By Lisa Erickson, MS, LMHC
I’ve been thinking about varieties of perfectionism since having a discussion with a gifted trauma survivor. It became clear that some of their perfectionism was an expression of giftedness and some was related to family of origin issues. Same outcome, different sources.
Does the source of perfectionism matter?
I think it does. By understanding the differences we can clarify what can be embraced and managed, and what can be healed. Different sources, different strategies.
Much has been written about perfectionism and its relationship with giftedness. The gifted person is driven to express their interests and pursuits.
Perfectionism is about passion, energy, and focus. The person may feel exhausted, tortured and frustrated, but the process can be interesting and rewarding, too.
If their creative endeavor falls short, the gifted person pushes onward to get as close as they can to what they envision.
Perfectionism is connected to developmental potential and entelechy.
It is the determination to be the best one can be.
This type of perfectionism is rooted internally in giftedness.
It is intrinsic. It moves from the “inside out”.
Another type of perfectionism is rooted in having an impaired parent (or two).
This type of perfectionism is a response to outside circumstances. It is a consequence of abandonment and neglect.
Its source is external. This perfectionism is an adaptation. It moves from the “outside in”.
> Continued in her article Perfectionism: From the inside out or the outside in?