Harvard Mental Health Letter

The perils of perfectionism

Often evident at the holidays, this personality trait has a dark side.

November marks the start of both the holiday season and what could also be called the perfectionist season. Although holiday celebrations vary, conditions are perfect for one personality trait to emerge forcefully: The desire for everything to be perfect — serving the perfect meal, hosting the perfect family gathering, or showing off the perfect children.

Perfectionism can be exhausting. In extreme forms, it may also be hazardous to mental health.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »