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Needs of the Mercurial Type


The needs of the Mercurial type are derived from John M. Oldham's description of the Mercurial style. In Stoic philosophical and psychological theory these needs are vices. They are analogous to Karen Horney's neurotic needs, which are better called irrational needs. They are irrational because they require things not in our power and involve false judgment of what is good or evil. (see G. Sterling).

Irrational needs are vices. The vices listed below are based on certain false values. The source of every vice is a false judgment of what is good or evil. But our judgments are in our power. Therefore, our vices are in our power.

The idealized image is chiefly a glorification of the needs which have developed (Horney, pg. 277).

  • needs others to participate in their lives (Oldham, 293)
  • needs to to connect with life and with other people (293)
  • needs a fervidly live life (293)
  • needs to always be involved in a romantic relationship with one person (293)
  • needs to be passionately focused and attached in all their relationships (293)
  • needs to show what they feel; needs to be emotionally active and reactive; needs to put their hearts into everything (293)
  • needs to be uninhibited, spontaneous, fun-loving, and undaunted by risk (294)
  • needs to be lively, creative, busy, and engaging; needs to show initiative and stir others to activity (294)
  • needs to be imaginative and curious, willing to experience and experiment with other cultures, roles and value systems and to follow new paths (294)
  • needs to distance or distract themselves from reality when it is painful or harsh (294)
  • needs to be intense, emotional, and insistent in relationships (294)
  • needs to not allow the other in relationships to be slow, cautious, quiet, restrained (294)
  • needs to avoid being casual about the people they care for (295)
  • needs to immediately feel a magnetic involvement and a powerful sense that the relationship is destined (295)
  • needs the relationship to become the center of their lives, the heart of their being, and to pursue it with great intensity (295)
  • needs to be open to anyone (296)
  • needs to brood and to go through moods (297)
  • needs from others constant, intense passion and attention (298)
  • needs to be recognized and treated as special in relationships (299)
  • needs to cope with stress by throwing themselves into powerful, passionate experience--sex, music, alcohol, or drugs, or to step back and act as if its not happening (299)
  • needs to avoid rejection (299)
  • needs to become intensely involved with someone else if there is trouble in the relationship (299)
  • needs to avoid being without love (299)
  • needs to experiment with different identities and roles (299)
  • needs the other in relationships to participate whole-heartedly (300)
  • needs partners who are interesting, strong, exciting, passionate, and romantic, yet fully responsive to their demands (301)
  • needs to experience all their emotions intensely (302)
  • needs to be flattered and pleased (302)
  • needs to idealize emotion; needs perfect romantic love (302)
  • needs to react emotionally to changes in the environment (303)
  • needs pleasure, sensation, and experience (303)
  • needs to have a good time and to experience new things (304)
  • needs to avoid goal-directed planning and to just "go for it" instead of waiting for a more opportune time (304)
  • needs to be open-minded and curious about other ways of being (305)
  • needs to avoid fixing their sense of who they are to any particular identity or lifestyle and sometimes not even to a culture (305)
  • needs to become intensely involved with their co-workers and to take personally everything that happens in their work relationships(306)
  • needs to be passionately interested and involved in office intrigues(306)
  • needs to put their bosses on pedestals and expect them to behave with perfect judgment and compassion (306)
  • needs to be recognized and rewarded for being hardworking (306)
  • needs to be admired, needed, depended on and idealized (306)
  • needs to be treated well (306)

Borderline personality, or character, disorder is comprised of these and other irrational needs, or vices.

Values of the Mercurial Type

Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

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.

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

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Key to the Stoic Philosophy of Epictetus