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  • Writer's pictureSusan Woodward

CFS/ME Personality Subtypes

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

Awareness of predispositions, particularly in personality subtypes that have energy depleting psychology, can be very revealing for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and create an understanding that behavioural patterns may be playing a role in driving their condition.

Whilst awareness is paramount in changing patterns, conscious awareness will not necessarily change what is chiefly unconscious behaviour. This is why I recommend techniques such as Faster EFT, Neuro Linguistic Programming or the Lightening Process to help stop engrained negative thought and behavioural patterns. Just one of the many tools I recommend in combating CFS/ME.


Personality subtypes associated with CFS/ME

The Perfectionist: Has demanding standards of themselves (and others) and believes in giving their all. Failure is not something they want to consider. May be uncomfortable delegating as no-one can do a job as well as them. Has trouble completing a project as there is always something more they can do to make it better. May avoid situations they are unlikely to excel in. Self critical.

The Over Achiever: Always driving themselves to do and be more. Define themselves through success. Can also be a perfectionist. Massive ‘To Do’ lists. In Control. Approach to illness is to push themselves through illness.

The Helper: Constantly puts the needs and wants of others before their own. Always volunteering. Can be giving from a place of inner lacking.

The Anxious personality: Has an internal sense of fear, danger or threat. May be outwardly fearful or, the opposite, constantly trying to convince themselves and others they are not afraid. They analyse all the things that can go wrong. Runs lots of scenarios to be prepared/safe. Lives inside their head. Repetitive thoughts. Body may be resting by the mind is not.

The Trauma personality: Can either be a major event such as natural disaster or some kind of physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse. It can also be developmental/attachment trauma where there is no single event but where someone has grown up in an unsupported environment. Trauma can also be experiencing bereavement or loss or it can be bullying, racism, homophobia, etc. There are many studies correlating the impact of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) to increased risk of adult onset chronic illness. For those who have experienced ACEs or who know they have deep rooted issues not yet dealt with, I strongly recommend working with a professional who has relevant trauma experience.

The Highly Sensitive Nature

What can often be underlying all these personality traits is the Highly Sensitive Nature. Some people are naturally more emotionally sensitive and aware. They sense other people’s feelings and read emotional energy in a room. Their Nervous System is more acutely sensitive which in turn can result in a deeper impact from life events.

Dr. Elaine Aron has been researching high sensitivity since 1991 calling it Sensory-Processing Sensitivity. This trait is found in 15 to 20% of the population, too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority of those around us. She has developed a test you can take online to assess if you fall into this category.


The mind body connection has long been recognised within holistic circles but even within conventional medicine doctors such as Dr John Sarno has explored the connection between unconscious emotions and physical symptoms and developed and used treatment protocols around this theory for decades with much success.

It is very important to note that the mind body connection is not saying that the illness is 'all ill your head', it is saying the exact opposite, that your symptoms are very real. For clarity this is important to state as CFS/ME sufferers have often heard rhetoric like this from a health care system that has had little understanding around the condition and so can be very sensitive to any mention of the mind being involved with their illness.

For more information on how to support CFS/ME please get in touch:


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