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Self-Involvement: A New Risk Factor Heart Disease?

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Have you ever tried to talk with an excessively self-involved person? If so, then you know that the conversation typically turns toward her or him-—with little or no interest in you or others.

Here’s a sampling of some self-involved statements:
“Let me tell you about my latest project.”
“My spouse makes my lunch for me everyday.”
“I work for myself; my business is mine.”

“I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.” If you use these pronouns a lot in both your thinking and your interaction with others, it’s likely you’re self-involved, meaning you have an excessive and unbalanced focus upon yourself. And you may also tend to take things personally. Why care? Because being self-involved may make more than a dent in relationships; more and more, it’s being linked to an increased risk for heart disease.

Colleagues and I discovered the self-involvement heart disease link when we conducted a study with Type A individuals — meaning, people who tend to be impatient and angry. Not only did self-involved people self-reference a lot, the more their responses were filled with “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine,” the higher their blood pressure, stress levels, hostility, depression and anxiety rose — all known risk factors for heart disease.

When we looked closer, the connection became even more clear: Self-involved subjects: 1) had more blocked coronary arteries; 2) were more likely to have a second heart attack, and; 3) were more likely not to survive a heart attack. The pronoun most strongly liked with heart disease? “My.”

One way to tell if this applies to you is to consider if you say “I, me, my,” and “mine” during conversations with others more often than “we,” “our,” “your,” and other third person references, such as “our.” If you think you’re self-involved, next week’s article will be filled with suggestions and strategies for the antidote to self-involvement: becoming more other-involved.

Larry Scherwitz, PhD, and Deborah Kesten, MPH, are international lifestyle and health researchers and Certified Wellness and Cardiac coaches. They also are the award-winning authors of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet.

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EmpowHER Guest

Hi Kellie,

I did various studies over a period of years and would be glad to send you copies of these if you send me your e-mail address to larry.scherwitz@comcast.net

July 28, 2009 - 6:19am

Hi Larry, that is an interesting study and the results ring true for me! I am more of a listener than a talker and think that the people who talk a lot about themselves seem stressed. It doesn't seem healthy to be in that state constantly, but I didn't realise it would be taking such a toll on their health.

I would like to learn a little more about the study you did. How many subjects did you study and how did you go about deciding a person was type A or not?

Thanks! Kellie

July 4, 2009 - 4:10pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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