Before we start off its important to get one thing straight, there is a difference between high achieving behaviour and perfectionistic behaviour. High achievers are driven and determined individuals who are motivated to accomplish their goals. They do what they do for personal gratification of achieving their goals, not because of what other people might think of them or for fear of failure.

Perfectionist

Perfectionists, on the other hand, are concerned about what others may think. They are driven by the avoidance of failure or not being good enough. This avoidance can be harmful to your mental health, linking to illnesses like depression, eating disorders, anxiety or sometimes suicide.

Two Canadian phycologists, Gordon Flett and Paul Hewitt, have been studying perfectionistic behaviour for many years. Together they have determined 3 main types of perfectionistic behaviour: self-oriented perfectionism, other-oriented perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism.

In a separate study run by Department for Health at the University of Bath and York St. John University, found that socially prescribed perfectionism can have the most severe effect on mental health of the three forms.

Socially prescribed perfectionism is defined as “When perceived to come from others, individuals believe their social context is excessively demanding, that others judge them harshly, and that they must display perfection to secure approval”

Perfectionist

They found “The debilitating nature of socially prescribed perfectionism is evident in research on college students, which has found this dimension of perfectionism to be positively associated with major psychopathology (e.g., anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicide ideation.”

This showed that socially prescribed perfectionism can have a huge impact on your mental health.

“Socially prescribed perfectionism predicted increases in depressive symptoms and suicide ideation over time, but to a much greater degree”

 

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