Psychosocial Variables and Hypertension: A New Look at an Old Controversy

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This paper reviews the recent evidence (1979 to 1986) from investigations of whether there is a link between psychosocial variables and elevations in blood pressure. Forty-eight empirical studies are summarized, discussed, and contrasted with reviews and methodological criticisms of past investigations. Strong support is found for an association between hypertension and such psychosocial factors as the identification and expression of anger, the use of inhibiting defense mechanisms (i.e., denial and repression), and interpersonal anxiety. Even when criticisms of the older literature are taken into account, the current findings show surprising continuity with past theoretical statements about the hypertensive personality.

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