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'Type A' Personalities Are Overachieving Monsters

November 29, 2014 in Blogs

By Emma Brockes, The Guardian

‘Type A’ isn’t a type – it’s the ultimate humblebrag. Get out of my spin class and back to banking.


One of the things you get used to, when you live in New York, is encountering a large number of people who preface their statements with this phrase: “I’m a type A personality, so…”

In the last couple of weeks, I have heard the phrase used by an American woman in the final stages of pregnancy, discussing her “birth goals”; a British woman discussing the difficulties she’d been having with “the help”; and a website devoted exclusively to “alpha parents”, which I gather means parents who think very highly of themselves.

Whatever the context, using the words “I’m type A” is often a prelude to some form of conversational douche-baggery.

The people identifying as type A in these circumstances use the term as a synonym for success. Type A, in common parlance, is an advertisement for the self along the lines of: Hey, I may be a bit maddening at times, but it’s only because I have higher standards than you. Anyone who objects to the way of the A-type is merely displaying her position further down the evolutionary chain.

So universal is this interpretation of type A that it has become a principle of marketing. The New York Times just ran a story about Unplug, a new meditation franchise that has opened in Los Angeles, specifically offering “meditation for Type A personalities” and – brace yourselves – “a SoulCycle for meditation”. (Unplugged may be brilliant, but this particular sales spin is bonkers: meditation seeks to dismantle the very hierarchies and categories of achievement upon which the pitch relies. SoulCycle, on the other hand, is about re-reinforcing those categories by pretending the stationery bike you’re on is a mountain that you are conquering – a mountain probably made out of cash and the skulls of type B personalities.)

The funny thing is, this is not at all how the term “type A” was initially intended to be used. It first reached the mainstream in a 1974 book called “Type A Behavior and …read more


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