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Taoism & The Five Elements

Mien Shiang — Face Reading — is a diagnostic tool of Chinese Medicine. The roots of Chinese Medicine are Taoism and the Taoist Five Elements. TAOISM is a philosophy, a way of looking at and living life in nature, in a continually changing balance of energy and experience. The ancient Taoist philosophers used the metaphor of the Five Elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, to explain the relationship, interaction, and ongoing change of everything in the Universe. The metaphor was used first to describe the evolving cyclical seasons by dividing the year into five phases—Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The monks assigned each season an Element that would illustrate the essence of the seasonal changes and interactions, including the relationships between seasons. These associations were later applied to every aspect of life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. 

Think how wonderful it would be to have a reliable and unfailing skill that could help you to

You can achieve all of this and much more simply by knowing the ancient art and science of Mien Shiang – Taoist Chinese Face Reading. 

"Patrician McCarthy has helped us through some of the most significant transitions we’ve had to face in many years. I am indebted to her for her insight and expertise."
Ivy Ross​
Vice President, Design and User Experience for Hardware Products, Google.
Previously Executive Vice President of design and development, Old Navy, Gap, Inc.​

Mien Shiang—Face Reading and Facial Diagnosis

from THE FACE READER by Patrician McCarthy, Penguin Group/Dutton 2007

Mien Shiang is a nearly 3000-year-old Taoist practice of an art and a science that literally means face (mien) reading (shiang). If you know Mien Shiang (pronounced myen shung), you can determine anyone’s character, personality, health, wealth potential, social standing, and longevity simply by looking at their face.

How Mien Shiang Can Help You in Your Everyday Life? 

One of our most primitive instincts is the search for self-discovery. Who am I? This is the question that has occupied the thoughts and emotions of philosophers, poets, and dreamers everywhere, for all time. Mien Shiang can help you in your search for self. By looking in the mirror and studying your face, you can develop a profound understanding of your true nature. Identifying your true nature helps you first to recognize your inborn gifts and challenges, and then how to balance them to live your life, every single day, to its fullest. Mien Shiang can also give you similar insights into everyone in your life. It can help you choose your true mate and find the best boss or hire a top employee. It can make all your family, professional, and social relationships smoother and richer. And, by knowing the significance of certain facial markings, Mien Shiang can help keep you healthy—it might even save your life. 

The Origin of Mien Shiang

Ancient Taoist monks were the healers, scholars, and advisors to the emperors in China. They were the first to use Mien Shiang centuries ago. These monks used Mien Shiang as a diagnostic tool to determine either an existing illness or an inherent susceptibility for particular mind, body, or spiritual ailments and imbalances. We now live in a world of instant information. But 3000 years ago, people could easily misrepresent themselves or their mission to the courts of the land. Consequently, court officials relied on the opinions of their Mien Shiang advisers regarding a stranger’s character, personality, potential strengths, and weaknesses. The monks knew from experience that the face is a mirror that records your past, reflects your present and forecasts your future.

Patrician speaking at the 99U Conference on “Making Things Happen”


Five Steps and Hundreds of Tips for
The Face Reader
HardCover 2
The Face Reader - Discover Anyone's Personality
Through the Chinese Art of Mien Shiang
The Taoist Five Elements
Bare Basics

Face Reading & Facial Diagnosis

The Mien Shiang Institute offers courses and workshops in Face Reading to anyone who wants better to understand themselves and everyone else in their lives. Facial Diagnosis courses and workshops are available to health care professionals. 

Face Reading

Face Reading is the study and practice of analyzing the face to determine personality and behavior traits from a Taoist Five Element perspective and how those might affect the overall health of mind, body, and spirit. 

Facial Diagnosis

Facial Diagnosis is a more in-depth study geared towards health care professionals. In addition to determining personality and behavioral traits, Facial Diagnosis identifies medical conditions and interprets those ailments and imbalances from a Taoist Five Element perspective. 

Taoist Psychology

from IN YOUR ELEMENT: Taoist Psychology by Patrician McCarthy, Tao House Press 2021 

The early Taoist philosophers and scholars may have been the first psychologists. They observed people and their behaviors and concluded that there were definitive personality types-groups who shared behavioral attributes. The ancients divided the personality types into five groups. They used the Taoist metaphors of the Five Elements of nature to define the characteristics of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of these personalities has distinct behaviors and reactions, likes and dislikes. 

Most people are a combination of two or perhaps three of the Elements and are deficient in the others. For instance, you might be a combination Wood Element and Metal Element personality and deficient in the other three Elements. Taoist Psychology helps identify, interpret, and offer insights on the behaviors, character traits, and reactions that define each Taoist Five Element personality. It’s an exceptional and remarkable opportunity for profound self-discovery.

Of course, you can—and should—apply the same discovery and recognition to your loved ones, friends, coworkers, clients, or even to someone you’ve just met. Fundamentally understanding the innate natures, tastes, and behaviors of others allows you to fully appreciate the true self of every person in your life.

Not only that, now you will know the perfect gift to buy each person, right down to the color, style, and shape. You’ll know where to take them to dinner; whether to serve them still water or fizzy; know if they would sooner have a hug or a handshake; if they want a plant or a bouquet; whether they’d rather watch a sports event or be in the sports event; and if they are apt to yell from the rooftops or whisper their sincere appreciation to you. You now know them and how to give to them—mind, body, and spirit—what will suit them best. 

" I use Patrician’s Taoist Psychology teachings daily in my clinical practice, in business, and my personal relationships to understand what motivates people and how best to connect with them.”
- Dr. Lia Andrews, DAOM​
DAOM, L.Ac., Author, 7 Times a Woman and The Postpartum Recovery Program ​
"Mien Shiang is a powerful tool for those who want to understand themselves and others. I consider it a necessity for all clinicians."

- Jeanne Kane, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Producer​

Online Courses

Face Reading Courses

Five Element Courses

The Wood Element Personality
(9 Lessons)
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The Fire Element Personality
(9 Lessons)
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The Earth Element Personality
(9 Lessons)
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The Metal Element Personality
(9 Lessons)
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The Water Element Personality
(9 Lessons)
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Putting the Elements Together
(5 Lessons)
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For speaking, teaching, or consultation inquiries, connect with Patrician