Chapter 12: Stress, Adjustment, and Health Differences Flashcards Preview

🎭 PSY230H1F: Personality and Its Transformations (2016) with D. Dolderman > Chapter 12: Stress, Adjustment, and Health Differences > Flashcards

Flashcards in Chapter 12: Stress, Adjustment, and Health Differences Deck (21)
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What is psychosomatic medicine?

This type of medicine is based on the idea that the psyche (mind) affects the soma (body). 

  • In the 20s and 30s, many interesting ideas grew out of Freud's psychoanalysis. For example, an unhappy woman at the age of 50 was having undiagnosable health problems. She died on her birthday. Agnes grew up in a hateful household, which led psychoanalysts to conclude that the reason she died on her birthday was to show her resentment at being born.


What are the major pathways of the personality's influence on illness?


What is the major way that personality affects health, and what are the reasons that cause it?

  • Certain behaviours lead to more or less healthy habits and environments.
  • Substance abuse is often linked to personality characteristics such as rebelliousness, alienation, low self-esteem, and impulsivity. These are breeded through social problems in childhood/adolescence.
    • People usually seek these things for their tranquilizing effects.
    • Certain social factors also tend to encourage unhealthy behaviours. For example, if you're a rebellious teen you might seek out a gang.
    • Conscientiousness predicts health and longevity in part because it predicts healthier social situations.
  • Many unhealthy behaviours are instigated by stress.
  • Sensation-seekers tend to score high on Eysenck's psychoticism scale.
  • Frank H. Farlye's Type T (Thrill-Seeking) Theory predicts that individuals who are able to relieve their thrill-seeking fix are less likely to get into trouble.


What is the sick role and how does it tie personality to illness?

  • Certain people respond to stressful life events by entering the sick role, that is, the set of societal expectations about how you should behave when you're not healthy (e.g. go to the doctor, stay home, stay in bed, etc.).
  • How we think about our bodies and interpret symptoms affects the behaviour that results.
    • For example, someone who's having a hard time adjusting to a new environment may feel lethargic, which is a symptom of illness, and interpret it as such.
    • Many times, reporting symptoms isn't reflective of an organic illness but a neurotic personality.
  • The sick role is also predictable by behaviourists such as Skinner. When we can escape anxiety-inducing situations by being sick, while even getting sympathy from others, it's rewarding.


What is the somatopsychic effect?

  • When diseases, or the body, affects the mind. For example, the physical weakness or oxygen deprivation from a serious illness can induce chronic depression.
  • Another example is Down syndrome, which affects both personality and health.
  • There could be a physiological predisposition to both impulsivity and heart disease. However, we can't improve health through psychological change because there could be many underlying third variables.


How does our environment influence our personality's effect on our health?

A mismatch between a person and his or her social group can be a source of stress and an important factor in illness. For example, a loud-mouthed aggressive individual in Japanese society will likely face sanctions by the society and feel distressed as a result.


What is the:

diathesis-stress model

Diathesis is the predisposition of the body to a disease or disorder. The predisposition or weakness might come from genetics or ubpringing (e.g. have weak back muscles). However, the illness (e.g. chronic back pain) wouldn't emerge unless elicited from the environment (e.g. engaging in an occupation that strains the back). This model of illness has much in common with the idea of personality interacting with the situation.


What were Bernard Lown's greatest insights?

  • Lown found that the most potent stress relates to the recall of emotionally charged experiences. The stress experienced by each individual will be unique (e.g. one woman didn't display a heart arrhythmia when told she had cancer, but did when asked to discuss her gay son).
  • Lown proposes a three-part model to account for why some people experience sudden heart attack death when facing stress:
  1. Electrical instability must already be present in the heart muscle (i.e. medical diathesis or predisposition).
  2. The person must be feeling a pervasive emotional state such as depression (i.e. psychological diathesis).
  3. Must be a triggering event with which the person can't cope.


What is borderline personality disorder and why are these types of disorders hard to treat?

This term is applied to people with serious problems of impulsive, self-destructive behaviour; fragile self-identity; and moody, stormy relationships. These disorders may be the results of various sorts of risks and so can't be understood or treated from a single perspective.


What characterizes personality disorders?

Personality disorders are ongoing patterns of behaviour that impair's a person's functioning and well-being. They're usually stable by early adulthood and last for many years. People suffering from personality disorders can't seem to fit well into their families and jobs—there are regular significant disruptions—and these individuals may be excessively suspicious, emotional, or markedly anxious.


What are the ten different categories of personality disorders?

  1. Paranoid: suspicious, easily offended, bear grudges.
  2. Schizoid: alone and stonewalled, praise or criticism doesn't matter, few close friends, little sex.
  3. Schizotypal: loners, dress or act in odd ways, believe in magic, peculiar.
  4. Antisocial: irresponsible, cold-hearted, often criminal, cruel, illegal drug use.
  5. Borderline: suicide threats or attempts, binging, reckless, promiscuous.
  6. Histrionic: emotional and attention-seeking, need assurance of their attractiveness.
  7. Narcissistic: self-important, take advantage of others, constantly need their approval, misunderstanding.
  8. Avoidant: timid and easily embarassed, avoid close friends, self-critical, feel inferior.
  9. Dependent: submissive, fear of being abandoned, do anything for approval.
  10. Obsessive-Compulsive: rigid perfectionists, work too hard, preoccupied with details.


How does Type A personality lead to increased risk of coronary diseases?

  • People who are "Type A" have a "workaholic" personality. They tend to be angry, impatient, and competitive. It's not the hard work thta's a problem.
  • Rather, the struggle is the problem. Most people are told to "take it easy."
  • However, there's no evidence that constantly working hard increases the likelihood of heart disease in healthy people. 
  • Those more prone to cardiovascular disease are driven to excessive achievement. Their desire for achievement is often linked to desire for control.
  • This relationship between high neuroticism and low agreeableness is what predicts increased risk.


Explain Martin Seligman's "Theory of Learned Helplessness."

When a person is in a situation that they can't control, they eventually learn that no efforts they make to control their environments will work. Thus, they learn to be helpless, and continue to not try and control situations even when placed in a controllable environment.


What was Lewis Terman's contribution to the study of health and personality?

He conducted the most extensive longitudinal study on the effects of health and personality. He originally just started out measuring intelligence, but the rest of the data he collected has been very helpful to us studying personality and longevity now.


Why does conscientiousness predict longevity?

The protective effect of conscientiousness is partly due to a reduction in the risk of injury and likelihood to engage in unhealthy habits. They're also physiologically predisposed to health, and seek out healthier situations and relationships.


What are some explanations for why cheerfulness is inversely related to longevity?

Cheerful children grew up to be more likely to smoke, drink, and take risks. These individuals also tend to be more carefree about the risks associated with dangerous activities.


What are the two main reasons for why we tend to blame the victim for their diseases?

  1. Most of us have some concrete concerns about our own health and mortality. By blaming the individual with the disease, we can convince ourselves that we're different and that it won't happen to us.
  2. We also like to believe in the predictability of the world; that if we eat right and take care of ourselves, we'll be healthy. Seeing someone become spontaneously ill threatens this notion.


Why are constructively challenged personalities (or self-healing personalities) generally healthier?

  • Individuals who have a strong sense of controlcommitment, and are able to face challenges tend to turn their stress into growth and development. These individuals actually seek out these challenges so that they can constantly be learning and passionate. (Maddi & Kobasa, 1984)
  • There are two major types: zealous (confident, hard-working, seek stimulation, extroverted, spontaneous, and fun-loving) and relaxed (active, alert, involved, calm, philosophical, and bemused).
  • Zealous individuals will tend to feel stressed with there's a lack of stimulation and threatened by overwhelming challenges. Relaxed individuals are distressed when challenges are unsolved.
  • This theory just goes to show how blanket statements and suggestions about health are misleading and can lead to serious problems.


How is Carl Rogers's work applicable to health and longevity?

Rogers studied the link between personal growth and fulfillment, but his descriptions apply to health in general. Often, our psychological upsets are related to health problems. Moreso, Rogers's approach emphasizes the importance of an individualized approach to the healing personality. That is, personality researchers have drawn a lot of inspiration from the humanistic and existential approaches.


What is the broaden-and-build model of positive emotions?

This model proposes that experiences of positive emotions (e.g. joy, pride, love, etc.) can broaden people's modes of thinking and responding; that is, they bring more possible actions to mind. In turn, this helps build social resources.


Why is a sense of coherence important to health?

A person's sense of coherence is their confidence that the world is understandable, manageable, and meaningful. They don't necessarily need to see the world was controllable, but ordered and clear.