Stress, of course, is nothing new to humanity. From time immemorial all people – and to a degree all animals – have shared fundamental stresses, passed down over the centuries as part of the primordial heritage.
When you feel threatened, even by such a minor sensation as stage fright, it is your cardiovascular system which most clearly responds, changing the entire tempo of your body. The pulses poind. Blood pressure rises. The hands turn cold as blood is diverted from the skin to the vital organs.
If this temporary adjustment becomes habitual, a number of conditions may develop, ranging from simple arrhythmia – the a chronically eccentric hearbeat – through hypertension.
There has been sufficient research into the correlation between physical and personality types to produce a compelling picture of the kinds of people prone to different disease. Personality type not only determines the characteristics and habits but also marks the type of diseases individual personalities are prone to.
In heart attack patients, men outnumbered women six to one, and she, like most other physicians, labelled their affliction “a middle-age male disease.” Many of them are self-made men or highly trained professionals. Physically they take poor care of themselves – they eat the wrong ind of food, and try to replenish their energy with coffee and cigarettes. Socially they are “successful” but without much enjoyment of it all. Their style of conversation is highly rational and often a little argumentative, and they cannot express their inner feelings easily. They tend to keep people at a slight distance.
When this kind of person is struck down by a heart attack his first response, is usually a basic despair, which sometimes turns into extreme depression. More often than not, however, he pulls himself together again, says that nothing is seriously wrong, and against his doctor’s order resumes his driven existence as soon as he can possibly manage it.
Hypertension is of couse dangerous, and can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage
In hypertension, the heart pumps blood to the body under abnormally high pressure. The causes, it is agreed widely, include emotional stress.
Blood pressure fluctuates in healthy people as well as in sich people, sometimes rising because of the actions of the heart muscle, sometimes because the arteries resist the normal flow of blood.
The person suffering from essential hypertension maintains an exterior calm during interviews, but a professional can discern evidence of strong underlying feelings. In a sense she, or he, is unable to blood emotionally.
Hypertension is of course dangerous, and can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage. The single question that patients on the examining table most frequently ask their doctors is still: “How is my blood pressure!?”
Angina is the illness in which not enough oxygen reaches the heart: the symptoms are stabbing chest pains and a feeling of suffocation. The disease is less serious than a heart attack, and the kind of person who gets it is often a paler version of the coronay-prone. Success is important to him, and so is money, but he does not feel the desperate drive to outdo everyone in sight, the insatiable craving to beat the boss, that runs the coronary personality ragged.
Despite these distinctions, however, patients with different from of heart disease tend to resemble one another in basic personality and behavior. Their traits overlap, juts as their diseases do, and of course pattients who have had heart attacks often go on to develop angina or arrhythmia.
A migraine victim, said, “The art of life is the avoiding of pain.” But migraine’s pain is so devasting that it can bring on tension headaches too, pain attracting more pain. More women than men get migraines.
There is a paradoxical twist, it is not during the periods when stress is bearing down hardest that migraine patients usually get their headaches. Instead, it is when the pressure lifts and they are, it is when the pressure lifts and they are, so to speak, off duty. It often comes on leisurely weekends. Sunday is a notorious migraine day.
Perhaps the truth is that the avenge migraine patient doesn’t know what to do with leisure; for him, as for the coronary type, the meaning of life is work. But the coronary type works hard in order to dominate his world, while the migraine patient has rather different motives.
He is insecure, according to the Wolff study. What he really wants is to be loved, but he will settle for being admired, or simply approved of anything to still his grawing sense of worthlessness. It is for this reason that he drives himself so hard, selflessly taking on thankless chores, burdening himself with ever-increasing responsibilities, conscientious, rigid, somewhat fanatical. And were does it get him? No one really appreciates all he does – not even himself, because no matter how hard he works the can’t quite live up to his expectations. Neither can be cope with the fooling of resentment and disappointment building up inside him. He can only try to drown them out through harder labor.
If an infant does not get enough affection and reassurance while being fed, it may demoralize him, or at least his digestive functions, permanently. Unconsciously, in later life he connects feeding and love and longs deeply for both. He may develop a weight problem, from constantly nibbling on snack whether hungry or not. He may even become a compulsive cater, prey to secret, panicky binges in which he gobbles up everything insight till he vomits. Or he may turn into one of the male and female, who suffer from ulcers.
People with stomach ulcers have gastric systems that are in constant motion, or, it could be said, in constant emotion. They are always hungry. Their digestive juices run full time whether their bodies actually need nourishment or not.
Often a business executive, of either sex – who drives for independence from the rest of the world and and for conventional success in life. These people are usually found to be full of hostility, but they are blocked off from expressing it – they want too much to be loved.
By Mariam Aftab