I finished reading How to Analyze People on Sight: Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types, by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict. This will be my review and summary on the book. You can find my other reviews simply by browsing my website.
I came across this book, as it was referred to me as “the book to read on human analysis” by a friend. After reading it, I can’t say I agree with that sentiment. Then again, it’s also my fault for assuming the book was about personality types, but no, the title is to be taken literally. It is about different types of humans, and already on that basis I disagree with the book.
Written in 1921, the book must have been more on point with its remarks to humans than it is today. The fact of the matter is, people are no longer stuck in any “form” of themselves like they might have been back in those days. You will see what I mean by this, and that’s what we’ll go into next.
Let’s talk about the contents in the book.
The Five Human Types
This topic is what the majority of the book is used for, and it makes sense when you read the title of the book, but I was hoping it would actually go somewhere beyond this point. Luckily, there’s one redeeming chapter in the book, but we’ll go into that later. For now I’ll focus on briefly writing about the different types of humans, as described in the book.
The Alimentative Type
“The Fat, Overweight Individual
Soft flesh thickly padded over a small-boned body distinguishes the pure Alimentive type. In men of this type the largest part of the body is around the girth; in women it is around the hips. These always indicate a large nutritive system in good working order. Fat is only surplus tissue—the amount manufactured by the assimilative system over and above the needs of the body.
Fat is more soft and spongy than bone or muscle and lends to its wearer a softer structure and appearance.”
At this point I’d like to remind you I’m quoting from the book directly, and these are not necessarily my opinions.
Yes, that’s correct. The “personality” type(s) as described in the book come from the appearance of a person. The book goes on to say that fat people are always interested in eating tasty food, like candy and fats, they seek comfort and that they are very good with their social skills, making them the perfect salesmen/women. They also have shorter lifespan than an average human, and other rather obvious statements.
The best quality of a fat person is that they are “family people”, and would sacrifice themselves for the family. However, a fat person does not read books, ever. Apparently.
Already before I was done reading this chapter in the book, I had begun questioning whether this book is worth my time or not. This was chapter 1 of the book!
The Thoracic Type
“The Florid-Faced, High-Chested Individual
What is known as a “red face,” when accompanied by a high chest, always signifies large thoracic tendencies. The high color which in an adult comes and goes is a sure indication of a well developed circulatory system, since high color is caused by the rapid pumping of blood to the tiny blood vessels of the face.
People with little blood, weak hearts or deficient circulation are not florid and must be much overheated or excited to show vivid color in their cheeks.”
Wow! I did some push ups and now I’ve changed my personality type! – were my thoughts after reading this chapter.
Because of the larger chest, the thoracic type can breathe easier, providing blood, and oxygen, to all parts of the body that need it. This type of person is highly accomplished and in high position of power. When they get into arguments they don’t stay angry for long. They are smart, and everyone looks up to them. They dress better, talk better, all the time in fact, and just do everything better, ok? This type doesn’t have many negatives, and even the ones it does have, are small nitpicks.
I’m starting to feel pretty good about going to the gym now. I’ve turned into a super human.
The Muscular Type
“The “Lean Meat” Type
The muscle-system of the human body is simply a co-ordinated, organized arrangement of layers of lean meat, of which every individual has a complete set.
An individual’s muscles may be small, flabby, deficient in strength or so thin as to be almost imperceptible but they are always there—elementary in the infant, full grown in the adult and remnants in the aged. But they are so smoothly fitted together, so closely knitted and usually so well covered that we seldom realize their complexity or importance.
In the pure Muscular type his muscles are firm and large. Such muscles can not be disguised but seem to stand out all over him.”
Wait, what’s the difference between this chapter and the previous one? Well.. Muscular Type is the stupid version of Thoracic type, basically. They work, but mostly in the physical labor jobs. They don’t think or ask questions, they just do. Kind of slow in the head, and is the type responsible for most of the moral differences between people. They are, however, the most active of all the types.
After this the author starts describing what a muscular man looks like in detail.
Oh, and there’s this golden nugget:
“The Immigrant Muscular
No matter what his work or play the Muscular will make more moves during the course of a day than other types. He loves action because his muscles, being over-equipped for it, keep urging him from within to do things.
As a result this type makes up most of the immigrants of the world. Italians, Poles, Greeks, Russians, Germans and Jews are largely of this type and these are the races furnishing the largest number of foreigners in America.”
You’re from another country? I guess you’re this type then!
The Osseous Type
“Men and women in whom the Osseous or bony framework of the body is more highly developed than any other system are called the Osseous type.
This system consists of the bones of the body and makes what we call the skeleton.
Just as the previous systems were developed during man’s biological evolution for purposes serving the needs of the organism—first, a stomach-sack, then a freight system in the form of arteries to carry the food to remoter parts of the body, and later muscles with which to move itself about—so this bony scaffolding was developed to hold the body upright and better enable it to defend and assert itself.”
This type is all about big bones. I have a friend who always calls himself “big boned”. After reading this chapter, I understand him a little more.
This personality type is the reliable one; unmovable, firm – permanent. The big bones make him or her stand out, them being the tallest of types. Their sturdy skeleton provides protection not only to them, but their allies as well. It is also mentioned that Osseous types have high cheekbones, and that they are stoic in nature. They are always on time, and take responsibility whenever possible.
The big minus to this type is that they resist change. They are so unmovable that their thinking is also influenced. They would rather have everything stay the same. This makes them the least versatile type.
And, of course, there’s the “Small Osseus” type as well, which is this type, bony person, who is small. Makes sense.
The Cerebral Type
“All those in whom the nervous system is more highly developed than any other are Cerebrals.
This system consists of the brain and nerves. The name comes from the cerebrum or thinking part of the brain.
Meditation, imagining, dreaming, visualizing and all voluntary mental processes take place in the cerebrum, or brain, as we shall hereinafter call it. The brain is the headquarters of the nervous system—its “home office”—just as the stomach is the home office of the Alimentive system and the heart and lungs the home office of the Thoracic.”
The Cerebral type is the opposite of Alimentive type. Smart, but frail, with delicate hands and smooth fingers. Their brain the most developed part of their body, and they spend their days thinking. Cerebral type likes to talk about serious topics and give heavy speeches on said topics.
This type usually forgets to eat, mentioned as a problem several times, and his face is triangular in shape. He is also “ahead of his time”, a “visionary” and this often leads him not really fitting into the group. Oh, and forget about being good socially. Cerebral type is also often poor, and not rich (as stated in the book). This was actually very often true at those times, so it’s at least historically accurate.
Types That Should
and Should Not Marry
I laughed out of loud when I got to this chapter. This is the redeeming chapter, as it provides us with some useful information. Throughout this book, I felt it was kind of ridiculous to assign people with types based on their looks, bone structure or the size of their chest. However, when we get to this part of the book, you start to think of the types given in this book as they should be, personality types. Forget about how they were described in the book. It’s mostly nonsense. Think about what kind of person you know would fit into a type (again, disregarding looks), and then read this chapter, and you will find that it is indeed quite interesting.
I won’t go into it too much, as I think this part requires you’ve read the whole book, but I’ll give you one part of it to think about.
“Mates for Alimentives
Because of his amenability the Alimentive can marry almost any type and be happy. But for fullest happiness, those who are predominantly Alimentive—that is, those in whom the Alimentive type comes first—should marry, as a first choice, those who are predominantly Muscular. The Muscular shares the Alimentive’s ambition to “get on in the world” and at the same time adds to the union the practicality which offsets the too easy-going, lackadaisical tendencies of the Alimentive.
The second choice for the predominantly Alimentive should be the one who is predominantly Thoracic. These two types have much in common. The brilliance and speed of the Thoracic keeps the Alimentive “looking to his laurels,” and thus tends to prevent the carelessness which is so great a handicap to the predominantly Alimentive.
The third choice of the predominantly Alimentive may be one who is also predominantly Alimentive, but in that case it should be an Alimentive-Muscular or an Alimentive-Cerebral.
The last type the pure Alimentive should ever marry is the pure Cerebral.”
Thank you for reading
This is how I want to end this review and summary on How to Analyze People on Sight: Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types. Do I think it was worth my time in the end? You might be surprised to hear this, but I’d say yes.
The last chapter was a good read, really, if you approach it correctly. I was able to recognize some of my friends as the types of people described in this book. They might not look like the type described in the book, but they certainly act the same way.
I would consider reading this book for yourself if it seems interesting. Just don’t take the parts about the human types too seriously, as it is quite ridiculous at times. As an experience this book was fun and informative. Worth your time. Yes, I was left baffled and confused too.
I hope you’ll have a nice day.
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