Perfectionism And Comorbid Psychological Problems




An unhelpful perfectionistic attitude means that the person holding it aims for excessively (and, often, unrealistically) high standards in everything that s/he undertakes despite the fact that maintaining this attitude diminishes the person’s quality of life by causing him/her stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy and failure.


We saw in the article that I previously published on this site (entitled : Childhood Trauma Leading To Intense Self-Criticism) that if, when we were children, our parents had excessively and unreasonably high expectations of us and we were made to feel ashamed if we did not live up to them then, as adults, we may develop a tendency towards PERFECTIONISM IN OUR ADULT LIVES IN AN UNCONSCIOUS ATTEMPT TO FINALLY WIN OUR PARENTS’ APPROVAL.

This is particularly true if we have inherited a genetic predisposition to developing perfectionism (research suggests that, on average, about 30℅ of the risk for developing perfectionism comes from genes whilst the other 70%, approximately, comes from environmental factors).


Perfectionism And Comorbid Psychological Problems:

In this post I want to look at psychological conditions that frequently occur comorbidly with (alongside) perfectionism; these conditions are as follows:

– anxiety

– social anxiety

– eating disorders

– depression

– obsessive – compulsive disorder

Let’s look at each of these briefly in turn

1) Anxiety may be linked to perfectionism because one feels constantly under pressure to reach exacting standards which are often, in fact, unobtainable, thus dooming one to perceived ‘failure’.

2) Social anxiety may be linked to perfectionism because one is always nervous in social situations that one’s ‘performance’ may be less than perfect and that one will make a faux pas or show oneself up in some way

3) Eating disorders may be linked to perfectionism if one is obsessed with gaining the ‘perfect’ body as such an obsession can lead to the development of anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

4) Depression may be linked to perfectionism because if one sets impossibly high standards for oneself one is likely to be constantly oppressed by a subjective sense of ‘failure’ and of ‘not being good enough.’

5) Obsessivecompulsive disorder may be linked to perfectionism. For example, one may be obsessed with ‘perfect’ household cleanliness and therefore feel compelled to spend extreme and excessive amounts of time cleaning and re-cleaning it to the point that it seriously diminishes one’s quality of life.


Overcome Depression – click here

Overcome Anxiety – click here

Overcome Social Anxiety – click here

Overcome Eating Problems – click here

Overcome Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder – click here


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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