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What Is Perfectionism and How It Is Linked to Mental Health

Written by Sara Bozyel

For some, perfectionism may appear as a force of accomplishment. The enthusiasm for achieving everything that you want to achieve "exactly" the way you planned them may seem quite charming and attractive. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, there is a lot more hidden, a journey that nobody desires to be interested in. While not a psychological disorder in itself, perfectionism is linked to anxiety and other mental health issues. Even though it is assumed to be a powerful aim, it is a destructive obsession that weakens mental stability. To annihilate these misjudgments, we will reshape the concept of perfectionism and how it is linked to mental health.

What Is Perfectionism?

Scientifically, perfectionism is defined as a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations (2). When these qualifications combine, a struggle of self-war occurs within the person's mind intending to become perfect. Perfectionism is not a mental disorder, unlike expected, it is considered to be a personality trait (1). This trait holds you back by creating unhealthy behavior in your pursuit to look a certain way and destroys both physical and mental health.

Perfectionism comes in two forms: adaptive and maladaptive. Both types of perfectionists have high standards, but when maladaptive perfectionists don't reach these high standards, the outcome is much more stressful (4). Some research indicates that perfectionism has three components. There is "self-oriented perfectionism, other-oriented perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism" (3). Regardless of which type of perfectionist personality the person might have, they all force themselves to fit in limiting standards (4). It may be thought that it is necessary to be pleased over others' opinions and to be perceived as perfect, but, despite all worth that is gained from one's eye, many consequences come along with this frame of mind.

How Is It Lınked to Mental Health?

One consequence of perfectionism is procrastination (4). Perfectionists need everything organized and to be in a certain way. These specialties are assumed to be the reason that they're overachievers. But this type of thinking leads to decreased productivity (4). That, in turn, causes more stress and vulnerability (4). Perfectionists put a lot of pressure on themselves, or they perceive pressure from those in their life or society. All of these compounds can cause a lot of stress and in high-stress situations, the person appears to be more vulnerable (4). Vulnerability also appears in imposter syndrome, when the person compares themselves to others and does not feel like they are matching up, especially in regards to intelligence (4). This causes them to feel extra low and keeps them from doing their best. Perfectionism can trigger anxiety and depression (4). Stress and anxiety build up when the person cannot meet the high standards they set for themselves. Emotional perfectionists become depressed and hide these feelings of anxiety and depression to appear strong (4). This can be extremely harmful, especially if you're having suicidal thoughts or feeling worthless.

‌ While some may say that perfectionism is a good trait and a step forward to reaching success in life, there are plenty of downfalls to this way of thinking. The first step in facing your perfectionism is acknowledging that it doesn't help you.

  1. Admin. (2019, May 8). How perfectionism drastically differs from OCD - Discovery mood. Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program.

  2. APA PsycNet. (n.d.). APA PsycNet.

  3. Sandoiu, A. (n.d.). The effects of perfectionism on mental and physical health. Medical and health information.

  4. Taylor, M. (2021, August 20). Perfectionism: 6 consequences to watch for. WebMD.


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