Need for Perfection

Obsessions often seen with “perfectionism” as a form of OCD include:

  • An overwhelming fear of making mistakes; an intense need for things to be “perfect” or “done right” – may or may not be accompanied by a fear that harm will come to oneself or others if things are not done perfectly
  • Fear of the consequences of making mistakes (frequently overestimated)
  • A need for one’s behavior and performance to adhere to a particular rule or standard
  • Fear that one’s work will be seen as being poorly done, with possible punishment or job loss
  • Need to bring the same level effort, detail and energy to every task; all tasks are equally important
  • Need to have things look, sound or feel “just right”
  • An intense fear of making the wrong decision
  • A tremendous need to finish some action or project once it is started

Rituals that may be done in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by perfectionism include:

  • Repeatedly rewriting or revising work, essays, class work, email, project reports or business or personal letters to get the penmanship or alignment “just right”
  • Redoing work to the extent that work or projects cannot be completed in a timely manner; spending an inordinate amount of time on minor details
  • Rewriting assignments to get the wording to sound or look “just right”
  • Seeking reassurance that tasks have been done well or correctly
  • Working overly-long hours to finish a project once it is started (inability to put a project aside and come back to it later)
  • Overly rethinking or revising decisions (inability to make a decision)
  • Avoiding/procrastinating completion of an assignment because of the time and energy consumed by the need to have things perfect

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