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How to use the Type A Personality

How to use the Type A Personality

It seems to me that it is no coincidence that more often than not, the folks who I chat with about their RA, will, at some point, mention that they are Type A personalities and having RA has really impacted the traits associated with Type A folks.

Type A Personality

First let’s clarify what I mean by Type A.  Terms that define personality types have been around for many, many years, dating back to 1950, when cardiologists used Type A and B to predict coronary disease potential in middle-aged men which makes it completely outdated today!  Of course, nowadays there are much more sophisticated personality tests, like Myers Briggs, but we still often refer to ourselves as either Type A or Type B.

So according to the original definitions, Type A people tend to be very driven, competitive, rigidly organized, ambitious, anxious, impatient with delays, often considered to be “workaholics” and experience a lot of stress due to many of these traits.  Type A men were considered (in 1950) to be at high risk for heart disease.

Type B Personality

Type B folks, on the other hand, enjoy achievement and success but do not have stress-related reactions when they do not achieve them.  When it comes to competition, they focus less on winning and more on enjoying the game.  Unlike Type A folks who like multi-tasking careers, Type B folks tend towards the creative and are often artists, musicians, counselors, therapists, actors, writers, etc. Network and computer systems managers, as well as judges, tend to be Type B personalities.  Type B folks enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts.

Of course, this is a massive over-simplification of personality types, but it is intriguing to look at them and consider where you fall.  I mention this because it has really struck me over the years how often I encounter people with RA who characterize themselves as Type A.   I thought of myself that way as well.  Since there are some chronic disease experts who believe that stress plays a role in not only the flares we experience but, possibly, the initial onset of RA (and other chronic, inflammatory, auto-immune diseases) it makes sense that Type A folks would be more prone, if you will, to experiencing these diseases.

Stress has been shown in many studies to having an adverse effect on our health and so, by extension, if we function through the prism of Type A characteristics, it makes sense that we might be more susceptible to diseases that are tied to stress.

Changing personality types

So, with all of that said, I now believe that we can actually change what personality type we are over time.  Because, theoretically, if we strive to do that, it may influence the course of our RA.  I know that, without realizing it, I have moved much closer to being a Type B!  I try to enjoy games now, without letting the competitive part of it dominate, I have become much more tolerant of delays and deadlines whenever I can, I strive to not let work dominate my life, etc.  It is so intriguing to me that there is a clear connection to my success with this and my flare level.

Perhaps if we look at the Type B characteristics as something to strive for, we can use that as yet another strategy in our RA management!  At the very least, it is an intriguing concept.


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 year ago


    My life is about being a Type A personality. I am and always have been a Type A. I lived on the excitement of the deadline and the adventure of dropping off a cliff, if things go bad.

    Sheryl says that is one of the 3 reasons I have RA. Her suggestion is that I worked my way into it. The other two reasons, are poor eating and lack of sleep. I point out the other tow sort of go with being a Type 1 personality.

    I still love being on the edge of the cliff even at age 61 and not able to work. Some habits die very hard.

  • Larry Sawyer
    1 year ago

    amen!!!!!!!!! How can I have a little fun with this problem???

  • Larry Sawyer
    1 year ago

    Nan, the GI doc who took out my colon for UC said that “all his patients were smart and Type A. That there was not one dumb one in the bunch”. that was in1986 so we will have to forgive the pc digression. I agree with your analysis because it is spot on to observations I have made since I lost my colon in1986. I had a very stressful position for 30 years, love the job, loved the stress and loved winning. but maybe I needed a little more uff da. be well Larry

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for writing Larry and glad the article resonated with you. Figuring out how to turn off that drive and stress can certainly be difficult. Noticed you mentioned ulcerative colitis. Don’t know if you are aware that we have a sister-site for IBD at They can provide the same kind/level of information and support for IBD as we strive for here for RA. Best, Richard ( Team)

  • Larry Sawyer
    1 year ago

    had a total colon ectomy with a installed ileo anal pelvic pouch, (ParksPouch), It has worked with some tweeking since 1986. Doctor Rick Nemer the doc who installed my pouch and I wrote pamphlet on how to live with a Parks Pouch which was coopted by the GI cancer folks because the number of total ectomys was reduced by Remicade. I think??

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