Temperament, personality and the vulnerability to mood disorders. The case of the melancholic type of personality

A. Ambrosini1, G. Stanghellini2, A. Raballo3

1 Department of Psychological, Humanistic and Territorial Sciences, University “G. d’Annunzio”, Chieti, Italy; 2 “D. Portales” University of Santiago, Chile; 3 Department of Mental Health, Reggio Emilia, Italy


The concept of Typus Melancholicus (TM) was shaped by Tellenbach to describe the premorbid and intermorbid personality vulnerable to endogenous depression. The first part of this paper aims the description of the premorbid features of TM personality-orderliness, conscientiousness, hyper/hetereonomia and intolerance of ambiguity. After, we present the life world of the TM, i.e. a qualitative descriptions of the lived experiences about the body, self, time, space, and others. Also, we describe the basic principles of Tellenbach’s theory – the method, the concept of endon, rhythmic and situation sensu Tellenbach as a special way of the person of living the relationship with the world per se in an endless reciprocal exchange. Starting from a clinical case, we show the theoretical evolutions of TM concept and underline the typical way which links the premorbid condition to melancholia. Finally, we ask if the TM concept can be still considered a valid construct in today’s society, helpful in understanding and explaining identity crisis leading to depressive decompositions.

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