This series looks 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.
THE NEED TO STAND ALONE
Earlier, I talked about how some obsessives fear being emotionally dependent on other people. As a "solution," they may try to become as self-reliant as possible, even to the point of disavowing their emotional need for loved ones.
Margaret, for example, found herself unable to tell her husband, Jim, how much she missed him whenever he called home from business trips. When I asked what made it so difficult, she told me that she disliked feeling dependent on anyone. Pressed further, she admitted feeling afraid of being let down. <snip>
People who fear dependency ware often extremely reluctant to ask their friends and loved ones for such things as time together, affection, sex, or emotional support. When I ask about this reluctance, at first patients will proudly cite their self-reliance. Eventually, additional explanations emerge.
For example, they feel that anyone who really cared about them would know what they need, and give it without being asked. Having to ask becomes evidence that they aren't truly loved. <snip>
Asking poses other risks. The obsessive fears that the other party may secretly feel contemptuous of the "weakness" revealed by supplication. Wost of all, the request might be denied, a turn of events that would be devastating to the obsessive.<snip>
Some obsessives may even avoid asking for much-needed assistance. They may, for example, feel they have to be the one to fix anything needing repairs around the house. <snip>
Many obsessives hate to take medications. First they see the need for drugs as an acknowledgment that they already lack some degree of control. And, second, they fear they will become psychologically dependent on the drug and will have trouble giving it up. <snip>
<snip> He lived with a girlfriend, but the ulterior motives he ascribed to her kept undermining his positive feelings for her. "I wonder if she isn't just trying to avoid being along for the rest of her life," he said. "I also wonder if maybe she only thinks she loves me. Her self-esteem is pretty low, so how can she truly love somebody? I'm always in the detective mode, looking for the deeper meaning behind what she says."
<snip> But obsessives also fear exploitation in more than just close relationships. I recently overheard a graphic example of this in a local photo shop, where a man was questioning the clerk about how his pictures would be processed. What if he didn't like the way they turned out? Did the business offer any sort of written guarantees? Who would be the judge of whether the pictures were of adequate quality and would would the criteria be, he demanded. He persisted, asking increasingly picayune questions, while his fear of "being taken" made him oblivious to the line of people rolling their eyes and expressing their exasperation behind him.
These things all become self-fulfilling prophecies. Would he tell me he missed me? Sometimes, and I tried to reinforce who charming I found it, but other times he wouldn't tell me, he would throw a tantrum because I was away for a few hours. Which made me less than eager to rush home.***
I also got lectures about how people who loved each other should just be able to "tell" what the other was thinking. To a certain degree, that's true, people learn to ready body language, but it's also true that he would get very upset when I didn't "read" him properly, and instead of telling me what he thought or felt, blame me for not being properly attuned to him. Likewise, he was sure he knew what I was thinking or feeling - and if what I said contradicted what he assumed/thought he knew about me, then obviously, I was lying.
Exhausting. As well as the third (or thirteenth) degree cross-examination of any merchant from whom we might consider buying a four dollar part. Exhausting, embarrassing, humiliating.
He was convinced all along, talking of suspicious, that I was having an affair. One year out of our relationship, and I still don't feel even ready to DATE. Although it did cross my mind, perioidically, the old "You've got the name, why not have the game?" especially after he'd been particularly dreadful, In some ways, it would have been lovely to be touched with tenderness and passion, rather than waiting for the next attack to come. I cannot fault those in this kind of relationship to being vulnerable to outside consolation.