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, July 17, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 9 - The Driving Forces
The Pressure of Perfectionism & The Angst of All-Or-Nothing

English: perfectionist measuring and cutting grass
English: perfectionist measuring and cutting grass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This post continues with The Driving Forces: THE PRESSURE OF PERFECTIONISM and THE ANGST OF ALL-OR-NOTHING from Chapter Nine.

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.

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 Driving Forces
Every workaholic isn't necessarily obsessive. But most strongly obsessive people are workaholics - driven to overwork by any number of their obsessive traits, including the following leading culprits.

The person who can't tolerate making mistakes, or who has to be perceived as irreproachable, is more likely to find himself at his deak late at night, laboring to catch any possible error and striving to make his work perfect. Lydia, for example, was a thirty-one-year-old travel agent who worked until eight or nine o'clock every evening - two or three hours longer than all the other agents in her office. She was not paid for putting in the extra hours, but she couldn't bear the thought of overlooking any of the details that would give her clients the best possible trips. <snip>

"I really enjoy my time off," Lydia insisted. "And my husband has pleaded with me for years to come home earlier. I'd like to, but I really empathize with my clients, and I simply have to do my best for them."

<snip> One other aspect of perfectionism also can foster workaholism. Remember that subscribing to the Perfectionist's Credo often results in unproductive and time-consuming behavior patterns. Fear of making an error may cause the perfectionist to procrastinate, for instance, or he may waffle over decisions, or be unable to wrap up his projects. As a result, some perfectionists have to work long just to accomplish the same amount as someone less perfectionistic.


The familiar force of all-or-nothing thinking also shapes the work-heavy lifestyles of many obsessives. They seem to feel as if cutting back on their work hours even slightly will lead them to cut back more and ever more, eventually bringing them to a horrifying state of indolence.

Many find it hard to start certain projects, knowing that once they start they'll have trouble stopping before the task is completed (and perfectly, at that). Their reluctance to interrupt the work, in turn, comes partly from their knowledge that if they lose their momentum it'll be hard to start up again. It's a vicious cycle that is conveyed by one character in Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again:

"I've got an idea that a lot of the work in this world gets done by lazy people. That's the reason they work - because they're so lazy.... It's this way: You work because you're afraid not to. You work because you have to drive yourself to such a fury to begin. That part's just plain hell! It's so hard to get started that once you do you're afraid of slipping back. You'd rather do anything than go through that agony again - so you keep going... til you couldn't stop even if you wanted to... Then people say you're a glutton for work, but it isn't so. It's laziness - just plain simple, damned, simple laziness, that's all.
I was helping my ex with a set of back bank reconciliations. It was off by eleven cents - and he had to find those eleven cents. No matter how long it took.

Logically, that's not cost-effective. If you make, say $20 an hour for your services (I charge a lot more), each minute of your time is worth at least thirty-three cents. I tend to want to look for that dime, too, like filling in the last line of a crossword puzzle, but I have learned that devoting hours to prove that the bank cleared a check for $xx.56 when they should have cleared it for $xx.66 is not the best use of my time.

I, too, fear losing momentum. But not finishing something isn't the worst thing in the world. I *have* been able to pick up again where I left off.

These are the two things facets that (to me) seem to link OCPD to hoarding (again, not all OCPD'rs hoard, and not all who hoard have OCPD.) But hoarders can't think big picture. Their attitude is, why even start unless you're prepared to devote the entire day or weekend, keep going until you're done?

Sometimes this makes sense.  For instance, when it's the middle of the rainy season, here in So Cal, and there's the forecast for two days of sunshine, is not the smartest time to try to have your roof repaired. But most jobs CAN be tackled in small bites.

And when you keep adding more things to the room/closet/garage, you will never, ever be able to finish in one day.

Do you know someone who stays up late correcting minor mistakes?
Who works extra hours to make sure his/her work is perfect?
Or who won't start a big project unless it can be done?
Your thoughts?
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