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There's An Upside to Your Neurosis (For Real)

From Woody Allen to George Costanza, we do love to watch neurotics in action. At least, on the screen. They somehow make our own fears and idiosyncrasies seem quaint. They give us permission to both freak out a bit more, and make us feel better for not totally freaking out as much as they do.

And now, there's even more good reason to love our spastic friends. Take note of this news: Researchers at New York's University of Rochester Medical Center have found that it may not be all bad news for people who are neurotic. No, really, there's no catch.

The research team looked at existing data collected from the National Survey of Midlife Development (U.S.) on more than 1,000 individuals with certain disease-related biomarkers such as cholesterol and body mass index, as well as personality traits, including whether or not they were neurotic.

Historically, individual who exhibited neurotic behavior have also been believed to be more likely at risk for substance abuse, earlier death, and higher rates of chronic and stress-related illnesses. But the new research found some neurotic individuals may also be more self-reliant, self-controlled and responsible, prone to hard work, and better organized than other personality types. The healthy behaviors were noted particularly in those individuals with conscientious personality traits along with their neurosis.

There were notable physical health factors too that came as a surprise to the researchers: lower levels of a certain biomarker for chronic diseases and inflammation—one of the leading causes of illness. The neurotic individuals were also prone to be at healthier weights, with lower BMI (body mass index) levels than other personality types.

It's important to note that there is a wide range of personality types when it comes to being neurotic, and the researchers found the healthy behavior was displayed in individuals who also demonstrated conscientious behavior as well as their neuroses.

With many factors contributing to the development of a neurosis, some personalities, much like Woody Allen's movie persona, are inherently conscientious and concerned not only about what others think of them, but what impact their actions have on others. This can drive them to be more self-reliant and responsible, driven to succeed and hard work so as to not inconvenience or burden others. They may also be driven by a need to "fix" something in the world—an injustice or issue that the individual puts before their own needs.

But that doesn't mean you should mirror yourself after Allen or Seinfeld's George Costanza—many personality types are driven to be successful, self-motivated, and otherwise healthy, too.

What the research does offer, though, is more reason to accept the personality traits we've developed over time and know that there is always something good to be had.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettingerReference: more about Jill EttingerPhoto credit: SnowcoverStocks, Deviantart

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