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Personality type: Does it affect your health?

Personality type and health:

Research has continued to show that your personality type and other psychological factors may play an important role in many diseases, from heart problems to getting colds. Your physical health is often dependent on your state of mind. And this, is frequently influenced at least to some degree by your personality type.

People are frequently upset when their doctor tells them that their medical problem is psychosomatic, which they interpret as "all in their mind". Frequently that means that the doctor was unable to find a physical problem and assumed that there was a psychological cause. However, psychosomatic illness is very real but is often misunderstood. This may be due to the fact that many people think in terms of the mind and body as separate entities. In fact, the term "psychosomatic" actually comes from the language of ancient Greece were doctors naturally understood that the mind (psyche) and the body (soma) were intimately connected.


Personality type and psychosomatic medicine:

Some people believe that Sigmund Freud revived the idea of psychosomatic medicine in the late 19th century. He found that while many of his patients did have obvious physical symptoms they did not always have obviously identifiable causes. He referred to these conditions as hysteria. Many times, his patients were wealthy young women who exhibited dramatic symptoms, such as paralysis, epileptic fits and even loss of speech. Freud was able to help some of these patients through a process referred to as psychoanalysis, in which he believed that they were actually resulting from inner conflicts which were actually bringing the problems about.

An american physiologist named Walter Cannon carried out research in the 1920ís on howe motion affects the body. He was the first to coin the term "fight or flight" which identified the way that an individual's body may react in response to a threat or stress. His research later led to the psychosomatic movement in medicine led by Helen Dunbar and Franz Alexander. Dunbar believed that psychosomatic medicine could combine the treatment of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. Alexander also attempted to update Freud's theories through considering the latest developments in the field of physiology. They identified repressed aggression has an important cause of psychosomatic illness.

Clinicians involved in the various fields related to psychosomatic medicine (psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors) do not usually diagnose hysteria anymore. However, there are frequently medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome for which a physical cause is not apparent. Also, doctors are increasingly becoming aware of psychosomatic factors involved in many diseases that contribute to or exacerbate symptoms associated with asthma, eczema, digestive problems and even heart disease. These illnesses are becoming much more of a target of contemporary psychosomatic medicine.

Some information Adapted from Making the Most of Your Brain by The Reader's Digest

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic M.A. Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate 

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