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HLTB01H3S: Health, Aging and the Life Cycle
Department of Health Studies
University of Toronto at Scarborough
A&G: Ch 9 - The Interface Between
Physical and Mental Health.
Stress and Mental Health.
A&G: Ch 10 - Stress, Coping, and Health.
The Interface between Physical and Mental Health
Personality Processes and Disease
•The idea that personality characteristics are related to health and illness is not new, by
•Hippocrates believed that substances called humors influenced both personality and
•Galen extended this belief, the four primary humors were:
oBlood - ruddy, sanguine personality
oMelancholy (black bile) – depression and degenerative disease
oCholer (yellow bile) – angry and bitter
oPhlegm - apathy
•Rene Descartes coined the term dualism, mind and body were separate entities,
connected through the pineal gland
•Sigmund Freud is credited with developing the first Western scientific theory of
mind, and he believed that eventually psychological phenomena would be traced back
to neurophysiological events
•More recent research has reinstated the relationship between personality and disease
•Mind and body are connected in a bidirectional (reciprocal relationship between
physical or psychological health) or transactional manner (continuous process of
change among multiple variables)
•Personality process – psychological factors studied in connection with health and
aging include traits, affective states, psychological symptoms and beliefs and attitudes
(i.e. optimism can be a personality or an affective state)
•Three negative emotions linked to disease are hostility, depression and anxiety
•Control, self-efficacy, optimism, and emotional stability are protective
Psychological Risk Factors and Health
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•Effects leading to CHD comparable to traditional risk factors such as high
cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking
•Type A personality/Type A Behaviour Pattern (TABP): extreme, easily aroused
hostility; achievement motivation; time urgency; explosive speech pattern
•Two ways to assess TABP: Structured interview, or Self-report questionnaires such
as the Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS)
•Hostility tends to decrease with age
•People who are high in hostility show greater cardiovascular reactivity to stress
•Hostility is highest in adolescences, decreases with age, but may increase in late life
leading to protective effects by receiving more attention from caregivers
•Relatively consistent effects of anxiety on heart disease and overall mortality have
•Anxiety significantly predicts CHD
•Anxiety is associated with a release of catecholamine, which stimulates heart rate
•Acute emotional stress and hyperventilation can be associated with vasospasm, which
cuts off blood flow to the heart muscles
•Vasospasm can lead to acute ischemic problems and changes in blood platelets,
which may promote clots
•Perhaps the strongest association between negative affect and health in late life is
found with depression.
Psychological Protective Factors and Health
Control and Self-Efficacy
•Many early studies showed the protective effect of control.
Optimism (Positive Outlook)
•The construction of optimism is one of the primary foci in the current emphasis
on positive psychology.
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