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Books on Perfectionism

The following is my list of books on perfectionism with brief reviews that you may find useful.

Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control

Perfectionists are “obsessives who need to feel in control at all times to protect themselves and ensure their own safety”, according to Jeanette Dewyze and Dr. Allan Mallinger in Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control.


The Perfectionism Workbook

Proven Strategies to End Procrastination, Accept Yourself, and Achieve Your Goals

The author is a clinical therapist, Taylor Newendorp, who uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients suffering from perfectionism and its related issues such as OCD, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression. In The Perfectionism Workbook, Newendorp provides practical examples for you to work through to help you overcome the limitations of perfectionism.

This read is a hands-on guide where you will find:

  • Information to help you understand what doesn’t work, and what you can do to help overcome this.
  • Practical ways that help based on the principles of CBT, mindfulness, and acceptance
  • Genuine examples of perfectionism that you may relate to and give you insight into your own perfectionism.

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough

It should be noted that this title received The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit for being an outstanding self-help book, consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming mental health difficulties.

The book contains clinical tools to help people who suffer limitations in their life because of perfectionism. It is a workbook and guide for both adults and teens.

In it, the authors identify three types of perfectionism: Self-oriented, other-oriented (expecting perfection from others), and socially prescribed perfectionism. Their suggested approach is the same for all types.


Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism

This is an insightful book about dealing with perfectionism at the core, i.e., with the improper thoughts.

The book promotes the Buddhist psychology of mindfulness as a way of dealing with perfectionism. Mindfulness is about learning to accept the present moment in all of its ordinariness. It has more than 150 exercises including meditations that are about making you become more flexible without losing the satisfaction of a job well done.

The author, Pavel G. Somov, is a psychologist and self-help author with 20 years of clinical experience. He writes each chapter with short exercises at the beginning and the work is well written and easy to follow. The exercises are such that they help with mindfulness through concrete, yet simple, behavioral exercises – rather than just a ‘noticing’ type of mindfulness. The author defines and addresses the underlying beliefs mostly held by people about perfectionism. These are broken down by logic.


Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Perfectionism

This is a resource for professionals who treat clients dealing with issues of perfectionism. This could be in relation to depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or OCD. It uses case formulation where the authors, Egan, Wade, Shafran, and Antony, draw on their wide experience in cognitive-behavioral therapy to provide techniques that cover the forming of plans for treatment, therapeutic alliance, how to deal with obstacles that arise and prevent relapses, as well as what is emerging in the research. It includes patient handouts and access to a website to download and print reproducible materials to help sufferers.


The Perfectionist’s Handbook: Take Risks, Invite Criticism…

This is written by the clinical psychologist, Jeff Szymanski, who does well to establish a rapport with the reader. Helpful and hurtful associations of perfectionism are given in a well organized and easy-to-read first part of the book. The author explains the benefits of perfectionism and how yet, in certain situations, it may sabotage your best intentions. The reader can assess their level of perfectionism in an exercise in Chapter 2. The following chapters provide the strategies on how best to use this trait to bring out its benefits and overcome the self-imposed limitations.

The author considers perfectionism as an on-going affair rather than as a final destination. The book includes techniques to build on what works for success ( building on healthy perfectionism) and at the same time change what is not working for you.

To deal with the hurtful perfectionism, in this you will find:

  • How to differentiate between what you intend and what is needed to improve outcomes
  • How to identify the time wasters and then focus your time and effort in the right direction
  • See the advantages in mistakes and end your preoccupation with them
  • Using a ‘Top 10 list’ on which to focus to gain satisfaction with life

Do You Have Any Favorites?

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