We’ve all heard of Type A personalities; these are characteristics in people’s personalities that include: competitiveness, neurotic, 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 getting tasks completed and having opinionated ideas about the best way to do it. Type B personalities are more on the passive side, and are usually characterized as people who are more relaxed, patient, more creative/imaginative, and tend to be less stressed than their Type A counterparts. 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.
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 come from places of resentment or anger with those around them, but tend not to communicate why or what could be fixed to improve their mood. Often they will take on more than they can handle in work or life tasks, and continue to pursue them even when they are causing the person significant amounts of 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 stress and 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 getting tasks completed.
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 skills 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.
Studies are showing that people that are more apt to these kinds of personality traits may have a higher likelihood of developing serious diseases like cancer and other things. 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.
Working with a therapist to help reduce stress using coping techniques can help a person shift out of this negative personality trait cycle and improve their chance of increasing their health as well. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people begin to develop an awareness of how their thoughts affect their feelings and behavior can 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 mental health professional is the best person to guide a Type C personality into a healthier perspective.
Dr. Shannon McHugh is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults who have developmental and social delays, behavioral difficulties, and those who have experienced traumatic events