The relationship between repressive and defensive coping styles and monocyte, eosinophile, and serum glucose levels: Support for the opiod peptide hypothesis of repression

L. D. Janner, Gary E Schwartz, H. Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

148 Scopus citations


The opioid peptide hypothesis of repression (1) predicts that repressive coping is associated with increased functional endorphin levels in the brain, which can result in decreased immunocompetence and hyperglycemia. In a random sample of 312 patients seen at a Yale Medical School outpatient clinic, significant main effects of coping style were found for monocyte and eosinophile counts, serum glucose levels, and self-reports of medication allergies. Specifically, repressive and defensive high-anxious patients demonstrated significantly decreased monocyte counts. In addition, repressive coping was associated with elevated eosinophile counts, serum glucose levels, and self-reported reactions to medications. This behavioral immunologic, and endocrine profile is consistent with the opioid peptide hypothesis, which provides an integrative framework for relating the attenuated emotional experience of pain and distress characteristic of repressive coping with reduced resistance to infectious and neoplastic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this