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Values of the Dramatic Type

 

Why do people do the things they do? What people believe will benefit them, they judge to be good. What they believe will harm them, they judge to be bad. Their beliefs about what is good and bad constrain them to act as they do (Seddon, 2007, pg. 88).

The Stoic doctrine that things not in our power are neither good nor bad can be deduced from a number of other core Stoic beliefs. (see G. Sterling).

  1. Virtue is the only thing genuinely good (see K. Seddon), and vice is the only thing genuinely bad.

  2. The only things in our power are our beliefs and will.

  3. Virtue and vice are types of acts of will.

  4. Ergo, virtue and vice are in our power.

  5. Ergo, things not in our power are neither good nor bad.

The following seem to be the core value beliefs of the Dramatic type. These beliefs give primary value to external things, things not 'in our power' (2005, pg. 219). Therefore, they are false judgments of what is good and bad.


  1. Having the attention of others is good.

    But the attention given us by others depends on them, not us. It is not in our power. It is not good.

  2. Being sexually attractive is good.

    But that someone is attracted to us is not in our power. It is not good.

  3. Events are good or bad.

    But events are not in our power. They are neither good nor bad.

  4. An attractive physical appearance is good.

    But an attractive physical appearance is not in our power. It is not good.

  5. A dramatic, stimulating style of speech is good.

    But the effect of our speech is not in our power. It is not good.

  6. Dramatic expression of emotion is good.

    But the effect of our expression of emotion is not in our power. It is not good.

  7. Others' guidance, help, and opinions are good.

    But others' actions and opinions are up to them, not us, Guidance, opinions, and help offered to us by others are not in our power. They are not good.

  8. Intimate relationships are good.

    But relationships are not in our power. Only those things which we control absolutely are 'in our power'. Relationships, of any kind, are not good.


What we judge to be good, we desire; and what we judge to be bad we fear, or desire to avoid. What we desire, we pursue; and what we fear, we try to avoid. The repeated pursuit of objects of desire and avoidance of objects of fear form vices of character, or dispositions to make particular false value-judgments. The habitual false value-judgments listed above constitute the vices that I believe lie at the core of Histrionic personality, or character, disorder.

Making proper use of impressions, which is the core of what could be called Epictetus' self-therapy, consists of detecting our false value-judgments/passions and immediately correcting them. This requires an awareness of what is in our power and what is not in our power (Seddon, 2007, pg. 190).


Needs of the Dramatic Type



John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

Keith Seddon (2005). Epictetus' Handbook and the Tablet of Cebes: Guides to Stoic Living. New York: Routledge.

_________ (2007).Stoic Serenity: A Practical Course on Finding Inner Peace. United Kingdom: Lulu.com.

_________ (2009). Socrates on Virtue and its Sufficiency for Happiness. International Stoic Forum.

Grant Sterling (2005). "Core Stoicism." International Stoic Forum.





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Key to the Stoic Philosophy of Epictetus