Humans aren’t perfect but that doesn’t stop them from trying to be. More so, the pursuit perfection can only cause the pursuer to realize that they are trying to reach an unreachable peak. Millennials tend to be more preoccupied with trying to appear flawless and well-adjusted something that eventually would lead them to depression and anxiety. This is what a recent study published in the journal, Psychological Bulletin, claims.
The medical definition of perfectionism as found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is „the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness.”
Based on this notion, researchers took it upon themselves to explore why and how young people subject themselves to unrealistic goals. The study involved over 40 thousand American, Canadian, and British college students that lasted from 1989 to 2016. Researchers discovered that perfectionism increased over the years with the United States being a hot spot for the mentality.
According to the study, there are three reasons for this increase: anxious and controlling parents, the rise of neoliberalism, and the prevalence of meritocracy.
The authors claim that parents have an additional burden of pushing their children to succeed in life as to not tarnish family reputation. More so, researchers pointed out that college students and young people who are self-oriented perfectionists are prone to clinical depression, anorexia, and even early death.
The study states that there are different types of perfectionism. Self-oriented perfectionism, for example, refers to a person who pressures himself or herself to be perfect. Then there is socially prescribed perfectionism, which is the pressure put on by society to be perfect. Another side to this phenomenon is other-oriented perfectionism, the pressure one puts on others to be perfect.
Socially prescribed perfectionism was linked with social phobia, body dissatisfaction, suicidal tendencies. This type also was found to have the strongest link to depression and anxiety.
Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist, blames this phenomenon on social media. She points out that millennials are constantly under a „figurative microscope” forcing them to become more self-conscious and set unattainable goals.
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