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Type C personality: features of this behavior pattern

Type C personality: features of this behavior pattern

January 22, 2022

The type C personality pattern, characterized by the inhibition of negative emotions and the presence of depressive features, has been associated with the evolution of cancer once this disease has appeared.

However, the most recent research on the relationship between personality and cancer has diminished the credibility of this hypothesis.

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The personality patterns A, B, C and D

In 1959 cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman described the type A personality pattern , characterized by its role as a risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disorders. Distinctive features of this personality style include anxiety, ambition, rigidity, impatience, competitiveness and hostility.


Later on, the concept of "type B personality pattern" was also used to describe individuals with a lower tendency to engage in stressful situations. People with this personality tend to be thoughtful and creative , they try to enjoy their lives more than those of type A and are not always oriented towards achievement.

To these two personality patterns were also added type C and type D. The type C personality, of which we will discuss in depth below, includes emotional repression and despair as defining features, and has been attributed a certain capacity predictive in the evolution of cancer, although not in its appearance.


Finally we find the type D personality pattern, which was described by Denollet et al. (1996) and worsen the evolution of heart problems. The letter "D" comes from the word "distressed", which means "distressed". It is defined as a combination between the tendency to social inhibition and to feel negative emotions, such as sadness, irritability and worry.

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Character characteristics of type C

The descriptions that have been made of the type C personality pattern vary depending on the research or the specific literature. In general we can highlight five main personality traits: emotional control, emotional repression, understanding, rationality and the need for harmony. Each description highlights some or other factors.


The key point of this personality style is the inhibition or repression of negative emotions; we refer to sadness, fear and especially to anger. In addition, a marked absence of dominance and hostility behaviors and a tendency to stoic acceptance of negative life events are detected.

People who fit the type C pattern often have difficulty coping with stress situations , especially in a direct and active way. This trait causes psychological reactions of a depressive nature, such as expectations of helplessness or despair about the future.

From this it follows that the pattern of personality type C leads to the fact that, faced with the appearance of cancer, the affected person faces the disease and the negative emotions derived from it in an insufficient manner, which could seriously interfere in the treatment.

The characteristics attributed to the type C personality pattern bring it closer to other similar constructs. They deserve a special mention Types 1 and 5 of the classification of reactions to stress developed by Eysenck and Grossarth-Maticek (1990), both associated with an increased risk of cancer, according to these authors.

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Scientific evidence in this regard

Although the research has confirmed the predictive capacity of the type A personality pattern with respect to cardiovascular diseases, the same can not be said of the type C pattern. Even at its origin it was still an attempt to apply the Friedman hypothesis and Rosenman to medical disorders other than those of the circulatory system.

In the 90s this construct was accepted in a preliminary way by many members of the scientific community, but soon began to be evident the lack of consistency in the findings around its predictive capacity in cancer. Among other aspects, the irregularity in the definition of the personality pattern C makes comparison between studies difficult.

It is currently believed that the supposed association between emotional inhibition and the development or evolution of cancer, if any, would be mediated by certain adaptive coping styles or by other intermediary variables, and it would not be in any specific case of this disease.

The prospective macroestudy of Nakaya et al. (2003), like many other investigations, belies the idea that personality traits associated with neuroticism have a causal role in cancer. It is also suggested that in the relationship found by other authors between this disease and anxiety, there may be an inverse causality to the one studied.

Bibliographic references:

  • Blatný, M. & Adam, Z. (2008). Type C personality (cancer personality): current view and implications for future research. Vnitr̆ní lékar̆ství, 54 (6): 638-45.
  • Cardona Serna, E. J., Jaramillo, A.C. & Diaz Facio Lince, V. E. (2013). Relationship between type C personality and cancer: State of the art. Psychospaces: Virtual Journal of Social and Human Sciences, 7 (10): 66-92.
  • Denollet, J., Sys, S. U., Stroobant, N., Rombouts, H., Gillebert, T. C., & Brutsaert, D. L. (February 1996). Personality as independent predictor of long-term mortality in patients with coronary heart disease. Lancet, 347 (8999): 417-21.
  • Friedman, M. & Rosenman, R. (1959). Association of specific overt behavior with blood and cardiovascular findings. Journal of the American Medical Association, 169: 1286-1296.
  • Grossarth-Maticek, R. & Eysenck, H. J. (1990). Personality stress and disease: Description and validation of a new inventory. Psychological Reports, 66: 355-73.
  • Nakaya, N., Tsubono, Y., Hosokawa, T., Nishino, Y., Ohkubo, T., Hozawa, A., Shibuya, D., Fukudo, S., Fukao, A., Tsuji, I. Hisamichi, S. (2003). Personality and the risk of cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 95 (11): 799-805.

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