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For people just learning about TMS/PPD   An Introduction to TMS   So You Think You Might Have TMS   TMS Personality Traits    

There are a multitude of books that outline the different personality traits that are common among TMS patients. In recovering from TMS it is important to recognize how one's personality traits repress emotions and trigger TMS symptoms.


These individuals have a strong desire to have everything they do be perfect. They must succeed at every activity, whether it's their career, their family or even their hobbies. To their credit, perfectionists are extremely organized and detail-oriented. However, these individuals also tend to put too much on their plate at once and try to accomplish too many things. By seeking to be the perfect individual, they ignore their own needs and repress their feelings. (Source: Pain Free for Life, by Scott Brady. Pgs 104-105)

Are you a perfectionist?

  • When you work on a project, does everything have to be perfect?
  • Do you have a clear picture of how you want everything to be?
  • Do you always have some sort of task that needs to be done?
  • Do you ignore your own needs and feelings to accomplish a task?
  • Do you think that there is a right way to do something and a wrong way?
  • Do you put a 110% of yourself into everything you decide to do?

Goodism/People Pleasing

Goodists are people who put the needs and desires of others before their own. These individuals have a strong need for other people to like them. They adhere to what the social, cultural, and religious norms suggest is a good parent, spouse, child, employee, and friend. Goodists will routinely change their plans to help out others. Although they are well-liked and do good in their communities, they fail to address their own needs and repress their emotions, desires and feelings. Behind these good deeds are deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. The continual actions of goodists of putting others before their own needs infuriates the unconscious mind, causing it to act out by creating TMS symptoms. (Source: Mind Body Prescription, by John Sarno. Pg 23)

Are you a goodist?

  • Do you routinely change your plans to satisfy the schedule or needs of others?
  • When a social group or religious organization holds an event, do you feel the need to volunteer to help organize and work at the event?
  • If people you know, i.e. friends, colleagues, family members, have a disagreement or argument, do you tend to play peacemaker?
  • When someone says something that you strongly disagree with, do you speak up or do you keep your thoughts to yourself?
  • If a group of people are planning an event, do you say what you want to do, or do you just go along with what others want?


People who possess the legalist trait can best be described as people who think that their views are right, and that other views are incorrect. These individuals strongly hold on to their viewpoints, and tend to dislike people who disagree with them. Unlike perfectionists who seek to do the right thing, legalists seek to be right. Responsibility and upholding their commitments are common among legalists. Because of this, it takes a long time for legalists to make promises or enter agreements. Legalists also hold themselves to extremely high standards that can breed feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred. (Pain Free for Life, pgs. 110-113).

Are you a legalist?

  • Do you think that your views and opinions are always right?
  • Do you think that the world would be a better place if everyone had your views?
  • Does it take you a long time to make a decision?
  • When making plans or decisions, do you worry that you might make the wrong choice?
  • Do you like being around people who have different views from yours?


The stoic personality trait consists of people that hold in their emotions. These individuals have difficulty opening up to people and expressing their emotions. The idea of speaking about one's emotions and feelings seems awkward to these people. People with this trait rarely show anger, sadness, love and sorrow. These individuals hold in their emotions as a way to be in control of their life. People with the stoic trait repress or ignore their emotions. As a result their unconscious mind creates TMS symptoms so they do not have to recognize that they are angry, sad, or even joyful. (Pain Free for Life, 114-116).

Do you have a stoic personality?

  • Do you find it awkward or difficult to express your emotions?
  • Would you say that you may get a little angry or a little frustrated, but rarely have extreme emotions?
  • Does being in control of your emotions make you feel like you are in control of your life?
  • If people saw you express your emotions, do you think they would think of you negatively?
  • Are you embarrassed to cry in front of your friends and family?

Anxiety and Fear

People with this personality trait focus on worst-case scenarios. They constantly worry that something bad or terrible will happen, be it the death of a family member or a natural disaster whenever there is a small storm. People with this trait are also afraid that people will eventually do something to hurt them. This leads to shyness around new people. They may even feel like they are being rejected in places when it is not actually happening. When they have a medical problem, no matter how minor, these individuals focus on the worst possible diagnosis. (Pain Free for Life, 118)

Do you have the anxiety/fear personality?

  • When there is a small thunderstorm do you assume that there will be tornadoes?
  • When your family members go somewhere do you worry that something terrible might happen to them?
  • Are you nervous to meet new people?
  • Do you think that if you are honest with people they will reject you?
  • When you go to the doctor do you worry that you will be diagnosed with a serious medical condition?

Low Self-Esteem

At some point in everyone's life they have some feelings of inadequacy. However, there are also people who's feelings of inadequacy produces long term low self-esteem. People with this trait rarely feel like they are capable of achieving even simple tasks. Low self-esteem makes people feel inferior to others and leads to the repression of feelings. People with low self-esteem tend to hold in their thoughts and feelings because they think that they are not worthy of being heard. By holding in their thoughts and feelings, individuals with low self-esteem may develop TMS symptoms because of the unconscious rage that is built up inside of them. (Mind Body Prescription, pg. 22)

Do you have a Low Self-Esteem personality?

  • Do you feel that other people are most often better at things than you are?
  • Do you think that people do not like you as much as other people?
  • Do you feel anxious meeting new people or being in a crowded room?
  • Do you question your ability to do things?
  • Do you feel like you do not warrant praise or accolades?

Hostility and Aggression

In some cases anger and aggression is fine, however people with this trait tend to express extreme anger and agitation in situations that do not warrant extreme action. These individuals overact to event and can be categorized as easily agitated, hot-headed, or even high-strung. The event or issue that the person is reacting to is rarely the issue or event that the person is actually angry about. Instead of dealing with the more serious issue behind their anger, these individuals place their frustration onto something less severe, and probably less difficult to talk about. There are usually deep issues that these individuals avoid discussing and so they repress their true feelings. TMS symptoms may develop because of this repression. (Mind Body Prescription, 24)

Do you have the hostility/aggression trait?

  • Have you found that little events can make you react in an extreme manner?
  • Do you routinely get "road rage" or extremely angry/frustrated when you are driving?
  • Do you have a short tolerance for people who make mistakes?
  • When you are involved in a conflict do you think the problem is someone else's fault?
  • Do you have difficulty seeing events/arguments from someone else's point of view


Having the desire to be taken care of is a normal characteristic. However Western culture teaches us that this is wrong, so people repress this desire. When people are dependent on others there is a tendency to be angry or frustrated with the person they are depending on. People with this trait have the tendency to choose careers that have security yet lack any sense of challenge or reward. By repressing the need to depend on someone the unconscious mind becomes infuriated and creates TMS symptoms. (Mind Body Prescription, 25)

Do you have the dependency trait?

  • When making plans do you prefer if other people take the lead?
  • Do you avoid challenging or risky jobs and tasks?
  • Do you tend to be in relationships where the other person takes care of you?
  • Do you like it when other people make decisions for you?
  • Do you find being alone or isolated frustrating and undesirable?
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