Wanting to do everything perfectly and appear perfect to others can be bad for the health, research has found.
Perfectionists can suffer health problems because they are under continuous stress.
Professor Gordon Flett, an expert on perfectionism, explains:
“Perfectionism is the need to be – or to appear – perfect.
Perfectionists are persistent, detailed and organized high achievers.
Perfectionists vary in their behaviors: some strive to conceal their imperfections; others attempt to project an image of perfection.
But all perfectionists have in common extremely high standards for themselves or for others.”
Here are ten signs that you are a perfectionist, as devised by Professor Flett:
“Ten Top Signs Your a Perfectionist**
1. You can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made.
2. You are intensely competitive and can’t stand doing worse than others.
3. You either want to do something “just right” or not at all.
4. You demand perfection from other people.
5. You won’t ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.
6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit.
7. You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.
8. You are highly aware of other people’s demands and expectations.
9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people.
10. **You noticed the error in the title of this list.”
Sadly, perfectionism has been linked to many emotional and behavioural problems, such as eating disorders, relationships problems and even suicide.
Professor Flett said:
“Perfectionism is not officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder.
However extreme forms of perfectionism should be considered an illness similar to narcissism, obsessive compulsiveness, dependent-personality disorder and other personality disorders because of its links to distress and dysfunction.”
Psychologists have found that there are, broadly, three types of perfectionists:
- Self-oriented perfectionists strive for perfection for themselves and set their own high standards.
- Socially prescribed perfectionists strive for perfection because it is important to other people.
- ‘Other-focused’ perfectionists, though, expect others to be perfect and are extremely critical if they do not meet these high standards.
The worst type of perfectionists are those who expect others to match their own impossibly high standards.
→ Read on: How To Spot a Toxic Perfectionist
The perfectionism scale is published by MHS (Hewitt & Flett, 2004).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Perfectionism image from Shutterstock