“The Alarming New Research on Perfectionism”

“We tend to see the Martha Stewarts and Steve Jobs and Tracy Flicks of the world as high-functioning, high-achieving people, even if they are a little intense, said lead author Gordon Flett, a psychologist at York University who has spent decades researching the potentially ruinous psychological impact of perfectionism. “Other than those people who have suffered greatly because of their perfectionism or the perfectionism of a loved one, the average person has very little understanding or awareness of how destructive perfectionism can be,” Flett said in an email. But for many perfectionists, that “together” image is just an emotionally draining mask and underneath “they feel like imposters,” he said…
The all-or-nothing, impossibly high standards perfectionists set for themselves often mean that they’re not happy even when they’ve achieved success. And research has suggested that anxiety over making mistakes may ultimately be holding some perfectionists back from ever achieving success in the first place. “Wouldn’t it be good if your surgeon, or your lawyer or financial advisor, is a perfectionist?” said Thomas S. Greenspon, a psychologist and author of a recent paper on an “antidote to perfectionism,” published in Psychology in the Schools. “Actually, no. Research confirms that the most successful people in any given field are less likely to be perfectionistic, because the anxiety about making mistakes gets in your way,” he continued…
But the dangers of perfectionism, and particularly the link to suicide, have been overlooked at least partially because perfectionists are very skilled at hiding their pain.”
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