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The National Council of Psychotherapists

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Personality Types


Gwen Ladd-Phillips

At the time of publication Gwen was a student on an NCP Accredited Training Course.  This article is included because it includes reference to the ‘C’ type personality.  Although most therapists are familiar with the ‘A’ and ‘B’ types many remain unfamiliar with type ‘C’ –this article is sure to raise awareness...


One definition of personality : ‘The consistent manner in which a client perceives and interprets their environment, taken into consideration with consistent attitudes, values, behavioural and cognitive patterns can be used as the basis for helping a client discover their personality strengths and weaknesses’.


1.         Personality Types

It's now widely accepted that there are three basic personality types. These have the names of Types A, B and C. We all have elements of each type in our makeup. One, or perhaps two, however, will dominate. It's very useful to find out which personality type best describes your personality because this can tell you a great deal about how likely it is that you'll become stressed and, if you do, why and how you'll handle it.


Type A


The Type A personality traits are impulsiveness, competitiveness and the need to get things, lots of things, done quickly. Type A is always in a hurry, lives by timetables and deadlines, is a perfectionist and has difficulty delegating any tasks, and therefore ends up trying to do everything himself. He is also likely to be impatient and can be aggressive. Such a person is very unlikely to undertake too much self-analysis - everyone else has the problem, not him!


The Type A individual is often driven by feelings of insecurity. Such a person often becomes one of life's high achievers, in the belief that by achieving their goals and ambitions they will gain the level of control they feel they need in order to overcome their feelings of insecurity. Generally, a Type A person has no idea why he is so driven.


You can see from all this that Type A people are prime candidates for stress and stress-related illnesses. The Type A personality is the energetic one who suddenly has a breakdown when he finally uses up his reserves of energy.


This personality type also has the highest risk of heart disease and because the problems which give rise to stress are part of his personality are personality related, the only way such a person can truly de-stress themselves is by acknowledging the problem and being prepared to change some aspects of their personality and their behaviour.


Type B


Type B personalities are not as likely to suffer from stress as much as other personality types unless there is a specific cause, such as bankruptcy or divorce. They are the complete opposite of the Type A personality. If you had to find one phrase to describe a Type B person, it would be "laid back".  They are more relaxed about things, less driven and generally content with their lot, and are less likely to try to achieve unnecessary aims and objectives. Type B personalities have enough confidence in their fellow human beings to be able to delegate and do not feel the need to take everything on themselves. They are calm individuals with a rational outlook and not likely to damage their health long term due to a stressful lifestyle.


Type C


The Type C personality type has difficulty expressing emotion and has a tendency to bottle things up, especially anything  which is bothering them.

They rarely have displays to ‘de-stress’ such as shouting or throwing things and although they might feel like doing that – like any ‘normal’ person, they are able exercise extreme control over their words and behaviour. This is a perfect recipe for severe stress problems and the existence of the Type C personality was first acknowledged in studies of cancer patients.



Most people are a mixture of all three basic personality types


Anyone who is totally one personality type or the other, he's likely to either be locked up as a hyperactive psychopath or dead. In reality, everyone has elements of each personality type in their makeup and the important thing is the dominating personality type.


Type As need to have a close look their lives to see if they are stressed, a true Type A rarely knows what it feels like to relax and stress is the norm. The Type A person who can often benefit most from having a session with a stress manager, who can supply the objectivity he himself lacks.


Type B people are fortunate in that they do not experience stress problems to the same degree as either Type A or Type C, as they are a lot less driven and have the ability to voice any concerns that may be bothering them.  They are rarely seen in the consulting room.


Type C people need to learn how to let go and realise they can release their anger or frustrations like any other person would and not bottle everything up, hence the correlation found by Weinman with the C personality and Cancer.  Although no clear cut evidence, it did seem that characteristics displayed by Type C do have an influence on the progression of the disease and the survival time of patients diagnosed with cancer.


Remembering the Personality Types


‘A’ stress problem, the one to ‘B’ and ‘C’ for cancer


            Personality and Women


As we still live in a society which often labels displays of anger and other so-called negative emotions as 'unladylike', there will still be many women who suffer the consequences by being forced to act as Type C personalities, even if this is not their true selves.



Along with these personality types, there are also several recognised personality ‘styles’ which are :-




The agressive personality needs to control their surrounding and the people around them.  They dislike having to depend upon others for anything and do not like being taken advantage of or belittled, they will make efforts to avoid this.  They are conscious of their image and believe that ‘strong is good’  and will react with hostility to anything thought of as weak.




The narcissist personality turns inward for gratification and relies on the self only for self-esteem. Narcissists feel more important than others and strive to secure power, wealth, prestige and status to enhance their security, safety and well-being. This is a means of protecting themselves from the hostility and victimization they expect from others as a matter of course, i.e., the world at large cannot be trusted, only subjugated. They cannot stand to feel vulnerable to others and fear that if they lose their sense of power and potency they will surely be exploited. They intimidate others by projecting a superior attitude and use devaluation of others, overtly or covertly, to keep them in a place of inferiority. In reality their egos are fragile -- their self-esteem and even identities built on the illusion of a "grandiose self" which if deflated or criticized can illicit feelings of rage, humiliation, shame and worthlessness.


Depending on the circumstances they can swing rapidly between the two extremes of grandiosity and worthlessness.


Narcissist personalities have learned to overvalue their self-worth and exploit others whom they assume will recognize their superiority, even if there is no evidence or reason to support this elevated position of self. They do not have to earn this "specialness" -- it is enough that they project this arrogant self-assurance and expect others to acknowledge and admire them.


Histrionic (dramatist)


The Histrionic personality is marked by an insatiable attention-seeking, a great emotionality, a provocative and flirtatious behavior and a false sense of intimacy in relationships when in reality there is very little. Most histrionic personality types are women who have not gone beyond the infantile stage and thus enact the role of both child and woman. Often the histrionic personality has great social skills and a hyper alertness to others so that she can decide how to manipulate them in order that she can be the center of attention, outside of which she is very uncomfortable




Dependent personalities exhibit a strong need to be taken care of, marked by excessive separation anxiety, a lack of self esteem, fear of disagreements and a refusal to appreciate competency in themselves even when it is there. Dependent personalities are of a submissive nature, going along with activities that can be humiliating, demeaning or even abusive in order that the approval and emotional support they seek does not disappear.




Characterized by passive resistance to fulfilling social and occupational tasks through procrastination and inefficiency; complaints of being misunderstood, unappreciated, and victimized by others; sullenness, irritability, and argumentativeness in response to expectations; angry and pessimistic attitudes toward a variety of events; unreasonable criticism and scorn toward those in authority; envy and resentment toward those who are more fortunate; self-definition as luckless in life and an inclination to whine and grumble about being jinxed; alternating behaviour between hostile assertion of personal autonomy and dependent contrition.




A personality characterized by an emotionally constricted manner that is unduly conventional, serious, formal, and stingy, by preoccupation with trivial details, rules, order, organization, schedules, and lists, by stubborn insistence on having things one's own way without regard for the effects on others, by excessive devotion to work and productivity to the detriment of interpersonal relationships, and by indecisiveness due to fear of making mistakes


Avoidant (loner)


This individual has persistent and pervasive feelings of tension and apprehension and believes that they are socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others.  The have an excessive preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations and consequently an unwillingness to become involved with people unless they are certain of being liked.  This causes restrictions in their lifestyle because of the need to have physical security and greatly reduces any social or occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fear of criticism, disapproval, or rejection.




Schiziod types favour solitude, isolation, autonomy, detachment, self-sufficiency, being alone, mobility, independence, solitary pursuits, making decisions by oneself, carrying out solo activities, not getting involved, freedom of action, keeping one's distance, sexual pleasure.  They dislike intimacy, being involved in a group, other people (because they are intrusive), closeness, close relationships, being encumbered by other people, being encumbered by employment, actions by others that represent encroachment, close encounters, having to share decision making, showing feelings, sexual experiences with others and social responsibilities.


I found an excellent site for reference at


Gwen Ladd-Phillips


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