The Perfection Deception by Jane Bluestein, PhD
According to author and parenting expert Jane Bluestein, PhD, “There is a very big difference between striving for excellence and striving for perfection. Dedicating ourselves to doing our best and aiming for continual improvement is healthy and desirable. Hiding our naturally flawed humanness behind a deceptive image of perfection is stressful, exhausting, and ultimately crazy-making.” This is the point of her new book, The Perfection Deception.
The notion of perfection as described by Dr. Bluestein is that of the inner voice that tells people they are “not good enough,” the acceptance of that message, and the lengths people will go to in order to change themselves or make up for what they “lack.” In The Perfection Deception, Dr. Bluestein helps readers understand the difference between perfectionism and doing their best and examines the root causes and potential factors that contribute to perfectionism.
In addition, Dr. Bluestein explains the effect of the media on society’s notions of perfection. She writes, “ . . . this book is about what happens when our aspirations and self-concepts are defined by something artificial and unrealistic, something outside ourselves, something beside the pure joy of doing, creating, learning, or just being.” Unrealistic television shows, the physical appearance conformity of news anchors, the misrepresentation of real women, and today’s advertising and marketing tactics are cited by Dr. Bluestein as problematic factors that contribute to a very flawed notion of perfection that is seen as the norm.
The Perfection Deception focuses on other issues related to perfectionism, including body image issues, addiction, abuse, and self-harm. After discussing how perfectionism develops and how the media shapes society’s image of perfection, Dr. Bluestein turns to the topic of getting well. She writes, “I do believe that change and growth are possible, that our past does not need to define our future. Rather than looking for a cure—which, frankly, feels like a rather all-or-nothing approach to healing perfectionism—I think it might make more sense to look at ways we can recognize our inclinations and perhaps get to a point where they aren’t running our lives.” Some of the ways that perfectionists can do this is by engaging in creative hobbies, paying attention to impact perfectionist behaviors have on mental and physical health, letting go of the need for approval, owning their mistakes and their progress, and focusing on self-care and having compassion for themselves.
Readers will appreciate Dr. Bluestein’s candid advice, palpable knowledge, and extensive experience as she tears apart the issue of perfection to look inside at the reasons why and how it can take over people’s lives. As the closing chapter of the book states, “Can we please stop chasing perfection? It doesn’t exist, won’t last when we think we’ve found it, and will create all sorts of problems for us along the way. Help is available. Change is possible, as is self-acceptance and the kind of love that doesn’t take away from who we are or came to be.”
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