So, I have this theory. And the reason I have it is because I’m a part of several (and even run my own) autoimmune support groups and communities, where I’ve been privileged enough to connect with such amazing people and hear so many of my fellow autoimmune warriors’ stories.

It’s through these stories and connections that have led me to begin noticing patterns. These patterns have nothing really to do with the condition or disease itself though; instead, these patterns have everything to do with common characteristics that keep coming up amongst us within the community.

EVOLUTION & BACKGROUND OF THE THEORY

I think these common characteristics are part of why I think all of you are my spirit animals (aka my tribe) – because we have so much in common and can relate to how each other are wired. But it also got me thinking: are these common personality traits amongst those of us who struggle with autoimmunity more than just coincidence? Could the way we’re wired actually contribute to our conditions? My gut/intuition tells me yes, and there are studies out there (<<just some Google examples) that corroborate my thinking.

In fact, there is even a relatively new study of science that is gaining traction and attention called Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which is defined by Professor Kavita Vedhara, world-renowned expert in PNI as, “the science of the connections between the mind and the body.” Another definition of PNI that Professor Vedhara gives that taps into the relationship to autoimmunity is “the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.”  

By now, I think that this is something we all are at least semi-aware of – that stress and our mental states can, and do, affect the progression (and existence) of our conditions. But what I don’t see is a lot of discussion about what those certain personality traits, characteristics and belief sets actually are. That’s why I want to start this discussion, because I believe that understanding ourselves is the first step in being able to unravel some of the puzzle that is chronic illness.

FULL DISCLOSURE…

Before I dive into giving the 15 commonalities I believe may exist amongst those of us with autoimmunity conditions, I need to make three disclosures (please don’t skip over these):

  1. I am not a doctor, a social scientist (although I suppose I do have a college “minor” in Sociology…hehe), or a psychologist, and I make no claims to be one. This is not an official theory or one that I’ve tested or proven or anything like that. It’s just simply something I’ve been thinking about for a while and wanted to bring into the limelight. So, basically what I’m saying is that I have no credentials to support this theory whatsoever, except my own curiosity and tendency to over-analyze the $hit out of most things, while being really observant and sharply inclined to pick up on the idiosyncrasies of most people I come into contact with. 😉 
  2. Sort of ties in with #1 but again – this is not a tried and tested theory. I don’t even know if you all will find ONE of these true for you, let alone all of them. So, take it with a grain of salt. If I do happen to be super spot-on, then that’s great, but don’t overthink it. All of these traits are amazing qualities to embody and make us all freakin’ superheros! It’s just that when applied to our physical systems, my theory is that these idiosyncrasies may have a rougher time being “digested” by our bodies. In other words, this list is not meant to invoke more anxiety or additional feelings of shame, insecurity or self-blame; it’s just meant to start to unveil some commonalities that we all share. Through this connection and self-empowerment through awareness, I’m hoping that we can all help each other go a little bit deeper into ourselves and use this as a jumping-off point for more advanced healing.  
  3. This list is also not meant to say if you do exhibit some of these traits, that you DO or WILL (or that your children, family members, loved ones, etc. do or will) have an autoimmune condition or chronic illness. Now, I suppose my theory is meant to say if you have MOST of these traits, then yes maybe you’d be more inclined towards those conditions (otherwise why would we be talking about this right now? :)) But still, this is not intended to diagnose, pre-diagnose, or lead to any self-fulfilling prophecies. 🙂

Without further ado, here are the traits/characteristics/beliefs that form the backbone of what I’m calling the “Autoimmunity + Personality” theory. I may add or subtract to this list in the future, but this is just where my head’s at right now.

THE AUTOIMMUNE + PERSONALITY THEORY: COMMON THREADSautoimmunity personality theory

I believe that people with autoimmunity or chronic illness may possess a number of the following characteristics or belief systems:

  1. A tendency towards perfectionist tendencies
  2. Are Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs)
  3. Feel more comfortable “playing it safe”
  4. Lean toward being “Type A” personalities
  5. Have an ongoing fear of letting people down, or being wrong
  6. Have a tendency toward introversion (still may be social introverts though)
  7. Are “Maximizers” or over-achievers
  8. Have trouble saying “no”
  9. Tend to be very hard on themselves; expect and push themselves to be able to meet their own high self-expectations
  10. Self-conscious about who they are; afraid to show people who they really are or let people in
  11. More prone to anxiety and worry
  12. Inclined to be more open to having spiritual and “alternative” healing experiences
  13. Dislike feeling out of control
  14. Have spent a majority of their life feeling like they “don’t quite fit in” or like they are “misunderstood”
  15. Have endured some sort of memorable traumatic event or upbringing (remember, “trauma” is different to the beholder; some may experience trauma going to war, some may classify trauma as being in a car wreck, while others may internalize trauma from growing up around alcoholic parents, being bullied at school, or falling down the stairs in front of a large group of people. Chances are, if the event or situation is seared into your memory and can still elicit a psycho-physical reaction in you, then your body and mind may be holding onto it as a traumatic event)

FEEDBACK & FINAL WORDS

So, what do you think? Did any of these resonate with you? Could you relate to any of these? I’d truly love to hear your thoughts about my list, as well as the general topic of how (or if) common personality traits and experiences correlate to a propensity toward chronic illnesses like autoimmunity, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

I truly think that if we can continue to get to know ourselves, explore the relationship between personality and disease, and find the links within this “psychoneuroimmunology” area of study, that we are going to be able to take our awareness and understanding of autoimmunity and how to heal it to a whole new level.

And my hope is that by gaining more awareness about the characteristics that make up who we are, we can start to love the heck out of them and find more productive outlets for some of these traits. In this way, I believe we can help our traits and experiences to actually serve our bodies, instead of causing it to fight against itself.

 

164 thoughts on “My Autoimmunity + Personality Theory: Could Common Personality Traits be Linked to Autoimmunity?

  1. Erin

    I can check each of these off (or could have at least in previous years). Thankfully this whole healing journey has inspired lots of self-reflection, diving into my personal muck and mire – and working through it. It’s not easy, pretty, or fun. But I believe it is necessary and allows me to get more healing under my belt (mind / body / soul). Great post! Curious to see others weigh in.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks, Erin – glad you found that these were true for you! I agree with you about the self-reflection piece of healing; it’s definitely necessary and to me, is a blessing in disguise because it has helped take my life to the next level. 😀

      Reply

      1. Marjorie

        Oh, man! Something else that’s my fault! I should be able to change these traits, right? If only I just weren’t looking for attention all the time! So there we have it and yes I marked off every single one. Okay so now stop sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and DO something about it!

        Reply

  2. Sophie Van Tiggelen

    Mitch, did you write this post with me specifically in mind? LOL I absolutely recognize myself in almost all of the personality traits you describe. Just like Erin, I have had to delve deep into my past and work through trauma. I am glad I came to know myself better and I understand better now how I “function”. It’s all good. But self-care is primordial!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      lol yes, basically, Sophie! 😉 Crazy how it’s seeming a lot of us can relate to having these traits, and how our conditions have led us to dig deeper into ourselves and become more aware of how we function. Thanks for reading and sharing!

      Reply

  3. Kerri

    Your post nearly perfectly correlates with Gabor Mate’s writings in “When the Body Says No.” A great read that I highly recommend. And, yes, I have all of those traits and autoimmune issues as well.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      I’ll have to check those writings out! I’m not familiar, but if it’s along these lines then I’m sure I’d enjoy. Thanks! 🙂

      Reply

      1. Joanna

        I LOVE ‘When the Body Says No”! Definitely worth looking into, Mitch (especially with your ‘minor’ in sociology!

        Looks like you struck a MASSIVE chord with this theory, my friend!

        Reply

  4. Emma

    This is me!!! I totally connect to each of the descriptions. Love here your take on this as it is often something I’ve thought about. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

  5. Eliza

    Um…YES. I can check 13 out of 15 boxes on that list. I’m just starting to allow myself to consider that a stressful childhood may have contributed to my current situation (it has felt like a betrayal of my parents to even consider it), and it certainly shaped me into an over-achieving, anxious, hard-on-myself person. That worked for me for a while but, nope, not anymore. Thanks for this post, Mitch!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      That makes complete sense what you said about your childhood and how it feels like a betrayal to even think about it; I wrestle with that all the time because my parents are amazing people and I had a joy of a childhood, but still…being a HSP, you just absorb EVERYTHING – good and bad. I’m still working on making peace with all of it. 🙂 Glad to hear you’ve realized what works and what doesn’t for you anymore; I hope it’s helping you heal!

      Reply

      1. Petrea King

        Your list is excellent and true of not only auto-immune diseases but cancer as well….I’m a survivor. We conduct programs that help people return to what we refer to as our ‘first nature’ rather than what has become ‘second nature’ to us because of the challenges or difficulties or upbringing we experienced. You’re welcome to have a look at http://www.questforlife.com.au. As to parents, it’s good to remember that they were doing the very best they knew how, given who they were, what had happened to them and what they made of it. Sensitive kids are plugged into the emotional world around them and are affected by it until they know how not to be. Thanks for your excellent post. You’re absolutely right – the mind and body are an integrated whole and illness often brings us messages we wouldn’t have realised otherwise.

        Reply

        1. Mitch Post author

          Inspiring, Petrea! I believe in a way, cancer is its own sort of autoimmune disorder, and I’ve often explored the parallel between the two sets of diseases. What you’re saying about “first nature” vs. “second nature” also resonates deeply with me – after all, that is why I named my blog “Instinctual Wellbeing” (to hopefully inspire folks to get back to their first nature!). I also agree w/ your comment about parents doing the best they can; this is something I think we all would benefit from realizing sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing and love your programs. 🙂

          Reply

  6. Judi Sparre

    You’ve hit the nail on the head! I could tick off most of your list. Having recently read the connection between childhood trauma & autoimmune disease I believe this is extremely important in our healing. I’m a psychic medium & on a soul level we have all chosen to experience these challenges on earth to grow our soul. Spiritual people are given many challenges in life. Many blessings for your insight

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      I believe the link between trauma and healing is so important, as well. Thanks for sharing your experience and keep doing your great work!

      Reply

    2. Harriet

      Exactly, I would never have explored my soul like I have had I not had my autoimmune disease. It is a gift. Every time I have a flare I am made acutely aware of the fact that I need to look inward and to love myself. It has made me grow an awareness of myself like nothing else could ever have.

      Reply

  7. Kate

    I’m wondering if those of us who develop autoimmunity have (or developed) these personalities as adaptations as a coping mechanism to deal with the trauma from our childhood. Have you heard of https://acestoohigh.com/ ? Super interesting. I also wonder if you’ve read “The Last Best Cure” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa… that’s where I first heard about the relationship between a high ACE score and autoimmunity. I know that a high score can be associated with other chronic diseases though, so going back to your theory, I wonder if there is something about how we adapt our personality characteristics that influences our physiology in such a way where autoimmunity is the most likely “chronic illness” outcome.

    Thanks for putting your thoughts out there!! 😀 And yes, I identify with almost all of the above, do consider myself to have come from an abusive background, and have an autoimmune skin disorder!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Hey Kate – thanks for the note! I haven’t read any of Donna’s books but you’re the second or third person to mention a book from her so it sounds like I need to stock up on her work! Such interesting stuff. 😀

      Reply

  8. Celia Forrest

    Me too, wonderful thoughts and will allow many to see the issues for what they are and start the healing process.
    Alberto Villoldo book “One spirit medicine” is a very good red along these lines.

    Reply

  9. Di

    Wow, totally spot on with my personality. I found myself nodding at every one of them. So uncanny that you have noticed such common traits in people with autoimmunity!!

    Reply

  10. Linda Wenglikowski

    Interesting list of personality treats. I do think more of us are type A personalities that have autoimmune conditions. You know some of the recent studies show that their might be a link between people who have Gluten Sensitivity and depression. Even one study out that found anti-bodies to grain proteins other than gluten in wheat, rye, barley, and malt, like in corn and quinoa to name a couple of GF grains. That study determined that about 56% of the people with anti-gliadin antibodies (and some even had anti-gad antibodies as well). Although I can’t put my fingers on the link to that study, I’ll add some links for people to read up on this themselves. https://celiac.org/blog/2014/07/gluten-may-cause-depression-people-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/ https://chriskresser.com/3-reasons-gluten-intolerance-may-be-more-serious-than-celiac-disease/ https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-sensitivity-a-cause-for-anxiety-depression-and-migraine/ http://kellybroganmd.com/two-foods-may-sabotage-brain/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641836/
    http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/the_many_faces_of_gluten_intolerance/

    Reply

  11. Leslie McDonald

    This is so fascinating. I was reading through the list and nodding my head in agreement to every single one of them! There’s so much to still learn about Autoimmune Diseases but it’s comforting to know we have a community that supports all of us here!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Yes, absolutely, Leslie! I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface in our understanding of autoimmunity. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      Reply

  12. Michele

    Well, in regards to your disclosures, I am a therapist specializing in the treatment of childhood sexual abuse/PTSD. All of the items in your list are signs/symptoms of trauma.

    Reply

  13. Jenni

    Great post! Yup, all 15 apply to me, and I have an autoimmune disease. #15 reminded me of a book I have seen called “Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. I wasn’t sure if you’ve already run across or read the book yourself. I haven’t had the chance to read it personally so I can’t speak for it, but it definitely piqued my interest. I hope to read it in the future!
    Thanks for helping us all feel like we’re not alone in this!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      How interesting – that book sounds right up my alley; I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for reading and sharing. 🙂

      Reply

  14. Sharon

    13/15
    Many only truly identified after diagnosis with an autoimmune disease….everything open to introspection, dissection and sitting in deep 💩 to be present and open to the acceptance.

    Reply

  15. Deborah

    Yup Mitch. Spot on….and today marks 48 years ago thar my dad died in a terrible industrial accident. I was 8. He was my world…

    Reply

  16. Christine Grisham

    Great article. I’m an acupuncturist and one of my specialties is treating autoimmune diseases. I have one myself, and definitely see all of these traits commonly among my patients (and me, too). It makes perfect sense that people either turn in on themselves or lash out at the world to deal with their trauma and stress, and personality characteristics seem to greatly influence behavior–> and, ultimately, our health.

    Reply

  17. Lorna

    I can see it. Fascinating thing is, this disease (systemic scleroderma) cured me of a lot of that anxiety. I am now being kinder to myself and others because my time may be short. Now I am pretty much Teflon because, wanting to avoid stress in an attempt at self-preservation, I explore other ways to view situations. I have adopted an “everybody wins” approach, ensuring that I also have a win.

    I have also committed to being very honest about my feelings and have pruned my social circle to include only healthy minded people. I come off as strong, but I have always been a ball of anxiety and self loathing. That had to end for healing to begin.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Beautifully put, and I’m so happy to hear about all of those incredibly positive changes you’ve made to your lifestyle and mindset! Thanks for sharing, Lorna. 🙂

      Reply

  18. Deborah Hulsewede

    I have only 4 of these traits. I lived in an alcoholic household, lost my boyfriend in Vietnam. Also, worked in high stress occupation with adult oncology patients and last 18 months with pediatric oncology patients. I have Hashimoto’s and lichens planopilaris causing scarring alopecia. I also have past physical stresses, i.e.,rubella, varicella, mononucleosis, trench mouth, ruptured appendix with peritonitis.

    Reply

  19. Eileen Wosnack

    NOPE! Out of the entire list, I could only find 2 ‘sort ofs’ and the rest were definitely not, or are you kidding me not. While the personality and the AI traits may be true for most, there are exceptions, I guess and I am definitely one. I would say I am the complete opposite of that profile. Food for thought.

    Reply

  20. Michelle

    That is me to a ‘T’! I went down the list ticking them off one by one! I currently suffer from an autoimmune disease the Rheumatologist currently has labelled as Inflammatory Arthropathy. I’m currently going through the diagnostic process.

    Reply

  21. Harriet

    Yup, I have an autoimmune condition and this is me. I’m a doctor and I see a lot of people with autoimmune diseases as well and it fits most of them as well. The body always shows us a very literal picture of what our mental/emotional/spiritual state is. With this type of personality our body shows us how we break ourselves down, we attack ourselves with our thoughts of not being good enough etc, so our cells literally attack each other. Whenever I’m going through a flare it is almost always in a time where I have self doubt and lack of self worth.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      So great to hear you and others making this connection between body and mind. I hope more and more doctors can begin to see this like you, too!

      Reply

    2. Wendy Haslam

      I suspect that a lot of the self destruction by our own cells comes from guilt. Yes its I’m not good enough or you could say I hate myself for being not good enough and feel guilty for…
      My autoimmune definitely comes from my childhood where I was literally told ‘no child of mine will ever succeed at anything’. My school had the same attitude towards most of the children. Hence I have undermined and attacked myself all my life. At least I have now discovered EFT and have started to change.

      Reply

  22. Clair

    I think the biomedical model fails on so many levels to account for illness,more so as it didn’t seem to appreciate that disease could manifest from within, attributed by emotions or thoughts. Psychoneuroimmunology is a breath of fresh air but I think we still have a long way to go. The research carried by the CDC re ACEs (Adverse childhood events) points to an exciting discovery about ‘traumatic’ situations experienced by a body (in this case in childhood) can be held onto and prove better predictors of ill health than lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking etc. When you consider the definition of what a child could interpret as ‘trauma’ it’s likely we are ALL carrying ACEs within in. So the sceptical comment; for medical bodies to consider ACEs, would mean acknowledging illness is not something that invades us and therefore solved with wonderfully expensive pharmaceutical which in turn create side effect that other costly pills could resolve (and so continues the snowball effect and increased bank balance for pharma) but instead the need to look at human behaviour, care and support and invest in talking therapies ie investment in people rather than products to consume.

    Reply

    1. TroyH

      And mobilizing systems and efforts to support optimal early childhood development (e.g., healthy, secure parent- or caregiver-infant attachment relationships, quality affordable child care, longer paid parental leave policies, quality early childhood education, etc) and reduce risk/prevalence of ACEs. Optimizing early childhood social and emotional development pays dividends in improved short- and long-term health and well-being outcomes! Very exciting!

      Reply

    2. Mitch Post author

      Thank you for this really insightful comment, Clair! I’ve also done a lot of research on ACEs and think that’s such an important component to healing ALL types of chronic illness, as I think trauma built up in the body contributes to a lot of disease. Keep the discussion going so we can fight for acknowledgement from “larger” bodies of medicine! 😀

      Reply

  23. Karin

    Interesting theory! For sure there been some trauma in my life and I can recognize myself in the personality you describes.

    Reply

  24. Barbara

    Oh my, out of 15 I’ve ticked of 12!!! How accurate is this & so enlightened!! So been working on these for the past 15months, I firmly believe that I can win this battle tho, as I tell myself everyday that I’m healed & that’s that!!!!

    Reply

  25. Athena Roxas

    Hi yes thank s all my sister she has Hashimoto’s. She finds it hard to deal with life sometimes. She needs to meet people that she can relate to..

    Reply

  26. Leanne

    Wow, yes to all of these and agree with everyones comments. Its an espensive and draining all consuming process working through things from the past, the body and mind and mind are incredible, learnt so much about spirituality on my journey. Accupunture and reflexology and chakra cleaning has been incredibly helpful for me

    Reply

  27. Inge

    Yes! I can tick off most (if not all, when I include the past and who I was at the start of my autoimmunity) of these 15 characteristics. Extraordinary 🙂

    Reply

  28. Andrea

    Yes, these traits are clearly present. But through this autoimmune journey the last 5 years (hashimotos) its caused me to rethink my health my diet my purpose my partner because its made me to take a closer look at things. The psychological side is definitely the toughest hurdle. I also have an overwelming concern for the undiagnosed. If more people know they could feel better then they would psychologically feel better. We need to keep working on this gut brain connection to make a more peaceful world.

    Reply

  29. Jan

    Jan, October 22, 10:00 am
    Yes, I think that you have opened up a new truth about autoimmune problems. I have most of the “qualities” on your list. I am so sensitive to other people and their feelings, and I feel what they are feeling. I internalize everything, and worry is my middle name. My mind is always going, always thinking. I am a first born, so I thought that is why I always have to try be “perfect”. Your list makes so much sense. I have been following your website, and appreciate all the help you have given me and others.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thank you for following along, Jan. And I’m glad to hear this resonated with you – I’m the same way about internalizing everything and having my mind move 100 miles per hour all the time. I have to be really careful about that and I have turned to meditation to help quiet and calm my mind. Best wishes to you!

      Reply

  30. Vera

    Great article. I’ve thought about writing about this topic based on the number of patients see with gut issues and that have unresolved trauma. I would like to add here that my research has also led to the discovery that “co-dependent personalities” exhibit much of these traits and are prone to disease.

    **Check out these links for more info:

    https://www.recoveryconnection.com/top-ten-indicators-suffer-codependency/

    http://coda.org/index.cfm/newcomers/patterns-and-characteristics-of-codependence/

    Reply

  31. m ree

    This totally describes me also. BUT I know many, many people that it does NOT describe that have these same AI problems and due to their way of thinking, will not consider doing anything alternative and just stay sick. So, I agree that the ones who find/seek resolution are as described in your article, but I also know there are just as many with the same problems but don’t have the mindset to seek resolution outside the mainstream because they are not independent self thinkers but only followers.
    Thanks for the article, it’s always nice to see like minded people join to help each other.

    Reply

  32. Lisa

    I *know* with absolute certainty that events from my childhood that shaped my personality into the adult I became that seemed to have a target on my back and the word “sucker” across my forehead were the reasons I developed autoimmune diseases. I may have had a genetic predisposition but AI was a foregone conclusion for me before I ever hit my teens… I tick every single box. This makes all the sense to me in the world. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find a way to circumvent all the triggers?

    Reply

  33. Laura

    YES to all of the above!! Thanks for this post. Any suggestions for starting to work on all this? Also, you are very funny, so thanks for the laughs (when reading your other blog posts)! 🙂

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thank you – I’m glad you find the posts funny and inspiring! I am working on developing some content that is more “actionable” so hopefully we can all start turning this self-awareness into actions that can help us heal and dissolve those things that are maybe holding us back. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

      Reply

  34. TroyH

    Spooky, 15/15. I am new to this community and the autoimmune connection, but am very familiar with HSP literature and my sense of belonging there. Almost makes me teary to find another group of similar-minded people (really felt like an outsider, freak and square peg most of my life). Seems to be fewer men/males again in the responders, something I have also noticed in the HSP sites. Maybe not. However, I’ve noticed it is hard to be a heterosexual male and be accepted by both men and women in many similar groups (by men, because there seem to fewer numbers and by women, because of the inherent societal pressure to not have opposite sex friends in adulthood outside of “couple friends”). Therefore, I might add “tendency toward” or “prone to isolation and depression”, as well.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      I hear you on the issue of men being a minority in the AI space; I’m actually working on an blog post to explore that very topic coming up here soon! I’m glad you’ve been able to find us, Troy – it sounds like this is right where you belong. 🙂

      Reply

  35. Sue Pidgeon

    I can relate to nearly all of these myself, and agree that the totality of our being, our past experiences, our self image, our ways of managing stress, etc. all impact our physical being. My one caveat to your ideas is that your experiences with others in the on-line communities is somewhat skewed toward people who are choosing to pursue a similar approach to healing, and may not be representative of all people with autoimmune diseases.

    Reply

  36. Sally

    So accurate!! I have lupus,hashimotos and shortens syndrome with a dash of reynauds on the side. I can relate to many who have responded.

    Reply

  37. Cindy

    Yes, my adult daughter who has NMO, meets all these traits. I always felt that she’d get very ill one day because she’d take the weight of the world on her shoulders.

    Reply

  38. Kylie

    It’s wonderful to see these thoughts articulated, Mich, and how you have brought together so many people who feel the same way. I have Graves Disease and yes, I am firmly an A- type and have observed much of what you have in the people I meet and read about with autoimmunity. I have also read broadly about trauma, gut health, immunity and various holistic approaches to health and have tried many. I have been on the healing journey long enough to see the way body responds to mind and mind responds to spirit. I live in the UK but have lived in the US also (though hail from neither place), and it interests me that there are such high numbers of autoimmunity in the US. As a result, this is where much of the really interesting research is being done – for instance in functional medicine. I wonder if the culture of fear (guns etc) is as much part of that profile as the high-sugar and high-carb diets, pollution, food additives, and also other toxins, including consumerism, certain types of media etc. We are living in a time of great change and, to my mind, the healing path can be profound and self-revelatory as so many of your wonderful respondents here have confirmed. If we can first heal ourselves then we can do some real good in a world that sorely needs it!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      I think our culture certainly contributes to the formation of autoimmunity! There’s definitely a reason there’s more autoimmunity now than ever before. Great points and thanks for reading from the UK! 🙂

      Reply

  39. Gab

    I found much of this true! The Only ones that are not true of me are: I’m not Type A and I’m not an over-achiever.
    You mentioned tendency toward introversion (even if a social introvert) did you mean to say a social extrovert? Because I’m an introvert who is very outgoing socially.

    I’d like to add a few characteristics to your list.
    1) highly intelligent
    2) very kind
    3) incredibly good looking.
    😊😜

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Lol I like that last one! And nope, I meant social introvert. It’s a misconception, I think, that just because you’re introverted by nature means you also dislike being social, or can’t have moments of extroversion. So I really like to point out the distinction between “introvert” and “social introvert.” 🙂

      Reply

  40. Lynn Olijnyk

    This seems to have some serious significance. I am wondering if the genetic mutation is always there, but trauma triggers a response from the body? Very interesting!

    Reply

  41. Lori

    Yes to most of these. It is uncanny the way we all have these traits in common. I wonder if maybe part of it is these personality characteristics also lead us to be more demanding patients that don’t give up until we have a diagnosis? I know there are many people who have issues / symptoms but just flit from doctor to doctor without getting a diagnosis or proper treatment. Just a thought. I totally believe the whole nurturing our soul aspect of having a chronic illness. I have learned so much and grown so much on this journey, and plan to continue to do so for many years to come. Interesting survey, and I hope to read more on the subject with the books / works mentioned in the comments.

    Reply

  42. Scot

    Mitch and Britt there is a HUGE logical problem with the argument you are tabling. While there may be a statistically significant CORRELATION between disease and the traits you list, that does not confirm CAUSATION. In fact, based on the last few years of research being done on the effect of the microbes in our gut on our behaviour, it is far more likely that we will soon confirm that our “idiosyncrasies” have a lot more to do with the microbial cocktail in our guts than anything else, such as past traumas (however, if a trauma was acute enough to suppress one’s immune system it could allow a microbe to take root in the body whereas if the immune system was acting normally it would easily deal with the microbe). Many papers on the new microbiome research are available on the net and I recommend everyone read them before perpetuating notions that our thoughts, conscious or unconscious, or behaviour patterns are the primary cause of disease. This is a summary of some from Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-health-may-depend-on-creatures-in-the-gut/

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for your comment and offering your alternative perspective, Scot. I very much agree with the literature that supports the idea of the gut and microbiome playing a huge role in out health, particularly when it comes to autoimmune disease. In regard to this particular conversation, it just sounds like we’re approaching it through different philosophies, both of which may very well be valid depending on if we’re looking at things through a medical or emotional/mental lens. 🙂

      Reply

  43. calli blau

    Yes! Everywhere I go I notice patterns and connections like this. I think it’s my specialty. I’m working on the externalizing part. Probably a major key in healing is feeling comfortable talking outloud. Thanks for sharing your observations!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Yes – blogging can be a very therapeutic outlet for all the thoughts and observations! Best of luck 🙂

      Reply

  44. Katie Townsend-Merino

    Yes. Yes and Yes. So much to learn still, but I think it may be one of the environmental/social factors that influence our biology. And why, beyond nutrition, the changes I have made in my life to reduce stress have been so instrumental. Trained to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction with UMass as it provided me the tools I needed to reduce my own reactivity to being sick. That and retire after being a Psych Prof for 30 years!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Yes – the mindfulness piece is so important. My symptoms (and I think all AI symptoms, probably) are 100% correlated with my stress levels. So glad you’ve been exploring these environmental/behavioral factors as well!

      Reply

  45. Kat Risley

    Have you noticed any correlation between specific types of diseases with specific traits? For example; if lots of allergies/sensitivities are common among those with PTSD and fearful anxiety, or if osteoarthritis is at all linked with people who put unrealistic demands on themselves in the name of seeking purpose through taking care of others? Since a fellow autoimmune sufferer mentioned this hypothesis to me, I’ve been hoping to find more such examples. I’m attempting to use SDN (Self-directed Neuroplasticity) to reshape myself a little, and hopefully even rewire some of the personality traits that may be influencing my hippocampus’ disfunction.
    Please let me know if you hear of any such thoughts, or especially if there are any actual studies.
    Kat (a sufferer of allergies, degrading spine, digestive issues, etc…)

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Kat (and sorry for the lag-time in responding). I personally believe there are commonalities between certain diseases and traits, yes! Still, there’s not a ton of studies out there to support it – it’s sort of just a theory I’m exploring. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d recommend looking into the book Messages From The Body – it is like an encyclopedia of every single disease / condition / injury possible, and the emotional or mental reasons associated with it. It is uncanny how spot-on it is! Best of luck in your journey 🙂

      Reply

    2. CISELA WILDES

      this really helped me understand myself and deep indealt with issues. see THE HEALING CODES. lots of positive changes when i started doing them Dec 2012.

      Reply

  46. Pingback: Is there a link between autoimmunity and personality traits? - The Tapping Solution

  47. Pingback: Is there a link between autoimmunity and personality traits? – The Tapping Solution Blog

  48. Belinda

    When did you “read”me? Line for line you described me so well! My first and probably my greatest traumatic experience happened 53 years ago when my father died (I am 58 now). His death was very sudden and unexpected. I have struggled my entire life to survive. For the past 15 years I have worked hard to re-create myself and overcome some of these characteristic traits. In 2006 I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and had to have total removal of thyroid in 2011 (Hashimotos). In 2013 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. When our body succumbs to illnesses we must change attitudes and some characteristics. Thank you to your article. This is an interesting theory.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for sharing some of your story, Belinda, and sorry to hear about your father passing so unexpectedly when you were so young — an event like that is definitely something that we’ll carry with us for a while. Keep up the great work w/ re-creating yourself & working through those past issues!

      Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Helen, great question. I am currently working on a follow-up post where I hope to be able to better address that. I hope you’ll check back in a week or two to read!

      Reply

  49. Seeking

    This ties in with the case of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s wife Hannelore who developed a sensitivity to light and could no longer go out. A refugee from the second world war, she spent her life supporting her husband and raising their children. Helmut was rarely home and, according to her friends, she never voiced her frustrations and always did her duty. She was criticised in German society for never letting her emotions show, showing total self-control and for being something of a human icicle. She took her own life in the end.

    Reply

  50. Cathryn Ana Glenday, MPH, MA, LMHC

    I read your article with interest. I have a nasty autoimmune illness and my entire life has changed to manage it. But unlike you, I am both an epidemiologist with a background in bio-medicine and a psychotherapist. I have most of the traits on your list but I only had a very few prior to developing lupus. The rest are a result of my lupus not the cause.

    What I think many of us have in common is early trauma that has changed how our neuroendocrine system responds to stress. Modern medicine has lost how integrated our bodies really are. Early trauma changes a child’s brain and how that child biologically responds to stress for the rest of their lives. In my personal experience many of the traits you include are responses to trauma.

    Statisticians see a lot of confused thinking by folks not trained in science and stats. Just because things are related one cannot imply there is a causal relationship. For example it is quite likely many of the traits you describe are a result of living with these illnesses not the cause.

    Reply

  51. CISELA WILDES

    at 80 yrs i have worked through a lot of personal issues having affected my mind and body but i just recently understood that a birth trauma and abuse by a nanny for 10 mos are still affecting me and the immune system. at age 37 i was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, pancreas and the liver and used ONLY natural therapies to heal. a journey of 3 intense years physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. the cancer comes back occasionally i can feel so the discipline starts over again. now i use the Halo System to heal the deep issues. it is so exciting to read all the natural therapies now being made public finally.

    Reply

  52. Maria

    Yes. My husband is a living example of this. As a child his mother was always on his case , never good enough. Now he transfers his feelings toward other women who may appear too dominating ( according to his theory, including me) . It makes it very difficult and painful to live with him. Of course he is always right, and won’t look inside of himself, but looks outward for someone to blame. He also gets greatly offended if you should not agree with some of his theories. Enough said. I am learning to let go, and accept him as he is. God give me strength!

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      We men are a stubborn breed, Maria. 🙂 Keep taking care of yourself as you help him work through those lingering issues. I wish you both the best!

      Reply

  53. Terry

    I have every one of those traits and experience autoimmune disorders as well as depression because of them. It’s a freakin curse. In your quote that ended the article…” I believe we can help our traits and experiences to actually serve our bodies, instead of causing it to fight against itself.” Please, please direct me to where this can happen for me. So very tired of living this way.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      I understand completely, Terry. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. I’ve reversed many old beliefs and patterns though (and I had a LOT to work through!), so I believe it is possible. I am working on a follow-up post where I’ll share some tips and resources I used to help me reverse the process, so please check back in a couple weeks to read. Hang in there – there’s always hope. 🙂

      Reply

  54. B

    You are definitely on to something here, without a doubt. I have RA and I can tick ALL of these! I hope you are going to take this further. Well done you 👍🏼

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks very much, glad it resonated. I am planning to take it further with a couple follow-up posts, so stay tuned! 🙂

      Reply

  55. Rebecca

    Well I guess that I’m in the minority here. Not all are applicable to me but I agree with your conclusions. I’m off the charts in my ACE score so I’m sure that that’s contributed to my AI issues. Also, there’s science behind being born via c section versus vaginal birth and your micro biome isn’t properly populated from your mothers immunity at birth.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Ah yes, the birthing issue is an interesting one that I’ve been learning a lot about. It also sounds like many of my readers have high ACE scores, so that could definitely be a contributing factor. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  56. Enos Anderson

    Quite a few of the traits applied to me in the past, i have been doing some personal work. I had psorissis some years ago and cur.ed it with lifestyle change. I have recently seen some vitilago spots, another auto immune disease.

    Reply

  57. Liz

    I can relate to quite a few items on your list. I have had various autoimmune diseases for the past 73 years since I was a small child. The term Autoimmune wasn’t used at that time, but as a child I had vitiligo and psoriasis, at present I have AIHA and the psoriasis has gone suddenly. The only problem with your list is that a large percentage of the population can also relate to many of the problems on the list without ever having had any type of Auotimmune disease themselves, or in their family. The Autoimmune problem is supposed to be familial according to the latest information from my hematologist.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for sharing some of your story, Liz. I agree that my list is more of a correlation vs. causation, as I’m sure many folks without autoimmunity can also check many of these boxes. I see it as just one piece of the puzzle and maybe something to help us get a little closer to understanding these complex diseases. 🙂

      Reply

  58. Vikki

    Wow I too have most of these tendencies. Crazy never thought of that before. I think you are on to something.

    Reply

  59. Tracey Angel

    Yes. Me too. All 15. And a number of so-called ‘auto-immune’ conditions. Reading through all these amazing comments and discussion. Then off to read Mate’s book. This is fascinating.
    Disclosure – I am a psychologist 😌

    Reply

  60. Chronnie

    Every.Single.One. And I have a proven genetic blood marker that causes my immune system disease and the myriad attendant conditions that come with it, including four different kinds of arthritis.

    Reply

  61. Ellen

    This is fascinating and quite thought-provoking…looks like I’ve got some EFT homework to do! A lot of the list sounds like me, and while I don’t tend towards AU diseases (other than some arthritis in my knuckles as I age), I do go through big mysterious ups and downs in health – but no one else in the family does. I’ve often wondered if I’m unconsciously causing or adding to the problems. There’s an excellent book Feelings Buried Alive Never Die, in which author Karol Truman offers a script one can adapt to help reverse negative emotions; she makes the claim that doing so even changes our DNA. She believes there’s a clear link between thoughts, emotions, and illnesses. (That reminds me to get back to using the book!) Years ago I used it regularly, to the point where there was a marked difference in my photos, before and after.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      So interesting, Ellen! I do believe that our cells hold on to our past traumas and emotional patterns, so if we can reverse them or release them, we have a chance to alter our DNA. I’ll have to look into that book. Have you heard of Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton? Sounds like it’d be along those same lines.

      Reply

  62. Pauline Howell

    I am retired now but I used this method of healing for a long time ,,I call it “emotional attachment to diseases” example someone presents with liver problem ,,this tells me they have anger towards someone and in my experience underneath anger is also fear, I treat the emotional with EFT which I am Qualified Practitioner level 6,then few weeks into it ,,liver cleanse and immune boosting supplements. I have been incredible successful .
    In 2000 my therapist advised me to get the new Mountrose book on EFT I read it from start to finish then had a thought ,,I will use it on myself see if I can stop smoking !!! after 35 years,, I tapped for one hour (which is what my clients have ) Threw my cigarettes away and have never even felt like a cigarette since in fact smell makes me sick. To date I have 3 people who I have stopped smoking in one hour, so glad their now using brain maps to confirm it works ,,,

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Wow, amazing! I, too, have seen great results from EFT. Keep up the great work – good to know folks like you exist and are helping heal. 🙂

      Reply

  63. Heather

    So when my doctor told me my symptoms were all in my head was she correct? I’ve had an autoimmune condition since I was a teenager. Another developed in my 40’s and now I have myeloma, an immune based cancer which has eaten my T8 vertebrae and left me with partial neuropathy after back surgery which is better than the complete lack of feeling I did have. I’d say all but 1 on those on the list would apply to me. I’m not sure how to take that. I’ve been searching for natural methods to heal, my diet is so restricted but limits my autoimmune symptoms. Hmmm….

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for sharing some of your story, Heather – it sounds like you’ve been through a lot! I definitely don’t think any of your symptoms were ever in your head – that is an unfortunate line that some doctors like to use on folks like us, whom they don’t know how to treat. Glad to hear your diet is helping your symptoms, and hoping you can feel less restricted by it soon!

      Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Absolutely. I am also a student of Ayurveda, so I am constantly thinking through my conditions from all different levels (spiritual, emotional, mental, etc.)

      Reply

  64. Lynn

    I am having great success with the 271 page workbook “unlearn your pain: a 28 day process to reprogram your brain” by Howard Schubiner, MD who developed the Mind Body Center at Providence Hospital, Southfield MI. He describes :”MindBody Syndrome” as a neurological process of the unconscious brain that holds on to pain, & symptoms like vertigo etc. when traumatic flashbacks, intense emotions, & other things trigger it to. He was guided by a 40+ yr old book by John Sarno, The MindBody Prescription. They & more are available on Amazon. Dr HS uses practical exercises, writing sessions, mindfulness & more. I have only been working with him & his book for a week after 21 falls & serious injuries. Some dizziness is still there AND I have not fallen during that time. Today I could use a cane & not a walker; finally, there is hope.

    Reply

  65. Linda Paris

    Great read Mitch and I totally identify with all the traits listed. I am currently working with my Chiropractor who is also a qualified EFT Practitioner and the link between stress, emotions and the body is incredible. Most of my issues are related in some way to how I think and feel and we’re working on those things first before we try to fix the health issues otherwise they’ll just come back! It’s a slow process but I really think we can triumph over any illness once we’ve got the mind/body connection in harmony.

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Definitely agree! Glad to hear you’ve found such a capable practitioner to help you with this!

      Reply

  66. Sonya

    Hallelujah!!! I’ve thought this for years! It twigged several years ago when I had just completed 8 yrs of being house bound and nearly bed bound after contracting Glandular Fever for the second time and just slept for the next 8 yrs (11 now). But I heard bout fb groups and after a while I posted a Q, ‘how many are sensitive or empathy type people? The response was resounding!! I knew then that sensitive souls get very damaged and fatigued by life and this world. I will step out on a limb to say that I believe the Elite who rule our world are trying to kill off and make extinct sensitive human beings as they are Gods chosen ones!

    Reply

  67. Marina

    I thought this was a very interesting article. I have Hashimoto’s and I possess almost all of the personality traits on this list. It seemed like the article was describing me.

    Reply

  68. Thais Maia

    Hi, Mitch! Greetings from Brazil! I don’t know how I dropped in your site, but I’m glad it happened…I have lupus, discovered it 7 years ago and it was a really painful process for me and my family. I am familiar to almost all of the characteristics you listed and it’s no surprise to me, since I’ve been observing these traits in people, just like you do, during all of my life. I’ve been studying psychology for some time now(still a beginner, but human psyche is so rich and unveiled that it makes me think I’ll always be one!), and have learnt that our psyche completely moulds our body and behavior (feelings, actions, etc) though many people still find this thinking very supersticious and a mystic matter…Researching about Reich corporal psychology, Melanie Klein and Françoise Dolto psychoanalysis, for example, I could understand how minimal events, even in prenatal life, can affect our whole development – for the rest of our lifes. These theories (both theirs and yours, haha) sound frightful and marvelous at the same time. They present a more holistic comprehension about the fragile human existence and that’s really beautiful and inspiring! I’m not fully adapted to lupus, it often hurts (my body and my feelings) and tests me, but I’m learning to live with its companion the better I can! Thank you a lot for your courage and the generosity to share your knowledge with “autoimune warriors”! =)

    Reply

    1. Mitch Post author

      Thanks for reading and for sharing some of your story, Thais! It is indeed interesting to see just how much power our psyche has over our health. Keep up the good work with psychology and healing lupus!

      Reply

  69. Pingback: Why Women Have More Autoimmune Diseases Than Men – Ny Med Times

  70. Alina

    I was looking for a research on autoimmunity and personality traits and found your article. I have a similar feeling re connection.
    Someone above wrote that it may mean the illness is our fault but it actually means the opposite: it is almost impossible to control your personality, most likely this is something we are born with and therefore any self blame is totally unjustified.
    Good health, everyone!

    Reply

  71. Amer Saad

    Hi Mitch, I had MS about 15 years ago and can relate to most of those personality traits. I managed to clear myself of MS through emotional clearing practices (Journey work, by Brandon Bays and then Emotional Freedom Technique) and at the time a bit of magic called Vortex healing. Through Journey work and Vortex healing I was able to clear myself of MS within 12 months of being diagnosed with the condition. It’s true that conventional doctors will state that I am just in remission, fine, but I haven’t achieved or maintained it for 15 years by taking the drugs they offered me then or now. I due respect my body and take regular exercise and try to have a good diet for 90% of the time! Love Amer

    Reply

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