are keenly pragmatic, and often become expert at devising the most effective means to accomplish their ends. They are the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that’s the way they have been done. As a result, they often bring fresh, new approaches to their work and play. They are intensely curious and continuously probe for possibilities, especially when trying to solve complex problems. Inventors are filled with ideas, but value ideas only when they make possible actions and objects. Thus they see product design not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end, as a way of devising the prototype that works and that can be brought to market. Inventors are confident in their pragmatism, counting on their ability to find effective ways and means when they need them, rather than making a detailed blueprint in advance. A rough idea is all they need to feel ready to proceed into action. [Please Understand Me II]

As a teenager, von Braun believed it was possible for man to travel to the moon. He realized his vision about 40 years later when Neil Armstrong became the first human being to step on the moon. Von Braun was foremost an Inventor Rational, so his Faustian bargain with the Idealistic leader, Hitler, and his German government, to build rockets was born from his compulsion to make rockets for space exploration. Realistic in knowing that resources were forthcoming because of war, he looked the other way when slave labor was used.

Von Braun was driven, apolitical, and totally focused on technology. Engineering was his passion. His talent for building and running engineering organizations meant that he had to work within whatever society he found himself. At the end of WWII, the United States government appointed von Braun and his associates to head development of America’s missile program. Von Braun was frustrated in this role due to the lack of resources for developing space travel. But then, in 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite, galvanizing the American public and government to enter the “space race.”  John Kennedy proposed that the American government put a man on the moon before 1970.

Darling to Dog; Dog to Darling; and eventually fame fades. Dr. Wernher Von Braun is an interesting example of the double-edged sword inherent in Temperament.  The double-edged sword cuts both ways.

Other strong individuals who used the double edged sword of  Temperament for their INTEN(D-T)IONS: Hugo ChavezPeter Stuyvesant, Adolf Hitler.

7 thoughts on “The Double Edged Sword of Temperament

  1. auguries8 March 28, 2013 / 3:43 pm

    Great perspective of temperament. Order, edge of order, chaos. I am enjoying these blogs.


  2. auguries8 March 28, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on auguries14 and commented:
    David Keirsey’s blog of ‘Double Edged Sword of Temperament’


  3. goodrumo March 28, 2013 / 6:09 pm

    Fascinating, like Lonnie Athens, Angelina Jolie the ‘dark side’ interests me. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ eternal questions. Temperament, it’s strengths, passions, double edged sword, shame, dark escape et al also are key players in all this.


  4. wooster87 March 28, 2013 / 8:28 pm

    Reblogged this on woosterlang87 and commented:
    [Double Edged Sword of Temperament] – Keirsey Temperament Blog


  5. David Keirsey July 7, 2014 / 7:44 am

    Reblogged this on Please Understand Me and commented:
    So what are the RELATIONS between your beliefs and others?


  6. jackdermody July 7, 2014 / 11:14 am

    Reblogged at I spend about one third of my workshops for leaders on the negative side of temperaments. Usually well-received.


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