• Atara Mester

Perfectionism: The Most Dangerous Disease

(credits: Creative Energy Option)

We all know some people who never want to fail or make mistakes. If you meet one of these kinds of people, chances are they might be a bit of an overachiever or maybe even a perfectionist. In case you don’t know what perfectionism is or how it’s caused, this article is for you.

As stated in Verywell Mind, perfectionism is the feeling that whatever you do will not be sufficient and that everyone can do better than you. Perfectionists have a tendency to always want to win or succeed, and if they think it’s not possible they will refrain from participating in any challenge at all. In addition, perfectionists notice the smallest mistakes, so whenever they succeed in something, all they think about is what is bad about it. This trait is also used to spot faults in other people, therefore many might not like perfectionists.

Research suggests that perfectionists are born and not made, and that perfectionism is in your genes, but it also develops over time and experiences. Being a perfectionist can be a result of wanting to please and impress people, but that is not the sole cause. According to PsychCentral, many perfectionists grow up with high expectations from other people or are abused into working harder. Sometimes perfectionism is caused on its own, and Psychology Today says that on this occasion it is most commonly influenced by low self-esteem or feeling inadequate . In some situations, perfectionism is actually encouraged by parents or others, forcing the subject to get perfect grades or make incredible achievements for the sake of making the community happy. In some families, mistakes are also punished harshly in ways such as name-calling, shaming, yelling, and even physical punishment. As well as that, being a perfectionist causes you to procrastinate, make unrealistic goals, avoid challenges, think black and white, and make toxic comparisons between yourself and others.

Perfectionism makes you feel as if your body, your work, or anything that is connected to you isn’t good enough, and that results in a fear of failing and a fear of judgement. In this way, it is similar to Imposter Syndrome because it causes you to experience the feeling that whatever you achieve isn’t good enough and that you don’t belong.

(credits: CMAP Health)

Per Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program, perfectionism is not a disorder, only a personality trait. However, it is often a factor in disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). According to Mass Live, around 30% of the earth’s population suffers from perfectionism, but among the gifted population it is as high as 80%. It is fine to have high standards or to strive for flawlessness, but trying to be perfect every single moment of your life is just going to make you unhappy.

Perfectionism does not always have a negative outcome. Healthy perfectionism is actually quite good in some ways. It pushes you to try harder, make you set higher goals, and also make people think more of you. This kind of perfectionism is called adaptive or positive perfectionism. Adaptive perfectionists do set high standards and they are willing to work very hard for their success, but are not focused as much on failure. Maladaptive perfectionists, the kind of perfectionist that is focused on flaws and mistakes, have a tendency to give up and not persist. In this way the two kinds are very different from one another, but there is a fine line between them. Positive perfectionism can morph into negative perfectionism very quickly, following the smallest change in attitude.

The road to curing perfectionism is a gradual process. The first stage would involve reminding yourself that you are good enough and trying to make more realistic goals. The rest is a journey of self discovery that is not the same for everyone. That should bring you to the stage of positive perfectionism, which you can benefit from.

Now you know all about perfectionism, and hopefully you will use this knowledge to help perfectionists find true happiness in themselves.

Works Cited

“How Perfectionism Drastically Differs from OCD - Discovery Mood.” Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program, 8 May 2019, discoverymood.com/blog/perfectionism-differs-ocd/.

“How to Overcome Perfectionism - Anxiety Canada.” Anxiety Canada, 2019, www.anxietycanada.com/articles/how-to-overcome-perfectionism/.

https://www.facebook.com/verywell. “10 Telltale Signs You May Be a Perfectionist.” Verywell Mind, 2019, www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-may-be-a-perfectionist-3145233.

India, Press Trust of. “Being a Perfectionist May Lie in Your Genes: Scientists.” Business Standard India, 5 Nov. 2012, www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/being-a-perfectionist-may-lie-in-your-genes-scientists-112110500378_1.html.

“Is Being a Perfectionist Really a Good Thing?” Is Being a Perfectionist Really a Good Thing | Grammarly, 9 Apr. 2017, www.grammarly.com/blog/is-perfectionist-good/.

Lawson, Claire/. The Confidence Code for Girls [Release Date Apr. 3, 2018] : Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self. Harpercollins Childrens Books, 2018.

Natcharian, Lisa. “Real Learning: Meet the Perfectionists.” Masslive, 16 July 2010, www.masslive.com/real_learning/2010/07/meet_the_perfectionists.html.

“Perfectionism | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today, 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/perfectionism.

“What Causes Perfectionism?” Psych Central, 8 Dec. 2015, psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2015/12/what-causes-perfectionism#1.