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Generic disposition for disease?

Generic disposition for disease?

Some physical ills are often assumed to spring from specificpersonality characteristics. It is said, for example, that worriers get ulcers, anxious people get migraine headaches and workaholics toil their way toward heart attacks.

But studies of the relationship between personality anddisease do not paint such a neat picture, say psychologists Howard S. Friedman and Stephanie Booth-Kewley of the University of California at a neat picture, say psychologists evidence, it does not appear that different diseases have different personality traits linked with them,' they report in the June AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST. "However, there may well exist a generic "disease-prone personality.''

Friedman and Booth-Kewley used statistical techniques tocompare the results of 101 studies conducted between 1945 and 1984. At least one of five diseases--arthritis, asthma, coronary heart disease, headaches and ulcers--was investigated in each study. Personality measures, either alone or in combinations, consisted of anger, hostility, aggression, depression, anxiety and extraversion.

All of the personality measures, says the researchers, showedrelatively strong associations with the risk of heart disease and weaker associations with the other diseases. The most striking single relationship was between depression and disease, they note, although anger and hostility have been more extensively studied in recent research.

The link between personality and disease cannot be dismissedas "folklore,' say the psychologists. Psychological disturbance appears to undermine immune function and metabolic processes rather than particular organs, and, in their view, may predispose people to all sorts of illnesses.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 18, 1987
Words:239
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