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PERSONALITY IN MENTAL HEALTH
Personality is impossible to define, as numerous researchers have discovered over the years. An individual’s definition of personality will be influenced by their theoretical orientation, and the empirical tools with which they seek to define it.
There is still much disagreement about the extent to which our personalities are moulded by the environment and our experiences, or by our genes. Studies of identical twins who have been separated since birth have shown a correlation between certain aspects of personality, especially those aspects of personality that relate to sociability, activity, and emotionality, but also regarding aptitudes and taste. The evidence, however, is by no means conclusive.
Different psychological and relationship problems have been attributed to aspects of personality, and a healthy personality is considered to be a necessary basis for personal psychological wellbeing. So, what is a healthy personality? Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, views people with healthy personalities as ‘self-actualisers’ who can successfully meet their needs for security, belonging and esteem. They are characterised by the following personality features:
- Acceptance of reality
- Concern with external issues
- Desire for solitude
Other psychologists have described ‘hardy personalities. People with hardy personalities are less likely to suffer from physical ill health caused by stress or change. They are more likely to view stressful events as challenges over which they have a sense of control and involvement.
Studies have shown that coronary heart disease can be associated with a particular type of personality. Type A individuals at risk of coronary heart disease tend to be competitive, achievement oriented, hostile and concerned by deadlines and time pressures. By contrast, Type B individuals are more relaxed and less concerned by deadlines.