Perfectionism bad for health

By Deborah Condon

Being a perfectionist may be bad for your health, the results of a new study indicate.

According to the findings, perfectionists are prone to health problems because they are under constant stress. Furthermore, certain types of perfectionism can be linked to a number of emotional, physical and relationship problems, including depression, eating disorders and marital problems.

"Perfectionism is the need to be - or to appear - perfect. Perfectionists are persistent, detailed and organised high achievers. They vary in their behaviours; some strive to conceal their imperfections, others attempt to project an image of perfection. But all have in common extremely high standards for themselves or for others", said Gordon Flett, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto.

The study led to the development of a 45-item questionnaire. Known as the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, it is the first published scale that focuses specifically on perfectionism from a multidimensional perspective.

The questionnaire identifies the three types of perfectionists; self oriented (expect perfection of themselves), other-oriented (demand perfection from others) and socially prescribed perfectionists (think others expect perfection from them).

"Perfectionism is not officially recognised 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 their links to distress and dysfunction", Professor Flett said.

He added that perfectionists reveal themselves in three distinct ways. The first is a self-promotion style that involves attempts to impress others by bragging or showing off. This type is easy to spot as they often irritate other people. The second way is by shunning situations in which they might display their imperfection. This is common even among young children. The third is a tendency to keep problems to oneself and can include an inability to admit failure to others.

According to Professor Flett, the *top 10 signs that your a perfectionist are:

-You cannot stop thinking about a mistake that you made.

-You are intensely competitive and cannot stand doing worse than others.

-You either want to do something 'just right' or not at all.

-You demand perfection from other people.

-You will not ask for help if asking can be perceived as a flaw or weakness.

-You will persist at a task long after others have quit.

-You are a fault-finder who must correct other people when they are wrong.

-You are highly aware of a other people's demands and expectations.

-You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of others.

-*You noticed the error in the title of this list.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.