Breaking Down Perfectionism: Understanding its Defense in BFRBs

By: Suzanne Feinstein, PhD

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high sense of perfectionism can ruin work or academic performance. Perfectionism can also negatively affect many other aspects of our lives, including one’s health.

Perfectionism is often revered as a virtuous trait, but it can unravel into destruction when intertwined with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs).

Are you wondering what they are and what you can do about them? Read on to learn about the intricate relationship between perfectionism and BFRB.

What Are BFRBs?

BFRBs encompass a spectrum of conditions such as trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), dermatillomania (skin-picking disorder), and nail-biting. These conditions are all characterized by repetitive, self-grooming behaviors. They often result in extensive damage to one’s body.

By dissecting the interplay of setting unrealistic standards, the fear of failure, excessive focus on detail, self-esteem issues, and more, it’s possible to unravel the complex fabric of perfectionism and BFRBs.

Setting Impossible Standards for Oneself

Perfectionism thrives on setting unattainable benchmarks, creating a perpetual cycle of dissatisfaction and striving for flawlessness. In the context of BFRBs, individuals may impose unrealistic expectations on their appearance or grooming rituals.

They may be convinced nothing other than perfection validates their worth. The compulsion to achieve immaculate hair or flawless skin becomes an insatiable pursuit, driving individuals deeper into the grip of BFRBs. Every imperfection becomes a testament to failure, fueling the relentless quest for unattainable perfection.

A Distinct Fear of Failure

At the core of perfectionism lies a crippling fear of risk and failure, an apprehension that any deviation from perfection equates to personal inadequacy. When considering BFRBs, this fear manifests as a dread of being unable to control one’s impulses or appearance to meet societal standards.

The fear of being judged or ostracized amplifies the urgency to maintain an immaculate facade, perpetuating the cycle of compulsive grooming behaviors. Each instance of perceived failure reinforces that fear, driving individuals deeper into the trap of BFRBs as a means of regaining control.

Excessive Focus on Detail

Perfectionism breeds an obsessive fixation on minutiae, magnifying perceived flaws and imperfections to disproportionate levels. Within the context of BFRBs, individuals hyperfocus on every blemish, stray hair, or irregularity, unable to tolerate even the slightest deviation from their idealized image.

This hyperawareness intensifies the compulsion to engage in repetitive grooming behaviors. This is because each instance provides temporary relief from the overwhelming anxiety induced by perceived imperfections. The incessant pursuit of flawlessness blinds individuals to the detrimental consequences of their actions, perpetuating the cycle of BFRBs.

Self-Esteem Issues

Perfectionism and low self-esteem often intertwine, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of validation-seeking behaviors. When thinking about BFRBs, individuals’ sense of self-worth becomes deeply linked to their ability to conform to societal beauty standards.

The relentless pursuit of perfection becomes a misguided attempt to fill the void of inadequacy, as individuals equate external validation with intrinsic value. However, the temporary satisfaction gleaned from achieving superficial perfection soon leaves the individual with feelings of unworthiness. The resulting cycle of self-doubt and compulsive behaviors further entrenches individuals in the grip of BFRBs, fueling the vicious cycle of perfectionism.

Prolonged Procrastination

Perfectionism often manifests as a form of procrastination, as individuals delay action out of fear of falling short of their own lofty standards. In the presence of that feeling, procrastination becomes a coping mechanism, allowing individuals to temporarily avoid confronting their underlying anxieties and insecurities.

However, the momentary reprieve is short-lived, as the mounting pressure to achieve perfection only intensifies the compulsion to engage in repetitive grooming behaviors. Procrastination thus becomes a double-edged sword, simultaneously providing relief from immediate distress while adding to the cycle of BFRBs in the long run.

Benefits of Psychological Therapy

Seeking help from a mental health therapist can offer a transformative pathway out of the labyrinth of perfectionism and BFRBs. Therapists trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can assist individuals in identifying and challenging maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors associated with perfectionism.

Through personalized interventions and coping strategies, individuals can learn to cultivate self-compassion and acceptance. This way, they can free themselves from the suffocating grip of unrealistic standards.

That’s not all: therapy also provides a safe and welcoming place for everyone to explore the underlying emotional triggers and root causes of their BFRBs. By addressing unresolved trauma, anxiety, or depression, therapists can give people the power to develop more effective coping mechanisms and healthier resilience in the face of adversity.

Group therapy and support groups also offer opportunities for individuals to connect with others who are dealing with similar challenges. These types of personal connections can lead to a deeper sense of belonging and mutual understanding. This is important for growth, healing, and more.

The Importance of Finding a Licensed and Reputable Therapist

In the journey towards healing, the choice of a therapist is vital. It’s essential to seek assistance from a licensed and reputable mental health professional. They should have specialized training and experience in treating BFRBs and perfectionism.

A qualified therapist can provide evidence-based interventions tailored to your unique needs, ensuring effective treatment outcomes.

The therapeutic partnership between the individual and the therapist plays a fundamental role in fostering trust, openness, and more. A prestigious therapist knows reliable methods for creating a safe and nonjudgmental space. This way, one can feel heard, validated, and supported.

Reputable therapists also adhere to ethical guidelines and professional standards. This makes certain they honor confidentiality and respect a person’s autonomy and dignity.

You Can Solve Your BFRB at the Source

BFRBs can come about due to a keen sense of perfectionism. By adopting a better work ethic and life perspective, you can break the cycle of BFRBs.

Get the support you need at Advanced Behavioral Health. Our specialties include trichotillomania, skin picking, OCD, panic disorders, and more. Contact Advanced Behavioral Health today and schedule an appointment.

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