We’ve all heard of Type A personalities; those whose characteristics include: competitiveness, neuroticism, perfectionism, strict organization, ambitiousness, aggressiveness, impatience, and meticulousness. People who have Type A personalities generally have jobs where they are in charge and directing others because of their dedication to completing tasks and their strong opinions on the best way to do things.
Type B personalities are more on the passive side, and are usually characterized as people who are more relaxed, patient, creative, and imaginative. These two personality types are vastly different and seem to have a lot of room in between them. That is why modern psychologists have begun to discuss different personality patterns that don’t directly fit into the Type A or B personality model and have labeled them as Type C and D personalities.
Characteristics of Type C Personalities
Type C personalities have been described as people who have a more internalized way of handling their emotions and stress. Psychologists have said that people with a Type C personality can repress their emotions, and not just negative emotions but frequently positive ones as well. They may exhibit behaviors that indicate resentment or anger at those around them, but tend not to communicate reasons behind those feelings.
Those with Type C personalities often take on more responsibility than they can handle at work or in life, and suffer from the accompanying stress. They can worry about others and focus on the happiness of others above themselves. Their need for approval may dictate their lives and create anxiety for them when they do not feel they can meet the expectations of those around them. They are often analytical and careful, and will focus on understanding every piece of a problem before responding. This causes them to struggle with making decisions and completing tasks.
Overall, this personality pattern reflects someone who is passive, similar to Type B people, but possibly more so. Instead of being comfortable allowing others to finish things before them and not having a lot of competitiveness or desire to see immediate success, Type C personalities will struggle with time management, feel stressed about all the things they have on their plate, but not use assertiveness to ask for help or make demands about things changing to improve their chance at achieving success. This creates a cycle of negativity and these mental and behavioral patterns can increase the likelihood that a person becomes ill, both mentally and physically.
The Link Between Cancer and Type C Personality
In the past, it was a common belief that ‘C-type’ personality traits are correlated with a higher likelihood of developing cancer. This was based on the idea that when your mind is stuck in a stressed and negative state, the “fight or flight” parts of your mind that are present to keep you safe begin to run excessively, and your nervous system will begin to tell you that you are always stressed, even if a situation is not warranting that level of a stress response.
The longer this continues, the more your body begins to run a system that was not designed to be a full-time protective force and can start to deteriorate, causing your body and mind to begin to shut down, due to being overworked. While more recent studies dispute the evidence correlating ‘C-type’ personalities with cancer, the premise has not been completely disproven.
Overcoming the Challenges
Working with a therapist to help reduce stress can help a person cope with the negative emotions common to those with type C personalities. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy help people begin to develop an awareness of how their thoughts affect their feelings and behavior and help them to improve their ability to appropriately regulate their emotions instead of pushing them down.
In addition to this, assertiveness training can help a person to develop the confidence to assert themselves, establish boundaries with those around them, and begin to prioritize their wants and needs just as much as those of others. All of these techniques can help, and a therapist is often best person to guide a Type C personality to better mental health.
- Rymarczyk K, Turbacz A, Strus W and Cieciuch J (2020) Type C Personality: Conceptual Refinement and Preliminary Operationalization. Front. Psychol. 11:552740. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.552740
- Blatný M, Adam Z. Osobnost typu C (cancer personality): soucasný stav poznatků a implikace pro dalsí výzkum [Type C personality (cancer personality): current view and implications for future research]. Vnitr Lek. 2008 Jun;54(6):638-45. Czech. PMID: 18672576.