Personality, Cardiovascular Disorders, and Illness Behaviour

  • David Krantz
  • Victoria Leu


The idea that personality traits and psychological characteristics play a role in the etiology of physical disease has its roots in medicine and philosophy before Descartes. Early physicians believed that intense emotions could produce imbalances in bodily function, culminating in various forms of physical pathology. In the first half of this century, the role of chronic emotional conflicts in the etiology of physical disorders was emphasized. Based on observations of clinical groups, correlations between particular diseases and personality types were reported, and striking psychological similarities among patients suffering from the same organic disease were described. These similarities were formulated into personality profiles, and characteristic personality types were linked to specific disorders, such as coronary heart disease (CHD), peptic ulcer, and asthma (Alexander, 1939). Later trait approaches suggested that certain dispositions, such as giving up, depression, and inability to express feelings, were related to general susceptibility to illness.


Coronary Heart Disease Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery Psychosomatic Medicine Mitral Valve Prolapse Illness Behaviour 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Krantz
    • 1
  • Victoria Leu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical PsychologyUniformed Services University of the Health SciencesUSA

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