A Square Peg in a Round Hole

Frank J & Delia H McDonald
Vantage Press
Edition / Year: 
A Square Peg in a Round Hole
Mental-Muscular Man
Domineering Blond

According to its blurb “A SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE presents the principles of vocational psychology in clear, easy-to-follow terms”. A laudable aim but one it fails to achieve, simply because its content is not actually “vocational psychology” at all but physiognomy, the mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science of character reading through body and face shape, here applied to the subject of choosing a career.

How wonderful it would be for hard-nosed employers if the McDonalds's approach were valid, as they'd merely have to consult this volume and draw up the list of physical characteristics corresponding to the requirements of a job, then vet their prospective workers on sight as they walk through the door. (“Too square-headed ... too thin ... nose too long ...”) Most useful.

Helpfully - given that anyone who would believe their theories is likely to be low on mental capacity - the McDonalds keep things simple. According to their scheme there are five basic body types: the Mental (“the thinker or dreamer”), the Muscular (“the doer or athletic type”), the Alimentive (“the enjoyer or fat man”)”, the Thoracic (“the thriller or entertainer”) and the Osseous (“the stayer or stabilizer”), each of which is described in a desperately stereotyped fashion:

The pure Alimentive type is often called the “fat man” or “enjoyer”. His head is round and his body is plump. He resembles a circle. His hands and shoulders are rounded. His body frame is not as large as it appears to the eye; in reality, the Alimentive's bones are very small. His joints are covered with heavy flesh and fat ...

The stomach of the Alimentive is the most important part of his body and is extremely well-developed. Personal enjoyment is one of his leading traits and he will spend a great deal of his time dining, or following other satisfying pursuits. On many such occasions he goes to such extremes of enjoyment that he forgets about the more important things.

The Alimentive type is never in a hurry, he takes everything in stride without any worry whatsoever. He will sit by the hour giving his attention to food, conversation, and comfort regardless of any surrounding condition. He plans his schedule so he is sure of three square meals a day. Some days he eats between his meals for pleasure. He eats because he really enjoys food. His menu is generally made up of rich foods including pastry and fancy dishes.

... Physiologically, it has been determined that the intestines of the Alimentive are from ten to twenty feet longer than those of the other types ...

This example, with its casual slurs on the character of overweight people, is bad enough but there is worse to follow. The tenets of physiognomy lead almost inevitably to racism, since any scheme for classifying people by their physical characteristics must involve the common indicators of (so-called) racial type, such as shape of nose, eye, and mouth, slope of forehead and - of course - skin colour. In the MacDonalds's case their racism takes a modest, polite, form, such as may be held by good Christian folk who have a subscription to The Readers Digest:

The white race has been and is the restless, migrating, conquering, pioneering, progressive, and inventive race, while the dark races have been conservative, thoughtful, stay-at-home, and specialising races.

That's some powerful “psychology”, all right. At the end of this shabby little volume there is a a short bibliography, the last entry of which is “The Bible”. Now, I've looked but as yet I can't find any biblical text which might lend support to this nonsense, but there is one that is surely apt enough:

The simple believeth every word ... [Proverbs 14:15]


These quotes are from the book "Analyzing People by Sight" or something to that effect. It is by E Benedict. She spent many years confirming her findings. The book didn't talk about races though. I believe she did say that all races have all five types but more of some types than others which would lend credence to the last statement. If you read the book and start to develop the skill to tell people apart using them you'll find that you can understand them quicker and better. No, it doesn't mean that you know everything about them or their destinies but it does provide a framework of understanding the forces that shape them and their thoughts and actions. I've found that the book is dead on. I also know that other shapes, marks on a person's body tells even deeper and more detailed things about them. It's also true that they way a person moves their eyes, their whole body and the way they breathe tells a lot about their beliefs and more.

So, the McDonalds' work is not only bullshit but plagiarised bullshit. And if you don't agree with that term, what would you call a bald assertion like "No fat person enjoys work"? That's your "dead on" Ms Benedict. Ugh.

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