Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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Research links personality to immune health

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by adreno, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. adreno

    adreno PR activist

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    http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/12/12/some-personality-traits-linked-to-health/78544.html
     
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  2. TheWig

    TheWig

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    Very interesting... I would be interested to see if the results stood true in an even higher sample size than 121. Either way, I guess it kind of makes sense. Crazy researchers at it again!
     
  3. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    Are extraversion and conscientiousness mutually exclusive? Or was 'conscientiousness' chosen because it's a more positive description than 'cautious'. Are they similar enough to be lumped together? Somebody seeing what they want to see?
     
  4. Revel

    Revel Senior Member

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    As a young child, I would say that I was an extrovert. Lots of friends, very sociable, active, quite the 'joiner'. At 8, I was a charity fundraiser, using my own initiative to motivate my school to get involved, which they did - fun times.

    Then, aged 9, I got sick with ME/POTS.

    Now, I would describe myself as introverted, anti-social and lacking in self confidence. You can actually see the change in my childhood photographs. Aside from the obvious physical changes, by 10, I wouldn't even look towards the camera.

    My personality altered AFTER I got sick. So, this is another psych study I am doubtful of (spoilt for choice these days o_O).
     
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  5. Beyond

    Beyond Juice Me Up, Scotty!!!

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    Other studies confirm a strong trend among introverts to depression. Bieng an extravert is an advantage without any shade of doubt in my mind. It has no disadvantages, and gives you the upper hand in everything social, which is practically everything humans do including posting in this forum.

    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/25/3/307/

    Revel makes a strong legit point, in that a disabling disease or obvious physical problem will always make a person psychologically damaged, but I was an introvert since I can remember, and I was very healthy and even physically gifted until 19 years old or so. Sometimes introversion comes as an inherited brain defect or as a result of early stress on the neurological system (vaccines for ex). Normally this is comorbid with something bigger such as ADD, like mine.
     
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  6. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    The article is very contradictory:
    The first and last extract come from the author of the article while the middle one is a direct quotation from the researchers. I'm assuming the middle one is accurate, so I'm doubtful and a little confused by the rest.
     
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  7. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    Immune system activation leads to sickness behavior which is more or less the same as various psych disorders.

    Perhaps people who can't fully clear an infection have subtle long term changes of their personality as result of ongoing low level immune system activation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  8. Revel

    Revel Senior Member

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    @Beyond, I would be interested to hear why you see introversion as a "defect", rather than merely a point on the personality 'spectrum'?

    In my former life, I reared calves, thousands over the years, from birth to weaning. Each had their own 'personality', most usually inherited from their mother's side.

    I found that extrovert calves, like humans, were generally far more likely to get themselves into trouble. In other words, their injury and mortality rate from accidents, over zealous play, etc, was higher than that of introverted calves.

    I noticed no difference in ability to fight off infection between extrovert and introvert calves (I'm talking here of animals at the extreme ends of the scale, most were somewhere between the two points).

    What I'm trying to say, in my own clumsy agricultural way, is that being an introvert isn't necessarily a biological/evolutionary disadvantage.
     
  9. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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  10. Revel

    Revel Senior Member

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    @Sasha, just looked at the reviews. This one made me smile: "Probably won't be read by the people who need to read it . . . " :lol:
     
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  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    It's a fascinating book, actually. It makes that case that in the US, particularly, extraversion is socially favoured, to the detriment of society as a whole - with educational practices geared to the liking of extraverts (group work) that are poor in terms of learning for both extraverts and introverts. Lots of interesting stuff in there.
     
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  12. adreno

    adreno PR activist

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    Introversion is often seen as a character flaw (negative trait), but it is interesting that anti-social behavior could actually be a defence mechanism, in order to avoid infections. An evolutionary valuable trait.

    On the other hand, it might be argued that being extroverted (social) builds stronger immune systems, over time, by being exposed to more pathogens. I guess it depends if you believe the hygiene hypothesis, or not.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
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  13. Beyond

    Beyond Juice Me Up, Scotty!!!

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    Calves aren´t humans, and furthermore, we aren´t even pure animals as it is clear we are "beyond" that, without a need to get into "spiritual stuff", scientifically our superior neurology has made new factors to appear which arent present in animals. How many animals suicide? Humans are so intensely social that yes, being any degree of uncomfortable with social interaction makes you more unhappy. From a survival standpoint, groups and teamwork will always outmatch loners, not to mention that DNA wants to replicate and extroverts have more sex/emotional relationships (again more happiness for them).

    Anyway, I have had social anxiety since I can remember, so maybe I am misunderstanding "introversion". For me introversion has always been energy turned inwards, and also a constant monologue in your head, which is ultimately self-destructive. I see introversion analogically as masturbation, whereas extroversion would be intercourse. Even when an introvert produces something exceptional and shares it with the world he has to "extrovert" that and ultimately he is doing it to express himself and communicate with others, which is extroversion. The extreme introvert is an autist and they suffer greatly, however the extreme extrovert is still functional and can even become a celebrity or something like that.

    In school introverts are bullied or uncomfortable with forced contact with a wide spectrum of more dominant/expansive personalities, thus they are stressed and less happy than extroverts. It doesn´t get a lot better afterwards. Of course you don´t have to be a poor disgraced person just because you are an introvert, but in all aspects is a a predisposing factor to failure. It is exactly like uglyness, which bears no benefit but is a negative trait.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/introvert/comments/27t5zu/i_fear_that_my_extreme_introversion_is_ruining_my/

    I think that book is bunk and makes me angry when I see it casually on Amazon. I want to feel the joy of social interaction that I see reflected in the face of people whereas I suffer so much in the same situation than pleasures them.
     
  14. adreno

    adreno PR activist

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    Social anxiety and introversion isn't exactly the same. Extroverts can have social anxiety, too. True introversion means you enjoy being on your own, you are not "forced" to be alone because of anxiety.

    On a personality test, a socially anxious person would probably on average score low on extraversion, and high on neuroticism, though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
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  15. Revel

    Revel Senior Member

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    @Beyond, I am not at all suggesting that calves are the same as human beings. I was merely providing an anecdote regarding personality traits within a mammalian species. I was trying to show how introversion can provide a measure of protection, allowing genes to be passed on to the next generation - you can't do that if you're dead. Ever heard of the Darwin Awards? I wonder how many of the recipients would have been described as 'extrovert', until they met their untimely demise.

    I think you and I have different definitions of the word 'introvert'. Being so disposed has never affected my ability to work as part of a team, or even lead one. I am quietly spoken, but I could get the job done. I just didn't choose to socialize with colleagues out of work, doing that 'bonding' thing. I found this aspect uncomfortable, possibly due to the excessive alcohol consumption on their part. I have never 'run with the crowd'. The idea of standing on stage doing karaoke . . . never going to happen in my world.

    Personally, I find it odd that some people cannot abide their own company and must perpetually be the centre of attention at all times. I don't necessarily think this is a healthy scenario either.
     
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  16. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    Unless my slightly-foggy brain has misconstrued the gist of the paper, it seems to be conflating inflammation with immunity. Is this justified? I know that immunity involves inflammation, but inflammation isn't necessarily a sign of a healthy immune reaction. And what about autoimmunity? I gather that this would be more common in extraverts. But might this be because they are more likely to overdo things, ignore their bodies' warning signs, etc.?

    Re animals, coincidentally there was a radio programme referring to animal personalities this week.

    It talks about different personalities being suited to different situations.

    The pertinent situations we encounter as humans tend to be created by other humans. As the extraverts push themselves into positions of power, they will create situations that are more suitable for themselves and more difficult for introverts.

    Re what @Beyond said about relationships, there are plenty of people (e.g. women with low self-esteem) who fall into multiple bad relationships that cause more misery than happiness. I was one such, and am now much happier alone!

    I have aspects of both introversion and extraversion. I lack confidence due to negative experiences from childhood, but have gained confidence with age. In the right situations (and often the wrong ones in the past, helped along with various substances) I am/was very outgoing and apparently extravert. A lot of it was an act though.

    Don't assume that that bubbly, loud, chatty, smiling person you see is happy. Think of 'The Tears of a Clown', for example. There's a lot of truth in it.
     
  17. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    I find it rather odd because it's different from how I am, but accept it as an aspect of some people's personality.

    I had a friend who stayed at my flat for a while, and had to keep asking him to 'go to his room' and give me some space. He hated being alone, partly due to problems due to a perforated eardrum (tinnitus?). But also, when I tried to persuade him to look inside himself as I do, he said that he had tried, but found nothing there, which frightened him.

    Tragically he died alone apart from his dog, and wasn't found for 3 days. I found out when idly searching the net for old friends.

    I have a current friend who also can't bear being alone. She is also afraid of the dark. She always has to be talking to someone, either face-to-face, on the phone or via text.

    Neither of these people is/was the type who wants to be the centre of attention. They just crave/d company and social interaction.

    Maybe people feel the need for constant validation/reassurance from others. Not sure though.
     
  18. adreno

    adreno PR activist

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    I am also unsure exactly what "pro-inflammatory" genes are. I guess we will need the full paper to find out. Here's the abstract:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453014004168
     
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  19. chipmunk1

    chipmunk1 Senior Member

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    or is our biology determining our biology?
     
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  20. Simon

    Simon

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    This looks altogether underwhelming to me, but as it's paywalled I can't see the details.
    (Personality and gene expression: Do individual differences exist in the leukocyte transcriptome?)

    Gene expression studies generallly are prone to false positives and findings often don't replicate. 121 subjects gives an average of only 24 people with each of the five personality types, which makes this a small study. The abstract failed to give either p values or effect sizes (which is poor practice, and if they had good data it probably would have been there).

    From Figure 3 (showing in mobile site) it appears that the p values are mostly marginal, and I suspect they haven't corrected for multiple comparisons (which increase the chance of false positives), so my guess is that if anyone tries to replicate this study the findings will disappear in a puff of smoke.

    And the differences in gene expression appear to be small so even if statistically significant they may not be biolgoically significant, as suggested by this finding:
    [from report in the usually-robust ScienceDaily]
    In other words, the findings may be irrelevant, even if real.

    Further casting doubt on things is that they failed to find any assocation with another set of genes they expected to be influenced by personality (Type 1 interferon/antibody response genes):
    This makes it more likely the findings they have are down to chance, especially if they haven't corrected for all the different comparisons they made.

    In any case, increased pro-inflammatory patterns, in the absence of an active infection, are usually associated with worse health, not better health, so the finding seems to be pointing in the wrong direction too.

    That set off a warning light in my head. The crown jewel of the link between the two was the impact of Type D personality on cardiovascular mortality, til this take down by James Coyne:
    Lack of Prognostic Value of Type D Personality for Mortality... : Psychosomatic Medicine
    which was endorsed by Stanford prof John "Why most published research is false" Ioannidis:
    Scientific inbreeding and same-team replication: Type D personality as an example - Journal of Psychosomatic Research

    But my cat had to be put down today so I'm in a foul mood and might not be giving this research a fair crack.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
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