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Problems For Perfectionists December 4, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, Religion, Science & Technology.
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Perfectionism – Psychology – Mental Health and Behavior – New York Times

“Perfection, as always, is the enemy of good enough.”  – Thomas Barnett

Some researchers divide perfectionists into three types, based on answers to standardized questionnaires: Self-oriented strivers who struggle to live up to their high standards and appear to be at risk of self-critical depression; outwardly focused zealots who expect perfection from others, often ruining relationships; and those desperate to live up to an ideal they’re convinced others expect of them, a risk factor for suicidal thinking and eating disorders.

“It’s natural for people to want to be perfect in a few things, say in their job — being a good editor or surgeon depends on not making mistakes,” said Gordon L. Flett, a psychology professor at York University and an author of many of the studies. “It’s when it generalizes to other areas of life, home life, appearance, hobbies, that you begin to see real problems.”

This is why experts have long debated the wisdom of insisting on abstinence as necessary in treating substance abuse. Most rehab clinics are based on this principle: Either you’re clean or you’re not; there’s no safe level of use. This approach has unquestionably worked for millions of addicts, but if the studies of perfectionists are any guide it has undermined the efforts of many others.

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