Updated: Feb 15, 2018
Traditional Chinese Medicine's (TCM) Five Element framework is ancient and Universal in what it embodies. The Five Elements are deeply woven into every fabric of Chinese culture. In fact, Five Element theory is the foundation of Chinese disciplines including feng shui and the martial arts.
People can be ‘classified’ according to the five-element theory. Their body structure, tendencies, temperaments, emotions, positive and negative behaviour, moods and illnesses can all be looked at in relation to the five elements. We are all part of nature, the seasons, the Heaven and the Earth and therefore we are not a manifestation of only one element but of all of them. What makes us different from one another (amongst other things) is which of the elements is more or less dominant in relation to the others.
Usually there are one or two elements that are predominant in a person. Below is a description of the stereotype for each of the five elements.
Can you pick your Partners TCM 5 element type?
Wood personality type - Anger
Wood type people have a greenish complexion, small hands and long face with a pointed chin and wide shoulders. They are seldom overweight due to their fast-working metabolism. These people are very organised and logical. They plan things well and get frustrated if they go wrong. They are thinkers, their mind is always on the go so they tend to always be doing something. They seek challenges and push to the limit. They love action, movement and adventure and like to be the first and the best.
The emotion associated with the Wood element is anger. When anger predominates, a person becomes easily upset by frustration and obstacles and unable to appropriately restrain their feelings. They get angry easily and are prone to shouting. These unstable emotions result in the uneven circulation of Qi (energy) and Blood, creating a generalised state of tension and stress.
Fire personality type - Joy
Fire type people have a red complexion and a skinny face. They are full of muscles in the back and have a small head. They have a stable step and sway their shoulders while walking. Fire people are energetic, they believe in the power of charisma and desire. The have creative potential, are intuitive and passionately emphatic.
They love sensation, drama and sentiment. Fire types are unconcerned about material wealth. They tend to have little confidence, plenty of worries, are sharp and fond of beauty.
Joy is the emotion associated with the Fire element; therefore pleasure is the main focus of these people’s lives. They seek gratification at every turn and can become jaded, driven to seek still more stimulation. They appear fun-loving and romantic but in fact may be unable to sustain their interest and excitement without external props and other peop0le’s attention.
Earth personality type - Harmony Earth type people have a yellowish complexion, round faces and big heads, big abdomens, small hands and feet and plenty of muscles. They have a sing-song voice. They are calm in temperament, fond of helping people and like to be involved and needed.
They love to associate with other people, seek harmony and togetherness and insist upon loyalty, security and predictability. They have a dislike of power. The emotion associated with the Earth element is Rumination. When a person is overly pensive and contemplative, he/she can easily become fixated on worrisome thoughts and ideas.
Metal personality type - Sadnes Metal type people have a white complexion, square faces, small heads, small shoulders that tend to be bent forwards, small abdomens and small hands and feet. Often they have excess body hair.
They are hasty in temperament, able to adjust to different environments, often choose official duties and tend to be surrounded by an aura of sadness, often seeming close to tears. Metal people like definition, structure and discipline; they seek to live according to reason and principle.
The emotion associated with the metal element is Grief or sadness. When sadness pervades, a person may isolate and defend him/herself from the pleasure of attachment and the pain of loss. Metal type people arrange their lives for the purpose of avoiding risks and the vagaries of passion. They can become possessive, acquisitive, and domineering in an effort to control their environment.
Water personality type - Fear
Water type people have a greyish complexion, dark rings under their eyes, big heads, small shoulders, big abdomens, active hands and feet, and back longer than average. Their movement is fluid but can appear difficult.
Water types are articulate, clever and introspective, self-contained and self-sufficient. They are penetrating, critical and scrutinising, seeking knowledge and understanding. They like to remain hidden, enigmatic and anonymous.
Fear is the emotion related to the Water element. Someone who is in the grip of fear can think of only escapes. Their life is dominated by the expectation of threat, so they tend to isolate themselves and hide from the world. They refer to be left alone. They often anticipate the worst, imagining calamity and disaster lurking around every corner. Critical and cynical, they believe the world is fundamentally harsh, unsafe and unfriendly.
Working with you to understand which of the five elements best defines you, is just one of the many ways Traditional Chinese Medicine is different but complimentary to Western Medicine. Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here
Excerpts from the original article by Between Heaven & Earth, by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngol Nei Jing, Su Wen.