Perfectionism: A mental disorder

  • By Seema Verma

Mamta wanted her son Abhay to score an A+ every time, in each subject. Abhay the 6 year old kid, initially eager in studies obeyed promptly. But one B+ made Mamta furious, who reprimanded the child. Abhay's behavior suddenly started changing. He played less now and sat in front of the books more. He stopped watching his favourite cartoons or playing with his toys. He seldom spoke with his friends at school. Worried by her son's actions, Mamta took him to a doctor.

After many rounds of sessions, the doctor concluded that Mamta's perfectionism had taken a toll on her beloved kid, who was suffering from depression. Mamta was unwilling to acknowledge about her condition, as she felt that she just wished her son to be the topper. She was oblivious of the obsession she was into. Therapies followed for both the mother and the son and although the condition resumed to normal, the road to recovery wasn't smooth.

This is just a story of one such person who suffers from perfectionism - an obsessive compulsion to be the perfect one in anything in life. There are many people in the world today, who think that it is normal to crave for perfectionism. This is the main reason which disrupts their lives and in some cases, the lives of those involved with them - like with Mamta and her son.

The personality of people suffering perfectionism is usually complex and is difficult to comprehend. Here are common symptoms that of people with perfectionism to the extreme and needs letting go.

  1. They display the traits of resentment after not being able to meet their expectations(which are usually very high).
  2. A sense of guilt which haunts their mind all the time.
  3. Reticent and withdrawn behavior.
  4. Inability to deal with the loss of any form,
  5. Inability to acknowledge their mistakes or correct them.
  6. Overdoing things and considering to normal,
  7. Believing that suffering or burdening themselves with over expectations is essential to achieve success.

Because of these thought processes, it usually becomes too late before the problem is identified. Many of the times, people know that they strive for perfectionism but they are unable to overcome that. It's becoming a part of our daily lives these days as the world gets ambitious and competitive. Most of us tend to be too hard on ourselves knowingly or not to achieve materialistic success because happiness is measured in terms of the materialistic possessions or accomplishments. Although success in any of these gives only momentarily gratification, we build and chase dreams one after the other.


The treatment for perfectionism basically lies in understanding the underlying cause of the problem - like having over expectations or being hard on oneself, realizing the actual meaning of success, joy and fulfillment. Appreciating the small things in life, feeling contented with what cannot be changed, accepting and acknowledging our flaws, re-defining the goals and purpose of our lives - All these help in a great way to subjugate perfectionism and its negative impact on our mind. Keeping it simple and being optimistic helps too!