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Am Psychol. 1995 Dec;50(12):1003-20.

The destructiveness of perfectionism. Implications for the treatment of depression.

Author information

  • Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Reports in the public media indicate that intense perfectionism and severe self-criticism played a role in the suicide of three remarkably talented individuals. The role of perfectionism in these suicides is consistent with recent extensive investigations of aspects of perfectionism as well as further analyses of the NIMH Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program (TDCRP), indicating that intense perfectionism interfered significantly with therapeutic response in the various brief treatments for depression. Self-critical individuals, however, made substantial improvement in long-term intensive treatment. These findings suggest the value of considering psychopathology, especially depression, from a psychological rather than a symptomatic perspective; that different patients may be differentially responsive to various types of therapy; and that more extensive therapy may be necessary for many highly perfectionistic, self-critical patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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