Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Perfectionism may be bad for your health

Benedict Carey writes in today's Science Times about the dangers of taking certain mottoes too seriously. Don't take no for an answer. Never quit. Be true to yourself - any takers? Evidently a number of recent studies conducted by Gordon L. Flett and others are using perfectionism as a lens through which to look at mental difficulties.
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.

The article questions the wisdom of complete abstinence as the only way to treat substance abuse. If one strike is a failure, aren't you inviting failure for many, even though your statistics look great for everyone else? Perfectionism in certain realms is, I imagine, a cultural phenomenon. Certainly the idea that working the most, earning the most, being the skinniest, makes us "more perfect" is. I'd be interested to read some cross-cultural studies. An interesting article.

1 comment:

Dewey said...

I have lots of opinions about perfectionism, being a perfectoholic myself. I do notice that my perfectionist friends suffer more from stress. I also notice that they all grew up with perfectionist parents and turned those expectations inward. I wonder what studies say about that?