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The Type “A” Personality and Lyme Disease

Perhaps you’ve heard it before. Many people with Lyme disease and related chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (which can often really be Lyme) tend to have what’s called a “Type A” personality.  Type A people are go-getters; they work hard, they can be intense, striving, and even perfectionistic.  Urgency, competitiveness, impatience and a strong orientation toward achieving are some characteristics of the Type-A personality.

While Type A folks can be highly successful at what they do and have much to offer others, living with a sense of urgency and striving puts the body in “fight or flight” or sympathetic dominance, which, when prolonged, weakens the immune system.

Raj Patel, MD, who is featured in my book, New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment [1] shared with me that he often sees Type A patterns in people with Lyme.

Dr. Patel states in his chapter, “If you really want to live a life of joy and happiness, you need to have a balanced lifestyle. I see Type A behavior in sick people all the time (including myself!). Many people already know this and will tell me that they have been working long hours and are under a lot of stress. Changing such behavior is difficult and takes time because the patterns have been entrenched for many years. Yet it is essential for recovery.”

So…if you are a Type A, how do you do this?  In my opinion, it’s more about a paradigm shift than just changing a few habits, although changing your habits can be helpful. Some Type A folks, like me, have had to learn that our survival and identity aren’t tied to what we can accomplish. We’ve had to accept that doing less is sometimes OK, that the provision we need will still come, and that people will still love us, even if we don’t “perform” at our best or get everything done that we need to.

Performance-based behavior can be rooted in fear and insecurity about such things as our survival in the world and others’ approval of us, and I believe this is often the root of Type A behavior. So, changing Type A behavior requires that we first reframe the way we see the world and others and know that we can be loved, survive and “make it” even if we aren’t perfect. There are different ways to do this. If you were programmed early on in life by your caretakers or others to believe that you aren’t “enough” or that you have to earn love or approval from others, counseling or mind-body healing techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique [2] (EFT), or Dynamic Neural Retraining [3] can be helpful, as can cultivating a relationship with God.

In New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment,  [1]Dr. Patel affirms the role of healing the emotions and how this helps to cultivate healthy behaviors that foster physical healing. He states, “Addressing the emotions is a core component of the healing process. It is hard to appreciate the shift that the power of positive change can bring into a person’s life unless you have experienced it. In my own journey, I put lifestyle changes and emotional healing on the same level of importance as treating the biochemical causes of disease. I found that much of what I needed to do to get well came from within me.”

When you get to the root emotions and beliefs that are behind your Type A behavior, you may find your behavior naturally changing for the better. At other times, you may need to be intentional about making behavioral changes, such as choosing to work fewer hours, slowing down your work pace, practicing meditation and prayer, and being mindful about rushing and striving, which cause stress and thrust the body into the “fight or flight” response.  By practicing these things, you may find that your body shifts into a parasympathetic, or relaxed state, on a more frequent basis, which in turn will foster healing.

This article was first published on ProHealth.com on September 23, 2016 and was updated on April 28, 2021.

Connie Strasheim is the author, co-author or ghostwriter of more than 10 wellness books, including four on Lyme disease, and New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work [1] [1] Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: www.ConnieStrasheim.org [4]. [4]