The Roots of Perfectionism

If you chew your nails, tug at your hair, or otherwise fidget incessantly, there may be something more than idle nerves at play. Many psychology experts believe that such behaviors are tied to a deeper and more complicated impulse: perfectionism.

Although it’s popular these days to call someone a perfectionist in a casual way – not unlike our culture’s widespread adoption of “OCD” as an offhand jab – true perfectionism is often paralyzing and deeply distressing. Patients with perfectionistic impulses often find themselves unable to finish what they start, and scared to compete with others in any meaningful way.

Now a new study has linked perfectionism to anxious habits that may seem mindless at first glance. The study shows a strong correlation between repetitive tics such as nail-biting and their underlying psychology. As this article asks, what can be done?

Currently, there are two possible avenues [of treatment] – a behavioral treatment that involves replacing the habit with a competing action, and a separate approach that focuses on the underlying factors that create tension, such as perfectionism and other negative beliefs, according to O’Connor.

As an analytically trained therapist, I believe that our habits are never random, and that they are often symbolic acts designed to help resolve or relieve an underlying issue. Surfacing that issue and understanding its origins is one of the cornerstones of a successful psychotherapy.

My approach to psychotherapy is integrative in nature, meaning that I consider a patient’s current thoughts and behaviors alongside the past injuries and narratives which may be driving them. Treating the whole patient means incorporating the whole history, and my patients tend to see good results from this deeper look at what drives their habits.

If you’re looking to find a Philadelphia therapist who offers successful therapy for perfectionism, please don’t hesitate to contact my practice today.