- What Is It?
- Perfectionism vs. OCD
- Related Resources
Although not a psychological disorder, perfectionism is a personality trait that can be harmful when it is extreme.
Perfectionism is a common factor in many mental disorders, particularly associated with anxiety and other mental health issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
What is perfectionism?
Perfectionism is a trait, which can either be healthy (self-motivating and a driving factor to overcome adversity and achieve success) or unhealthy (a fast and enduring track to unhappiness).
Perfectionism can affect anyone, no matter their age or gender.
Perfectionism can make a person feel unhappy or unworthy. It can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harm. Even mild cases can interfere with the quality of life, affecting personal relationships, education, or work.
What causes perfectionism?
Although the exact cause of someone being a perfectionist is unknown, certain factors are assumed to play a vital role.
- Primarily driven by internal pressures, such as the desire to avoid failure or harsh judgment
- Greater academic and professional competition
- Social components
- The pervasive presence of social media
- Harmful social comparisons
What are the types of perfectionism?
Perfection manifests itself in three basic domains that include:
- Self-oriented perfectionism: Imposing an unrealistic desire to be perfect on oneself.
- Other-oriented perfectionism: Imposing unrealistic standards of perfection on others.
- Socially prescribed perfectionism: Perceiving unrealistic expectations of perfection from others.
What are the signs of perfectionism?
- Unrealistic and irrational high expectations for themselves and others
- Quick to find faults
- Overly critical of mistakes
- Procrastinate on a project due to their fear of failure
- Shrug off compliments
- Forget to celebrate their success
- Unable to share thoughts and feelings
- Dominating in personal and professional relationships
- Look to specific people for approval and validation
- Can be obsessed with rules, lists, and work
- Sometimes become extremely apathetic
- Desires success at any cost
- Most focused on avoiding failure
- A negative orientation
- Do not believe in unconditional love
- Expects affection and approval from others for a flawless performance
What are the dangers of being perfectionistic?
Perfection is an impossibility. When taken too far or seriously, striving for perfection can lead to negative outcomes, such as:
- A tendency to avoid challenges
- Rigid all-or-nothing thinking
- Toxic comparisons
- A lack of creativity
Adaptive or positive perfectionists have high standards. They set lofty goals, desire growth, enjoy being challenged, have problem-solving skills, are achievement-oriented, and work relentlessly and hard for success.
Nonadaptive or maladaptive is often driven by fear of failure, feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, and adverse childhood experiences. If perfectionists fail to overcome desires or are not successful, it can lead to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts.
Positive perfectionists are achievement-oriented, whereas maladaptive perfectionists are failure-oriented. Positive perfectionist takes perfectionism as their strength.
Are perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive disorder different?
Perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.
Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by high expectations and standards, whereas OCD is a psychiatric condition, in which a person experiences intrusive thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors that they are unable to control.
Perfectionistic tendencies may or may not be a symptom of OCD, but the vice versa is not always true.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
The many faces of perfectionism. https://www.apa.org/monitor/nov03/manyfaces
The Problem with Perfectionism. https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/young-adult/Pages/The-Problem-with-Perfectionism.aspx
What Creates Perfectionism. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/young-adult/Pages/What-Fuels-Perfectionism.aspx
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