Home Educational The Pursuit of Perfect – Part 2 (end)

The Pursuit of Perfect – Part 2 (end)

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From a psychology point of view, perfectionism is the unrelenting striving for flawlessness and the setting of high standards that may or may not be obtainable. This is usually accompanied by harsh self-criticism and also the habit of being critical of others. Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. In Part One, I laid out a small definition that I use to describe how people of this type may have a innate desire to please ‘self’ and I would now like to explain that further.

If we take the teaching of Classical Conditioning, and even older psychological teaching such as Structuralism, we can safely say that a couple of things are true. A. That we can only repeat what we have seen and heard (meaning nothing that goes through your head is original, sorry to tell you this). B. When we sense things, and then form biases off of those things, we form memories about them (positive or negative memories/biases). C. Our idea of the ‘perfect’ world is a combination of all of the things we have positive biases about.

With those ‘truths’ being said, a perfectionist not only tries to control every aspect of their environment so that their environment is containing all the positive things they feel good about, but a perfectionist are also focused on personal integrity and can be wise, discerning and inspiring in their quest for the truth. They also tend to dissociate themselves from their flaws or what they believe are flaws (such as negative emotions) and can become hypocritical and hypercritical of others, seeking the illusion of virtue to hide their own vices. The only real way that a perfectionist can measure if they are obtaining standards that they set is by mathematics. Scores, figures, and so on, are the only way to really be able to gauge what is ‘perfect.’

Humans seem to have an innate desire to please the internal mechanism we describe as the ‘self.’ Some behaviorists argue that this drives every actions that we complete. If you will, that all of our actions are self-motivated. Therefor, for a perfectionist, not only could all their actions be self-motivated, but the standard that they set must be reached or they can have terribly negative consequences to the psyche. Perfectionism is actually something that counselors are having to learn how to treat in clients, due to the fact that consequences up to and including suicide can result if a perfectionist does not obtain their goals.

Eric W. Spradlin

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