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.