All or Nothing – What’s Perfect?

Do you keep lists?
A lot of lists?
Do you ever get to the end of one?

Science tells us that the very desire to get things done  well can prevent us from getting them done at all. As I suggest to patients, “the perfect is the enemy of the good. Or even the good enough.”

Recently researchers have turned their attention to the important but neglected area of binge-eating disorder. Perfectionism, the ultimate set-up for disappointment, can lead us to binge. Watch how often you, your child or family use the word “perfect.” Then try to substitute another. As we used to say in the hospital, in groups of anorexic girls, “I never met a perfect woman but if I did, I don’t think I would like her. She wouldn’t be real.”

Dr. Simon Sherry, an assistant professor of psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia, has published “The Perfectionism Model of Binge Eating,” a paper examining the connection between perfectionism and binge-eating in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The article is co-authored by Peter Hall of the University of Waterloo.

You can read a review of their paper here at Science Daily.

As the author points out, “Perfectionists are often not self-aware and are reluctant to seek help, posing a conundrum. They don’t want to admit they’re imperfect.”

Sherry also adds: “I’m hopeful that students will read about this and realize that there are effective interventions for binge eating, including some help for perfectionism change is possible.”


Photo credit: palo

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