For my explanatory essay, I am researching perfectionism and its effects on mental health. I am exploring this topic because perfection is encouraged by society despite the negative impacts a perfectionist mindset has on one’s mental health. I reviewed three articles for my research.

    The first article I read was from the New York Times, titled Unhappy? Self-Critical? Maybe You’re Just a Perfectionist,Benedict Carey. This article outlines types of perfectionism, general effects of perfectionism, and societal influences on perfectionism. The article mentions three types of perfectionism, self-oriented, outwardly focused, and those focused on what others think of them. Self-oriented perfectionists set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. Outwardly focused perfectionists set high expectations for those around them and are hypercritical of other people. The third type of perfectionists are set on achieving high expectations of what they think others set for them.  The article mentions how society views perfectionism as a positive thing or a goal, unlike other mental disorders with heavy stigmas associated with them. Some of the effects of perfectionism include depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts or actions.

    The second article I read was Perfectionism Basics from Psychology Today. This article outlines general types of perfectionism and other mental diseases associated with perfectionism. They explain perfectionism as “a fast and enduring track to unhappiness,” (Psychology Today). Perfectionism is commonly associated with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. This article emphasizes perfection is “an impossible reality.” Perfectionists associate failure as negative and avoidable, despite its inevitability. Perfectionists are often high achievers with high stress levels, and tend to procrastinate in order to avoid potential failure.  

    The third article I read was The Price of Perfection from Phsycology Today. This article generalizes perfectionism as a form of anxiety. Anxiety is an adaptive response to protect us from danger. Often times, perfectionism is not focused around the achievement of perfection, rather the avoidance of failure. This article mentions two types of perfectionism, Self-Oriented Perfection-Striving (SOP-S) and Self-Oriented Perfection-Critical (SOP-C). Self-Oriented Perfection-Striving is adaptive while Self-Oriented Perfection-Critical is maladaptive, negatively holding individuals back. The biggest difference between the two is SOP-S encourages growth while SOP-C is more negative, focused on self-criticism.



  1. Junia 2 years ago

    Dear Isabell:
    I am incredibly interested by your post, “Perfectionism,” because it talks a lot about how society has a great impact on the mental health of everyone in it, which is an interesting concept- especially when considering perfectionism.
    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “Some of the effects of perfectionism include depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts or actions.” I think this is important for people to know because it shows how our expectations for ourselves, as well as society’s expectations can be detrimental when too perfection-oriented.
    I am also a student who cares a lot about mental health and mental illness (especially how society impacts these things). I have a wordpress blog called Psychologically Strong (url: If you’re interested, be sure to check it out!
    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next!

  2. Katie 2 years ago


    I think it’s really interesting that perfectionism has been called a form of anxiety. I’d never thought about it that way before, but it makes sense: both can be good for human health in small amounts, but can actually be detrimental in large amounts. Your research is fascinating.

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