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Multiple definitions of perfectionism have been offered including:
  • “Those whose standards are high beyond reach or reason, people who strain compulsively and unremittingly towards impossible goals and who measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment. For these people, the effort for excellence is self-defeating.” (Burns, 1980).
  • “Setting of excessively high standards for performance accompanied by overly critical self-evaluation” (Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990)
Motivated by the hope that it could lead to the development of effective intervention Shafran, Cooper, and Fairburn (2002) offered their own description of clinical perfectionism as “The overdependence of self-evaluation on the determined pursuit of personally demanding self-imposed standards in at least one highly salient domain despite adverse consequences.” Shafran, Coughtrey, and Kothari (2011) argue that perfectionism can be problematic because:
  • it is associated with practical difficulties and negative emotional consequences, causing procrastination and anxiety;
  • it is associated with a range of disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, panic, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, chronic fatigue, depression, bipolar, and suicidal ideation and behavior;
  • it may impede the treatment of such disorders;
  • it increases the risk of developing eating disorders and depression.
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