We have seen in other articles published on this site that if we experience significant trauma during our childhood we are at higher risk than average of developing psychological problems (such as an impaired ability to cope with stress, complex post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder) in adulthood, which, in the absence of appropriate therapy, can potentially devastate our lives.
Indeed, even if we our fortunate enough to avoid developing a formally diagnosable psychiatric condition as a result of our childhood trauma, our early traumatic experiences can still, along with our genetic make-up and other factors, have a marked adverse effect upon the type of personality we develop.
Researchers into personality have identified four distinct personality types : A, B, C and D. Let’s look at each of these in turn:
Individuals with Type A personalities tend to:
– be very driven and have a high need to achieve
– be impatient
– feel a sense of urgency and a need to hurry
– be materialistic / have a strong need to acquire expensive possessions
– be highly competitive
– be intolerant of errors
– be suspicious
– find it hard to relax
Shockingly, research suggests that Type A personalities suffer 90% of all heart attacks.
Those with a Type B personality tend to:
– have a relaxed attitude towards their work
– NOT be easily angered
Those with Type C personalities tend to:
– hostile, easily angered, intolerant and mistrustful in their dealings with others
– have a generally negative thinking style and a negative attitude to life in general
– have difficulty controlling/managing their emotions (this is sometimes referred to as emotional dysregulation or emotional liability; in informal terms, it may be referred to as being ‘prone to ups and downs’).
Those with Type D personalities tend to:
– be highly self-critical
– uncomfortable / awkward / lacking confidence in social situations
– be prone to feelings of insecurity
NB: It should go without saying, of course, that the human personality is an extremely complex phenomenon, therefore the above A,B,C,D model of personality represents something of a over – simplification.
What Factors In Childhood Have A Significant Effect On Whether We Develop A Healthy Or Unhealthy Personality Type?
We are more likely to develop a healthy personality in adulthood if:
– as infants our primary caregivers help us to develop a sense of security, trust and calm by soothing/holding/hugging/stroking/being spoken to softly and comfortingly etc. In relation to this it is important to remember that if our primary caregivers frequently interacts with us in a state of anxiety when we are infants we are likely to sense / pick up on this anxiety and are thereby at higher than normal risk of developing an anxious personality ourselves.
– as children, our feelings are accepted and affirmed by our primary caregivers and they display empathy towards us. Having our feelings minimized, dismissed or invalidated with derogatory remarks such as: what are you crying about you big baby? are psychologically damaging as they result in us repressing our emotions which stores up problems for the future.
– as children, our primary caregivers help us to develop our own problem solving skills and strategies to help enable us to deal with life’s inevitable myriad problems and difficulties in practical and constructive ways rather than being overwhelmed by the anxiety they may evoke in us.
– as children, we learn by modelling our behaviours upon those of our primary care givers. Thus, it is important our role models set a positive example and show us how to deal with difficult emotions such as fear and anger in an effective manner.
– as children, our primary care givers encourage us to talk about feelings and emotions that trouble us
– as children, our primary caregivers set boundaries for us by using fair and consistent rules and discipline.
– as children, our primary caregivers spend sufficient time interacting with us in a positive manner
– as children, our primary caregivers help us to develop the skills and confidence necessary eventually to become independent
– as children, our primary caregivers help us to learn how to balance our rights with our responsibilities.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE (FAHE).
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