Perfectionism - Healthy or Compulsive Disorder
We live in an imperfect world, yet many people are obsessed with making their lives absolutely perfect and would be considered perfectionist. However, if we don't allow ourselves to be imperfect no matter what challenge we take on, the end result will almost always be disappointment. One of the definitions of perfectionism is ‘a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable’.
Perfectionism is a self-defeating behavior, which can cause depression, poor self-esteem, relationship problems and even suicide. It also interferes in marital and personal relationships.
Being a perfectionist causes your behavior to be very rigid and judgmental toward yourself and others. People are not born as perfectionists, as it is a learned behavior, and a perfectionist can become a success slave.
The Perfection of Nature
Perfectionism in Children Increasing
In our society perfectionism is increasing, and the experts think it's because there's a lot of pressure put on children to achieve due to parents seeking status from the performance of their children.
The problem is the pressure to achieve high standards is perceived by children as criticism of their mistakes. It can also be a form of parental control, which is seen more frequently in this global economy.
According to Paul Hewitt, PhD, a scientist who has completed more than 20 years of research and his colleagues, see no healthy motivation for perfectionism. They believe that is not necessary to be perfect in any way. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems are often correlated with perfectionism. There have been several new studies completed recently that prove this theory.
Treatment for OCD
There is help for the OCD patient using cognitive behavior techniques. Learning to restructure thinking can assist an individual to learn to objectively evaluate actions and consequences. This cognitive therapy can also help an individual examine the beliefs they hold about themselves and those they care about.
Types of Perfectionsim Including OCD
There are at two types of perfectionism accepted by most scientists. Adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism each has high personal standards, and failing to meet the standards is more stressful for the adaptive perfectionists.
Adaptive healthy perfectionism is characterized by holding high standards for oneself, as well as, others. This includes being persistent in the face of adversity and being conscientious. Usually this perfectionism is goal directed behavior with good organizational skills. Some examples might include an exceptional athlete or a famous neurosurgeon.
On the other hand, mal-adaptive perfectionism is:
- Being preoccupied with past mistakes
- Having fears concerning future mistakes
- Having constant doubts as to whether you're doing something correctly
- Having high expectations of others
These individuals have an excessive preoccupation with control. Quite often this unhealthy need for perfectionism is strongly linked to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is noticeable in an individual who has a very strong need to get things done exactly right. For these individuals it's not uncommon to believe making mistakes will result in a serious feared outcome, such as the loss of a loved one.
The individual with OCD can often be very uncertain they have not done things correctly. They will compulsively check to make sure the doors are locked or the stove is turned off, over and over again. The result for this individual is they feel even worse, with less self-confidence then if they were doing nothing. Unhealthy OCD perfectionism perpetuates obsessions as well. These individuals may focus on bizarre dangerous thoughts continually.
Types of Perfectionism
Self-oriented perfectionists have a strong motivation to attain perfection and avoid failure, thus adhering to strict standards. Their self-evaluation is very stringent. They derive a sense of pleasure from their work, which enhances their self-esteem and motivation to succeed. The result is a sense of control over their environment. Oriented action individuals often set unrealistic goals for their family members and coworkers. In addition, they stringently evaluate the performance of these people.
Socially prescribed perfectionists other people hold unrealistic expectations for them and that they can't live up to those expectations. They are acutely aware of any external pressure, and they believe that others evaluate them in a critical manner.
These perfectionists are similar to neurotic perfectionist, as they do not derive pleasure from their efforts and view their work as inferior. They report feeling great pressure from others to complete their tasks. They have a greater sense of fear of failure and want to avoid harassment.
However, the key word here is obsession. It is important to remember that striving for excellence is a healthy approach to challenges. In moderation, it can lead to a fulfilling professional and personal life. It is when we expect constant perfection and leave no room for human error that we risk ourselves, as well as, other people emotionally.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Dr. Tolin explains
It is worthwhile to recognize the difference between grasping for perfection and healthy striving toward a goal. In order to turn loose of perfectionism tendencies it is not an all or nothing undertaking.
The difference is setting realistic goals based on your own wants and needs that are achievable. They are your goals, not the goals of others. This way you will enjoy the process of achievement and not just the end result.
We would not have perfectionism if we did not have the expectations and feedback from others that plant those seeds. If you are a perfectionist it can be very helpful to trace your life back to childhood and journal those instances which set you on the course of perfectionism.
It is a time that you can forgiveparents, if that's the problem as for the most part they wanted the best for you and didn't realize that their actions were destructive. Live each day and fullness without worrying about tomorrow or reliving yesterday.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.