In her book, The Care and Feeding of Perfectionists, Cynthia Curnan, Ph. D. states, “Every variety of perfectionism represents an attempt to maintain control.” Dr. Curnan has come up with a list of nine distinct kinds of perfectionism, with the belief that we all exhibit at lease three of these from time to time, with one type predominating. I am certain that you will see yourself somewhere in her list:
1. Arrogance: The Fear of Being Vulnerable (shows no weakness-not even to self); thought…“I’m better, stronger, wiser, tougher, and smarter.”
2. Self-Deprecation: The Fear of Being Inferior (disregards and underestimates self); thought…“You’re probably right. I’m probably wrong.”
3. Image Vanity: A Poor Body Image (fixation on appearance that replaces substance); thought…”If my body is not perfect, I am unlovable.”
4. Stubbornness: The Fear of Change (avoids frightening change by attachment to a familiar comfort zone); thought…”If I just try harder and use more determination, I’ll get the results I want.”
5. Martyrdom: The Fear of Unworthiness (creates a cause to sacrifice itself to); “I can bear the weight of the world (because I am less valuable than others).”
6. Impatience: The Fear of Missing Something (trapped in a state of avoiding disappointment); thought…”I should be further ahead than I am, so I can’t slow down. I must speed up.”
7. Righteousness: The Fear of Being Wrong (self appointed reformer with a mission to turn wrong into right); thought…”If I can’t fix me, let me redouble my efforts to fix you.”
8. Greed-Envy: The Fear of Lack (perpetual craving/hoarding because, even if needs are met, a persistent dread anticipates that all will be lost); thought…”I won’t have enough truth, knowledge, love, success, freedom, security, energy, time.”
9. Self-Destruction: The Fear of Losing Control (self harm in an attempt to prevent an anticipated greater harm, staying ahead of collapse); thought…”…so I can avoid the breakdown that’s surely coming.”
Okay, let me guess. You saw yourself all over this list, right? Give us a call if you think you need to talk about finding better ways to deal with life’s uncertainties. Our trained therapists here at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando can help you.
Also, check out Dr. Curnan’s wonderful book:
Curnan, C. (1999). The Care and Feeding of Perfectionists. Georgetown, MA: North Star Publications.