Perfectionism is the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. Perfectionism is viewed in some cultures and societies as a positive trait and leads someone to success. However, it can lead to self-defeating thoughts and make it extremely difficult to achieve goals. Perfectionism does not only have to do with grades and tests. It can be appearance, in relationships, or at work. 

Signs of perfectionism

  • Unable to perform a task until you know you can do it perfectly

  • View the end product as the most important part

  • Not see a task as finished until it is up to perfect standards

  • Procrastination because you do not know how to do it perfectly yet 

  • Take an excessive amount of time to complete a task 

What is OCD? And how is it different than perfectionism?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder that produces severe anxiety. Someone with OCD has obsessions and compulsions that inhibit their daily functioning. OCD is commonly portrayed in movies and television shows, making it a misunderstood disorder. OCD is a neurobiological disorder and, like any other illness, it’s symptoms are manageable with professional help. 

What are obsessions?

Obsessions are unwanted images, thoughts or urges that repeatedly occur and feel out of one’s control. Everyone has a thought or image pop in their head that upsets them at some point, but for most people it is not a daily occurrence and does not cause extreme anxiety. People with OCD have these upsetting thoughts or images pop in multiple times a day. Most people with OCD know the obsessions do not make sense, and they often find these thoughts disturbing or distressing.  It is important to note that someone with OCD has obsessions that are time consuming and get in the way of everyday life, as this is what makes OCD different from an obsessive personality trait. 

Examples: Not everyone with OCD has germ or organization obsessions like you see in the movies. Other obsessions can be about causing harm to oneself or others, being morally right or wrong, imagining horrible events, fear of losing control, and many more.

What are compulsions? 

Compulsions are repetitive thoughts, behaviors or rituals that the person uses to calm the anxiety that was produced by an obsession. The compulsions counteract the effects of the obsessions. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary fix and does not help long term. The obsessions will still occur, and engaging in compulsions actually makes the obsessions worse.  

Examples: OCD compulsions that commonly come to mind are hand washing, flipping lights on and off or checking the locks on doors. However, there are many other compulsions like magical thinking, mental review of events, reassurance seeking, avoiding situations that are triggering, eating all organic and many more. 

You may be thinking, “Hold on, I do some of these things.”, but that doesn’t mean you have OCD. People with OCD find their obsessions and compulsions distressing and wish they did not have them. Whether or not someone has OCD is all about context, and it is best to have a professional decide if a person has OCD or not. There is not cure for OCD, but that does not mean you have to suffer. Our job is to help you manage the symptoms so you can have a happier, healthier life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Counselors you might want to check out….

Brent Campbell

Miranda Pool


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