A Sisyphean task: Experiences of perfectionism in patients with eating disorders

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A Sisyphean task : Experiences of perfectionism in patients with eating disorders. / Petersson, Suzanne; Johnsson, Per; Perseius, Kent-Inge.

In: Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol. 5, No. 1, 3, 27.02.2017.

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TY - JOUR

T1 - A Sisyphean task

T2 - Experiences of perfectionism in patients with eating disorders

AU - Petersson, Suzanne

AU - Johnsson, Per

AU - Perseius, Kent-Inge

PY - 2017/2/27

Y1 - 2017/2/27

N2 - Background: Despite the theoretical links between eating disorders and perfectionism, the definition of perfectionism in practice is complicated. The present study explored descriptions and experiences of perfectionism described by a transdiagnostic sample of patients. Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 15 patients. The interviews were analyzed by Thematic Analysis. A comparison between the patients' scorings on the Eating Disorder Inventory-Perfectionism scale was also performed. Results: Seven themes were found: The origins of perfectionism, Top performance, Order and self-control, A perfect body, Looking good in the eyes of others, A double-edged coping strategy, and A Sisyphean task. The women in this study did not emphasize weight and body as the main perfectionistic strivings. Core descriptions were instead order, self-control and top performances. All of the participants described the awareness of reaching perfectionism as impossible. Scorings of self-oriented perfectionism was significantly higher compared to socially prescribed perfectionism. No differences in the narratives related to perfectionism scores or eating disorder diagnoses were found. Conclusions: The results showed that psychometric measures do not always capture the patients' definitions of perfectionism, but regarding that perfectionism serves as a means to regulate affects and may lead into an exacerbation of the eating disorder, and the development of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, it is important to investigate the personal definitions of perfectionism.

AB - Background: Despite the theoretical links between eating disorders and perfectionism, the definition of perfectionism in practice is complicated. The present study explored descriptions and experiences of perfectionism described by a transdiagnostic sample of patients. Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 15 patients. The interviews were analyzed by Thematic Analysis. A comparison between the patients' scorings on the Eating Disorder Inventory-Perfectionism scale was also performed. Results: Seven themes were found: The origins of perfectionism, Top performance, Order and self-control, A perfect body, Looking good in the eyes of others, A double-edged coping strategy, and A Sisyphean task. The women in this study did not emphasize weight and body as the main perfectionistic strivings. Core descriptions were instead order, self-control and top performances. All of the participants described the awareness of reaching perfectionism as impossible. Scorings of self-oriented perfectionism was significantly higher compared to socially prescribed perfectionism. No differences in the narratives related to perfectionism scores or eating disorder diagnoses were found. Conclusions: The results showed that psychometric measures do not always capture the patients' definitions of perfectionism, but regarding that perfectionism serves as a means to regulate affects and may lead into an exacerbation of the eating disorder, and the development of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, it is important to investigate the personal definitions of perfectionism.

KW - Eating disorders

KW - Perfectionism

KW - Qualitative research

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85013989897&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/s40337-017-0136-4

DO - 10.1186/s40337-017-0136-4

M3 - Article

C2 - 28261478

AN - SCOPUS:85013989897

VL - 5

JO - Journal of Eating Disorders

JF - Journal of Eating Disorders

SN - 2050-2974

IS - 1

M1 - 3

ER -