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Type A Behaviour:

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. An understanding of Type A behaviour, first described by Dr. Meyer Friedman in his book “Type A Behaviour and Your Heart”, has provided a
26 Jul 2008 12:00

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. An understanding of Type A behaviour, first described by Dr. Meyer Friedman in his book “Type A Behaviour and Your Heart”, has provided a great deal of insight into the most common link among heart attack patients. Quite often such patients have an ‘action-emotion’ complex. This basically consists of ‘hurry sickness’. Such people are constantly watching the clock, and fighting it every step of the way. They have an excessive competitive drive, with easily aroused hostility.
The Type A person is aggressive, in a chronic struggle to achieve more in less time, even at the expense of offending others. He or she can be very hostile if threatened. Although such a person may seem like a ‘jerk’ in some ways it is interesting to note that more often than not, his or her activities are socially praised, and rewarded with material goods.
Dr. Meyer’s states that Type A is seen in up to half of all males, and in an increasing number of females in the workforce. He further states that, when given a simple test such as subtracting 13s from 1000 in a given time period, Type A people perform as well as Type B, who have all the opposite traits. The difference is that Type A treat the test as an emergency. They respond with forty times the amount of cortisol secreted into the bloodstream, three times the amount of blood flow to the muscles, and four times as much adrenalin surging through the blood vessels. This means that all the stress responses are activated, including increased cholesterol in the blood, racing of the heart-beat, and so on.
Many successful companies have very little stress programmes or none. The most stress comes to those in middle management (lots of responsibilities, but very little control). Companies should be concentrating on extending their stress reduction programmes to all those who need it. The payback in reducing sick and absentee time and increasing productivity is incredible. For every dollar invested in preventive medicine, the return can be as much as five dollars.
In a ten year study, Dr. Meyer’s concluded that Type A personalities were three times as likely to have coronary heart diseases. In predicting who was going to have a heart attack, Type A was found to be more important than other factors, including family history, serum cholesterol levels, and smoking.
Two Type A personalities, put together can cause high levels of stress. This can be evident in a fiercely competitive form of one-upmanship between neighbours, or peers at work. It can also be a disastrous combination in a marriage, unless resolved. One interesting sidelight is that the key link between Type A behaviour and heart disease was first noted not by researchers, but by Dr. Meyer’s upholsterer. The upholsterer came into the doctor’s cardiology office to recover the chairs, and asked what kind of patients the doctor had. He had noted that the fabric on the chairs was worn out only across the front edges. No one had been sitting back and relaxing in those chairs. “On the edge of the seat” behaviour is, of course, typical Type A individuals.

Some Type A Characteristic
1. Hurry Sickness
Sets too many deadlines; not adaptable or creative; relies on forms or creative ideas developed when he or she was more efficient. Not very good at attacking new problems due to inflexibility. (Need to be more like Type B – to ponder, and use creativity.)

2. Score Keeping
Begins with childhood, the fun of acquisition, and of counting one’s things, such as marbles, football programmes, girlfriends/boyfriends. Maturity should moderate this, but such is often not the case.

3. Number
Done to sooth insecurity. Doesn’t enjoy a game for the fine scenery and fresh air, but is intently concentrating on the score every step of the way. Heaven help Type A if they get interested in gambling!

4. Insecurity
Seeks approval from his or her boss more than from peers. A Type A person couldn’t be just a regular scientist, for instance, He or she would aspire to be a superstar, by publishing large numbers of papers, and so on.

5. Hostility and Aggression
The urge to compete: may have a sense of humor, but generally only to laugh at others, rather than at himself or herself.

How to Tell Type A from Type B?

Type A
1. Sharp aggressive style of speech; the end of the sentence is faster.
2. Easily bored; only pretending to listen.
3. Always eats, talks, and walks quickly.
4. Impatient with others who dawdle; for example, saying ‘yes, yes’ to speed up someone else’s speech, or worse yet, finishing their sentence for them.
5. Polyphasic, for example, eating, shaving, and reading all at the same time. (Needs to take care to avoid getting dressed and showered simultaneously.)
6. Selfish. Interested only in conversation about things that relate to him or her; tries to steer conversation his or her way, or tunes out.
7. Feels guilty when relaxing.
8. Not observant. Can’t remember details of rooms, and so on. Mostly likely to be the one to lose keys, sunglasses, pen.
9. Aims for things worth having, not things worth being.
10. Very challenged by another Type A individual. Sparks can fly. This is particularly bad if two Type As are married to each other.
11. Physical signs. Very assertive, tense, leans forward, shoulder blades seldom touch the chair.
12. Believes success comes from doing things faster; thus keeps a very fast pace. Believes that when you are skating on thin ice, the only thing you have going for you is speed.
13. Measures success mainly by numbers; for example, more interested in number of goals scored than with pleasure of playing a game.

Type B
1. Not characterize by the above traits.
2. Seldom feels any time urgency, but can be just as ambitious.
3. Very easygoing; not hostile.
4. Plays a game for fun, not just to win.
5. Can relax without guilt and work without agitation; in the long run can get just as much work done as Type A.
6. Is often more efficient. Type Bs, it seems, often win because of their steadiness and their economy of movement. (Perhaps this is what the old ‘Hare and Tortoise’ story was trying to tell us.)
1. Friedman, Meyer. Type A Behaviour and Your Heart. Wildwood House. 1975.

By Sunila karan
Counsellor/Personal Development Trainer
Ph: 6727861/9996807 For stress management/counseling & communication training
Contact 6727861/9996807.

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