Wood Unhinged

Dear Readers,

For years, this blog has used the Five Elements model from Chinese medicine to discuss the five basic elemental personalities: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. We’ve covered issues like the strengths and weaknesses of each elemental personality, as well as the important understanding of how they relate to each other. At times, we’ve even dipped into how they relate to themselves. However, one issue we have never covered is what happens to an elemental personality when some form of mental illness is present. Recent events suggest this might be a reasonable time to cover this topic, especially as it relates to the primary Wood personality.

Wood people focus on the future and are excellent planners. Their greatest strength is that they can envision their goals and plot exactly what it takes to accomplish them. They firmly believe that if they try hard enough, they can manifest anything. Powerful and decisive, the primary Wood personality counts on their ability to get things done in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and will use their abundant energy to remove obstacles that block the way. It is the nature of their personality to be strong, direct, and assertive (hopefully in a kind way). 

If action and accomplishment are the greatest strengths of Wood people, their greatest weakness is a potentially dysfunctional – and often explosive – response to lack of movement toward accomplishing what they want. When things aren’t happening fast enough, or at all, Wood personalities have nowhere to focus their formidable energy. They’ll push and exhaust themselves in the name of the goal and ultimately lose their ability to be flexible and adaptable. In the process they can become impatient, angry, and often quite mean. However, since self-preservation (and saving face) is very important for a Wood person, they are usually able to pull themselves back from the point of no return, dust themselves off, and try again (often with a different approach).

That said, a mentally unstable Wood personality will frequently become so obsessed with what matters to them (things like success, status, being important, and winning) that they lose the ability to self-moderate their behavior. Whatever their primary goal is at the moment takes on an almost mythic “life or death” urgency such that they will stop at very little to get what they want. The concept that the ends can justify the means is a Wood energy idea, and an unbalanced Wood will see nothing wrong in doing whatever they believe needs to be done to accomplish their goal. 

Continue reading