Behavior surely affects physiology, at least once in a while. Sudden dashes for the train, laptop computer in one hand and takeout coffee in the other, can accelerate heartbeats and raise blood pressure. That haste makes coronaries was already a kind of folk wisdom-that is, standard medical knowledge untainted by research. "Hurry has a clearly debilitating effect upon the tissues and may in time injure the heart," admonished Dr. Cecil Webb-Johnson in Nerve Troubles, an English monograph of the early 1900s. "The great men of the centuries past were never in a hurry," he added sanctimoniously, "and that is why the world will never forget them in a hurry." It might be natural-even appealing-to expect certain less-great people to receive their cardiovascular comeuppance. But in reality, three decades of attention from cardiologists and psychologists have failed to produce any carefully specified and measurable set of character traits that predict heart disease-or to demonstrate that people who change their Type A behavior will actually lower their risk of heart disease.

  • Relax. Right now! "Foot off the pedal," as Cullen Murphy says. "Deep breath, count to ten . . . " Some of his other essays.
  • A list of on-line resources devoted to hurry sickness, Type A quizzes, heart disease, and stress-management institutes would be. . . well, superfluous
  • There isn't much Type A revisionism out there in the literature (not enough). Here's one sort of starting point.
  • This Brief History of Stress is cute