Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 3 - Perfection and Control Overlap

This post continues with Perfection and Control Overlap, from Chapter Three.

This series will look at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

<snip>  The child destined to become a perfectionist views perfection as the only fail-safe way to ensure that he won't be vulnerable to such dangers as criticism, embarrassment, anger, or the withdrawal of love by his parents and others.

Being perfect and leaving no room for criticism is also one of the ways in which the obsessive wields control in his relationships.  And control and perfection can go hand in hand in other ways.  Being morally perfect, for example, is one way to keep the Cosmic Scorekeeper in one's debt. 
Just as with the control myth, protecting and confirming the Perfectionist's Credo is essential to the obsessive's mental equilibrium.  To the strongly perfectionistic obsessive, being wrong is not just the everyday occurrence that most of us shrug off - it's a psychic disaster.  <snip>
Failures are devastating because they jeopardize the Credo and thus trigger anxiety.  Also, the perfectionist comes to base a lot of his self-esteem and pride on being able to do things flawlessly, so errors make him feel stupid or inadequate.  He's also likely to become quite angry with himself - proof that he believes he should have been able to avoid the error.  <snip> 

Why do we view someone who "only" gets a silver medal as some kind of loser, instead of an incredible athlete?  Why are there Tiger Moms and Dads driving their daughters so hard to be perfect, when Asian-American women have the highest suicide rates across all racial groups?

There is definitely a cultural model that winning is expected; but somewhere, both as a society and as individuals, we have to say, wait a minute here. It is not acceptable that young men and women are destroying their bodies with excessive exercise, drugs, and eating disorders, to attain a perfect appearing (if unhealthy) size and shape. Our future success in life does not hinge upon whether we scored an A+ or an A- in the fifth biology pop quiz in the 3rd quarter of our sophmore year in high school.

Let's face it, if somebody won't love us - unless we are "perfect" - they're pretty screwed up. Even if, somehow, magically, we attained perfection in some manner - as an Olympic athlete, say - we are bound to be less than perfect in some other area. Therefore, the deal is off??  How crazy is that?

Sadly, the drive to be perfect can shift from an external pressure, to an internal one. As suggested in Too Perfect, my ex would get angry at himself when he would miss "perfectly" recording a movie or preparing a meal. And angry at me when I'd make similar mistakes and refuse to stress about them - a telltale sign I didn't care about anything, from his point of view.

Do you beat up on yourself for not being perfect in areas that truly,
are not that important?
Or do you know someone who does?