I've been watching a series of lectures on mind-body medicine by Dr. Jason M. Satterfield, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. In one of his lectures, Dr. Satterfield looks at personality types and how they affect health. Those of us who have learned about TMS and techniques for healing know that Dr. Sarno and other TMS practitioners say that our personality type can have a great deal to do with having physical pain. We can suffer from our own personality traits or those of others such as our spouse, partner, parents, children, our boss or others we come in contact with. Are we born with our personality traits? Dr. Satterfield says personality traits are generally considered to come either genetically, inherited through our parents or grandparents, or “natural” influences such as our environment. But wealth can have little or no influence on our personality. Wealthy people may have just as many negative personality traits as those born poor. Dr. Satterfield says there are four major personality types, alphabetically A, B, C, and D, but Steve Ozanich discusses Type T personalities in great depth in The Great Pain Deception. Type A Personality People They areambitious, rigidly organized, sensitive, impatient, take on more than they can handle, want others to get to the point quickly, anxious, proactive, and push themselves to get work done as fast as possible and push themselves with deadlines. They are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, and hate delays and ambivalence. Dr. Sarno says some Type A people may be very ambitious but are not as compulsive in perusing their goals, although they have a strong need to be good, nice, pleasant, accommodating, and helpful. Type A people are thought to be at high risk for heart problems due to the stress they put themselves under. I think I am mostly a Type A type, but my book publisher boss is for sure. He is a perfectionist’s perfectionist (although he really is far from perfect) and he is definitely a workaholic. His pressures are put on me, but I have learned to live with them by doing what he wants of me at my own pace. I tell him his ego is larger than ten Grand Canyons but he denies having an ego. I let it go. If you have a Type A personality, you may not be able to change it, but you can try to modify it. Lighten up on yourself and your workload. Try to stop multi-tasking. Years ago, we didn’t do much of that, or do it at all. Modern life and technology pushes us into doing more than one or two things at the same time. That surely causes stress and headaches. Type B Personality People They live at a lower stresses level than Type A and typically work steadily, enjoying achievement but not becoming stressed when they do not achieve. When faced with competition, they do not lose their cool and either enjoy the game or back down. They may be creative, enjoy exploring ideas and concepts, and are often reflective. I may be somewhere between Type A and Type B, probably because I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to handle my Type A traits through TMS knowledge. That has taught me deep breathing, meditation, and other calming techniques I never knew or practiced before. Type C Personality People They love details and can spend a lot of time trying to find out how things work and this makes them very suitable for technical jobs. Type C are not assertive at all and they always suppress their own desires even if there is something that they dislike. The lack of assertiveness results in tremendous stress and are very vulnerable to depression compared to type A and type B. I don’t know anyone with Type C personality. Type D Personality People The D stands for “distressed.” Type D people have a negative outlook on life and are pessimistic. A small event that is not even noticed by type B can ruin type D's day. Type D people might become socially withdrawn as a result of fear of rejection, even if they like to be around people. Type D's are famous for suppressing their emotions and this makes them the most vulnerable type to depression. We know from Dr. Sarno that repressing emotions for long periods of time without venting them someway causes TMS pain. I’ve known people with a negative outlook on life and who are pessimistic. A neighborhood couple is like that. I got tired of my spirit being dragged down by them so I rarely talk to them. Dr. Satterfield says that our personality types can overlap. For example you might find that you have Type D personality traits but still find that you have some personality traits from another type such as type C. The second thing you must be put into consideration is that you will certainly have tons of other personality traits that are not covered at all by a single theory. That’s why one personality type theory is certainly insufficient to help you understand yourself well. Dr. Sarno does not mention Type T personality types, but Steve Ozanich mentions them frequently in his book, The Great Pain Deception. He says that Dr. Sarno found that many of his patients were perfectionists, worriers, or highly driven people who were “unknowingly repressing unwanted emotions.” Steve says “These people experience TMS in its most severe chronic forms” which he calls Type T,” referring to tension. Steve says Type T people are a blend of A and B. They are prone to chronic pain, fatigue, digestive tract problems, skin problems, “and anything else that may be in vogue.” Steve’s discussions about Type T personalities are too lengthy to summarize here. It is suggested you read his book, or at least the sections on Type T. This essay should serve merely to be an introduction to learning what personality type we are. Many books and web sites discuss the subject in greater depth. Knowing what our personality type is very important in TMS healing, as you no doubt know.